“Tell Us Your Best Practical Joke Story”

I love practical jokes and am always the mastermind behind them!  These are my best two, though I have heaps more that could easily be listed instead!

The best practical joke story I have happened about three years ago.  My then-housemate and work colleague had just signed up for a new phone, and she was so excited about it.  It was her first Samsung after coming from iPhone and she was over the moon about it.  She treated it like it was her baby.

She didn’t have a passcode on it, so it was a practical joke begging to happen.  She’d left it out the back at work, and so we decided then was the perfect time to prank her.  We downloaded an app that made the screen appear to be broken (it looked pretty convincing).  Then we called her into the back office, poker faces in play, all looking upset and guilty.

Someone told her that her phone had fallen off the shelf when it was charging.  She flipped out.  She was stressing out and close to tears and asking how it could have happened.  It went on and on, with it getting harder and harder not to laugh.  Finally I cracked, I couldn’t keep a straight face any longer.  When she was told it was a joke, she laughed but was really angry too (as most joke victims are).  She was very relieved her phone wasn’t broken.

Ironically, about a month later, someone dumped their heavy bag on her phone at work, and the screen actually got broken.  She didn’t believe it at first, assuming it was another joke, but it wasn’t.  That made us feel a little guilty!

*

My other good practical joke story happened last year, again at work.  My two best work friends had gone to get coffee and they sent me a selfie of them halfway there.  I decided payback was in order as they didn’t invite me with them.  I emailed myself the photo, printed it off about 30 times, then stuck it all around the back room, including in the safe, in the fridge, on the microwave and on the roof.  I had to do it quickly as I knew they’d be back at any moment.  Luckily the back room was tiny so 30 copies basically covered everywhere.

They walked back in and only noticed one of them at first.  They were confused as to why I’d printed it, but didn’t say anything.  Then suddenly, another one caught their eye, and another, until suddenly they realized they were staring at themselves all over the room.  Everyone else taught it was hilarious, and they spent the next five minutes taking all the pictures down.

What’s your best practical joke?

This prompt, and many more, can be found here.

Call Me, Maybe

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Call Me, Maybe.”
Describe your relationship with your phone. Is it your lifeline, a buzzing nuisance, or something in between?

I love my phone.  I’m beyond addicted to it.  I’m so addicted, in fact, that I carry a spare one around with me in case I forget my everyday one at home.  It’s bad, I know.  After working in telco for five years and it being my job to know phones backwards, it’s definitely rubbed off on me.  Prior to working in telco, I had a pink flip phone that I’d used for five years.  It was reliable, had access to MSN and Facebook and I could text quickly on it (kids today will never understand how much effort it took to type on those phones!).  After starting in telco, I went through an average of 4 phones a year up until about 2 years ago when I slowed it down to between 1-2 a year.  I was obsessed with having the latest features, the coolest brands.  I knew the best way to get them on contracts so it wouldn’t cost me a fortune.

Like most 20-somethings, I’m part of the ironic group of people who use their phone for everything except phone calls.  If it rings, I’ll answer it, but I rarely call anyone.  I hate talking on the phone.  I’d rather take an extra 10 minutes and have the conversation through text message.  It’s not so much I’m addicted to texting, but as an introvert I find it a lot less confronting.  I have time to reply.  I’m not put on the spot.  If I don’t feel like talking, I can reply later.  I’m also one of those people who ignore calls if I’m not in the mood to talk.  Sorry.  I know if I do answer when I’m in one of those moods, I’m no good to talk to anyway.  One word answers and I try to get off as quickly as possible.  I’d rather ignore the call, mentally prepare myself for a conversation, then call back.  It’s nothing personal against whoever is calling.  I just hate phone calls.

I use my phone for games (sometimes), emails, banking, social media, photography, fitness tracking and navigation.  I use it to post blogs, to find quotes on Tumblr, to play music, to read books.  I read a fact somewhere that Gen Y-ers look at their phones an average of 300 times a day.  No way!  I initially thought it was rubbish.  Then I caught myself pulling my phone out of my pocket again and again.  Checking the time, getting distracted my something else, putting it back, remembering, pulling it out again.  I’d check it continuously for texts.  I’d google something.  I’d check my emails.  I’d post something on Instagram or Snapchat.  I started to realize 300 was probably not a high enough number.  Is it any wonder the battery needs to be charged every night?

Yep, it’s official, I’m addicted!

-JD

Telco Horror Stories – Part Two

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.

Nope.

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!”

Gotcha.

“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!

-JD

Telco Horror Stories Part I

Now that I’m no longer a part of the company I spent the past five years with, I think it’s safe to disclose what it’s like to be on the firing line at one of the places where customers feel it’s okay to verbally abuse young people for things they had no control over.

I know this can be said about most retail jobs to some degree.  Retail is all about grinning and bearing it, everybody who’s ever done a stint in that field knows it.  But when people ask where you work then immediately and without fail follow up with “oh, you must get yelled at a lot” or “that must be a tough job”…you know you’ve probably got it worse than the local checkout chick.

Before I get into the horror stories, don’t get me wrong.  I wouldn’t have spent five years in the industry (and an open mind to rejoining it if the option is there) if it was completely awful.  There are a large amount of lovely, easy-going, wonderful customers that make our days great.  There is also a feeling of family between staff members, because we know we’re in this together.  I’ve met a lot of wonderful people in that place.  The job itself is actually quite enjoyable, if you like sales and meeting targets.  It keeps things a lot more interesting than restocking shelves.  This side of the job isn’t interesting though, so I’m not going to talk about it.  Just know that it is there, and that these stories – though memorable – are a small part of the job.

Sir Scream-A-Lot

This one has stuck with me for a long time, purely because it was my first real taste of the dark side of telco. I had only been there maybe two or three weeks at this point, and only part time, so I was brand new.  I’d started with another girl on the same day.  We’d been specifically told not to serve customers alone, but it was flat out and customers will approach you if they think you’re just standing there ignoring them, whether you’re clearly a trainee or not.

Anyway, we were both standing at the front counter and he comes in to pick up his phone that had been returned from a warranty repair.  Now, keep in mind five years ago the phones were more basic, people chucked them around a lot more, they broke easier (well, if they weren’t Nokias) and on top of that, telcos never ever replaced phones.  Ever.  They’d always attempt to fix them under warranty.  It sounds weird now because most places just swap faulty devices with referbs but back then, everyone just expected their phone would get fixed.  Also keep in mind that because of this, the turnaround time on warranty repairs was a lot longer.  I’m talking between 3 – 4 weeks, and that’s if it was an easy repair.  It’s a long time.

Now, being newbies, we didn’t really comprehend any of that.  I mean we’d been told, but we hadn’t served enough customers to know what their thoughts on it all were.  So when the guy said he was there to collect his phone, we thought “great!  Something easy we can do!” and I promptly went to the cupboard and dug around to find it.  I bought it over and handed it to him.  Nice and easy, next customer please!  But no.  He took off the paperwork that phone was wrapped in and had a quick read through it.

‘Why does this say returned unrepaired due to liquid damage?’

That stumped us.  We looked at each other then I tentatively said “Unfortunately, if the repair guys found signs of water damage it voids the warranty”.  WELL, DID THAT SET HIM OFF.  He went from zero to 1000 in a second.  I’d never experienced someone screaming in my face like that before, and I scared the shit out of me.  I was warned on day one that customers could get angry, but I never expected this.  He demanded that I personally get his broken phone fixed.  He demanded that the company compensate him for the time his phone was away.  He raged about how the repair guys must have gotten it wrong or how they must have damaged the phone themselves.  Meanwhile, myself and the other newbie both stared at him, wide-eyed, shaking and not having a clue what to do or what to say.  Nothing he was saying was possible, I knew that even then, but I also knew I wasn’t going to be the one to tell him that.  Not unless I wanted the phone hurled in my general direction.

*Cue valuable lesson*

My assistant store manager, overhearing the screaming (it was hard to miss), rushes over and tells the guy in no uncertain terms that he is absolutely out of line speaking to staff that way and that we will, under no circumstances, deal with him unless he calms down.  I watched on, thinking that this could only escalate the problem.  He kept yelling, though a little bit of the fight seemed to have gone out of him.  Once again my manager stood her ground.  “Sir, if you keep this up I won’t hesitate to call security to escort you out”. I’d never heard that line before.  It was like flicking a switch.  He stopped screaming, just like that.  He was still fuming, but the noise had subsided.  He looked around and noticed that the whole store – all the staff and customers – were dead still and staring at him, waiting for his next move.  He grabbed his still-broken phone and stormed off.

I was a mess afterwards, shaking and crying and generally just in shock.  I did, however, learn a lot from that experience, probably moreso than any other during my stint there.  It’s okay to stand your ground and refuse to be belittled and disrespected. While some people will read this and be horrified that we don’t have to lay down and take abuse, it’s 100% true and something I made every effort of teaching new staff members from day one.  If they are making you feel uncomfortable or upset, you can ask them to leave.  If they won’t leave, you can excuse yourself and call security.  We don’t get paid fantastically and it most certainly isn’t enough to warrant that level of aggression.  Reality check, future aggro customers: it’s a fucking phone.  There are wars raging right now, famines happening, people dying.  A lot of people don’t even have access to basic supplies like clean water, and here you are, speaking to a random employee who did nothing wrong worse than you’d speak to your ex over a gadget that, while useful, isn’t keeping your heart beating or your tummy full.  Just saying.

Vodka Lady

Ask anyone who worked in my store between 2012-2014 who Vodka Lady is and you’d get the same upturned nose and grimace.  She was a repeat offender (and probably still is), an old lady who clearly has a lot of addiction issues and an aggressive streak.  At her peak, she’d come in once every couple of weeks, her hair all matted and breath reeking of cigarettes.  Normally, with regulars, you get at least a 30 second warning as they approach the store so you can mentally prepare yourself.  Vodka Lady never gave you that option.  She’d come in when the store was at it’s busiest (and trust me, when the store is busy you can barely find anywhere to stand) and march straight up to you, demanding service then and there.  It didn’t matter that you were halfway through a contract with another customer and there were clearly half a dozen people waiting to be served.  When you’d politely tell her that unfortunately nobody is free and she’d have to wait, she would absolutely blow her stack.  She wouldn’t just yell though, that we could deal with.  Instead, she’d go around to each staff member individually and try her luck with each of them, getting progressively more worked up as she received the same “you’ll have to wait” line each time.  Once she’d exhausted that option, she’d then go around to customers, bad mouthing us and the store and the company, standing awkwardly close and making everyone feel on edge and uncomfortable.  In between this, she’d also have screaming outbursts of swearing and calling staff members rude names.  Finally, when one of us cracked (and it was usually me) and we’d ask her to leave, she’d then start on the “you never want to help me” path.  If we were feeling especially patient we’d try to explain – once again – she’s come in on an extremely busy day and we can’t help her just now.  It wouldn’t make a difference though, she didn’t want to hear it and would inevitably storm out, saying she’d never come back.  If only that were true.

Once, she came in when it wasn’t busy (there’s a first time for everything), got served by the manager who has the patience of a saint, and asked why her phone wasn’t working.  The phone was dirty, old and missing it’s backplate, but he humored her and had a look anyway, and found there wasn’t a SIM card in the phone.  She muttered something about leaving it somewhere and left.  We both knew it was too good to be true.  Sure enough, she storms back in ten minutes later, raging that the manager stole her phone battery and demanding it back.  He had no idea what to say – she’d left with the phone and battery ten minutes earlier.  After explaining multiple times that he didn’t have it, she changed her mind and decided to ask how much a replacement backplate would be for her crappy old phone.  The manager advised we don’t sell backplates, to which he copped a berating of “why the fuck not?!”.  Once again she marched out of the store, though luckily we didn’t see her again that day.

My Drug Dealer Stole My Phone

This lady also became a semi-regular.  The first time she’d come into store, one of the politest guys in our team had screamed at her and stormed off.  We’d never heard TJ raise his voice like that to anyone, much less a customer.  She is one of those people who honest to God think they’re above everyone else, and have this horrible attitude towards everyone.  She’d come in, asking about a particular phone, and TJ began explaining the features and the plans.  Instead of listening (or saying she’s changed her mind and wants to look at a different phone instead), she began inserting snide remarks and comments after everything TJ said, getting progressively more offensive and patronising.  There was no need for it or any reason to do it other than she just got enjoyment out of watching him squirm and try to pretend he didn’t hear her.  After twenty long minutes of this, he snapped, telling her in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t going to deal with her horrible attitude any more and to look everything up online if she wasn’t going to listen, before marching off.  Instead of leaving (like most people would have), she stayed around, waiting for him to come back so she can torture him some more.  He refused.  The store was empty aside from her and a couple of staff members, so she then started saying really loudly how unprofessional he is and that she needs service and he just walked off on her.  Sensing she actually wasn’t going to leave without more service, Ashleigh approached her, expecting to talk about a different handset because the customer had spent the last half an hour bad mouthing the phone she originally came in asking about.  Instead, she decided to sign up for it.  It was at that time we realized that the two terrors who had been climbing all over the children’s ride out the front of the store were hers, as she insisted they come into the shop while the contract was being put through.

It was a nightmare.  She kept up her bad attitude the whole time Ashleigh was going through the contract, asking dumb questions just to get a reaction, and giving unsatisfactory eye rolls each time an answer was given.  Meanwhile, her two monster children clambered all over the furniture, screamed the store down, spilled food all over the floor and left rubbish scattered everywhere.  Not once did the customer tell them to be quiet or to sit still.  Finally, the contract was done and the customer left.  We thought that was the end of it.

Wrong.

She comes in about a month later, her terrible entourage in tow again, but this time with her husband as well.  TJ spots her and immediately dives out the back, refusing to deal with her.  A different staff member approaches her and asks her how they can help.  She says she’s lost her phone and wants a replacement.  The rep asks if she’s got insurance, which she does, and they are advised they need to make a claim then wait for insurance to send out a replacement phone to the store.  It should only take a couple of days.  This is not what the customer is expecting.  She loses it, demanding a phone on the spot “because my child is very sick”.  Hard to believe, what with them once again climbing all over the furniture, but anyway.  She rep apologises but explains that there’s nothing we can do about the policy in store, it is what it is, and we could give her a replacement SIM card with the same number if she wants to use her old phone (keeping in mind we knew she’d only just gotten her new phone a month ago).  She refuses to even acknowledge that idea, and asks to speak to the manager.

Once again, the manager with the patience of a saint comes out, and tries to calmly explain the situation again, trying not to seem like he’s yelling at her as he fights to be heard over the two brats’ screaming. She begins to sob hysterically, saying she absolutely can’t be without a phone and that her drug dealer stole her new phone.  Although tempting, the manager bit his tongue and didn’t suggest that maybe she should just pay her drug dealer the money and get her phone back that way.  Instead, taking his patience to a new level, he agreed to see if customer service would arrange a loan phone for her.  This isn’t usually offered for insurance and still wouldn’t get her a phone today, but he wanted to at least look like he was trying to help.  Customer service refused, as expected.  Their reasoning was that she’d have her replacement phone before they’d get the chance to courier one out to her.  Fair call.  She then got back on her high horse and said she didn’t want a loan phone, she wanted a brand new phone exactly like what she had, and she isn’t leaving without it.  Her husband started up then too, demanding the same thing.

It got into an argument then.  She just wouldn’t accept the fact that we couldn’t just hand over a new phone because we felt sorry for her (which we didn’t but she thought we did).  The argument dragged on and on, nothing changing.  She spoke with insurance who advised her exactly the same thing, then the billing department, then tech support.  The longer it dragged on the worse behaved and louder her nasty children got, though who could blame them?  They were bored out of their minds.  Finally, realizing that she’d spent so long getting nowhere, she agreed to purchase a cheap phone only if the company would credit her back for it.  Although this was going to be an uphill battle too, the manager jumped back on the phone and got the credit arranged, and she left, cursing and swearing loudly as she did.

These are just a few of the stories I’ve got, I’ll be posting more later.  Like I said, telco isn’t all bad and these aren’t your typical customers, just ones that have stuck with me.

– JD

“Sorry You’ve Been Unsuccessful”

I’ve heard that line what feels like countless times over the past month – both verbally or in a generic rejection email.

I lost my job recently, one that I’d held for the past five years.  It happened quite suddenly, although I was planning on leaving anyway…just not until I had another gig lined up.  That didn’t happen.  Instead, I’ve applied for 36 different jobs and had eight interviews.  Now, if you haven’t jobhunted for awhile, or have gotten lucky and been successfully able to jump straight from job to job, then you’re probably thinking “only eight interviews?  So what?”.  I probably would have thought the same thing six months ago.

I was so naive back then.

A job interview is mentally draining.  Firstly, you get a phone interview (if you’re lucky).  You spend twenty minutes trying to talk yourself up to some random on the other end of the phone, trying to sound confident but not arrogant, and trying to convince them (and usually, yourself) that you’d be fantastic at whatever job they’re calling about.  Issue is, most of the time, you didn’t apply because it’s your dream job.  You applied because, hey, they have money they might be willing to part with if you can play the part.  Sometimes when they call you have to mentally track back as to why you even applied for the job at all (do I really want to sell DOORS?  Is that even a job?  How many people go door shopping?).  Then you remember you were having a “low day” where you feel like you’ll never get a job again and applied for anything you believe you could remotely do, to hell with job enjoyment.  Finally, the call is over and they tell you they’ll be in contact.

This is a good situation.

A bad situation is when they decide that phone interviews are soooo 1999, and decide instead to make you do a VIDEO INTERVIEW.  Prior to this whole thing, I’d never even known this was a thing.  What a wonderful happy place the world seemed when I didn’t know about these.  Basically what they are is you, dressed up nicely, filming yourself, talking about yourself, in an empty room, addressing people you’ll never meet in the hope they’ll throw you a bone and call you in for an actual interview.  They basically give you a link (usually to an app), a bunch of questions and a timeframe, and leave the rest up to you.  It’s kind of like an audition tape for a role that will never pay you enough to warrant this nonsense.  But even this isn’t the worst of it.  There are two styles I’ve come across – the first is where you have time to answer the questions and redo your answers.  Aka, they let you be professional in the video.  Trust me, you need time to redo your answers.  You stutter, you get tongue tied, you lose your train of thought, you say the wrong thing, you swear, you scratch your face.  It happens.  If you think filming yourself over and over for an hour trying to answer the same questions is bad, oh ho ho, you’d be wrong.

There are sickos out there who don’t allow for that.

I’ve only had to do it once this way (so far) but they basically fire a question at you, give you about 20 seconds to come up with an answer to it that doesn’t sound too pretentious, and then bam! you’re expected to look professional and jobworthy on camera while you answer and try not to get tongue tied.  And just for good measure, they throw in a time limit on each answer too.  Who doesn’t love a bit of pressure, right?!

Okay, so once one of those two scenarios play out, you then do some more waiting.  Oh, the joy of checking your inbox 236 times a day in case an interview invitation might have crept it’s way in there without you noticing (you conveniently forget that your phone actually tells you when you get mail).  No mail?  Damn.  Maybe I missed a call and my iPhone spazzed out.  I’ll just check my call log.  Nope.  Domino’s is still the last call.  (It was a “low day” – don’t judge me!).

Finally, you get a follow up call from one of the potential hirers.  They always sound so optimistic, like you’re the top person on their list and they’re falling over themselves to hire you.  Like the interview is just a formality that has to happen but if it were up to them, you’d get the job on the spot.

It’s a trap!

You probably aren’t top of their list.  They’ve probably already made 10 phone calls exactly the same as this prior to you.  Hell, they probably gave everyone a face-to-face interview that could string two words together.  Or maybe they didn’t.  Maybe they are actually falling over themselves to hire you.  You just don’t know.  The issue is, you’re so happy you’re finally getting a step closer to a job that you completely forget that you may not actually have a 99% chance at landing it if you put on a bit of make up and have a positive attitude.

This is the “high day”.  The time after that phone call and before the interview.  Especially if it’s for a job you actually may not want to bail on the second something better comes along.  It’s the day you don’t order pizza, it’s the day you get off the couch and put on a bra and maybe even do some housework.  Someone thinks I’m worthy of a face-to-face meeting!  I’m one step away from employment!  We’re on the home stretch!

So the day of the interview comes.  Time to get yo profesh on.  Nice clothes, make up, perfume, uncomfortable shoes.  What is it with dressing up and wearing uncomfortable shoes?  Put some extra jewellery on, brush your teeth extra well.  Pretend like you haven’t been channel surfing for a week straight.  Positive thoughts Jessa, you are a hard worker.  They’d be crazy not to hire you.  Speak clearly.  You’ve got this in the bag.  Don’t ramble.

You leave early, even though it’s the middle of the day.  There might be traffic!  There’s not.  So you wind up sitting in your car, 20 minutes early, scrolling mindlessly through Facebook wishing your friends posted more interesting things and trying not to think that most of them aren’t posting because they are at work and you are basically trying to convince the world you’re worthy of joining that league once more.

Finally the time comes when it’s time to go in.  You feel overdressed.  Should have worn something less attention seeking.  Everyone is looking at me. (Nobody is).  Should have worn comfortable shoes.  Nobody is gonna hire me if I walk like my legs are asleep. You approach the nearest staff member and mumble awkwardly you’re here for an interview.  The staff member looks you up and down, then says “well, wait around, they’ll grab you when they’re ready”.  So you wait.  You don’t want to just stand there like an idiot, so you walk a little.  Not too much though, you don’t want to look like you’re pacing.  Keep moving though, you don’t want to look bored.  In the end you probably look like both at once.

Finally, the interviewer arrives.  Cue awkward introduction.  You try to sound confident but it doesn’t come out that way.

Oh well already blew it might as well go home.

But no.  You follow the interviewer to the meeting area and sit down.  Here comes the stupid, open ended question that seems mandatory in every interview ever.

“So, tell me a bit about yourself?”

You’d think after eight times I’d have this down pat, but I never really know if I do.  Do they want to know about my work history?  Do they want to know about my general interests?  Do they want to know about my day and what I ate for breakfast?  Or are they simply asking it as a polite formality?  Every interviewer seems to have a different take on this, from what I can gather, so I never know how to answer.  In the end, I usually just go down the job history path.  It seems safest, albeit the most dull.

Once the conversation starts the interview generally starts to run it’s course smoothly.  I have quite a bit of valuable experience (that much I know is true) and the interviewers seem to be interested in it.  Keyword: seem.  This is when my confidence picks up and I talk (ramble) about back stories and tasks I’ve done and why I’d love to work for…what company is this again?

Finally, after a final – more confident – handshake, the interview is over.  You walk away with your head held high.  You not only survived it, but it seemed to go very well.  You start to pick it apart on the way home – the interviewer said “we’ll be in contact by Monday”, that’s gotta be a good sign, right?  They talked a lot about that one story you shared about how you helped that guy out, that must mean I’ve won them over, surely?  In your head, you’re picturing the next five years of your life at the company, and start planning your life now you have an income again.  Even though a little voice is saying “Jessa, get a grip, they told you they have more people to interview” you’re already mentally partying.

More waiting.

So much waiting.

The day arrives that they promised you an answer.  You stare at your phone.  You want it to ring but think “if they don’t call til later, surely it means good news”.  You hope one of your referees message you to say they just got called, but nothing comes through.  “It’s okay, they probably got a call at an inconvenient time and didn’t have a chance to tell you”.  Finally, the phone rings.  Here it comes!  Good news at last!

“Hi Jessa, how’s it going?  I’m just calling to let you know you’ve been unsuccessful, sorry.  Do you want us to keep your details on record in case something else opens up?  You were great, we just found someone better”.

You feel like you’ve been kicked in the guts.

You knew this was going to happen, or at least, there was potential that it would.  Despite that, you let yourself get excited about it.

Bring on another “low day” where you hate the world and all the shitty TV shows that are on.  You hate you don’t have an income to go out and buy three boxes of Krispy Kremes and two pints of Ben and Jerry’s.  Instead you make do with Nutella on toast because that’s the best comfort food you have in the house.  You try not to look at your computer but can hear it calling “Jessa, time to do more job applications!  Time to do it all over again!”.  Eventually you give in and start applying, and because it’s a low day, you think selling blinds is a fantastic life choice.

And so the vicious cycle starts all over again.

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-JD