Telling An Orbitz Rep What A Blogger Is

There was an amusing little tangent in my conversation yesterday with an Orbitz rep when I went to change my ticket. Talking with her was the first time I’ve ever hinted to a telephone customer service rep that I write for The Consumerist.

ORBITZ (in clipped, offshore-outsourced call-center perfect English diction): Mr. Popken, is this a business trip?
BEN: Yes.
ORBITZ: What business are you in, Mr. Popken?
BEN: I’m a blogger.
ORBITZ: What is a “blogger?”
BEN: Someone who blogs. Heh. It’s a special kind of website with lots of posts arranged in reverse chronological order.
ORBITZ: I see.
Long silence.
ORBITZ: So you are like Perez Hilton?

BEN: Sure, we’re both bloggers. But we write about different subjects.
ORBITZ: Do you write about celebrities?
BEN: Ah, no, I write about customer service and consumer affairs. So watch out!
ORBITZ: I always deliver an excellent customer service experience every time so I have nothing to fear from any blogger.
BEN: That’s excellent.
ORBITZ: How am I doing so far?
BEN: Great, you’re doing a great job.
ORBITZ: Thank you for that compliment, Mr. Popken.
BEN: Anytime.

(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. ElizabethD says:

    LOL. The new CS mantra:

    “I always deliver an excellent customer service experience every time so I have nothing to fear from any blogger.”

    (whistling past the graveyard, she is…)

  2. discounteggroll says:

    “leggo my ego”

  3. PStanger says:

    No it is the women in the photo silly. CS reps are an army of mass produced clones.

  4. mike says:

    Somewhere, Ric Romero is smiling because he wasn’t the last one to discover blogging.

  5. LiquidGravity says:

    Was she coming on to you too? It sounds kinda flirty.

  6. startertan says:

    Hey that girl in the picture is pretty hot! I think if I were Ben I’d be offended to be lumped into the same group as Perez Hilton.

  7. Ayo says:

    ahahahahaha. Perez Hilton. I love how this dude/chic knows who perez hilton is. I only know because of my girlfriend, but thats just funny to me.

  8. TheBusDriver says:

    Ben “I’m kind of like Perez Hilton, but more about customer service” Popken
    Has a role of your tongue feel to it

  9. VA_White says:

    Ben – The Perez Hilton of Consumer Affairs.

    Consumer Juice, Not From Concentrate

  10. superchou says:

    that’s cute.

  11. sassbrown74 says:

    “So you are like Perez Hilton?” It would make my day to hear those words coming out of somebody’s mouth.

  12. lpranal says:

    I liked the part where she said “Your blogger mind tricks won’t work on me” 10 seconds after learning what one is.

  13. Mysterry says:

    lol… that’s pretty funny.

  14. closethipster says:

    “So you are like Perez Hilton?”

    Ray, when someone asks you if you’re a god, you say “YES!”

    Awesome. Thanks for sharing that.

  15. Mykro says:

    I bet she went home after work and got straight online to Google “Ben Popken”.

    • homerjay says:

      @Mykro: And was subsequently highly disappointed to find out that she wasn’t actually talking to someone ‘like Perez Hilton.” :)

  16. Killians1978 says:

    Very cute story. Also, I wish more reps could have that kind of confidence and purpose. I swear, they should incorporate bloggers like the Consumerist into their training materials:

    “This is a ‘blog.’ It has the power to ruin a company’s reputation amongst a cross section of the internet using public. Savvy consumers use these blogs *fingerquotes* to assess a company’s value and service. Your job as a customer service rep in store, online, or over the phone, is to ensure you provide the best possible service, everytime, so you have nothing to fear from bloggers, ever.”

  17. Don't bother reading this says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone ever say “Heh” in an actual conversation.

  18. shepd says:

    No talk about orbitz is whole without a link to maddox. Hopefully I helped make it even more expensive! :-D

  19. Burgandy says:

    So how long before we get the pics of the companies with Ben’s artistic additions to them, done in paint of course!

  20. muddgirl says:

    Is this a new thing among Customer Service agents? I got a new credit card the other day, and when my husband called to activate it, the CS agent tried to start up a little small talk about the weather while it was processing. I just felt sorry for the guy – he was obviously in the wrong job – but my husband just felt a little creeped out.

    • Alpine75 says:

      @muddgirl: @muddgirl:

      I like it when CSR’s actually try to make conversation. It brings the customer back into customer service. Makes it more human and friendly rather than the mechanical adversarial relationship consumers tend to have with CSR’s.

    • TragedyAndy says:

      @muddgirl: It’s their master trickery. See above: Jedi mind tricks.

    • CaptainSemantics says:

      @muddgirl: When I’m working customer service, I’m always chatting up with the customers. Granted, I’m a talkative guy, but people seem to like it for the most part. I think they like the fact that they’re not talking to an android or such.

      • oneandone says:

        @CaptainSemantics: I like a little bit of chattiness, but perhaps because I’m not that talkative, I don’t like when they ask me about my day, the weather, etc. Last call I made to one of my CCs included the CSR asking, “So, are you working today?” (it was a Saturday). I didn’t know what to say other than, “No….. but I assume you are.” And then I felt awkward. Jedi mind tricks indeed.

        • RedwoodFlyer says:


          I worked at a CC back in the day….small talk was a great way to “out” potential fraudsters..or even nervous relatives trying to pretend they’re the cardholder. When you ask questions like “are you working today?,” for all practical purposes, a fraudster assumes you already know the answer…but since they don’t they get really nervous.

          That and it’s nice knowing you’re not talking to MS Sam on the other end. As a matter of fact, one of our flight attendants was a 1-800-Contacts rep that did a great job handling a situation I had…her attitude towards the client was so great that we nearly begged her to come onboard!

          It’s a nice sign when pax take the time to write in good experiences with our crewmembers…

  21. says:

    Hahaha cute exchange.

  22. corinthos says:

    Most customer service reps can’t have a certain time limit of moments of silence. So either they can ask you pointless questions in that time or talk about random stuff.
    I’ve worked recently for a few places, it sucks having to come up with something to chit chat over just because the computers take so long to do anything.

  23. a_pink_poodle says:

    A blog is a business? I thought it was just some livejournal thing.

    • Fist-o™ says:

      @a_pink_poodle: I guess it depends on what you call a “Blog”. I consider “Journalism”. But then, I’m just a rotten old curmudgeon that cringes at the creation of new words.

  24. shorty63136 says:

    Holy crap – I never thought I’d hear Perez Hilton and Ben Popken in the same sentence!

    I’m not sure how I feel about this. *squints*

    I’ll get back to you…

  25. dangermike says:

    Good show, Mr. Popken. I listen to a lot of talk radio and star personality testimonial advertisements are rarely as subtle and genuine. A bit of consumer advice, however: I’ve noticed that if you use any of the travel search engines/booking agents (travelocity, orbitz, expedia, kayak, etc.), you can often save a couple dollars by booking through the airline offering the flight you’re interested in. And of course, always book well in advance.

  26. BigBoat says:

    While “blogger” is getting more awareness, were I in Ben’s shoes I would tell folk I was a columnist or reporter—>for an online magazine on consumer affairs—>called It’s arguably more true than “blogger”, and more people would understand it.

    Or are you trying to legitimize blogging and bloggers into the world? Which is fair.

  27. Fist-o™ says:

    My reaction to the words “Blog” and “Blogger”

    1. Denial (“This buzzword will disappear, like ‘Radical!’ No need to fear!”)
    2. Hatred (I ****ING HATE THE WORD BLOG!)
    3. Inevitable social conditioning (“Tonight at 5, a blogger on the news!”)
    4. The begrudging creation of a blog (First entry: “I hate blogs and nobody is going to care what I put here, because I don’t care what other bloggers think… But I guess I’ll make one anyway…” *Clickety Clackety Typeity Type*)
    5. Find actual interesting blog (“Wow! I thought MY life was effed up! I hope he updates it again soon”)
    6. Learned Helplessness / Acceptance (“Mom! Why are you asking me about the baby? Don’t you read my….. BLOOOOOOOG!?!?”)

    Having said that…

    If I were on the order of a Gawker journalist, I would refer to myself as a Journalist, not a blogger.

  28. tanya.peacock says:

    :D There’s my laugh for the day.

  29. rhinestonedarling says:

    Aww, I think that story is charming.

  30. Meathamper says:

    “I always deliver an excellent customer service experience every time so I have nothing to fear from any blogger.”

    I’m so putting that on a T-shirt.

  31. illtron says:

    I like this lady’s confidence.

  32. Anonymous says:

    I find it extremely annoying to have a CSR try to “chat me up” simply to fill what would otherwise be a pleasant 3 or 4 second interval of silence. I don’t want to establish a relationship, I just want to get some business transacted. Yes, I’m cranky. Small talk is tedious.

  33. mariospants says:

    What’s funny is thinking of people in India reading Perez Hilton’s blog.