Customer: "I Have A Brain Tumor" Apple Rep: "Not My Problem. Okay. So You Want…"

You don’t have to believe everything customers say to you when you’re a customer service rep. You don’t even have to actually care. But if you can’t stop yourself from slipping in phrases like “not my problem” when you’re helping out a customer, maybe you need to try a different career. Like, say, parole officer.

This customer wanted to remove his active mobileme address and turn one of his existing email only addresses into his main account. Here’s how the chat went:

Brian: Hi Sheena!

Sheila H: Hello, Brian.

Sheila H: I understand you want to switch your main account and email only account, correct?

Brian: I have a little problem. I need to switch the main mobileme account to an email only account and switch one of my email only accounts to the main account. Is that possible?

Sheila H: Unfortunately, email only accounts are no longer available, so if you cancel your existing email only account, you will not be able to reactivate it.

Brian: I’m talking about current email only accounts. And I’ve been able to reactivate email only accounts since the Mac Plus was around.

Brian: Such as switching making into the main account instead of

Sheila H: I understand. However you wish to cancel one account and make it an email only account, that is not possible.

Brian: It’s the main account I wish to cancel. I want to keep the email only accounts.

Brian: Frankly, I’m being harassed and stalked and I just found out I the brain tumor I thought went away didn’t. So my day isn’t really peachy.

Sheila H: Not my problem. Okay. So let me clarify, you wish to cancel your main account (which will cancel your email only accounts), and reactivate your email only account as an Individual account, correct?

Brian: Yeah, um, thanks for the compassion, I just want to get rid of the email address on the main account. If I could convert one of my other email only accounts to a full account, that’d be great. Would that be free under the circumstances or would I just have to buy a whole new subscription to get it done and get started on my email to the Consumerist?

Sheila H: You will need to purchase a new membership because it’s a new account. However, you will receive a prorated refund for your current membership which will be applied to the card it was activated with.

Brian: That would be over six months at this point.

Sheila H: You will be credited for any unused portion of your prepaid membership. Would you like me to cancel?

Brian: Not right now, thanks. I’ll just visit an Apple Store fifty miles away. But thanks for the information and compassion. I hope Steve Jobs reads this.

You stay classy, Sheila!

(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. legwork says:

    The “C” word comes to mind.

  2. Not Alvis says:

    Yeah – the rep was extremely rude and a slow to understand a simple request – but what’s the help of playing up the pity card? I’m having a bad day / I’m sick reminds me of all those “I was treated poorly, and I’m in the MILITARY” posts we see.

  3. glitch44 says:

    To be honest: is this really something you should be sharing on a tech support call? It’s such a non sequitur overshare that it could’ve sounded like a joke.

    “I just found out I have a brain tumor” sounds like a genuine thing you’re going through. An out of nowhere: “I’m being harassed and stalked and I just found out my brain tumor didn’t go away” sounds kinda like the crazy dude talking to himself at the bus stop.

    • bria says:

      @glitch44: @Clold: @sketchy:

      God forbid the caller explain why she’s upset.

      • Benny Gesserit says:

        I choose to give Sheila a teensy bit of slack: when a total stranger reveals something completely personal out of the blue, it can be so off-putting you blurt out something before your brain kicks in.

        And, only a teeny bit because, when she recovered, she should have apologized.

      • sketchy says:

        If customers want to be treated professional they have to act professionally themselves.

        Saying, seemingly out of nowhere, that you have a stalker and a brain tumor is unprofessional when being used, as it seems in this case, as emotional leverage. Tell the CSR what you you want, if they can’t help ask to be escalated.

        Also threatening to go over their heads and drop an EECB on the big boss is a pretty garbage move, too. We consumers have tools and options for getting what we paid for, but the constant abuse of those tools and options will come back to bite us all in the a**. You want something out of the ordinary? Ask, if you can’t get it why do you think you’re entitled to it anyway?

        • nsv says:

          @sketchy: The stalker was relevant, because that’s the reason he was changing email addresses. I’ve changed phone numbers for the same reason.

          The phone company (at the time) gave much higher priority to a phone number change because of a stalker. They waived fees for the change and for having an unlisted number, even though I didn’t ask them to waive the fees. It’s a safety issue.

          • sketchy says:

            @nsv: And that’s fine, I can tell you want to nitpick here – the stalker isn’t relevant AT THE TIME.

            Brian asked for something, tried to explain it once, then promptly lost his marbles and went aggressive. The CSR was explaining that Brian’s request was not possible either technically or by policy (it’s not clear which by the transcript) when his behavior went south. If you need the change BECAUSE of the stalker, bring it up as part of the initial exchange, not as leverage to get your way after you’ve been declined for a change which may or may not even be possible.

    • thinkliberty says:

      @glitch44: Of course he sounds like a crazy guy talking to himself at a bus stop… He has a brain with a tumor in it.

    • ELC says:

      @glitch44: Right on!

      “”I just found out I have a brain tumor” sounds like a genuine thing you’re going through. An out of nowhere: “I’m being harassed and stalked and I just found out my brain tumor didn’t go away” sounds kinda like the crazy dude talking to himself at the bus stop. “

  4. cosby says:

    I have to give the tech credit here. It is not his problem. She wasn’t getting her way show she tried to get him to help her because she has cancer(or so she said). Personally someone trying this shit with me would just just make me care less about helping them.

    Unless the email account caused the cancer somehow it doesn’t need to be brought up.

  5. Zulujines says:

    Maybe she was thinking out loud. Like, “Is this my problem? Do I need to respond? No, not my problem.” Maybe she was just clarifying to herself.

    Yeah, I would have just ignored that comment if I were Sheila. It was rather superfluous.

  6. sketchy says:

    I’m on side with Sheila – your life story has no bearing on what a CSR can do for you, particularly when the explanation is as vague as it seems and the tone of the customer is very terse.

    Just say what you want, if it can’t be done politely ask for an escalation.

  7. TheJollyLlama875 says:

    I hate to be the jerk around here, but she’s right, it ISN’T her problem. She could have handled it better, sure, but if there’s nothing she can do, you having a medical condition isn’t going to change that.

    • mrpenbrook says:

      Okay. Deep breath. Gotta get through layers of dense. Must focus…

      Here’s the thing: When you have a brain tumor, you are automatically entitled to be a little pissy. It’s just how it works.

      Now having a brain tumor is not an automatic trump card to get whatever you want, but here’s the other thing: When someone tells you they have a brain tumor and the FIRST WORDS, the FIRST WORDS you say in response are “not my problem”… I shouldn’t have to finish that sentence. If I haven’t penetrated all that dense, it means there’s nothing to penetrate to; eventually I’ll just come out the other side of the dense.

      • glitch44 says:

        @mrpenbrook: No, sorry, you’re not entitled to get pissy if you have a brain tumor. Your problems in life have absolutely no bearing on how you get to treat people. Or would you have us whip out our problems like trading cards to see who has it worse off? Perhaps the Tech Support lost both her legs in a car accident so she trumps his tumor and she’s allowed to get pissy?

        No, of course not. That’s dense thinking.

        Is his illness, if true, horrible? Sure. Could she have been more polite? Definitely.

        But is it her problem? No, it is not. His brain tumor has no bearing on a tech support call.

        Sorry, venting about brain tumors falls under the mother/ father/ sister/ brother/ significant other category. It does not fall under the tech support/ UPS delivery / mechanic category.

        We are not beautiful and unique snowflakes cherished by everyone in the world. To delude yourself into thinking otherwise is sheer folly.

        • Consumerist-Moderator-Roz says:

          @glitch44: @meske: Guys, look. Chris posted in this very thread not to play blame the OP.

          The point of comment threads is not to rip every submitter to shreds who doesn’t behave purposefully. This is a consumer watchdog site – not every consumer does things in a way we would do ourselves. That’s no excuse for acting in this manner. We want people to feel safe submitting stories and not be publicly mocked on the site.

          This is a warning. Follow the comment code or do not comment.

  8. sketchy says:

    If it can’t be done, ask politely for an escalation.

  9. johnnya2 says:

    Sounds like the caller expected somebody to do something for him because he has a brain tumor. I am guessing if he isn’t a bold faced liar he should spend some time worrying about that than email accounts and what he will be charged. I wonder how irate customers would be if the CSR said, my husband left me, and my daughter is pregnant and I cant afford health insurance, but thanks for spending my time dealing with changing your email issues.

  10. lasciate says:

    In my experience, people only bring up things like that to get sympathy so they can get service they aren’t entitled to. And what he asked for wasn’t possible since the MobileMe switch, of which she had already informed him, so why else would he mention it? So while Sheila’s response wasn’t professional (the only proper thing to do would to have ignored his statement altogether), you get tired of hearing stuff like that.

  11. Weirdsmobile says:

    So in essence, they don’t give a crap about us, we don’t give a crap about them, and we don’t give a crap about each other. I have no idea why there are so many customer service problems in this country.

  12. ShariC says:

    I don’t believe that the caller was “playing the pity card”, I think that people who receive distressing news have the urge to share it because they’re full of tension and it needs to get out.

    When they’re in another stressful situation, like dealing with small hassles like tech support, it tends to be a way of releasing some stress and not escalating to being overtly angry with the person who isn’t making the situation any easier.

    Compassion costs nothing, nor do good manners or civility, but you’d think they were the most costly things in the world by the way some people behave. All she had to say was, “I’m so sorry to hear that, sir,” and then pause and wait for him to state his next request. I disagree that the “proper” thing to do was ignore it. Even if it was a lie (and I *don’t* believe it was a lie after reading the conversation), how hard is it to make one compassionate statement in response?

    • Bye says:

      @ShariC: You’re absolutely right.

      And a CSR should be trained to know how to deal with people on a human level. It’s NOT her problem, but she’s a horrible person who may end up with her own brain tumor for feeling like she can be such a wench to others.

      • the-perfect-face-for-radio says:


        “feeling like she can be such a wench to others.” i don’t think the word “wench” means what you think it means. i loves me a right saucy wench even on a tech helpline. as a sheila supporter who detests random maudlin elements of pity injected into professional contexts, here are the top ten replies to this non sequitur:

        10. if you don’t have any heirs, would you consider naming me in your will?

        9. (for male reps only) that’s nothing, i popped a viagra four months ago and i’ve had a monster stiffie 24/7 ever since.

        8. i hope the part of your brain that keeps you balanced remains intact so you can wear this season’s sexy stiletto pumps.

        7. do you have an address for next-of-kin i can send the final bill to?

        6. lucky you! you know when your time is coming so you’ll have a full opportunity to embrace jesus as your savior. people who die in car wrecks don’t have this opportunity.

        5. my manager has a brain tumor too, and with any luck at all i’ll be promoted to his job in 2-3 months.

        4. was it caused by too much cellphone use? my ex-wife’s cousin is a lawyer who specializes in this kind of suit.

        3. have you ever heard of viatical settlements? you can sell your life insurance policy to an investor and enjoy the proceeds while you’re still with us.

        2. i can give you the number of the mayo clinic. maybe they can stop the tumor before it spreads to a vital organ.

        #1 (drumroll)…we’re offering a special deal for that. just go to our website and enter “braintumor” in the promotional code box.

  13. Huh, to me it sounds like the caller as just venting his frustrations by saying out loud the laundry list of shit not going right (with the “and this isn’t going right either” being unspoken). I have occasionally done it myself. A person can only take so much before they have to say something. And you know, when other people do it I respond with compassion and understanding.

    You see, we are all sharing the same human experience, so for me the “I’m not paid to give a shit about you” attitude just doesn’t cut it. It’s a matter of decency. You don’t kick a man when he’s down and by sharing the list of stuff that’s upsetting him not only is he explaining to the rep why the email issue is so irritating (..It’s not just the email lady, I’m not crazy, I’m just having a shitty day, please don’t take offense..) he is BEGGING not to be kicked while he’s down (sorry lady, I can’t take any more, can you please just help me, I’m suffering here.)

    I think most people need a lesson in empathy and compassion. Most people are so self absorbed they don’t realize what asshats they are. “That’s not my problem” ie. “This doesn’t affect me or my paycheck so it doesn’t matter. Sorry ’bout your luck looser.”

    The correct response to someone venting this kind of frustration would have been “Sounds like your having a tough day. Lets see what we can do to fix the issue with your email.”

    That’s it. Just a little sprinkle of humanity.

    Of course, that’s above and beyond for most people.

    • madog says:

      @JamieSueAustin: While I agree with you, it’s hard to believe everything you hear when working such a job [or any job for that matter. Or quite frankly anything ever because everybody lies]. People will say all sorts of crazy stuff just to get what they want. Plain and simple. People will lie through their teeth if they think they aren’t getting something they deserve.

      While the tech person may not have gone about the situation correctly she was ultimately correct. It is not her problem. People have bad days all the time, cancer or not.

      There’s no such thing as a free lunch. And if people don’t want to be treated differently for being gay, or handicapped, or whatever then as far as I’m concerned the same applies to those with cancer. Good or bad.

      Not to say that the person was lying, I just could imagine a friend telling them to say that they are getting stalked, “They’d have to change your account if you say that”, thinking it’s a good idea, and then attempting it.

      With the “I’ve been able to do it since the Mac Plus”, comment: Has .mac been around for 20 years? What the hell does a Mac Plus have to do with .mac? That’s like the people who come and buy a computer and say, “Oh I’ve been using Macs since the IIe”, or “The last computer I had had Windows 3 on it”, and want to transfer their data files from their tape drive to their new computer. “Oh, well it worked backed then!”

      Well that’s fine and dandy, but when you go to your car do you accidentally walk out in front to turn the old-timey crank and suddenly realize where has all the time gone?

      • floraposte says:

        @madog: The OP wasn’t asking for extra money because of the brain tumor, and the complaint wasn’t that the requested action didn’t happen. It would have cost Apple no more for Sheila to write “I’m very sorry” than it did for her to write “Not my problem,” and it doesn’t commit Apple to anything different. So I really don’t see this risk you imply in treating the OP’s statement at face value. The CSR doesn’t lose anything even if it turns out she’s being lied to.

        There are all kinds of things people can say that may be technically correct. “Technically correct” isn’t enough to legitimize an asshole statement in *any* circumstance, let alone in the circumstance where somebody’s being paid to offer assistance (which is why the “bad day” defense doesn’t wash for the CSR; if she’s having too bad a day to do her job properly, she shouldn’t be there, and if she’s there, she sucks up her bad day and does her job properly like the rest of us).

        I join the posters who are hoping this might be a mishearing and she just said “Not a problem.”

      • Grive says:

        @madog: Thing is, assuming it’s true will not affect you in any way, and (if it’s true) it will help someone else, if only by showing some caring (you don’t even need to feel it).

        So where’s the reward for assuming it’s false?

        You don’t need to go above and beyond for him. If you can’t (or shouldn’t) help at all, just say, “I’m sorry to hear that, but I can’t (don’t have) comply with your request”. Once he escalates or desists, you could even say something along the lines of “hope everything works out” – but that’s not really necessary.

        Heck, if this is too much empathy, then play deaf. You simply didn’t hear that, and continue your conversation.

        You don’t even spend more breath saying that over “Not my problem, and I can’t help you”.

  14. duffm4n says:

    It’s sort of surprising that so far every consumerist poster has taken the side of the CSR. The point is, it isn’t her problem, but she should have said “I’m sorry to hear that…” Simple as that, none of this would have happened.

  15. Pithlit says:

    Even if those who are saying the OP shouldn’t have mentioned the cancer had a point, the customer service rep should never have responded with “not my problem”. That was in no way an appropriate response. If I were a manager, and any employee under me ever treated a customer like that, I’d fire them in a heartbeat.

  16. beeberoni says:

    could it be possible that the CSR made an inadvertent typo… and meant “not a problem”, rather than “not my problem”?

    granted it took her a while to understand him… i’m saying that maybe we’re not giving sheila enough credit.

  17. Alex Chasick says:

    Regardless of whether it’s oversharing, that is not an appropriate response from a customer service representative. A simple “I’m sorry” would have been fine, or if that’s just too much compassion, ignore the statement altogether.

  18. That damn voice recognition software! Next time, don’t speak your thoughts, Sheila!

  19. godlyfrog says:

    It doesn’t matter what the caller says or does. The CSR is supposed to be professional, the caller is not. A professional makes a meaningless statement of empathy and redirects the conversation.

    If the caller says, “I’ve got a brain tumor,” the CSR is going to think, “Gee, I haven’t heard that one in a while,” and say, “I’m sorry to hear that, unfortunately we have no way to do what you’re asking,” or simply ignore it. That’s her job. She doesn’t have to get suckered by a pity play, but neither should she have responded in that manner.

  20. msbluesky says:

    Is it possible she meant to say “Not A problem” instead of “Not MY problem”?

    I’ve had many CSRs – from different companies even – use the phrase “Not a problem” when responding to a request or question. (Much like “My pleasure.”) It must be a CSR lingo thing.

  21. jezebelseven says:

    Am I the only one who thought it could’ve been (a really awkward) typo/Freudian slip? Perhaps she meant “Not a problem.”?

  22. jezebelseven says:


    You read my mind!

  23. I think she meant to say “Not a problem.”

    The rest of her communication seems to jive with that too.

    • msbask says:

      @twophrasebark: I thought the same exact thing. Change “Not my problem” for “Not a problem” and the whole paragraph makes more sense.

      Isn’t it possible that this is what the CSR said (or meant to say)?

  24. Oops, already mentioned by others.

  25. taylorb says:

    Some of you people who commented are just as bad as Sheila. Maybe he shouldn’t have mentioned his problems to her, but a HUMAN response is necessary. If you made idle conversation at the bus stop with some one and they mentioned that they just found out they had cancer, would you say “not my problem?” The circumstances of the situation aren’t so different that it immediately means he’s trying to get special treatment and pity. Show some respect.

    Brian, I’m sorry for your bad news. I’m sorry you have cancer. It is a terrible, terrible thing. I hope you do well.

  26. madog says:

    I’m not trying to be mean or evil. I’m just saying.

    And I checked out the blog and the person may in fact have cancer, and may in fact have a stalker, but I still stand by my OPINION.

  27. BDaiber says:

    I don’t want to come across as unsympathetic, but I don’t really think this is too bad. For the record, I just graduated with a degree in neuroscience and I’m attending medical school next fall, and I’ve talked with patients who have brain tumors. It’s not a free pass to be irritable and vent at tech support.

    To be honest, I’m more offended with the caller in this situation. There was obviously a misunderstanding between the two, and he breaks out the “I’ve been around since xyz, I know how things are done” line. It would seem that a policy has changed, a policy that is totally out of Sheila’s realm of responsibility. Brian jumps to an entitled and arrogant tone before Sheila does anything wrong.

    Additionally, if you are having a bad day/week, you can say so. A simple “I’ve had a really rough day, and I’d really appreciate any help you could give me” is much better than indignantly rattling off personal problems that the tech obviously had no prior knowledge of.

    After Sheila’s comment, Brian doesn’t even take the high road. He begins with threats of emails to the Consumerist and name drops Steve Jobs. If he is going to publicly air his personal problems, he had better realize that people might not care like they should, even if they are supposed to be serving him.

    Could Sheila have conducted herself better. Sure. However, I would never approach tech support like Brian did. That, to me, seems like an irresponsible consumer.

  28. yakkowarner says:

    What has happened to this site?

    its dis-hearting to see so many anti-consumer ideas/posts on this site.

    • coolkiwilivin says:

      @yakkowarner: What do you mean anti consumer? In this instance, the Apple Rep might have actually made a typo. If they didn’t then they should absolutely be reprimanded for being rude. However just because the life of the customer is crappy doesn’t mean they get free stuff. Quite frankly, if I was the Apple rep, I would be suspicious if I was on the receiving end of this conversation. The sad thing is that there are plenty of people who lie through their teeth to get free things. I’m not saying this person is but in our system that’s willing to put up with a lot for the customer is rife with potential for screwing over the business. The other thing is sometimes consumers want something they just can’t have. In this case, either what this person wants can’t happen or the company could do it but chooses not to. If it’s the first case, then no amount of complaining can change the situation. People are quick to judge the employee, who knows maybe that employee’s spouse just died or something tragic has happened in their life. Apple has a decent rep for customer service, so while people are berating the emp for not showing empathy, why don’t you step down for a second to ask maybe the employee was going through something that needed empathy.

  29. Before you make a comment on the site, read the comments code. This paragraph in particular:

    Avoid blaming the poster or victim or commenting only to be negative
    Please, suggest alternate courses of action, or add important information that might help others or that we missed. Don’t attack people. Assume good faith. Tipsters need help, not ridicule. Express contrary opinions, but treat others as you would like to be treated. Don’t constantly spew negativity, be it about other posters, the site, the article, or anything. Commenting is a privilege, and can be removed at any time at our discretion.

    • BDaiber says:

      @Chris Walters:

      Since I don’t post here often, I can’t tell if that was directed solely at me, or everyone posting in the comments section.

      Either way, I do believe in good customer support. I do not believe in people using an unfair and unrelated situation to try and manipulate someone who is entry level customer service representative, and become hostile when they don’t get their way. I’m not trying to be disrespectful, but that is what I perceive to have happened in this case.

      I typically love the advice from the Consumerist, and have used EECB to some success. However, I personally don’t think this experience was as bad as others, while others obviously do. I just assumed the comments section was where we could discuss our differences of opinion.

    • balthisar says:

      @Chris Walters: All to often the best help one can give the tipster is to correct their wrong behavior/attitudes/expectations.

  30. thelushie says:

    Ummm, who is Sheena? I thought her name was Sheila.

    I was stalked for a year. It was the worst year of my life. Imagine being raped mentally everyday and you will have a small idea of what it was like. Having been a victim of a crime and am still dealing with residual effects, I know that when I get moody and pissy it is NOT the time to call up tech support to get a problem taken care of, call people I am having a disagreement with, etc no matter how tempting it may be.

    Whenever we are going through trauma, we have to remember that it really isn’t anyone else’s fault or their problem. It is a hard pill to swallow but it is true. There are individuals who can be so uncaring and hateful. When going through any sort of trauma, illness or whatnot, we have to take care of ourselves before anyone else and that means avoiding uncaring and hateful people.

    My advice to Brain would be to make sure he is in a good state of mind when making phone calls that have the possibility to be unpleasant (and being a reader of the Consumerist, you know that tech support calls can be unpleasant). It isn’t worth raising his stress level.

    Could Sheila have handled it better? Yes. Could Brian have handled it better? Yes.

    (And I loathe it when people claim they are being stalked to get their way or to get back at someone. They need to fall off the planet. I don’t feel this is the case in Brian’s situation.)

  31. ceriphim says:

    Okay, I’ve worked in customer service for going on 10 years now. But even if it had only been 10 minutes I’d still know enough to not to fucking say “Not my problem”. I’ve heard some pretty insane stuff over the years and have never had a problem dealing with it politely. OP wasn’t asking for a new car or free shit FFS, just to get the problem handled.

    WTF is wrong with all of you saying OP should keep their mouth shut about their problems? How about, you’re in customer service, service the fucking customers regardless of what information they disclose as long as it’s reasonably civil? Any other response aside from some polite empathy is out of bounds from a CS standpoint. Seriously, WTF is wrong with some people?

    • purplesun says:


      First rule in Customer Service, you don’t talk about Customer Service.


      First rule in Customer Service is don’t be a jerk to the customer.

  32. balthisar says:

    “too often,” not “to often.”

  33. abigsmurf says:

    Ceriphim: If you’ve worked in customer services for so long, you’ll know people don’t bring up these kinds of personal details unless they’re demanding you go above and beyond or are using it as ammunition for a complaint.

    The person on the phone didn’t cause her health problems and it’s not related to her support request. Trying to guilt trip someone into doing more than they should do is a cheap tactic and customer services people get it all the time.

    Your unrelated personal issues are not their problem, it may be very blunt to say it but it you use these things as a trump card you’re pretty unlikely to get pity from a phone operator who hears these things day in day out and are more likely to be treated with contempt.

    • purplesun says:

      @abigsmurf: Haha! People bring up stuff like that all the time! I’ve worked in Customer service for… ugh.. at least a decade, myself. Believe me, some of the stuff people say…

      I sincerely think most of it isn’t true. I may roll my eyes while staring at the wall, but I would never say anything rude to the customer. You sympathize, apologize, then figure out what you *can* do to solve their problem. There’s no need to be rude. It’s part of my job description to put up with customers and their quirky ways.

      The above situation is no doubt largely due to Apple outsourcing to another company (regardless of being overseas or located in the states). Contract employees do not receive decent pay, benefits, or good, safe working conditions. They suffer from high turnover rates and poor attitudes due to the disrespect they receive from management.

      Every company-run call center I’ve ever managed has been pleasant in the extreme, with calls handled efficiently and politely. It’s not the best job in the world, but at least you feel like you’re being compensated fairly for the effort you put in every day.

      I swear, outsourcing is the worst thing to happen in the Customer Service industry. Customer Service agents are your first point of contact with the customer. If you’re paying them $6.00/hour and sticking them in hot, crowded call centers, where even a three minute unscheduled bathroom break is cause for reprimand, it’s not surprising they’re so grumpy when they answer the phone.

  34. yeah, OP fault, I know.

  35. harlock_JDS says:

    i agree it sounds like ‘not a problem’ was misheard as ‘not my problem’. But even if the CSR said “not my problem” so what, they don’t want your life story and it just gets in the way of resolving your problem for you to bring it up.

  36. hallik says:

    Maybe Sheila was pissed he called her Sheena, and racially insulted her..

  37. resonanteye says:

    “I’m sorry sir, but mobileme is no longer tumor-enabled. I’m not authorized to remove stalkers for you either, without additional charges.”

  38. meske says:

    I’m sorry – but why would you tell a CSR on a chat that you have a brain tumor??!? It has noting to do with your request. I just don’t get why people today feel the need to disclose so much personal information to strangers when it has absolutely no relevance to a situation.

    • @meske: I think it’s obvious, they feel they’re entitled since they’ve had something incredibly shitty happen to them. I completely disagree with this attitude but as a CSR I’ve talked to people who told me all about how their life got flipped-turned upside down and I liked to take a minute just sit right there I’ll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel Air.

  39. ViperBorg says:

    What a bit..

  40. graceless says:

    This one I buy.

  41. majortom1029 says:

    Wow you guys have no idea some of the excuses tech supp and cust support hears. the way the person just said well i have a brain tumour makes it sound like he was making it up to get some better service.

    I am somebody who has been through things even cancer survivors feel sorry for me and i never ever use them to my advantage.

  42. WNW says:

    I used to work in phone tech support and people would mention this kind of thing all the time. They had cancer or they were recovering from some medical condition, sometimes they were on heavy medication. Usually they were stuck at home recovering. Might as well get your computer fixed since you feel too sick to do anything else. It’s not a pity thing it’s just explaining extenuating circumstances, why they might be testy or tired or off-kilter. It sure as hell was not about entitlement. I think anyone who suggests it is, is as big a of a jerk as the CSR. I find some of these comments deplorable.

    As a side note, anyone who called in and mentioned they had cancer or anything similar, I fudged the numbers and made it a free call. It was the only thing I could do to keep me sane in that job. They had enough problems without a $29.95-69.95 charge from my company.

  43. The_Atomic_Pod says:

    I think the problem is the callous response. If I found out I had a brain tumor, and vented it in my frustration in a CSR chat, I would not expect a “Oh you poor dear, let me help you” since brain tumor or not, they should be treating me the same exact way!

    The fact that she actually went out of her way, used 2 precious seconds to acknowledge that it isn’t her problem, whether she believes it was or not, is just reprehensible.

  44. ras_d says:

    Brian: “Thanks Sheila – See You Next Tuesday”

  45. fleebailey33 says:

    Ok. so we know what was said. But about 90% of communication is non-verbal. not what you say. BUT HOW YOU SAY IT. She could of been very nice. While when we read it it sounds rude. He could of been rude.

  46. trellis23 says:

    Perhaps the brain tumor isn’t her problem, but if he’s getting harassed and stalked on the email he’s asking to cancel (which was my first impression) than she should care about that, as it’s relevant to his inquiry. Regardless, any person who is good in customer service wouldn’t utter those words.

  47. dragonprism says:

    You know, she wasn’t THAT bad until she said, “Not my problem.”

    That was just so out of left field I have a hard time believing it’s real.

    Though, considering it’s Apple, a little more deliberation and I know it is, sadly.

  48. lol_wut says:

    Just remember that it is easy to play ‘Monday Morning Quaterback’ when you are reading a transcription of a chat between a consumer and a CSR. Business transactions are a two way street and either side of the table is just as likely to make a foolish remark, an unservicable request, or anything else considered highly inappropriate during the course of a conversation or transaction.

    If I had a brain tumor, I don’t think I would tell that to the CSR I’m working with. It really isn’t their problem, and for what it is worth how would they know if I’m being honest? They don’t know me from Adam. And honestly, what if they are having a bad day as well? What if, before taking on my concern, they had four or five people playing the pitty card or were downright rude with them? You don’t know.

    Stick to the facts, be thankful when they are helpful, and request a transfer or hang up and call again if there is a problem. CSR’s are people, too.

  49. coan_net says:

    1. No reason for the person to be rude – but at the same time, what does personal issues have to do in the call?

    2. I have a simpler solution – get a free Yahoo or Google mail account and just stop looking at the other one. Heck, every ISP account I’ve ever had I have never used the e-mail they provided.

  50. Jim Fletcher says:

    I’m gonna go with the “she made a typo” school of thought. The rest of her statements were all very professional and if not FRIENDLY, at least COURTEOUS.

    I think that unless there was additional dialogue after the Steve Jobs threat, that there might have just been a misunderstanding. If she had made a typo, how was she to know that his “thanks for the compassion” was sarcastic? That’s the danger of online communication – so much of what is said in verbal communication doesn’t flow through the tubes that it’s impossible to say what REALLY happened.

  51. Amnesiac85 says:

    I’m slightly interested in the time stamps here. The demeanor of the convo seems to suggest she meant to say “Not A problem.” But that’s me.

    In any case, I don’t even think her saying “Not my problem” is too terrible. Tasteless, yeah, but eh. She provided him service.

  52. Jim Fletcher says:

    And… for everyone saying, “I wouldn’t bother that person with my problems if I had cancer…” Unless you’ve had cancer, you can’t know that.

    I’ve not had it, but when my father was dying of it last year and I had a 12-hour window to get home to see him before he died, and my bank froze my account because of a ridiculously low daily-spending limit, the stress and anger and despair was way more than I could keep in when I was on the phone with the rep at the bank, and the lady there knew in intimate detail what I was going through.

    Sometimes you just HAVE to let it out.

    • digitalgimpus says:

      @brooksosheffield: Just because you “have to let it out”, doesn’t mean someone else has to hear it.

      That’s what social workers, therapists are for. They are licensed and trained for it.

      Not an Tech support line for an electronics manufacturer likely outsourced overseas.

      • Jim Fletcher says:

        @digitalgimpus: I’m not saying that the person on the other end of the line is obligated to care. My point was just that when things in your life are that bad, odds are that the majority of people are going to talk about it.

      • snoop-blog says:

        Yeah if I was the csr, I would have just ignored the statement. I find if you aknowledge what the said, it opens the door to here more of their tiny violin play. I wouldn’t have made the “not my…” comment, but rather completely act as though it was never said.

  53. tastybytes says:

    was the rep a bot?

  54. digitalgimpus says:

    I’m really not sure if that’s appropriate to be mentioning like that. It’s really irrelevant and an attempt to manipulate the CSR.

    People with CSR jobs get this type of stuff all the time. People expect sympathy with their late payments, etc. etc. Or special treatment. I’d guess 99% of people calling are just making it up.

    That said… I have jock itch. I expect a Consumerist rep to show sympathy for my problem.

  55. snoop-blog says:

    wow, waaay too early. looks as though I’m going to have to drink some coffee before making any more pitiful attemps at commenting.

  56. 2719 says:

    Maybe Sheila H had a bad day. Maybe Mac users have a sense of entitlement. I guess I can’t blame them after spending a ton of money on Apple stuff.

    I like how he mentions their God – Steve at the end.
    I am sure Sheila was so scared!

    Anyway most users on this website don’t care about people on the other end. Consumer is always right!

    I disagree.

  57. cookmefud says:

    he really wanted to get the account switched because he was being stalked and was pissed off about it, compounded with the fact that he just found out his brain tumor had resurfaced. he was having a horrible day because of all of those reasons and now it was worse because the csr was not able to help him at all.
    simple enough to understand.
    often in conversations, if I seem to come off as a jerk, I like to clarify why. seems like this is what he was doing.

    her response was “not my problem.”.
    that’s just piss poor.

    she should have said, as any compassionate human being would have, “oh, I’m sorry to hear about that. that sucks. but really, my hands are tied. I wish I could help you, but the software (company policy, etc.) doesn’t allow us to do that.

    or something along those lines.
    she needs retraining, or another job…perhaps as a clerk at the dmv.

  58. ironchef says:

    way to pull the sympathy card.

  59. notme93 says:

    Although Sheila was over the top with her “Not my problem” line, she is right. She can’t give special treatment to people’s claimed illnesses.

    I’m not saying Brian is lying. What I am saying is that companies can’t start giving discounts on cars, special rates on loans, etc just because a customer says they are ill. If you did, every Tom, Dick, and Jane would be calling in saying they have cancer to get special treatment.

    In certain and special circumstances, I’m sure that if someone is ill a company can make allowances on that, but changing the preferences on your cell phone isn’t going to be one of them.

  60. nsv says:

    @Everyone blaming the OP: Have you ever faced terminal cancer?

    Especially when you’re first told, it tends to consume a lot of your attention. Shortly after my mother was diagnosed a couple of months ago, we’d be talking about something completely unrelated and she’d suddenly start crying. (My mother NEVER cries.) It eats at me every minute of every day, and I’m not even the patient. When we first found out and I had to go home, there was a problem with the system when I tried to book my flight. It came out then, too, even though I never meant it to. After over an hour with no progress I snapped at the CSR, something *I* never do. I had to apologize and explain why I was so short-tempered.

    I did it because I wanted to say “I’m sorry, I’m not usually such a jerk but I’m under terrible stress,” not “Feel sorry for me and give me a discount.”

    Yes, the tumor was not really relevant to Brian’s conversation. True, it probably should not have influenced the CSR in any way. I know, people will say anything to try to get some help. But for crying out loud, if someone has just told you that they have a brain tumor which will cause suffering that you (hopefully) cannot begin to imagine, do not dismiss them with a very rude “Not my problem.”

    “I’m sorry to hear that.” How hard was that? “That’s terrible!” One more letter in that phrase–not too inconvenient to type, is it? “I can understand why you’re upset. Now about this account…” Would that have been so difficult?

    If you can’t find one iota of compassion for the customers you serve, perhaps you should look for another line of work, one that doesn’t involve contact with people. I’m not saying that the remark should have been followed by a half hour pity party, just that the CSR should be polite. Is that too much to ask?

  61. erratapage says:

    I often try to connect with the human being on the other line by telling them “my story.” I sometimes ask them for “their story.” Sometimes, I just want someone to cushion bad news or to search their brain for a way to help me. I rarely want something that I’m not “entitled” to. My brain doesn’t work that way.

    I don’t understand the reactions you all are having here.

  62. nweaver says:

    Also, the CSR’s suggestion is painless: Take the account you want to be full status, pay for full status, cancel the other account, the remaining balance is pro-rated.

    The only negative to the customer is now he pays for a 6 month extension, which if he doesn’t want, he can cancel after 6 months and get the remaining amount of money back.

  63. ionerox says:

    Whatever the CSR’s problem was, if what he was asking for was outside the realm of possiblities with the new MobileMe services- she could have explained it much better.

    BTW Brian- good luck getting much help with MobileMe at an Apple retail store. Apple keeps all the divisions pretty segregated, so they have no clue how to handle MobileMe/.Mac issues (er, at least from my experience).

  64. cametall says:

    Freudian slip?

    Maybe “my” was supposed to be “a”.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @cametall: But then why not explain that after the OP got upset? “Sorry, I meant not a problem in reference to what you’re trying to do with your accounts.” I suppose it could have been an accident but it seems that explaining would be better than ignoring that the customer got offended.

      @deadspork: That, to me, makes less sense than saying that in response to the cancer. That the OP is being stalked and harassed is probably why he’s trying to change his accounts in the first place. That part is actually relevant to the transaction if only to explain why he’s trying to do it.

      • BuddyGuyMontag says:

        @Rectilinear Propagation: If this was a chat transcript, she probably didn’t know she had made a mistake unless it was pointed out to her. Brian made no mention of Sheila’s faux pas, just snarky comments about “Thanks for your compassion” and “I hope Steve Jobs reads this”.

        If he said, “What do you mean, “Not my problem”, then he would have gotten the apology. She probably didn’t realize the typo.

        • Rectilinear Propagation says:

          …she probably didn’t know she had made a mistake…
          @BuddyGuyMontag: Ah. OK, if it was a mistake I can see how the OP’s response might not have been enough for the CSR to realize what had happened.

          Why you would even mention your health concerns unless you were angling to get the deal you wanted is beyond me.
          I’ve had strangers on the bus start telling me about their health problems. I don’t think the OP was necessarily trying to get something out of mentioning it though from what I’ve read on I could understand why the CSR might have thought so.

        • joeblack13 says:


          I’m not sure “not my problem” is really a typo. What do you think Sheila meant to type instead? “I’m sorry to hear about your problems, let’s get this one fixed!” Probably. Yeah, you know what? I bet that’s exactly it. Good call.

          • BuddyGuyMontag says:

            @joeblack13: I’ve had several statements that I’ve typed via email and/or IM have their meanings drastically changed by the addition or substitution of one word.

            If you’re typing constantly throughout the day, words can get mistaken. So I can see “Not a problem” becoming “Not my problem”, especially since there’s no indication of Sheila getting hostile in the entire transcript.

  65. Corporate_guy says:

    Would it make a difference if the CSR had said, “I’m sorry, but I cannot help you with that?” Or just ignored it? Frankly, these people might get hassled with stories like this all the time. A blunt response that shuts down the erroneous story isn’t exactly a bad thing. I would also bet they are timed on these support chats.
    And just read it, “Brian: Frankly, I’m being harassed and stalked and I just found out I the brain tumor I thought went away didn’t. So my day isn’t really peachy.”
    It just reads really awkward. Unlike a phone call, there is no tone to that awkward story. And zero credibility. But most of all, if the 1st level CSR can’t do it, no story can change that. Always ask for escalation when someone a) Doesn’t know what you are asking for or b)Claims they can’t do something simple.

  66. Jon Mason says:

    Yeah its not the CSR’s problem and if I had a tumor I wouldnt be talking about it in my Apple support call – BUT, to say “not my problem” is just stupid. You at least say “I’m sorry about that.” or some other bullshit phrase and then move on like it’s not your problem anyway

  67. deadspork says:

    She probably typed “not my problem” before the brain tumor came up, in reference to the stalking thing. Not very polite, but probably a bit misconstrued.

  68. SharkD says:

    Last year, I spent about 5 months working retail at a [Fruit] Store. I saw people rudely demand the dumbest things, then offer up lame excuses for why they should get special treatment.

    I literally had one couple in their mid-50s come up to the counter, on the day after Thanksgiving, and demand that I give them a new [MP3-player n] because theirs stopped working “for no apparent reason, and it was practically new.”

    She read-off and I checked the serial and found it was actually a more than 18 months old and out of warranty. They said it didn’t matter, it was free as part of a promotion and they wanted a new one. I offered them a service replacement, and they stomped their feet and demanded a brand new one — which was a newer model, with more storage and more features — for free. When I told them I couldn’t do that, the wife said, “this thing’s been broken for eight months and I want it replaced.”

    When I explained to her that had she brought it in eight months ago, it would have been covered by warranty — she erupted, screaming that she’d broken her leg at the time and couldn’t travel to the store and demanded to see the manager while the husband tried to make himself invisible. The manager, offered sympathy, and a service replacement at the service replacement price, but not a free [MP3-player n]. She screamed, “Well, I’m not ever buying another [Fruit] product, again!” causing people to back away from her. The manager leaned in and offered the service replacement, plus free in-store training, which would normally run $99/year and she, disparagingly retorted, “I don’t own any of your computers.”

    She slammed the [MP3-player n] down on the counter and stormed out of the store, her husband in tow.

    The broken [MP3-player n] that “just stopped working?” It had a shattered screen and was bent like a banana, due to someone dropping something very heavy on it. The back casing had a circular dent shaped like the head of a hammer.

  69. jchabotte says:

    Sounds to me that the CSR was responding with “Not my problem” to the “I have a stalker” comment, not necessarily the brain tumor.

  70. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    Sheila meant to say Not a Problem. Sheila gave no indication that she was being hostile throughout the transcript. You just don’t drop an insult like that and continue to service the problem.

    I’m sorry, this is a non-story and someone being oversensitive. Worry about your health first, and not about a CSR.

  71. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    The problem with getting customer service via chat is that you have no idea of emotion, inflection, or anything. I see it as an Honest to God typo that wasn’t pointed out to the CSR. Why you would even mention your health concerns unless you were angling to get the deal you wanted is beyond me.

  72. Consumerist-Moderator-Roz says:

    Folks, yet another reminder to

    a) Read the comments above you


    b) Follow the comment code!

    Blaming the victim is not appropriate. The Consumerist, as the name implies, is a site for consumers — not for picking consumers apart. Please focus your comments on the company / employee aspect, or offer helpful suggestions. Nitpicking the OP will not be tolerated, and we’ve warned this several times in the thread.

    • BDaiber says:


      Even if we feel the “victim” is partially at fault? In my original post, I brought up the fact that I believe a consumer should act as professional as they would like to be treated. Is that not a helpful suggestion?

      If someone went into a CSR situation swearing and telling off the CSR, and the CSR eventually reacted in kind, would that also make the Consumerist? Are we supposed to support someone who we feel made the first error and continued to exacerbate the situation?

      I think the general consensus of every poster, both pro-brian and pro-sheila, have agreed that you don’t interject personal bits into CSR calls. That’s the helpful tip for Brian. Sometimes, it is inevitable. However, I believe you can derive Brian’s true motive for bringing it up through his comments after Sheila’s slip up. Threatening an expose at the Consumerist and name dropping Steve Jobs were intentional threats made after an appeal to pity failed.

      If you are trying to tell us that we as Consumers have no responsibility for our actions and words when we are being served, then I would say we shouldn’t hold companies responsible for their actions and words. Proper etiquette is a two way street.

      I understand that this is a consumer oriented website. As many stories that you post where the consumer is totally correct and righteous, you couldn’t possibly post a controversial consumer experience that sparks (mostly) civil debate, right?

      • BrianDaBrain says:

        @BDaiber: Exactly. As long as the critique is constructive, I see no problem. The idea behind the website, I believe, is to hold companies accountable for their actions, but it is also to educate consumers in the ways of getting the best results possible, and constructive feedback does exactly that.

      • Mr. Guy says:

        @BDaiber: i agree- debating the consumer’s behavior in the interaction IS an important part of the discussion of this incident. The consumerist comments code says “assume the OP is acting in good faith”. why should we have to assume that when there is evidence in his own account that might lead us to conclude otherwise? I’m all for banning obvious trolls, but in my brief reading of the 100+ comments, i don’t think that anybody has flamed on the OP just for the sake of getting a response. it’s all been a legit discussion of what an effective interaction should look like, and what information is appropriate for an exchange like that.

        the consumerist comments code is a fine thing, and i’m all for a comments section where reasonable people can engage in a civil debate. But sometimes i feel the comments moderation can be a little nannyish.

    • ctaylor says:

      @BDaiber: Nicely said. I agree with you.

      @Consumerist-Moderator-Roz: What the consumer says is just as valid and important to the story as the company response. It is not as if the CSR just types in a vacuum. CSRs are responding to customer input. That input becomes just as much of a part of the story as the output.

      We can all learn how to be better consumers in order to get what we want out of the companies we deal with. In no way does that excuse poor customer service, but it doesn’t mean that consumers should get a free pass.

  73. shepd says:

    As a former CSR:

    – Saying “not my problem”: Bad, always. Causes problems, always.
    – Saying “oh, that’s terrible”: Neutral, always. Causes the call to be longer, makes your stats higher.
    – Saying absolutely nothing and sticking to the topic: Perfect. You ignore all extraneous information and stick on the topic. The customer infers that no matter how crazy the excuse they can come up with is, they will need to stay within the rules, or speak with a manager.

    If they repeat their off-topic problem with the intention to wrestle more service than they deserve, I would always explain “If you have a need to go outside of what our company can provide, you’ll need to write to us, preferably with evidence of the issue and how it affects your account.” We usually weren’t allowed to suggest they ask for a supervisor/manager, and where I was, even if they did, 9 times out of 10 the supervisor (team leader) was usually too lazy to care and just had me put them on hold until they went away.

    Since 90% of the excuses had nothing to do with their account, ie they were things like “I have heart problems and don’t want to argue” or “I have 10 of my spawn screaming at me and just need it done!” or “I’ve called 30000 times and it’s still not done!” it was pointless to discuss them anyways. Now, for the actual useful ones (like “My spouse died and I need out of my spouse’s contract”) I’d make sure they’d get to the right people.

    But, continued persistence on off-topic issues like this would not only put me in a bad mood (and therefore less likely to find the solution for you) but it might get you the perma-hold if you ever insisted for the supervisor (yes, I’d always ask, and I’d usually be told to put them on hold for 20 minutes and see if the “problem” resolves itself).

  74. BrianDaBrain says:

    This is NOT a blame the OP thing here, but I work customer service, and I hate it when people play the pity card. Telling me about your personal problems is not going to help me solve your service problem. Sorry. If the personal problem is relevant to the service problem you are having (as the stalker is in this case), let the CSR know at the beginning of the exchange. “I need to change my email address because I’m receiving harassing emails.”

    That being said, Sheila did not handle this correctly at all from a customer service standpoint. What Chris said may not have impacted what she could or could not do about his issue, but at least show some humanity. A simple “I’m sorry” would have gone a long way towards keeping this customer happy.

    • Parting says:

      @BrianDaBrain: I guess this is from perspective ”shit happens”.

      If this is one time slip, than it’s forgivable. The rep is human, too (If this was a bot, then it’s makes the story even better.)

      An apology would be appropriate.

  75. Amiga says:

    Wow, the guy vents for *two seconds* and the rest of you think he is a scammer. I’ve had people tell me about their problems, but unlike the rest of you, I try to listen compassionately for at a brief moment without a smartass response.

    I love how you some of you think the robotic it can’t be done responses are okay.

  76. trujunglist says:

    I dunno, I started to write something about how I believed the customer and that the rep probably should’ve been a little nicer or just ignored it, but then I reread the comment and it seemed like his mounting frustration with not being able to do what he wanted made him say it to try and get her to give him special treatment.
    I’ve also been treated very well by Apple over the many years I’ve used Apple products, but I’ve also occasionally been treated pretty shabbily (and then treated really well to make up for it, but still…).
    So, I’m washing my hands of this one.

  77. giroml says:

    WTF? Who tells some random customer service idiot their personal problems?

  78. Sparerib says:

    What is truly funny is that: had the CSR been compassionate about the tumor remark AND a reader of Consumerist, this post would have been “CSR: Customer Wants Line Shut Off Because Of Brain Tumor.” She wasn’t very nice about it, but honestly, is it relevant?

  79. OprahBabb says:

    I work for Apple albeit NOT a Mobile Me rep. I want to say as HUMAN
    BEING I hope that was SERIOUS typo. If it wasn’t, I hope she was
    reprimanded something serious for being a dumb ass.

    You are on your last life Sheila, no more continues. Make it count. lol

  80. AtomikB says:

    I was a CSR for years and I HATED it when customers would try to get pity like that.

    “I’m disabled, give me a refund!”

    “My grandma was just cremated, so I never installed my software, now it’s 6 months later and I want a refund!”

    This is SO MUCH BS! A customer’s request should be evaluated on its own merits. It’s not the CSR’s (or the company’s) problem if the customer’s life is not what they hoped it would be.

  81. Mr. Guy says:

    uh, and apparently i’m all for overusing the phrase “all for”.

  82. Parting says:

    Maybe I’m a complete monster, but I find the reply hilarious. (And very rude, and unprofessional…)

    How overworked you have to be, to answer like that.

  83. mewyn dyner says:

    I’m going to side with the CSR in this case. I can’t tell if this was over the phone or text only. If this were a conversation over text, it was likely a mistyped word and she should have apologized. If it were over the phone he likely heard “my” and she likely said “a”. It’s very plausible.

    Plus, is it just me or does this guy have a giant chip on his shoulder. Looking at the way he made his conversation here and his other blog posts, it really seems that way.

  84. zeitguess says:

    It’s called ‘Customer Service’, not ‘Psychiatric Counseling’.

    I used to work technical support and would have customers use the pity card on me all the time. Sometimes you would get customers who were just TMI by nature and chatty, while others were obviously using their ailments/lack of money/child support woes to try and get over on me. I don’t agree with the tech’s response, they should have ignored it and gone on. I also don’t agree that the customer should have been playing an ailment for sympathy – much less get it posted on Consumerist.

    On the flip side, I have called customer service and have agents tell me their life story while trying solve an issue. Bottom line is lack of professionalism – for both agents and customers.

  85. smokinfoo says:

    I have no pity for brain tumor man. I work in customer service. People try to pull that crap all the time. Mentioning your personal issue is ruder then saying “Not my problem”. You are trying to unduly burden someone else with your problem, a stranger no less. Save that crap for your family.

  86. halo969 says:

    I used to work in customer service and that rep was heartless. End of story. It doesn’t matter whether the OP was lying or not. Err on the side of compassion. A simple “I’m sorry to hear that” would have been fine. I was less rude to the elderly people who wanted to talk about their vacuum cleaners than this person was. It’s disgusting. Also, I once was telling the company’s rates to a customer and they replied, “Even if you have cancer?” and I replied, “Yes. I’m sorry, but the rates are the same for everyone”. Decency doesn’t cost much and I have no sympathy for the bad karma this person just earned by being so uncaring.

  87. CSR says:

    People drop personal info into their calls to CSRs all the time. Some just are the types who tell their whole lives to everyone they talk to. I’ve had plenty of calls where they weren’t trying to get anything special out of the company, but suddenly start telling me very personal things. Just the other day I had someone call in to get their billing address changed, then started telling me all about the affair his soon to be ex-wife had.

    And plenty do it to try and get special treatment. My personal favorite was the guy who wanted a free phone because his mother supposedly had died. He was so talkitive that I had time to review the remarks. It seems that his mother died three other times in the past year. Ok, it’s possible he had several step-mothers and he was refering to them, and had just gone through a hellish year. So even though I didn’t believe him, I erred on the side of compassion and expressed sympathy.

    But no, he didn’t get a new phone.

  88. fall_farewell says:

    So someone was rude and out of line, although Brian’s problem may be very serious, this is blowing the call way out of proportion, especially as much as it seems like a freudian slip.

    Also, being a customer service rep myself, I have to say, I’ve seen it all, and nearly every time someone mentions something like that it is for extra sympathy merely to get what they want. I’ve had people sound like they are crying uncontrollably about how their package didn’t arrive on time, and when I let them know that the shipping will be refunded, ….all of a sudden.. like magic.. their crying instantly stops and they have a normal and pleasant voice and thank me. Unbelievable. Just because you are ill doesn’t mean you get 20% off, I am sorry.

    Sheila should have just said “not my problem” in her brain and not let it slip out of her mouth. But she did, she made a mistake. Wow surprising that humans would make mistakes. Get. Over. It.

  89. smint says:

    Whether life has been so great for you that you’d stuff grenades up your butt to be a little less happy or if you’ve had every single different kind of cancer possible really has no bearing what a CSR can or can’t do for you.

  90. CompyPaq says:

    Apple is slipping. Leopard was buggy upon release. They are still having problems with iPhone 2.x.x, MobileMe was a fiasco, and their customer support, which was previously known for being very good has seemingly gone waaaay down hill. Still better than HP who has screwed up do to THEIR error several times and expects me to spend hours getting it fixed without so much as an “I’m Sorry”, but still Apple, I expect better from you

  91. The customer is being absurd, here. Absurd. They were lucky to get away with ‘not my problem’, to be honest.

  92. HfAsianInvasion says:

    The correct answer is:

    Okay, I’ve deleted both your accounts. Enjoy that cancer. Good day!

  93. vladthepaler says:

    She’s right, it’s not her problem. Her job is to advise and help the customer, which she did. Letting him create a new account and offering a prorated refund is a reasonable solution.