Please Hold, The Terminator Army Will Be With You Shortly

I’m working on a Powerpoint to be delivered later this week about “the 5 things you can learn from a Consumerist” and I wanted to share this slide of with you guys. I think it expresses what we all sometimes think is underneath those shiny voices and looping musical medleys: a killbot army that wants to get you off the phone as soon as possible. “It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.”


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  1. Toof_75_75 says:

    Well played.

  2. Beerad says:

    Don’t forget about how it will finally understand why humans shed tears, even though it is something they can never do, as it is slowly lowered into molten steel.
    That’s a satisfying mental image of what I’d like to do to a lot of CSRs.

  3. ptkdude says:

    Love it!

  4. Difdi says:

    Do you have permission to borrow the copyright image?

  5. dry-roasted-peanuts says:

    Pffft. Still not as scary as Warren Ellis’ Holy Slut Army.

  6. Half Beast says:

    Believe me when I say when a CSR/TSR has their job threatened enough, they will indeed make it their duty to get you off the phone ASAP. I work at a call center now, and luckily, I’m in an escalated position so call time is not an issue…but I’ve seen an unfortunate number of excellent, intelligent, hard-working TSRs get shown the door because their handle time is 3-4 minutes above target.

  7. GenXCub says:

    It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you start taking it seriously.

  8. Here’s a suggestion. Stop interrupting the music every 30 seconds to tell me my call is important. I keep thinking a real human is about to speak to me. I’d rather the the voice come into the music or over the music, or that when a real operator picks up, it makes a tone, and tell me that at the beginning of the call. I think if they did that, people would be less frustrated. I hate when I put my phone on speaker, and keep picking it up b/c I think a real person is about to talk to me.

  9. Buran says:

    @Difdi: Pretty sure it’s a parody…

  10. KeithS4789 says:

    @Difdi I would say this photo would be covered under fair use since it could be seen as a parody.

  11. noquarter says:

    They all need to have those wrap-around earpiece/microphones on their heads. That’s the new international symbol for false help.

  12. evslin says:

    “Show me your receipt if you want to live.”

  13. Nighthawke says:

    Evil Ash: Dig, damn you! Dig faster! I shall command every worm-infested son-of-a-bitch that ever died in battle!
    Skeleton: Thank you, sir!

    Sounds about right don’t it?

    “Welcome back to the land of the living. Now here’s a shovel and START DIGGING”

    Had to paraphrase Army Of Darkness, cuz it was so fitting to the CSR bit.

  14. rmz says:

    @Difdi: Sadly, the status quo for blogs these days is to Google up whatever images you want, and use them with no forethought to copyright or usage permissions. I can’t count the number of blogs I read where the authors have openely admitted to grabbing an image off of GIS and then sticking it on their for-profit blog, without asking the original image owner for permission or even considering it.

  15. zentex says:

    @evslin: rofl

  16. Moosehawk says:

    @Difdi: Boo-fucking-hoo?

  17. ? graffiksguru says:

    @rmz: Isn’t there some satire clause or something that says its ok if your making fun of them? I see tons of t-shirt places that rip off logos change it a little to make it funny, and they get away with it.

  18. Yeah, my fiancée was on the phone yesterday with sprint about being overbilled by about $200. I asked her how it went, since I was at work at the time, and she said “Oh it went really well. I explained everything, and they said they’d research it and call me back.”

    She’s so cute. I almost didn’t have the heart to tell her that she’d never hear back.

  19. forgottenpassword says:

    I lol’ed at the line! Nice

    Probably already been said, but I Cant stand the standard “your call is important to us….” BS line while I am shunted back to muzak & then again to “your call is important to us….” over & over again. parrently my call is in fact NOT important enough for you to staff your call center with the appropriate amount employees to fill the demand of calls.

    OH OH! I also… just LOVEEEEEEEEEEE the indian guy (with the heavy indian accent)who picks up & says his name is john smith.

  20. bohemian says:

    “your call is important to us”. No it isn’t and we all know it so can we drop the freaking lie already? The only thing worse that outright indifference is faux concern.

  21. whuffo says:

    Technical support / customer service has gone through some changes over the past few years. Companies are always looking for ways to cut costs and increase profits – and qualified and trained support staff cost real money.

    The first round of cost cutting was to hire phone drones to screen the calls. By handling the “reboot and try it again” stuff at minimum wage the need for the higher paid folks would be reduced.

    The next round was to “transfer” some of the “knowledge” to those entry level workers by providing them with “expert” scripts. Just follow the little arrows and lead the customer to a resolution to the problem.

    A popular variation on this theme was to hand those scripts to foreign workers who would do the job for pennies an hour.

    This has cut the corporate support costs significantly. Unfortunately, there aren’t any boxes or arrows on the script for “the company screwed up”. And the guys answering the phones are timed on each call (be quick or else) and they don’t really have any authority to do anything except read from the script.

    The way to fix the problem is for them to go back to having trained and qualified people with the ability to handle problems on the spot. That’d cost money, though – so it’s not going to happen anytime soon.

  22. dragonfire81 says:

    The Borg Collective consciousness from Star Trek would be another great example:

    “Customer service is irrelevant…your satisfaction is irrelevant…your money will be assimilated…you must comply…”

    Either way the point is spot on.

  23. NotATool says:

    Terminator picture is f-ing AWESOME!

  24. jtheletter says:

    @whuffo: Excellent analysis overall. My question of course is WTF was done with all the money that was “saved” by reducing support to a nightmarish exercise in futility? Certainly wasn’t plowed back into the infrastructure in the case of telecoms and cable companies. Most likely it went to line executive’s pockets. The only thing worse (in context, people) than cutting support to cut costs, is to then “reinvest” those savings into nothing related to the customer.

  25. Megladon says:

    You dont need permission as the pic was being used to make fun of something, and you can use all sorts of copywriten stuff legaly so long as your using it for humor.

    One such ruling was People vs Larry Flint

  26. Imhotep says:

    It’s funny cuz it’s true! Best. Analogy. Ever.

  27. I wouldn’t mind the “on hold music” so much if it was the theme from Terminator.

    “…powered by SkyNet.”

  28. faust1200 says:

    @dragonfire81: If it’s Seven of Nine making the demands they can have my first born as far as I’m concerned.

  29. eelmonger says:

    @Difdi: You should look into this Ben. Depending on where this presentation is being shown it could be a real issue. One of my lab mates ran into problems when a conference sent him a letter saying that he needed written permission from the owners of all images he didn’t own in his presentation. We had to make some last minute changes when some people didn’t respond to our requests.

  30. chad_montana says:

    @Buran, @Difdi

    There is a distinct difference between parody and satire. Parody is generally favored under copyright fair use analysis, satire is generally not as favored.

    Parody tends to use copyrighted material to poke fun at the underlying material itself. Spaceballs, for example, is a parody of Star Wars, and uses likenesses of themes and characters to accomplish this purpose. A parody needs to be based on some underlying work (the object of its humor).

    Satire is the use of sarcasm or irony to lampoon some genre or aspect of society itself. “Best in Show”, for example, is an example of a satirical work that pokes fun at the world of dog shows. Satire does not require the use of an underlying work, although satirical elements can be used to create a parody from an underlying work.

    Here’s a webpage discussion of the distinctions…


  31. sparkyvision says:

    “…killbot army that wants to get you off the phone as soon as possible. “It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.”…”

    Rarely would I allow myself to comment on such a thread, as I almost always agree with what you have to say. This time, however, I feel I must at least protest a little.

    To say that all people who work in call centers just want you off the phone as soon as possible is, of course, a sweeping generalization not truly meant to be completely accurate, and is meant mostly to get a laugh. I a former “real” PC support tech who actually got to visit desktops and fix people’s problems face-to-face.

    That said, I would, as a CSR at a computer help desk, at least that in spite of the fact that our calls are listened to, in spite of the fact that we have limited access to the computers and the network, in spite of the 5-7 minute call time requirement, in spite of every plea for more information being answered with a resounding chorus of “Check the knowledge base!” by my manager, in spite of the completely regimented and segmented nature of this horrible excuse for making money, in spite of the angry angry people from New York who call me every day and DEMAND that I fix their slow system that I have no control over RIGHT NOW, – I truly, honesty, really do want to help fix your computer. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than delving into your registry or editing your config.sys to fix some weird issue.

    It is not my goal to get you off the phone. It is my goal to fix your problem, and if there are rules I can either bend or outright break to help you, I will without a second thought. (It’s gotten me in trouble a few times, too, but I don’t care.)

    Some of us want to help! :P

  32. graphikartistry says:

    It reminds me of my call to 1 800 MY APPLE last week. I spent about 10 in a loop with the automated CSR. I think they are becoming too good because about halfway into the call I started getting a little peeved and the machine started changing its tone. And, was trying to misdirect me a every turn.

    They are coming – be warned!

  33. Buran says:

    @graphikartistry: I haven’t personally had much experience with it past “what model?” etc. Maybe the edu support line is set up differently? I know they have different CSRs — my ex used to work for them and tried at least once to transfer to the edu division.