Customer Care,
Customer Care Not

Nicholas Koite

Copyright 2003 by Nicholas Koite


Photo of a cellular phone.

 “Thank you for calling VoiceStream financial services.  My name is Nicholas and my rep-ID is 02-3271.  May I have your mobile number with the area code first please?” 

“My number is (375) 555-0120.” 

“Thank you.  And who am I speaking with—“ 

“—This is Carol.  Why’d I get this message on my phone”?

Why do we even bother?  Send them a message before they lose their service and they’re upset because they were bothered at home.  Don’t send a messaged and then we get a call telling us we should have warned them.

“I would be happy to look into that for you.  First could I get your last name Carol”? 

“Yeah.  Spears.  You’re not turning my phone off are you.”

“Well, if you could please hold for one to two minutes while I look over your account, I would be more than happy to find that out for you.  Do you mind holding Carol”? 

“Fine.  Just don’t turn my phone—“ 

“—Thank you for holding.”

Carol on hold, I rose and bent myself in two, cracking my back and reviving my long dead rear.  Feeling reluctant, I slouched back into my pseudo-ergonomic chair and started my review of the account history.  Behind me, I heard Theresa goading another customer into a fight.  She was such a bitch.  Her face fit her—tight, with stretched skin, like she pulled her hair back too tight.  Her eyebrows were gone, and there was plenty of Mr. Sketch or whatever to replace them.  A mixture of sherbet orange and vanilla covered Theresa’s face, resembling the popular McManagement foundation shade. 

I took three calls that week from customers eager to verbally decapitate any rep after talking to Theresa.  Generally, I held a theory that each cellular phone should contain a small charge of C4 plastic explosive—just in case people got a little too colorful in their conversations.  Theresa, however, gave me cause to rethink that theory.  Since meeting her I thought some of our headsets should also be packed with explosives and the trigger with me.  Then I wouldn’t have to deal with her or Carol.

“Carol, thank you for holding for me.  It looks like your account is scheduled for interruption on the 7th of May.  Did you want to make a payment to go ahead and clear out your balance”? 

“I already paid my bill!—”

If you ever want to hear someone’s native accent, just piss them off.  Carol comes from the east coast, probably New York.

“—Your sales people are always screwin’ stuff up.  I only have ta pay twenty-two dollars a month.  I use my phone for the government, so everything else is free.”

Oh, okay.  Let me just pull the information on that rate plan from my nether regions.

“Hmmm.  Well Carol, I see here you are on a regular plan.  That means that you are responsible for all—“ 


“Carol, I’m sorry, if you could please go a little slower.  I couldn’t hear all of that.” 

“I said, ‘Didn’t   you   listen   to   anything   I   said’”?

Cute, she can be a bitch too.  I should transfer her to Theresa—it’d be a duel to the death.

“Yes, I understand you thought you had a special plan that only cost twenty-two dollars a month, but we’ve never had a plan like that.” 

“Well I’ve got a contract right here that says so.”

Well, in case I’m being recorded, I should humor her.  What can it hurt?  Besides, I can handle her, so I might as well keep her on the phone a little longer.  Beats actually working with customers.

“Okay Carol.  If that’s the case, then I would be happy to help you resolve this with you.  What I will need from you is a faxed copy of your contract and—“

“—Well, it’s not on the contract.  The salesman, he took advantage of me.  I’m blind, and he told me he wrote it down but then he never did.”

You don’t say?!  I expected you to have a notarized copy.  Isn’t that standard protocol at a cellular kiosk?

“Okay, let me place you on hold again Carol, and I will look into this for you?  Would you please hold”?

Sprouting a half-smile in spite of knowing how long this call will go, I turned to Oren and fill him in on my blind victim.  Oren’s eyebrows danced across his face while he laughed.  They were highly mobile, almost jumping off his forehead with most of his expressions.  His eyebrows were also highly water resistant.  Poor Theresa.   I tried filling him in on my revelation that Carol and Theresa are long lost sisters, but his Lucent box rang, and he took his next call.

Lucent seemed to time the calls so that they would interrupt most punch lines and key gossip items.  It was definitely imbued with the company spirit.

I swiveled my chair towards the computer monitor, and accessed Carol’s detailed account notes.  SAMSON, our billing system, was pretty lazy with Carol.  She owed three-hundred dollars and her phone still worked.  Even better, it looked like Ms. Spears called before to request her debt be absolved.  Carol wants her srvc for free. Customer talked about a contract, but does not sound honest. Advised customer of disconnect date. Ended call when customer began yelling. Oh joy, I would get some fireworks from Carol after all.

“Hi Carol, thank you for holding.  I’ve reviewed your account and there is no mention of free service anywhere.  Is it possible your employer was supposed to be reimbursing you for your cell bill”? 

“No!  Now listen.  You promised me I didn’t hafta pay anything.  I want my bill taken care of and I want my service left alone!”

In 5…

“I would like to help you with that.  To help you, I’ll need to take a payment on this account.”


“Look!  I already told you I don’t have to pay!  I need this phone, it’s for my business.  I use it for work all the time.  You can’t take that away.  I work for the government.  You can’t do that!”


“Again Carol, the charges on you account need to be paid in full to keep your service active. Are you sure you wouldn’t like to make a payment over—“


“NO I WOULD NOT!  Quit trying to take my money, and leave this phone alone.  I hafta have this phone.  I don’t have any legs!  If you take this away from me then I can’t call for help when I need it!”

…1 – Why do they script these things for us?  I should just hang up now.  Not that I don’t enjoy escalating her, but this has to count against my karma.

“I understand that this is upsetting you.  I suggest we plan a way for you to make this payment so you can keep your service interruption free.  Does that sound good to you? … Carol”? 

“You are gonna be in so much trouble!  This phone helped me save someone’s life.  I used it to pull someone off the subway tracks.  If someone dies, it’s gonna be on your head!  Get me your manager!” 

“I’m sorry, but this isn’t a situation where my manager would take this phone call.  The only issue with this account is the balance owing.”  Okay, sometimes it is fun to do my job.

“BUT I ALREADY TOLD YOU I DON’T HAVE TO PAY IT!  How can you do this to someone with metal legs?  I need this phone for emergencies!  You can’t take it away!  I work for the FBI and the DMV!  You’re gonna be sorry!  I’m gonna send you to jail for this!” 

God, I’m sorry.  It’s just too easy.  “Actually, VoiceStream is a corporation, so all its employees are protected from and against legal action.” 

“NO THEY ARE NOT!  I WILL PERSONALLY SUE YOU AND SEND YOU TO JAIL IF MY PHONE IS TURNED OFF!  I’m warning you.  I work at the FBI, and when they hear about this…  I saved the president’s life two times with this phone.  You are going to jail, and you ain’t never gettin’ out!  You had better fix my damn bill.” 

“Okay Carol, I need to explain once more that your bill is fine and you owe all the money [regardless of the composition of your legs, and the logistics of pulling someone off electrified subway tracks with a three inch piece of plastic].  Unless you make a payment by May 7th, it will be shut off.  If you don’t pay the balance in full within 60 days, it will be cancelled and sent to a collection agency [again God, I’m really sorry], and that will be reflected negatively on your credit.”



Spoke with Carol. Stated she is blind. Stated she was given a contract that does not say what she signed up on, because the salesman didn’t write it down, since she is blind. Stated she had no legs, then she grew/found metal legs. Stated she works for the FBI, DMV, and the president. Stated she saved the presidents life, and pulled someone off subway tracks with phone. Please do not re-activate account until balance paid in full. I disconnected account [really God, would I lie in account notes?] to protect VoiceStream from further financial loss, as customer stated will not pay.

I guess I was a little manipulative with Carol, but why not?  Listening to Carols for hours on end, you learn how to move the conversation to keep your interest.  You can only care so much before every customer has no legs and needs their phone for a divine purpose.

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