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Author Topic: I Want to Speak to The CE!
Red Squirrel
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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As some of you might know I haven't been posting as frequently to the board since I got a new job back in March.

It's in the Chief Exec's Office at one of the London Borough Councils (and will remain anonomous to protect the innocent). I really like the majority of the job- the people are really nice and I'm learning loads about policy.

However, some of the phone calls we get just aint so nice and can really make me not want to go in in the mornings.

Some of the typical calls I get are-

- People refusing to let me take their complaint down or put them through to the correct department because they are more interested in shouting at me then getting their issue resolved.

- People who get angry that they are only speaking to "secretaries and PAs" and want to speak to someone "important". In fact all the director's PA's actually head up the complaints process for their departments so well done for pissing them off before you've even said what your name is.

- People who constantly use the terms "you people" or "your council" as though we are all one muti-headed hydra who know exactly who they are and what they are talking about the second they start talking to us.

- People who think the Council is the centre of a conspiracy to hand out parking tickets to them because they are black/white/old/young/bald/smelly never mind the fact the parked on a double yellow line for five hours.

- Those who start saying things like "it's all right for you" and "you must work in a cozy office and get all the perks". I don't quite understand what my job has to do with them complaining about other residents feeding pigeons that shit all over their front porches and I'm not sure how they think this will make me more inclined to help them but, hey, what do I know.

And finally my *favourite*

- Complainants who demand to talk to the Chief Executive. The CE works an enormous amount of hours a week, barely has time between meetings, emergencies and scheduled phone calls to stop spinning. He does not have time to listen to someone ranting about how high their neighbours hedge is for half an hour. He employs complaints officers to deal with complaints and what ever level complaints come in at they go to them. Most of the time people demanding to speak to the CE haven't even contacted the specified department who may well be able to help them. These are the same people who accuse me of lying and conspiring against them when I say the CE is in a meeting.

Phew!

Needless to say if you have a complaint... put it in writing (typed please!)

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The Sqizzle formally known as Lexi

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TimK
I Saw Three Shipments


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A suggestion (that you can't implement yourself, but perhaps you can urge it on your bosses):

Either hire a person, or designate an existing employee. Give this person a suitably high-sounding title. Whenever anybody wants to speak to the CE, route them to this person. (Note that the title needs to be sufficiently high-sounding to mollify the complainers.)

This idea isn't original with me; it's lifted from Robert Townsend's excellent book Further Up the Organization.

Best,
Tim

PS I'm brand-new here -- this is my first post. Please be gentle. :-)

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Doug4.7
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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Welcome to public service! (Benn there, done that...).

I can feel (at least some) of your pain.

--------------------
And now for something completely different...

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kingfan1978
Deck the Malls


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I, too, have been a public servant. I worked in a county health department for three years & have had plenty of people scream at me needlessly.

The best advice I can give you is keep a steady support system handy. For me, it was the other 3 secretaries in my area...we could always vent to each other & roll our eyes at the last phone-crazy we'd just spoken to. Enormously great stress-reliever to know that someone else is going through the same thing & it's obviously not your fault.

Hang in there!

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"I reject your reality and substitue my own!" - Adam Savage, Mythbusters

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vfwchick
Deck the Malls with Boughs of Money


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Welcome Tim!

Red Squirrel people are strange everywhere. Don't take it to heart. If TimK's suggestion doesn't work just put em on hold for a half hour and then pretend to be someone else when you answer again. Let em rant and put em on hold again!
Or give yourself a new title.
Or hang up on them.
Or ask them for really specific information, what time did this happen, how many inches is the shrub etc...
You probably can't do these things but it could be fun to think about.

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God bless our Troops!
If you can't stand behind our troops, please, feel free to stand in front of them.

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Red Squirrel
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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quote:
Originally posted by TimK:
A suggestion (that you can't implement yourself, but perhaps you can urge it on your bosses):

Either hire a person, or designate an existing employee. Give this person a suitably high-sounding title. Whenever anybody wants to speak to the CE, route them to this person. (Note that the title needs to be sufficiently high-sounding to mollify the complainers.)

This idea isn't original with me; it's lifted from Robert Townsend's excellent book Further Up the Organization.

Best,
Tim

PS I'm brand-new here -- this is my first post. Please be gentle. :-)

I'll be gentle [Wink]

Tis a good suggestion and one that is implemented to quite a high degree (each department has a complaints deivision- parking control has a whole office- with people assisgned to be "Customer Service Managers" "Case Officers" etc.

Unfortunately when some people ring they are adamant that their complaint deserves the CE's unreserved attention and nothing is going to get them off the phone until they have spoken to him (in such cases when they start swearing and being abusive to me it's a good thing because I can tell them I have to teminate the call then hang up).

In most of these cases the complainant feels they should speak to the CE becasue once he's heard what they've got to say he will "change his policies". Because, of course, that particular person's view is far more important that the other 100,000 resident's views and priorities.

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The Sqizzle formally known as Lexi

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robbiev - singin' off key
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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Oh boy, can I relate. I used to work for an appliance parts company call center, and people were the same way.

Many people felt it was ok to go off on us because the price was too high, the part was out of stock or no longer available, etc. I have issues with people that think it's ok to "go off" like that, especially to the person that answers the phone. Like you sort of said, if you have a complaint, fine, but file it correctly. Going off on the person on the phone is not filing a complaint. It's bravado that only makes you feel better, especially since, most of the time, the person knows there's nothing the person on the phone can say.

Something else that really got me was people that would call and ask for telephone numbers to other completely unrelated companies, and then get irate because we didn't have them. I don't know why, but that happened on a fairly regular basis.

My father is the same way. He is big and bad on the phone, but in personal confrontations, he's a wimp, and/or if you stand up to him, he backs down quickly, and to be honest, many people are like that.

He likes to gripe about traffic tickets too. He is a horrible driver...not just a speeder, but in general a horrible driver, and when he gets tickets, it just because the "cop was an asshole." Forget the fact that you were travelling 30 MPH over the speed limit and whipping in and out of traffic like a man possessed, and never mind the fact that the cop gave you a break by only writing the ticket for 10 over so it would be "wreckless driving" and gave you a warning. Forget all that...he was just an asshole that should be out "doing his job" even though the chiefs specifically require traffic duty as part of their job. Yeah...he just had it out for you.

ETA: from time to time, people would say, "Put me through to JW" (the CEO of the company at the time) and then get pissed off because he didn't work in my office.

I would always just say, "I'm sorry, but he's in New York. He doesn't work in the Memphis parts office."

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Every time I see a good looking woman, I think, "0oooh. There's another one I'll never have!"

Corvette. The louder you scream, the faster I'll go.

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PallasAthena
Xboxing Day


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Welcome to the boards TimK.

I was thinking the same thing actually. I used to have customers try this when I was working in more of a call center environment in my company. Sort of the opposite of what Red Squirrel is dealing with.

They'd get on the phone with the director of my departement claiming to be the CEO of some company or other. He said he knew right when they were blowing smoke when they'd start yessir-ing him and thanking him. I've been reamed out by enough real execs to know they don't call you sir or ma'am when their lighting into you.

Then there are the people who actually are CEOs, but there company is run out of their living room and their wife is the CFO and COO. They get off on sounding important, and liked to chew us out to make themselves feel better. Invariably, the noisiest customers are the ones who bring in the least revenue. The VP in the department has threatened dump a couple of customers loose and ditch their contracts if they didn't stop abusing his employees. That shuts 'em up quick.

Having said all of that my customers are all actually quite happy. Didn't want to give anyone the wrong impression here. [Wink]

Maybe you wouldn't have to hire someone, but do you have an escalation point? Sometimes customers just want to feel like they are going over someone's head to get something done. Sometimes you can calm someone down by stroking their ego a little bit.

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"How do you make chocolate? You take dark chocolate, you mix it with white milk, and it becomes a delicious drink. That is the chocolate I am talking about." --Ray Nagin

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Johnny Slick
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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The best thing to do with an angry person who wants to rant is to let them rant. I know that in my job a lot of times if I just let somebody yell at me for a couple minutes (punctuated every now and then by an "I'm sorry" on my side of things), that is enough to calm them down and allow us to get to the business side of things. On the other hand, of course, there are those who think that if they yell and yell and yell they can get whatever they want, but this tactic works against them as well: it expends their energy and makes it easier for you to tell them to go take a flying leap.

Customer service is SUCH an underrated job.

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Give big space to the festive dog that makes sport in roadway. Avoid entanglement of dog with wheel spokes.

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MissEltoe
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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RedSquirrel, as someone who has worked in both customer service (retail) and as a phone operator in an office in which everyone wants to speak to someone right now I can offer and (((HUGS))).

Nothing much more, just the knowledge that some days are better than others. (Today is not one of those days for me.)

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Licorice of the Lord! This is classy stuff...Should I be wearing a tie? Or, at least, pants?
~I'mNotDedalus

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quiltsbypam
Happy Holly Days


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Red Squirrel, you just described my day. I'm in customer service at a newspaper and I apologize for a living.

I am so tired of being yelled at because the paper had the nerve to stop someone's delivery after seven weeks of non-payment. Without letting them know -- in spite of two bills, a computer call and a note in their last paper.

I'm tired of being yelled at because of a decision made in the newsroom. No, I have no influence over the newsroom and cannot change any of their decisions.

I get yelled at because we had the nerve to raise the price of the daily paper. It was the first time in 14 years, but we are apparently a public service, not a business and can't raise our prices.

I get yelled at because our paper is too conservative/liberal, we run the wrong comics and screw up the answers to the Jumbles puzzle.

I just get so tired of it.

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"No Biblical hell could ever be worse than the state of perpetual inconsequence." Beatrice in Dangerous Beauty

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I'm 20th Century Fox
Happy Holly Days


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Just tell 'em: "I'm so sorry, but the CE is unavailable right now. But Helen Waite
is taking urgent complaints for him today. Hold on and I'll transfer you to Helen Waite."

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When my chin is on the ground I pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again.

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TimK
I Saw Three Shipments


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quote:
Originally posted by Red Squirrel:
quote:
Originally posted by TimK:
A suggestion (that you can't implement yourself, but perhaps you can urge it on your bosses):

Either hire a person, or designate an existing employee. Give this person a suitably high-sounding title. Whenever anybody wants to speak to the CE, route them to this person. (Note that the title needs to be sufficiently high-sounding to mollify the complainers.)

This idea isn't original with me; it's lifted from Robert Townsend's excellent book Further Up the Organization.

Best,
Tim

PS I'm brand-new here -- this is my first post. Please be gentle. :-)

I'll be gentle [Wink]

Tis a good suggestion and one that is implemented to quite a high degree (each department has a complaints deivision- parking control has a whole office- with people assisgned to be "Customer Service Managers" "Case Officers" etc.

Unfortunately when some people ring they are adamant that their complaint deserves the CE's unreserved attention and nothing is going to get them off the phone until they have spoken to him (in such cases when they start swearing and being abusive to me it's a good thing because I can tell them I have to teminate the call then hang up).

In most of these cases the complainant feels they should speak to the CE becasue once he's heard what they've got to say he will "change his policies". Because, of course, that particular person's view is far more important that the other 100,000 resident's views and priorities.

Oh, no no no -- the whole point is exactly that: people don't want to be pushed off on a lowly Customer Service Manager or Case Officer or anything trifling like that.

Townsend's suggestion was actually that this kind of position is the best use of the title Chairman of the Executive Committee. "No one ever gets angry when he's told he's being transferred to the Chairman of the Executive Committee," he said in the book (that may be a paraphrase, but it's a close one).

PallasAthena expressed the underlying point extremely well:

quote:
Originally posted by PallasAthena:
Maybe you wouldn't have to hire someone, but do you have an escalation point? Sometimes customers just want to feel like they are going over someone's head to get something done. Sometimes you can calm someone down by stroking their ego a little bit.

If you can give them the feeling that they're going sufficiently high over your pathetic little head [Wink] , it may take the edge off their anger.

Best,
Tim

ETA: Thanks to everyone for the kind words of welcome.

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Norton II
Deck the Malls


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I know a man who works for a medium-sized company who has two titles. If he's doing his usual job, he's Assistant Manager of the Service Department. If he's handling complaints, he's the Associate Chief Executive Officer. The company did get the idea from Townsend's book.

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Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico

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CuffGirl
I Saw Three Shipments


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I can relate as well. I work at the front desk of a police department, and had a lady come in on a Sunday morning with a $25 parking ticket (she had parked her car on her front lawn - which is against village ordinance). She threw a fit and demanded I call the Chief of Police (at his home) so she could talk to him. I told her "I'm sorry but I can't do that. You can call tomorrow after 8am and set up a court date."

Her response was "I'm not taking a day from work to lose money to go to court over a $25 ticket!" It took all my will power not to say "Then just pay the frigging ticket!"

On the 4th of July we had a parade, and one man called us to ask if we were going to have clowns in the parade. I told him I didn't know (because I didn't...I have no clue what the parade itinery is). His response to me was "If you aren't going to have clowns, then I just won't come!" and he hung up on me.

i can go on and on.

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"Whenever I hear a man say that women hate sex, I think 'No, they just hate having sex with you.'" - Waterlily

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Neffti Noel
We Three Blings


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quote:
Originally posted by Red Squirrel:


And finally my *favourite*

- Complainants who demand to talk to the Chief Executive. The CE works an enormous amount of hours a week, barely has time between meetings, emergencies and scheduled phone calls to stop spinning. He does not have time to listen to someone ranting about how high their neighbours hedge is for half an hour. He employs complaints officers to deal with complaints and what ever level complaints come in at they go to them. Most of the time people demanding to speak to the CE haven't even contacted the specified department who may well be able to help them. These are the same people who accuse me of lying and conspiring against them when I say the CE is in a meeting.

Oh heck I hear you. I used to work for the plod and the number of people who would ring and say "I want to speak to the Chief Constable NOW," and then get snippy when I couldn't achieve this at 4am on a Sunday morning to attend to the important matter of their cracked wing mirror. Then followed the standard rant about "I'm a taxpayer, I'm paying his wages!" and "He is a servant of the people!" and my all-time favourite, "If he isn't outside my front door in the next ten minutes, I'm going to tell the papers!"

Good luck to you. My technique was always to keep my gob shut until they'd completely run out of steam. Most people would simmer down and catch a glimpse of themselves by then.

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Neffti Noel
We Three Blings


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quote:
Originally posted by kingfan1978:
I, too, have been a public servant. I worked in a county health department for three years & have had plenty of people scream at me needlessly.

The best advice I can give you is keep a steady support system handy. For me, it was the other 3 secretaries in my area...we could always vent to each other & roll our eyes at the last phone-crazy we'd just spoken to. Enormously great stress-reliever to know that someone else is going through the same thing & it's obviously not your fault.

Hang in there!

Good idea about the support system. In my office, we wore headsets because we had a bank of computers to operate when real emergencies happened.

If someone was getting grief not in proportion to the scale of the caller's problem, that person would stand after 10 minutes or so and hold their arms out in the manner of an aeroplane. Colleagues would then be alerted to the fact that a "zoomer" was on the line, and put the kettle on, or be prepared to swap rest breaks with them so that they could go and "debrief" (aka scream at the bike shed for five minutes).

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MaxKaladin
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by Red Squirrel:
- People who get angry that they are only speaking to "secretaries and PAs" and want to speak to someone "important". In fact all the director's PA's actually head up the complaints process for their departments so well done for pissing them off before you've even said what your name is.

Oh, I don't know. It seems to me that if you're going to get the person who is handling your complaint angry then the ideal time to do it is when they don't know your name...

[Smile]

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ladyknight
The First USA Noel


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I love it when people call in and demand to speak to our CEO or something of the sort. I know the CEO's name, but not his address, phone number, etc. I don't know anybody else in the chain of command. People often don't believe me and insist that of course I know this information, I just don't want to tell them. I've never figured out why in the world I would know the personal number of the CEO, CFO, etc. I am one of over 70 Rep's in one area of the business. I've never even met the CEO personally!
As for support systems, most of us share cubes in the office, and we use our cubemates to vent. It helps to know someone else has done exactly the same thing to another rep and they survived.

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Triumphs cannot be given. They must be taken, and the worse the odds, and the fiercer the resistance, the greater the honor. -- A Civil Campaign, Lois McMaster Bujold

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Tootsie Plunkette
Buy a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella


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Conspiratorial waffles.

--------------------
--Tootsie

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Tootsie Plunkette
Buy a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella


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quote:
Originally posted by Red Squirrel:
These are the same people who accuse me of lying and conspiring against them when I say the CE is in a meeting.

I had a boss who told us never to say "she's in a meeting" since it's been used too many times to mean "she's too busy/important/lazy to talk with you." So we usually got more specific, even if it wasn't always true. "She's with a client." "She's meeting with the board of directors." "She's interviewing a job candidate." ...and so on.

Perhaps you could find some more creative ways to excuse your boss, so the idiots that call at least might be somewhat less likely to accuse you of covering for him. Even if you are...

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--Tootsie

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Paulie Jay
O Little Down-Payment of Bethlehem


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I suppose I'm in a fairly unique position that although I am a public servant who listens to a fair amount of irrelevant whining, I am in a the position of being able to deflect it. When you are a Customs officer at a busy international airport it seems that everything is your fault -

"I can't find my baggage"
"That Quarantine officer was rude to me"
"I didn't get a window seat"
"That taxi driver ripped me off"
"My airline didn't organise wheelchair assistance"
"Why is the air conditioning up so high?"
"Nobody told me I couldn't bring a gun into the country"
"I'm going to be late for my connecting flight"
"My visa wasn't issued properly"
"The security guys took my nail scissors"
"I'm thirsty"
"I left my sleeping mask back on the plane"

All of which I want to answer "Go tell someone who cares!!"

But I settle with putting my radio up to my ear, frowning, and saying "Go away, I'm in the middle of an operation." [Smile]

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All the way with Paulie Jay

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Salamander
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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I think if I dealt with unreasonably rude & unhappy people I'd end up playing with them...

Like the next time someone conspiracy nutball demands to speak to the CE, lower the phone slightly and say "Daddy, someone wishes to speak with you -- shall I tell them you're in a meeting like I normally do?" then raise the phone again and say "I'm sorry, the CE is in a meeting" and then hang up.

This work particularly well if the CE doesn't even have children.

There are other types of fun you can have with anyone who appears to be a delusional conspiracy nut:

"Could you turn to face the nearest window for me? A bit more to the left, no my left... okay. Thankyou!" *hang up*

"We most certainly do not spy on anyone, if we did I'd be telling you off for calling me wearing what you've got on at the moment." *hang up*

It goes on and on...

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"victory thru self-deception"

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Em
Happy Holly Days


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quote:
Originally posted by Neffti Neffti Bang Bang:
"I'm a taxpayer, I'm paying his wages!" and "He is a servant of the people!"

I once amused myself during a similar rant by calculating how much of my time this particular taxpayer had, in fact, paid for.

For the purposes of the exercise I assumed a flat tax rate. Even if ¾ of the Australian population is too old, too young, or too unemployed to pay taxes, I worked out that each taxpayer pays $0.01 of my annual pre-tax wages. Theoretically I am either on duty or on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, meaning that one taxpayer is entitled to just under 4.5 seconds of my time.

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What the NFBSK does YOMANK mean?

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Johnny Slick
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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Another trick here that really works - trust me on this one - is, when they ask for the CE or a manager, just put them on hold for a minute and then come back speaking in a lower voice. If you can do a good foreign accent, mix that in as well. The person will totally believe you're someone else because it's over the phone.

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Give big space to the festive dog that makes sport in roadway. Avoid entanglement of dog with wheel spokes.

Posts: 4267 | From: Seattle | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Red Squirrel
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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Stressed waffles

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The Sqizzle formally known as Lexi

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Red Squirrel
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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Do you see how stressed I am? [Wink]

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The Sqizzle formally known as Lexi

Posts: 3231 | From: Nottingham, UK | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Red Squirrel
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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quote:
Originally posted by Johnny Slick:
Another trick here that really works - trust me on this one - is, when they ask for the CE or a manager, just put them on hold for a minute and then come back speaking in a lower voice. If you can do a good foreign accent, mix that in as well. The person will totally believe you're someone else because it's over the phone.

This doesn't (always) work. The idiot that called today kept trying to impersonate different people but it always sounded like the same man (speaker phone was also our friend when comparing notes)

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The Sqizzle formally known as Lexi

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Happy Llama
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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I can feel your pain. But, what makes my job frustrating is a complete lack of an ability to do anything about the callers problem. I work third shift security for a building with a call center for a mail order prescription pharmacy and due to a glitch in the phone system I occasionally get customer service calls. All well and good when I can just transfer them to customer care, but really irritating when I have someone screaming about an emergency before telling me they are not actually in my building.

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Now where did I leave the Valium?

Happy Llama

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Neffti Noel
We Three Blings


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quote:
Originally posted by Em:
quote:
Originally posted by Neffti Neffti Bang Bang:
"I'm a taxpayer, I'm paying his wages!" and "He is a servant of the people!"

I once amused myself during a similar rant by calculating how much of my time this particular taxpayer had, in fact, paid for.

For the purposes of the exercise I assumed a flat tax rate. Even if ¾ of the Australian population is too old, too young, or too unemployed to pay taxes, I worked out that each taxpayer pays $0.01 of my annual pre-tax wages. Theoretically I am either on duty or on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, meaning that one taxpayer is entitled to just under 4.5 seconds of my time.

[lol] That's priceless! Thanks Em [lol]
Posts: 1157 | From: Westcountry UK "It's Bootiful" | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
DemonWolf
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by Em:
quote:
Originally posted by Neffti Neffti Bang Bang:
"I'm a taxpayer, I'm paying his wages!" and "He is a servant of the people!"

I once amused myself during a similar rant by calculating how much of my time this particular taxpayer had, in fact, paid for.

For the purposes of the exercise I assumed a flat tax rate. Even if ¾ of the Australian population is too old, too young, or too unemployed to pay taxes, I worked out that each taxpayer pays $0.01 of my annual pre-tax wages. Theoretically I am either on duty or on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, meaning that one taxpayer is entitled to just under 4.5 seconds of my time.

Your post reminded my of something my State Trooper cousin once told me:

According to his police academy instructor (or one of them at least), there is no such thing as an "off duty" police officer, merely an officer that is not at work at the time.

His point was that if an officer witnessed a crime while "off duty," the officer was still obligated to act.

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Friends are like skittles: they come in many colors, and some are fruity!

IMJW-052804

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smackmac
Jingle Bell Hock


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quote:
Originally posted by Johnny Slick:
Another trick here that really works - trust me on this one - is, when they ask for the CE or a manager, just put them on hold for a minute and then come back speaking in a lower voice. If you can do a good foreign accent, mix that in as well. The person will totally believe you're someone else because it's over the phone.

I have done this and it has always worked. Of course, our donor base is elderly, so maybe they can't hear well enough.

I work for a non-profit, and don't typically get many irate calls. But we have had our share. Usually when we send statements.

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"Maybe getting in the last word doesn't really mean you win." - The Clarks

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