Welcome to my second instalment of Telco Horror Stories! To read my first one, click here. As I said previously, while telco can be a challenging industry, these stories are ones that stuck with me purely because they don’t happen all the time. Telco isn’t a horrible career. In fact, overall, I enjoyed it, but regular customers don’t make for interesting stories!
“You’re all scammers!” Bill Issue Guy
This was a customer I had to deal with personally. He’d come in about four months prior and signed up for a home phone and internet package, which all went smoothly (I didn’t serve him but the girl who did said they’d been no issues). Anyway, the transaction started off okay, he came in wanting to pay his bill. No big deal. I process it and grab his receipt and expect that to be the end of it. Instead, he asks nicely, “I just want to know why my bill is this much?”. This is a question we get at least once a shift from bill payment customers, so I didn’t think much of it. I glance at the bill, and look at him. “Well, because that’s the plan you’re on. See here? $100 plan, and that’s what they’ve charged you”. I didn’t understand why he was asking me that. Seemed pretty logical. But oh boy, had I started something. He stated that he’d been promised that it was actually $80 per month, not $100, the girl who signed him up told him so. I was very confused – we can’t offer random discounts in store, and we didn’t have a plan at all for the price he’s describing. When I tell him that, he blows up, saying we’re all out to get his money and he wasn’t advised that the plan he was signing was $100 (despite all the paperwork stating that was the plan he was going on) and that’s it’s too much for him to pay each month. Trying not to escalate the situation, I ask him if he has the paperwork at home, to which he says he does. I advise him that if the rep has written anywhere on the paperwork that there was supposed to be a discount, that I can investigate it for him, but unless he can bring that in, I can’t help him. Honestly, I didn’t believe him, but I would have looked into it further with paperwork. He says he absolutely does not have time to come back and he wants it fixed right then and there because “the girl who served me is a scam artist and lied to me!”. The argument went on for a long time, going around in circles. I couldn’t just take his word for it, the girl wasn’t working and he refused to bring the paperwork in. He wound up leaving, saying I was in on it too and we’re all just dirty liars who want his money. I thought that was the end of it – I’d caught him out in a lie and he’d stop trying.
A couple of months later he comes in again and I wind up serving him. I didn’t recognise him straight away because it had been so long. Once again, he processes his bill payment before starting up again about how the store is ripping him off. I recognised him then. I cut him off before he could start on his rant, and asked if he’d bought his paperwork in. He said that he hadn’t, but that I he shouldn’t have to prove anything to me anyway and I should help him. I gave him a big smile, told him I’m not going to argue with him again and that I’ll see him when he brings in the paperwork like he was asked to, and moved onto the next customer. He never came back.
“Prove You’re a Manager!”
This guy will haunt my telco nightmares forever. I knew it was going to be bad the second I laid eyes on him, though I’d never have guessed how bad at the time. In telco, you know when someone is coming back into the store with one of our bags that there’s going to be a problem. Nobody comes back with the bag for no reason. Add to that he’d arrived right on the dot of 9am when we open, and shuffled impatiently back and forth until the door was opened. As it was a weekday morning, there was only myself and one other person working. Despite not being a morning person and feeling like death, I plastered a smile on my face and asked how I can help him.
“Can we sit down and talk?”
Oh God. Not one of these people. Whenever anyone uses that line, you know you’re in for a long “chat”. I agree and we sit down. The customer starts off nicely (surprisingly so, considering he’s bought back something in one of our bags) and explains that he signed up the previous night with Ashleigh and she’s made a big mistake. I kept my pokerface, but instantly I become sceptical – I know Ashleigh and she doesn’t make stupid mistakes. Some of the staff do (from lack of experience or from not doing well under pressure) but Ashleigh is rarely one of them. Anyway, he states that he asked for a 64GB phone, not the 16GB he’d been issued. I just couldn’t believe that Ash would have made that kind of rookie mistake. Firstly, I had a look at his paperwork from the previous night, to make sure she’d chosen 16GB in the system – the easiest way to see if the rep has messed up is if the paperwork says 64GB, because it means she probably just grabbed a phone from the wrong pile. Nope, it says 16GB. I check the paperwork is signed, which it is. Then I start asking questions.
“So, when Ash went through this with you, did she quote this price per month?”
He said that she did. I then advised that if he were to get a bigger model, he’d be paying more each month. Well, that did it. He went from Mr Nice Guy to Mr Asshat just like that.
“What do you mean, pay more? That’s ridiculous. I came in and gave her this and told her this is what I wanted!”
He shoves a scrap of paper in my face. I glance at it. It literally had 4 words scribbled on it. “iPhone 6 $69 monthly”. I point out that he’s been given exactly that – his plan is coming to $69 per month, and he got an iPhone 6. For that price, he gets a 16GB. If he got 64GB it would be more than that per month.
“No no no! Look at the paper! The memory size isn’t big enough!”
I try to stay calm in the face of his irrationalism. I point out that nowhere on that slip of paper does it state a memory size. “Did you tell Ashleigh that you wanted 64GB?”
“No, I didn’t know I needed that at the time. My daughter wrote this out. I got home and she told me they’d given me the wrong one!”
“So you’re telling me that you didn’t know that you needed 64GB, and you handed this over to Ashleigh with the 16GB price on it, and she was expected to know you needed a bigger memory size?” That probably sounds like I was being patronising. Maybe I was, but I was doing my best to sound professional. He didn’t appreciate the question. He completely flipped out, demanding to speak to the manager. The manager – right then – was me. He really didn’t like that.
“So you’re saying you’re the manager but you won’t let me swap my phone over for a bigger memory size? Even though your girl messed up?”
“Firstly, you’ve opened the phone, so I can’t take that back. Secondly, even if I did swap it over, you’d be paying more for the 64GB model. Lastly, like I’ve already explained to you, Ashleigh didn’t mess up.”
“But before I came in I looked online and the 64GB price was $69 per month!” he was yelling in my face now.
“The website has the same prices as us. If Ashleigh could have given you the 64GB at that price, she would have. The 16GB and 64GB are never the same price.”
“THAT’S RUBBISH! YOU’RE TRYING TO RIP ME OFF! I HAVE THE WEBSITE PRINTED OUT AT HOME!”
I tried to stay calm, but was quickly losing my patience. “Well if you do, then bring it in and we can discuss it further.” I knew damn well he was bluffing. The website would never have had the 64GB at that price.
“I WANT TO SPEAK TO THE MANAGER!”
“Sir, I’ve already told you, you’re speaking to her.”
“I want a business card. I want proof!”
I legitimately had run out of business cards. We rarely order them because for the most part, we rarely give them out. When I advised him of this, he raged harder, demanding again and again I produce a business card for him. I offered several times to write my name and store number out for him, but that wasn’t good enough. He then demanded I call my regional manager or the head of Optus or someone else who could change the situation. I told him in no uncertain terms that it’s up to me and unfortunately, as the store has done nothing wrong, I wasn’t going to swap it (I wasn’t able to even if I wanted to since the box was opened, and I definitely couldn’t give him a bigger model for the same price). Finally, I cracked. By then there were other customers waiting and the other rep was already busy.
“Sir, we’re going around in circles and I’ve already told you many times I don’t have a business card for you and I can’t help you. I’m going to serve someone else now.”
He kept raging. Suddenly, the old lady who had been waiting patiently for at least ten minutes piped up. “Leave her alone! She’s trying to help you and you aren’t listening!” He didn’t like being called out on his rudeness, and finally stormed out. I assumed that was the end of it.
I started serving the lovely old lady. She knew I was upset from the previous customer and told me not to worry about him. Customers like that are the reason why I like telco so much. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I see the guy has come back with someone else in tow. I sighed and tried to keep my cool. The lady smiled at me and told me to serve him, she’d wait.
I got up and realized who he’d dragged along with him. Someone from the shopping centre’s helpdesk. I couldn’t even hide my surprise. What was he doing?
I awkwardly said hi to her, then looked at him. He started out on his tirade again, telling the poor lady that I was ripping him off and I couldn’t prove I was the manager and he had proof (at home) that the 64GB model was $69 a month. I felt awful for her. This isn’t her job.
I calmly turned to her (and completely ignored him) and explained – again – the whole situation. She turned to him and said “look, this isn’t my job, but what she’s saying makes sense. Why don’t you just let her write down her details and if you want to make a complaint, call the company directly?”
If looks could kill, we’d both be dead. He huffed and puffed by finally agreed that I could write down my name and store number. “You’re getting fired for this, mark my words!” he called after him as he left. I quickly apologised to the girl, who shrugged it off. The old lady who’d been watching the whole thing piped up “she did nothing wrong, he’s just a bully!”. The girl couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
Needless to say, I didn’t hear anything from him – or anything about his complaint through customer service – again…well, except in my nightmares.
Faulty Accessory Kid
This wasn’t one of my customers – thankfully. A kid, maybe 16, walks into the store and hangs around awkwardly at the back. We at first aren’t sure if he wants service or whether he’s waiting for someone. Eventually we work out he does want help, and Lisa goes and serves him. He takes a seat, pulls out his dirty iPhone 5 in a protective case and tells her he wants a refund on the case. Lisa looks at the grimy, dusty case and asks what’s wrong with it. “It’s supposed to be a tough case but it’s broken”. He points to a slight crack on the edge of it. “It says there’s a two year warranty so I want my money back.”
Lisa looks awkwardly at him. It was pretty obvious he’d given the case quite a beating and therefore it would fall under wear and tear. Being nice though, she decides to ask more questions to be sure. She finds out he’s had the case well over a year, doesn’t have the original packaging, doesn’t know which store it was purchased from and – best of all – doesn’t know if his mum kept the receipt.
“I’m sorry but without a receipt we can’t refund it.” Lisa tells him. He doesn’t take it well, and despite being only young, asks to speak to the manager.
The manager Kye comes out and the kid once again demands a refund. Kye tells the kid the same thing as Lisa, adding that if he doesn’t even know where he got it, there’s really nothing the store can do.
“But why is there a warranty on it then?!” He asked.
Kye – in his typical patient fashion – explained what warranty covered and how he needs a receipt to claim it and he also needs to go back to the store he got it to refund it as our systems aren’t linked. The kid wasn’t buying it, assuming we just didn’t want to help him. After reinteratimg once more there’s nothing we can do right now, Kye goes back to what he was doing. Instead of leaving, the kid decides to randomly hang around for an awkwardly long period of time, I guess hoping if he did someone would cave and refund it to get him out of the store. If only it were actually as simple as that. He finally left after about twenty minutes and we thought the drama was over.
The next day Kye gets an angry phone call from the kid’s mother, demanding to know why he wasn’t issued a refund. He explained the whole policy again, adding that if she can’t supply a receipt, she might want to contact the case manufacturer directly. Again, we all thought that it was over.
Telco lesson: it’s never over.
The following morning a lady with a double pram and two young kids is waiting impatiently out the front before we’ve even opened the shop. When the shop does open, she marches in and asks to speak to Kye. He comes out and is faced with the lady on the phone from yesterday, waving around the damaged case and saying things like “I know my rights!”. Kye was at a loss as she still didn’t have her receipt. He also found out the case wasn’t purchased from our store, so he couldn’t refund it even if he wanted to. She didn’t like that answer and yelled and screamed about how unfair it was and how she didn’t want to go back to the the other store. Once again Kye told her to contact the manufacturer directly. She left in a huff.
The following week Kye received several more calls from the upset woman, with her demanding her money back each time. She came back into the store again, telling him that she’d spoken to the manufacturer and they couldn’t help her either (without a receipt that’s hardly a surprise). Being the nice guy he is, he tells her he’ll speak to the people we buy the cases off and see if they can recommend anything.
Unfortunately, the rep was away for a whole week (terrible timing) and the calls came in daily asking what we were going to do. Finally Kye managed to get onto the rep who said as a once off, we could swap it for her without a receipt. When Kye told the lady that, she was upset at first, saying she didn’t want it swapped because it will just break again, but finally agreeing to it when she realized it was her only real option.
She came in again and the swap was about to be done when we realized we only had white in stock and not black like she’d originally purchased. We couldn’t even order in any black ones as they were on backorder with no ETA of when they’d be available again. Once again, Kye was screamed at and once again, he told her if she isn’t happy then she’d have to deal directly with the manufacturer. She begrudgingly accepted the swap and finally the saga was over, almost 3 weeks later.
Stay tuned, there are plenty more stories to come!