Worst. Job. Ever.

June 18, 2007 at 8:38 pm | Posted in help | 4 Comments

I have a lot of patience when it comes to telemarketing. Part of my empathy comes from having been one myself, back during the summer before my junior year in high school. I was 15 going on 16 and there was nothing in the world I wanted more than to go to Europe with my French class that Spring. The price tag for two weeks in three countries was, as you may expect, more than I had ever fathomed having in the entirety of my young life, but I was determined to make it work. My parents made a deal with me that they would kindly pay the down payment on the trip plus give me spending money for my 16th birthday present, as long as I worked all summer to pay the balance.

I eagerly accepted and got a job at a large credit card bank close to my house. I was hired into the telemarketing department, although I’m sure they didn’t call it “telemarketing.” It probably had some fancy name like “Potential Account Specialist.” I’m also not sure if “hired” is the correct word to use.  Although protocol dictated I had to sit through two interviews, I can’t imagine someone not getting hired to call people at random and ask them to buy things.  Being turned down for a job in telemarketing would be kind of like showing your boobs during Mardi Gras and not getting any beads. Unheard of.

 I worked the third shift because I was so young that I still needed one of my parents to drive me there after work.  It was pretty much the worst three months of my life. At 15 I was completely unprepared for the onslaught of profanity, rudeness, and general hate that spewed from 99% of my calls.  I was a pariah. I was told to get a real job, get bent, and go to hell all in the same night. It didn’t help that I was trying to sell loans to people who had already been denied for a credit card by the very same company. Oh, and did I mention that the loans had an interest rate of 21.9%? Yes, you read that right. And this was in 1997. Because it was 1997 and well before most people had Caller ID, cell phones, or a chance to stop telemarketing through the Do Not Call Registry, I completely understand why they were so pissed off. That being said, I monitored my bank account weekly and as soon as I had enough to finish paying for my trip I quit. If I remember it correctly I walked to McDonalds to get dinner, and called my Dad and told him I couldn’t take another night of being reduced to tears and if he cared at all about the sanity of his only daughter, he needed to come pick me up immediately. I never went back.

Not my most professional moment to say the least, but I was teetering on the edge of becoming one of the youngest people in history to suffer a full on breakdown from job burnout.  Not only did the job task suck, but the working conditions were awful. We had to raise our hands and ask permission to use the bathroom, and if we didn’t return within five minutes we could be written up. The company had a picnic one weekend and we were not invited.  We watched people eating, drinking, and dancing out the window while we worked in silence.  But, Europe was fantastic (and by fantastic I actually mean life changing, which sounds dramatic but is actually the only way I can put it into words…) so it was all totally worth it in the end.

Because I understand that when a telemarketer calls it’s often an actual human on the other line, I try my best not to be rude. That being said, I don’t want telemarketing calls at home, so I signed up for the National Do Not Call Registry. The problem with the Registry is that it has limitations. If you’ve ever done business with a company, they can still call you. So for example, if you have a card from CitiBank, Citi and all it’s subsidiaries can still call.  Because I am the queen of savvy low-APR balance transfers, I have done business with quite a few major credit card companies in the past seven years.  Legally, they can all still call me, even though I’m registered. Charities and political organizations aren’t covered under the rules either, so I still get tons of calls from companies that try to sell me six lightbulbs for ten bucks because they’re employing people with mental disabilites and are therefore charitable.  I used to glance at the Caller ID and then let the phone ring off the hook, but that became annoying very quickly. then I used to answer only to quickly hang up, which also became annoying because it only meant they’d call back later in the day.

Now I have developed a sort of drill for answering telemarketing calls, and it rarely fails. I answer the phone and let the person on the other end introduce themselves and tell me why they’re calling. Then I politely tell them I’m on the Do Not Call list and I’d like to be taken off of their company’s list as well. Most of the time this works. In the past two months or so I get less than a quarter of the calls I used to get.  Still, Mama didn’t raise no fool. If I notice that a call is coming in from a company I’ve already been asked to be removed from, I’ll be a little more firm. I’ll again explain that I’ve asked not to be called and I’ll let the person on the other end know I’ve been called before and that if I get another call I’ll report the company through the DNCR website. I’ve never been called after that.

Today, however, I got a call from a telephone company that shall remain anonymous. When the rep introduced herself and told me where she was calling from then asked how I was I replied that I was fine and then went into my whole spiel. She rep on the other end sighed, clicked her tongue, and then asked me “Are you sure you want to do that? Do you NOT want to save money?”  Am I sure? Are you serious? The only thing I could think of to say was “Yes, I’m sure. That’s why I signed up for the list in the first place.” And then I hung up, ending the conversation. Seconds later, I felt like a completely henious bitch and this little wave of guilt ran though me as I remembered my three months in the Fourth Layer of Hell. What if I was that person who completely ruined this girl’s day while she was trying to do her job?

So I’m curious. How do ya’ll handle these phone calls. Do you just not answer? Has your cell phone rendered your house phone obsolete and you don’t even have these problems? Do you sometimes feel like it takes every ounce of patience not to scream into the receiver, or am I just not as patient as I thought? If you’ve ever completely lost it on a telemarketer did you feel guilty, or am I beating myself up over nothing?



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  1. I like to hand over the phone to my 3 year old son who enjoys being allowed to use the telephone and will talk to them about anything his little heart desires until they hang up!

  2. I wouldn’t feel guility at all. The tongue clicking sealed her fate. We hardly ever get any phone calls anymore so I don’t really need to worry about it.

  3. I enjoy reading your posts. As a result I have chosen you to be tagged. Enjoy!

  4. I think you handled it just fine. You know how shitty it is, you copped to feeling bad, you’re good. Tongue clucking? Not cool.

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