Archive for April, 2012

The Lasts

You’ve got a vice, oh yes you do. It’s something that you need/want to give up for the sake of your health, wealth, or just general wellbeing. Maybe it’s some minor OCD thing you picked up years ago, like unconsciously dry humping your bed covers as you fall asleep every night. Maybe it’s that you’ve gotten over the good bit of the heroin habit we all develop at some point in our lives and you think it’s time to kick it, who knows? Whatever it is, it’s something you do all the time and you want to stop it, so you set yourself a deadline. Sensible right? But it’s really not, because if you think that you’re absolutely guaranteed go through a big dose of The Lasts.

How formal and intentional The Lasts are varies from person to person and what they’re doing, but it’ll happen nonetheless. You’ll set yourself a deadline, let’s say next monday. That’s a few days away, and you’re absolutely definitely going to do it, so seen as it’s the last time you’ll get to enjoy your little vice for a while you’ll merrily indulge in it guilt-free. You don’t need that huge bar of chocolate, but as you’ll be giving it all up in a couple of days where’s the harm in enjoying everything one last time?

You’ll put this planned new beginning on something halfway significant, it’ll be the start of a week or month, but especially the new year. You’ll chose to finally get that weird lump in your balls looked at on the anniversary of the day your curious aunt died of prostate cancer, but you won’t quit smoking on a thursday because only perverts stop doing things part-way through the week. You know it to be true, it’s an unspoken and instinctual part of us all to delay things and even them up to make it all tidy.

I’m not innocent in it, I’ve done it for as long as I can remember, whether it was school projects or working out (which since 13 I’d promised to do every summer so I’d return to school six weeks later a bit closer to being an Adonis) we’ve all put off giving something up under the rational that it wasn’t the right time to do it, or that a couple more days would make sense, or after you’ve gotten the right amount of money or fulfilled some other bollocks objective before you could get started on this one.

Truth is there’s no reason why you can’t just start/stop right now, and it took me a while to realise that myself. This entry is sounding like some sort of shitey self-help guide, but if you’ve read this blog at any length at all you’ll know that I don’t believe in the golden light inside or the happiness of the universe. I much prefer to go with the tried and tested “fuck you” miserable attitude to sorting things out. It’s a nice nihilistic elitism that states the idea that inanimate objects can hold sway over you is fucking retarded, and that I’m far too above that shit to allow it to happen. Trying to quit smoking? Fuck you cigarettes. Going on a diet? Fuck you creamcakes.

And that’s all there is to it, besides practicalities like willpower and the fact you really want some of that damn delicious heroin. But I can’t be fucked going into all that, that’s for you to figure out. Me? I’m busy telling loaves of bread and ounces of weed to go fuck themselves.

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Time’s getting on, I’ve been doing proper tech support with the nation’s favourite ISP for the past four months now, and during that time more and more patterns have appeared in how customers speak and act. Below are ten things, some little oddities, others gripes, that I notice they all like to say or do. If you’ve got any more from your job, feel free to add them to the comments below. By the way, assume that the customer’s voice is that of a middle-class indignant English woman, as that’s the kind that drive me up the wall most of all.

1. “I’m paying for a service I’m not getting!”

Well no fucking shit, here was me sitting here handling calls to do with our non-existent free charity accounts and you’re coming along saying that you’re paying for the internet as if this is somehow news to me? Once was forgivable, but then you keep repeating it and fucking repeating it, as if this has any bearing at all other than lowering my opinion of you. I know your internet is fucked, that’s why you phoned up. I’ve got lights and numbers and facts and figures pasted all over my fucking screen telling me that your internet is broken. When I tell you what the problem is, don’t then repeat it like a fucking mantra as if the gods of broadband will suddenly turn it back on for you.

2. “What would you do if it was Richard that was calling up?”

For starters, me and auld Rich (as in Branson) are best mates, he sits four desks down from me as this is a small family run company of course, plus he wouldn’t be half as cranky on the phone. Secondly, he might own the company, but he’s too busy figuring out if his private island is big enough to have a runway for his space planes on it. Thirdly, don’t ask me idiotic questions like what would happen if the face of one of the world’s largest conglomerates was to phone me up, because you’ll know the answer will always be “the exact same level of service as you sir!”

3. “But I’m paying you for the internet!”

And the internet you have. That’s a thick white cable coming in off the street, firing bits of light down it into a box that makes sense of it. That cable is fine, the box is working, and would you look at that, you can even get it on every desktop, laptop, iPhone, Playstation and even the damn printer. You’re therefore not due a refund or a technician (more on them later) to try and get it working. Would you demand a repair man if you shrunk your shirts in the tumble dryer? Would you demand a refund from the garage because you bought a new radio for the car but you couldn’t get it to work? No? Then why do you expect me to know the intimate workings of that Thai knock-off iPad you got for £35 off the guy that also sells the fake Rolexes when you were on holiday?

4. “I want an engineer!”

Ah, technicians. Strange creatures who I control, sending them here, sending them there, and sending them fucking nowhere they aren’t supposed to go. They work for the ISP, that means they know all about ISP stuff. They’ll run a cable into your house, set up your telly and give you a shiny new modem to get online with. They’ll even make sure it’s working. And that’s all they do. Techs don’t touch your stuff, they aren’t computer repairmen, and for the last fucking time no I can’t send one out because you can’t get wireless three floors up when the router is under your ornate wooden desk wrapped in tinfoil. Now, I get that people might not know exactly what techs are and aren’t allowed to do, so asking once is fine. If you’re a lady with a voice like sex chocolate, you can even ask twice as I know I’ve got a pretty strong accent when I’m horny. But once I’ve told you, don’t demand, you won’t get it. Hell, if I did book someone for you I’d be popular down the tech shed, they’d take one look at the situation, know full well they can’t touch it, and thank me for the extended lunch I’ve gifted them with. And wanking in the toilet using wifi will still be merely a faraway dream for you.

5. “I want a new modem!”

So you’ve heard about one of our all-in-one hubs, you’ve went to your friend’s house and marvelled at its sleek design and elegant appearance. It’s quite simply the Rolls-Royce of internet equipment, and you so desperately covet one.  But wait, your modem is still working, your connection is fine, you’re even getting slightly more speed than you’re meant to! So why the fuck do you expect me to replace your fully working equipment free of charge? Is it the wireless router that comes built-in? But you’ve already got one! Is it that you don’t have a router? Tough, once again, you’re only paying for the internet. “But new customers get them, and I’ve been with you for X years!” Your point being? The shit works, it might not be stylish, but it does its job, and it’s done it damn well. Your speed won’t increase by buying one, I’ve told you that, but still you persist. This means you’re doing it purely for vanity, and I despise you for it. If you must, I can sell you one for an extortionate amount you’ll immediately be offended by, even more so when I say you could get it for free by upgrading your package to a higher speed as it’s only the hubs that handle them. Ironically, the hubs themselves are pieces of shite that I replace a few times a day anyway, kinda cutting off your nose to spite your face by furiously wanting one.

6. “I’ll move to <INSERT RIVAL COMPANY HERE> if it doesn’t get done soon!”

Cool, go ahead, I care not a jot. It doesn’t make me go faster, it doesn’t make me try harder or bother me in the slightest. You can rant and rave and scream and shout. While you’re doing all that it’s just white noise as I bring up the list of problems that’s in your area, what the line going into your house is like and my big ol’ database of what the modems in your town are doing right now. Saves me having to put any effort into making small talk while I do it, so feel free. The sweet talking department isn’t even in the same country as me let alone the same building, eventually you’ll threaten to cancel your contract and I’ll enjoy that little stutter you’ll have when I merrily reply “You wish to move? Certainly! I’ll transfer you to customer relations now!” rather than begging you to stay. I can’t do absolutely everything, and I can’t make it happen straight away, which brings me neatly onto…

7. “I want to speak to a manager!”

The battle cry of the ill-informed. Maybe call centres elsewhere are different, but where I work I have exactly the same powers as a manager when it comes to sorting out problems for a customer with the exception of adding a bit of extra credit, which I don’t do mainly because I hate you. Though it may not sound like it, I check out every avenue to get you online. I don’t want to spend 45 minutes guiding you through the innards of your PC, but I do it anyway, because I kinda have to. Managers can’t book earlier techs than I can, they can’t make the IT department go any faster, and they can’t magic your computer into a working state. Managers are there to give you that feeling of self-satisfaction that you’ve somehow grabbed the big nasty company by the throat. Let me give you a run down of exactly what happens when you say you want to talk to a manager: I’ll put you on hold, have a wee swear, walk over to the nearest manager, and tell them what’s going on. The might say they’re busy and they’ll give you a call back within a few hours, or they might come over. If they come over, they’ll sit back down in the same seat I was in two minutes before, and they’ll have a quick look at all my notes, then they’ll repeat to you exactly the same things I’ve just said, but with a nicer phone voice. Nothing gets done faster, but you get to beat your chest about how you took on the man. If you’re very lucky you might get a tenner taken off your next bill. The call will be handed back over to me, I’ll tell you again what I said I was going to do, you’ll give me the usual righteous threats and the call will be over. Five minutes later nobody will remember you’d called.

8. “I’m trying to run a business here!”

Once again, I don’t care. You’re on a house account, that’s for Facebook and every flavour of pornography, not trading in stocks or depending your livelihood on. For some reason though all these Trumps and Trumpettes never want to be transferred through to the business department to upgrade. It’s almost as if they thought they’d get preferential treatment but didn’t want the hassle of paying more money for a better service… If an internet connection is so vital, it seems to me like it’d be common sense to make sure you were on the most well supported connection you could get?

9. “I should warn you now I’m quite angry and stressed out…”

This one might just piss me off more than any of the others. It’s not often you’ll hear me saying something like this, but it’s just plain rude. Think about it for a second, you’ve just phoned up a complete stranger, someone who you want and need to sort out the problem you’re having, and the first impression you’re giving them is a disclaimer on how little self-control you have? So if you act like a cunt it’s somehow all more excusable? The selfishness behind “I’m not in a good mood and you better please me or else” will be one of the few occasions where I’ll not do much to help. If it’s not a blatant issue with the connection, then you can bet that I’ll find something in your PC to blame it on, something I’m not allowed to touch, and you can scream for all the managers in the world, no way in hell will they go through a half hour of looking for an issue on your PC. All you have to do is say hello at the start of the call, and I’ll help you out as best I can.

10. “No, no, NO! THAT’S WRONG!”

Anything that is completely true but a customer can’t accept it. A man signs up for the internet, along with all the online billing, the email addresses, all that jazz. One day, his wife calls up saying that she can’t remember her password to get into her email, but I tell her I can’t change it as it’s not her name on the account. She goes apeshit and I spend ten minutes listening to her screech. Goddamn it she’s a modern independent woman and anything with her man’s name on it belongs to her to! These women are easy to spot, all you have to do is ask for the name on the account and they’ll always say “Mr and Mrs” when it’s always one or the other. Having it the other way, when the guy feels all emasculated, is just as much fun. Include in here also the man who didn’t believe his speed was being throttled and the guy who threatened to have me sued if I didn’t take all the adverts off of every website he visited. Trying to tell someone that they hadn’t turned off their modem in six months when they thought they were doing it every night is a laugh as well.

So there we have it, ten little things that annoy me when people call up at work. I’ll finish with a short common sense guide to calling up a call centre. Mostly, it’s about being nice. At the start of the call, say hello, and ask them if there’s anything they need. That three minute witty rant you prepared while on hold, determined to cut those bastards down to size? Pointless, time wasting, and liable to piss off the person on the other end of the line. Give them whatever info they need, they can do the shit they need to faster that way. If they ask questions, answer them truthfully, and without a massive story behind it. Being asked when you last used the internet isn’t an invitation to regale the tale of what you did before or since. The most important thing though is not to be an arsehole: don’t scream or shout, or you’ll hit a wall of polite uselessness so fast you’ll think you’ve been greasily fisted by Alfred the butler.

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