Frustrations of a call center worker
BY STEPHANIE ZIMMERMANN email@example.com November 23, 2012 12:12AM
THE FIXER HAS SAVED YOU
Updated: December 24, 2012 7:25AM
Dear Readers: This holiday season when you’re tempted to scream at a customer service worker in a call center, try to refocus your frustration on the corporation instead.
Sasha T. of Chicago explains why:
“I was one of those call center employees, working for a major telecommunications company. It is true that they give the customer service reps numbers and quotas to maintain. If you don’t hit your numbers, you are sent through intensive training or handed your walking papers.
“The quicker I could get you off the phone, the better my numbers were. Quantity always came before quality.
“All the calls were auto-dispatched. Employees were expected to wrap up their conversation with Customer A, type notes while they were still talking with Customer A and get them off the phone, because as soon as Customer A hung up, Customer B would be on the line.
“There were no breaks in between calls, and if you needed to use the restroom you had two minutes to do so. And believe me, they were timing us!
“I hope this sheds some light, however dim, on the inner workings of call centers. I could go on for days about the crappy work environment many have to endure just to put food on the table.”
Dear Fixer: I’m writing on behalf of my mother. She is a senior citizen who lives in South Holland. My mom entered into a contract last July with Champion Remodelers of Chicago to have her roof repaired.
In September, she gave them a $6,000 insurance check as a deposit. They cashed it. The work was supposed to begin right away, but we have not heard from Champion Remodelers or Donald Powell.
We tried calling all the phone numbers we have, as well as going by his apparent place of business. We would really appreciate any advice. My mom needs to have her roof repaired before winter arrives.
Nancy Neal, Union City, N.J.
Dear Nancy: Champion Remodelers would probably be champs at dodgeball for all the ducking they’ve done to your mom and to us.
Despite numerous attempts to get a refund for your mom, the best we got was a conversation four weeks ago with “Mike,” a Champion Remodelers employee who told us Powell couldn’t come to the phone but claimed they were still planning to do your mom’s roofing job.
That was on Oct. 26 as we stood outside the business address of Champion Remodelers in the 1700 block of South Indiana Street, which turned out to be not a contractor’s office but a residential building. We also talked to the building manager, who didn’t know anything about Champion Remodelers or Powell but told us that another consumer had come by recently with a check for the contractor.
Mike, the phone answerer, claimed Powell could be reached on his cellphone, but that turned out to be disconnected.
And in a few days, the main number was disconnected, too.
We’ve unfortunately reached the end of what we can do and have referred your mom to the proper authorities. We’ll update when we hear more.
Meanwhile, this sad tale reminds us to remind other readers: Never pay a large deposit for contracting work up front. And be sure to thoroughly check out anyone you’re thinking of hiring.
Dangerous laundry packets
If you use those handy single-load liquid laundry detergent packets, please keep them locked up and away from little kids. In 2012 alone, about 500 children and adults suffered injuries from this type of product, according to stats compiled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The packets are soft and colorful and look a lot like candy, toys or teethers.
Some of the children who ingested them were hospitalized due to loss of consciousness, excessive vomiting, drowsiness, throat swelling and difficulty breathing (even requiring intubation). Others suffered eye injuries after coming into contact with ruptured packets.
Getting the runaround over a consumer problem? Tell it to The Fixer at suntimes.com/fixer Letters are edited for length and clarity.