The call recording first appeared on Reddit’s /r/videos, posted by someone who claimed to be a former employee of the same call center. The call took place four years ago, and features a frustrated customer who doesn’t understand that he can’t directly dial the staffer who left him a voice mail message, because that’s not how call centers work. He corners a helpless customer service representative, then keeps him on the phone while refusing to be put on hold or transferred, even through the customer’s screaming and threats of violence.
(If you’re sensitive to four-letter words, the first version had most of them beeped out.)
“Must have been Comcast customer service…” observed one commenter who must be a long term resident of Kabletown. Ha, ha… sigh. Actually, according to the Reddit poster, the call center where he or she worked belonged to a home security company that will remain nameless. The company may have checked its own security systems after the mystery caller threatened to come to the call center with a machine gun. He didn’t own a machine gun, but he would go to the store and pick one up for that purpose. Great.
The worst part of this video is how trapped the customer service rep must have felt. It sounds like he wasn’t allowed to transfer the customer without his permission, but the customer wouldn’t grant that permission out of fear that he would end up in the ether again. This particular CSR was powerless to help the man and probably not allowed to hang up on him, but also couldn’t transfer the customer or even put him on hold to seek help without his permission.
In some ways, it’s easier to deal with customers in person. Like this electronics store, where a difficult customer trying to sell a computer got scooped up and carried out of the store like a belligerent toddler.
One particularly insightful Redditor claims to have spent the last few years working in call centers. This commenter didn’t just think that the recording is credible, but also offered an educated guess about what happened here.
As somebody who has worked 6 of the last 7 years at call centers, he probably needed to physically get up and ask a supervisor what to do. Since he can’t abandon a phone call to dead air while he walks away from the computer, he had to place the client on hold. For him, it was a choice between getting automatically failed on a QA check, or appeasing the whims of a customer who doesn’t seem to actually know what he wants anymore.
Given that we never found out what this guy’s issue is, I’m going to go out on a limb and say his issue was a minor technical problem (possibly even user error) and he wasn’t around to answer the call when his initial callback came in. Michelle is also an agent in the technical department, who may not even be in the same state or country as the receiving CSR is, (or he’s on the same site and there’s 400 other agents there like there was when I worked for Sprint) and since she is not in the office the number is automatically rerouting to the Tech Support department. Because he’s unwilling to work with anybody but Michelle (since he thinks his important issue escapes These Low Level Plebes) he refuses anybody’s help, despite it being a problem that is automatically routed to Level 1 Support.
Put yourself in the guy’s shoes…. Now all of a sudden some dude is screaming at you and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it. You can’t answer his questions without verifying who he is. You can’t research his problem without putting him on hold. You’re between a rock and a hard place, and on top of that the call is being recorded, and the minute you go off script you’ll get an infraction… get 6 of those in a year, you automatically lose your job. Those are the sorts of rules these places have.