1. Re: Customer service rants

Client does not understand how decimals work
One of the more frequent sets of questions I'm asked to answer in my job is confirming basic information about a client's records and benefits, i.e. which plan they're enrolled in, what their account balance is and, relevant to this story, how many years of service they have. Now, the records we have are provided in decimal form, which is how we're supposed to provide them back to the client. Normally, this isn't an issue, but...

Me: According to our records, your total years of service appear to be 13.08
Client: So...I have thirteen years and eight months?
Me: No, you have thirteen years, plus an additional point zero eight years.
Client: So the point zero eight means eight months?
(This continues for five minutes until it finally clicks)

3. Re: Customer service rants

Working with your own employees can be as frustrating as customers I found in the HR department.

One of my favourites is the temp who called in to complain they got less money for working a week now than around Christmas.

I gently start prodding, it's the same time, one week (they work week-week on ships). Overtime? No no overtime either week. I'm slightly puzzled of course because I know that April 1st all salaries are index-adjusted so there's no way you can have earned less in May compared to December last year. Which tell them. Did you change taxrate in between? Because I know some people look at net earnings when we should be looking at gross. But it's not that either. I got all the papers in front of me trying to think of a solution, when I find one.

Me: -Well see here, the service commission is different. (The personnel get a %:s off the sales income for those days they been at work. Needless to say working during Xmas time is better than random week in May from a total sales perspective)
Caller: The what?
Me: Service commission.
Caller: What's that.
Me: Err, you get a certain %s off the total sales from the period. It is calculated separately every day. (I didn't even think of bringing it up earlier because obviously such an variable number can't be included in a consideration of "how much you earn for a week". That number will of course always change.
Caller: I get a %s of sales???
Me: Yes. It's to encoura...
Caller: Well in that case I should have tried to sell more!
Me (deadpan): Quite. That would be an excellent idea for the future, yes.

Me to colleagues at office: What is wrong with the people onboard who hire these guys, aren't they explaining how their are ging to get paid?

It should be noted that the service commission is a deal between employer and union and one of the main factors for why joining the union is a good idea. I can't fathom how the representative on site doing the hiring aren't pointing this out.

Another interesting call was the follwoing:

Me: Hello.
Caller: Hi, I've not gotten my salary!
Me: Oh, well that's strange, and they sent in the timecard for last month?
Caller: No no, I mean *this* month.
Me: Well, it's not time for paying out salaries yet.
Caller: But.... in Country *we* always get paid on the 28th. ("We" meaning people in the Country the caller was from).
Me: Err, okay, but you're not technically in Country. The ship is registered in Another Country and follows the rules there. [Trying not to sound like am talking to an idiot] Your employment contract clearly states you are paid on the 8-10th the following month.
Caller: But... okay...

Oh and the follwoing one:

Me: I welcome to Blahblah HR department.
Caller: Hi I am from Foreign Agency in Country calling on behalf of Someone, they are applying for benefits here and we need to get employment information.
Me: Ok, can I get the social ID number and I'll check it up.
Caller: *Gives number*
Me: Oookaay... I can't find that person in my database. Was this very recently? I may not have gotten the papers from a day or two ago.
Caller: *Confirms it was some time ago*
Me: [After having considered what on earth could be the problem] Are you sure they were working on the right ship? Have they gotten paid? Because if they are not registered here, and I have no employment paperwork from the ship, I cannot see how they could have been an employee of ours. They certainly haven't received a salary. (how I managed to describe this to not make the other part look like an utter moron I can't even remember, luckily the social worker or whatever on the other side was willing to side with me on this one).
Caller: *I can hear how they explain my misgivings on the other side* Yes worker definitely worked there and got paid.
Me: Hmm... what did they work with as?
Caller: Cleaning.
Me: *Epiphany* Is it possible they were working as "land crew" cleaner?
Caller: *Manages to confirm that, yes that is infact how the situation is*
Me: Ok, then I just do not have that information as they have technically not been in our employ. It would reside with whatever company has the outsourced "land crew" contract. I would suggest you contact the office in Country or the ship to find out who you need to contact. I have none of that information.
Caller: *Is satisfied with that*

So this poor worker they were calling on behalf of, basically had no idea who their employer was, just which big ship they had worked on.

On another note "Country" is always the same place, all my idiot calls seemed to come from there, so I have decided to not embarrass any people from Country by naming and shaming them. Let's just say they were well known at HR for tossing us idiot balls (ask me about the torn up doctor's note).

4. Re: Customer service rants

Originally Posted by Alabenson
Client does not understand how decimals work
One of the more frequent sets of questions I'm asked to answer in my job is confirming basic information about a client's records and benefits, i.e. which plan they're enrolled in, what their account balance is and, relevant to this story, how many years of service they have. Now, the records we have are provided in decimal form, which is how we're supposed to provide them back to the client. Normally, this isn't an issue, but...

Me: According to our records, your total years of service appear to be 13.08
Client: So...I have thirteen years and eight months?
Me: No, you have thirteen years, plus an additional point zero eight years.
Client: So the point zero eight means eight months?
(This continues for five minutes until it finally clicks)
I'm almost willing to give a pass on that.

Running decimals on stuff that has another base (which ppl won't reflect over usually) *is* confusing. I think you probably should have translated the 0.8 years into months for their benefit, at least when asked. Hours and days are similarly funny because the computer and human perception fo numbers varies.

5. Re: Customer service rants

Originally Posted by snowblizz
I'm almost willing to give a pass on that.

Running decimals on stuff that has another base (which ppl won't reflect over usually) *is* confusing. I think you probably should have translated the 0.8 years into months for their benefit, at least when asked. Hours and days are similarly funny because the computer and human perception fo numbers varies.
0.08, not 0.8 (god that was annoying to type on my phone). Twelve into ten can take a moment to process, but twelve into a hundred? No, I'm gonna call that a poorly designed system. Just use days. You can get big numbers, sure, but it's exact (since being fairly exact seems to be an issue here, if we're talking about 0.08 years). So 29 days. 1 year 29 days.

6. Re: Customer service rants

Originally Posted by Peelee
0.08, not 0.8 (god that was annoying to type on my phone). Twelve into ten can take a moment to process, but twelve into a hundred? No, I'm gonna call that a poorly designed system. Just use days. You can get big numbers, sure, but it's exact (since being fairly exact seems to be an issue here, if we're talking about 0.08 years). So 29 days. 1 year 29 days.
See, confusing!

Regardless, that's kinda my point, been better to say 13 years 29 days rather than "thirteen point oh eight years". Decimal fractoring years (365 days) months (30 days) days (24 hrs) gets confusing. Doing maths on time stamps almsot always caught me out somewhere e.g.

7. Re: Customer service rants

My uncle used to have a used car lot. Folks would be able to pay \$50 every week, but not \$100 every month.

8. Re: Customer service rants

Originally Posted by snowblizz
I'm almost willing to give a pass on that.

Running decimals on stuff that has another base (which ppl won't reflect over usually) *is* confusing. I think you probably should have translated the 0.8 years into months for their benefit, at least when asked. Hours and days are similarly funny because the computer and human perception fo numbers varies.
Unfortunately I'm specifically not supposed to do that for liability reasons, I'm only allowed to report exactly what on the client's records. Providing days wouldn't work either, since the state calculated years of service entirely on months (so if you had one full day of work in a given month, then you got credit for the entire month).
And honestly, I can understand some initial confusion regarding what the decimals added to. Less so after I've explained it 4 or 5 times.

9. Re: Customer service rants

Originally Posted by snowblizz
Ok. What's this I hear about a torn up doctor's note?

10. Re: Customer service rants

Originally Posted by snowblizz
On another note "Country" is always the same place, all my idiot calls seemed to come from there, so I have decided to not embarrass any people from Country by naming and shaming them. Let's just say they were well known at HR for tossing us idiot balls (ask me about the torn up doctor's note).
*Shrugs*

Could be Germany, for all I know.

Which would be quite understandable, as all of your three examples go against established work culture here:
- You can't have a work contract based on % sales. As an independent contractor, yes, that would work, but not as a work contract. Either fixed base salary or an hourly rate and an supplementary contract for your bonus on top would work.
- Pay day is mostly around the 25th, so the cash can be at the employees bank account at the 28th, as all relevant bills are due at the 1st. The rare alternative is the combination of 12th/15th for subcontractors due to the time it takes to process their bills, but that's rather frowned upon.
- Social security numbers and, in sensitive cases, passport numbers have to be reported up and down the whole employment chain for due diligence purposes, including sub-contractors and outsourced jobs. Even a bureaucratic mammoth like the Deutsche Bahn AG (Mass Transit Authority) will keep records of anyone working on their behalf, even down to the sub- sub- sub- contractor base because they are liable for a lot of things and being checked by the government agencies on that.

11. Re: Customer service rants

Originally Posted by Alabenson
Unfortunately I'm specifically not supposed to do that for liability reasons, I'm only allowed to report exactly what on the client's records. Providing days wouldn't work either, since the state calculated years of service entirely on months (so if you had one full day of work in a given month, then you got credit for the entire month).
I ain't knockin' you, I'm knockin' the company. Because it sounds like they could easily just use months instead of decimals.

12. Re: Customer service rants

Originally Posted by Florian
- You can't have a work contract based on % sales. As an independent contractor, yes, that would work, but not as a work contract. Either fixed base salary or an hourly rate and an supplementary contract for your bonus on top would work.
Actually, that is exactly the case. They get a regular monthly salary, or in the case of the temp, paid for the week of work and paid for a week of leave as they work on a 1:1 day system. We are talking about a supplemental bonus based on sales performance, very specifically contracted by the union. Everyone working there, basically, join the union. One of the main reasons we, on the company side, thought it was based on, was informing people of said benefits they get for joining.

Apparently not. All the relevant information this person needed before calling me is stated in the employee agreement they signed. People from Country apparently do not read they employment contracts very much. Don't sign stuff you've not read people!

Originally Posted by Talakeal
Ok. What's this I hear about a torn up doctor's note?
Ah! Now that's a story with such leaps of logical fail I can't even begin to fathom what was going on in the minds of people involved.

It starts with me finding an odd note in the inbox from the ship. I read through the thing and realise it is supposed to be a "doctor's note". Now the thing is, we are not legally allowed to accept anything except an official form from the National Health Services (no not the actual UK NHS, though am sure they also have a form that would be acceptable) or something of equal official/legal status in your country of residence. This is an honest to god, machine typed doctor's note. There are strict rules for sickleave, you need a nurse's form for a short max 3 day leave and after that you need to visit the company doctor (which is free) or another qualified medical professional, i.e. doctor. Being organised and competently bureaucratic countries, Country and This Country both have them, they look different, but each country has only 1 official form used by all medical professionals. A doctor's note typed on a machine isn't going to cut it. At the end of the day I'll be sending it on to the NHS (not the UK one) or our insurer (depending on type of sickleave) because they reimburse part of the employers cost for healthcare. Neither will accept this note.

So I send it back to the person and tell them I can't do anything with this and need a properly filled out original form.

What I get is a photocopy of said form. That won't do either. It has to be an original, signed, in a way you can tell it's the original (doctors using black ink felt pens should have their licenses revoked). I usually tell those unsure what I'm on about they need to use a blueink ballpoint pen. It's easier than to explain the concept of Single Payer of Last Resort.*

At this point I take this to my boss and tell him I needed someone to put some authority into this. So my boss calls the Person up and has to explain, in detail, what kind of form we need and why it is so important*. Clearly it exists since we have a copy of it. The kicker is, the Person tore up the original and threw it out, *after making a copy* on somekind of "it's private" bender. Eventually we get the original form. It's taped together from 6 individual pieces. We duly file it and send it on to the NHS (still not the UK one) fervently hoping they aren't going to get touchy about the condition.

So many problems for me in this.

*The Person who sent us their doctor's note should know we needed an approved form. Their first contact point is always the ship, which has staff that knows what paperwork is needed.

*Why on earth did they tear the original up? I was there when the call was made and the explanation was "something something private" to the best of my recollection. But they kept a copy? It just doesn't make any sense to me.

*The doctor who wrote the note should be well aware that he needs to fill out an official form. Which he also did. Country uses the same basic system we do and the forms are required for the same exact reasons.

It should be noted, until the Person could provide us with appropriate forms they are not getting paid for the sickleave. If this was the military you are effectively AWOL without appropriate forms.

*) The Single Payer of Last Resort system. Not it's real name, but the best I can describe it. And it's the reason the forms, and originals and signatures etc etc etc are so stupidly important. Basically the NHS (you guessed it, not the UK one) will pick the tab up when everyone else has paid their part on medical costs. E.g. during illness the cost of salary is partly carried by the employer, potentially an insurer, and as a last resort the government.
Obviously the system does not want you to be able to claim the same benefits from multiple parties. Hence, every party involved: employer, insurance company and NHS (not the UK one) will require the form *in original*. It is an "easy" way to make sure none of the other parties are by mistake or intentionally misled into paying something. So usually the employer starts with the form and pays the sickleave as part of normal salaries, we then send the form to the NHS (getting sick of hearing it's not the UK one yet?) with an application for reimburcement, where we get about 80% back. Basically the employer pays for anything 9 days and less and the government picks the tab up from day 9 onwards.
The idea is ofc that there should only be one form in circulation for each period of illness (that assumes the doctor is honest). This is why the forms are printed in colour, why doctors need to stamp them and why contracts are supposed to be signed with blueink ballpoint pen.

On logical conclusion of all of this is that the Person was trying to do exactly that which the system is designed to circumvent. To get the employer to pay sickbenefits and also apply for them from their Country health services at the same time.

13. Re: Customer service rants

Originally Posted by snowblizz
Actually, that is exactly the case.
In Germany?

14. Re: Customer service rants

Originally Posted by Peelee
In Germany?
The fixed base salary plus supplemental percentage on top. The 1+1 thing snowblizz mentions would be against local employment laws, so that'd rule Germany out.

15. Re: Customer service rants

Originally Posted by Florian
The fixed base salary plus supplemental percentage on top. The 1+1 thing snowblizz mentions would be against local employment laws, so that'd rule Germany out.
That was my point. You said they don't work like that in Germany, and snowblizz replied that sure, that's exactly how it works. I was pointing out that you were talking about Deutschland.

16. Re: Customer service rants

Originally Posted by Peelee
That was my point. You said they don't work like that in Germany, and snowblizz replied that sure, that's exactly how it works. I was pointing out that you were talking about Deutschland.
I'm feeling like am stuck in a "he said... she said..." loop.

It's not in Germany.

I don't know how they work in Germany, but the description of "base income + commission" was an accurate representation of what I was trying to describe earlier. And I was trying to highlight that.

I'm also now very confused.

17. Re: Customer service rants

Abbot and Costello: Who's on First?

18. Re: Customer service rants

Originally Posted by snowblizz
I'm feeling like am stuck in a "he said... she said..." loop.

It's not in Germany.

I don't know how they work in Germany, but the description of "base income + commission" was an accurate representation of what I was trying to describe earlier. And I was trying to highlight that.

I'm also now very confused.
Florian said the other country could be Germany for all we know, and they don't do things like X. When you said that it is done like X, my "in Germany?" comment was just playing off how you phrased it slightly imprecisely.

Short version, I made a silly joke, and managed to confuse the heck out of you. Good indication to stick to my day job.

19. Re: Customer service rants

I really like it when customers actually listen and understand what you're saying, especially when it comes to medical insurance billing, which can easily sound like needlessly over-complicated insanity to anyone who's never encountered its joys before. I just had to explain to a lady why we couldn't sell her stuff at the co-insurance rate because her deductible is still at the full amount even though her physical therapist says she's paid her full deductible already and is only charging her the co-insurance rate. Fortunately for me, she was more than willing to listen to why it's the case, and was perfectly understanding with the reasoning.

20. Re: Customer service rants

Originally Posted by snowblizz
....So this poor worker they were calling on behalf of, basically had no idea who their employer was, just which big ship they had worked on.
My contact center works a lot with group homes. In fairness, I can understand this happening, since ownership changes so often.

Caller "I'm with XYZ group home, part of ABC. here's our resource ID."

Me: "I'm familiar with them. Let me pull them up"

Caller: "Thanks. We just switched to ABC two days ago."

Me (after not finding them under ABC, but rather under 1,2,3 as of 9am that morning "Got some bad news for you. Need to talk to your boss and verify your new, new employer and resource ID....."

Caller: "You're #\$%^ing kidding!?!"

21. Re: Customer service rants

[1] I am in insurance agent. I have a manual with documentation that folks need to supply before they get enrolled.
[2] Underwriting has a separate document with requirements in it.
[3] My Document will say supply documentation A, B and C.
[4] Underwriting will then say that they need D.
[5] This causes extra work, and likely costs us sales.
[6] I was given a copy of the underwriting manual . . . it is a mess . . . there is no way in hell that this manual has ALL the rules in it. The rest must be from oral tradition.

Here is a simplified example:
Pick one of the below options:
Option 1: You may have a hamburger
Option 2: You cannot have a hamburger if you are a man

. . . If I want a hamburger, and I am a man then, then I will pick option 1.

Here is another example:
Want insurance? Give us a death certificate . . . OR even better! . . . a public death notice!. I am 100% sure that this would not work (unless you were an existing customer), but it is in the manual. This makes my head hurt. The various rules must be passed down via oral tradition.

-----

It is as if the manual instructed me to "do the thing." A manual cannot read "do the thing" and be competently written.

----

Customer: I just added my children to my policy, what will be there number?
Me: Everyone on the same policy will use the policyholder's member number.
Customer: <Asks me the same question and ends up wording it four different ways>
Me: <Dumbfounded>

I hope that I was able to keep my poker-voice, did not come off as too <are-you-seriously-asking-me-the-same-question-four-times-in-a-row?>. I would have still been thinking "are you serious", but would have preferred him asking "are you sure" a bunch of times as it would have been a shorter call.

22. Re: Customer service rants

Originally Posted by darkrose50
Customer: I just added my children to my policy, what will be there number?
Me: Everyone on the same policy will use the policyholder's member number.
Customer: <Asks me the same question four different ways>
Me: <Dumbfounded>

I hope that I was able to keep my poker-voice, did not come off as too <are you seriously asking me the same question four times?>. I would have still been thinking "are you serious", but would have preferred him saying "are you sure" four-times-in-a-row.
Greetings from the other side!

Blue Cross automated system: Please enter the contract number.
Blue Cross automated system: Please enter the patient's date of birth.
Blue Cross automated system: Do you need benefit details, pre-authorization, or other stuff?
Me: Benefit details.
Blue Cross automated system: The patient's contract number is X, and date of birth is X. This quote has been saved, your referral number is X. Do you need anything else?

23. Re: Customer service rants

Automated System: You can tell me what you want
Me: Customer Service

Automated System: Before I get you to your final destination, are you sure that you can not just figure this out on your own?
Me: Customer Service

Automated System: We totally have a webpage that has most of the stuff you need, why not check there?
Me: Customer Service

Automated System: Seriously if you figure this out yourself, then it costs us less payroll.
Me: Customer Service

Automated System: Let me tell you about a bunch of things about your account that you could totally look-up on our web-page.
Me: Customer Service

Automated System: You may hang up now, if you want.
Me: Customer Service

Automated System: Are you absolutely sure that you would rather not go **** off?
Me: Customer Service

Automated System: What department did you want?
Me: Customer Service

24. Re: Customer service rants

Automated System: [rattles off literally everything I just got off the website, taking up the better part of five minutes detailing each line item]
Me: [kills time on D&D-based nerd forums because I'm a huge nerd]
Automated System: I have you as a Durable Medical Equipment provider, specializing in Durable Medical Equipment. What service are you calling about?
Me: [dying inside] Durable Medical Equipment.
Automated System: Would you like to hear the Benefit Details? If not, you may hang up.
Me: Agent assistance.
Automated System: Agent assistance is not required.
Me: Cool, so I'll just tell the patient we can't give them their stuff because the website won't say the requirements, the automated service won't say the requirements, and I can't talk to a person for fifteen seconds to ask "hey is the requirement X or Y?"

ETA: I'm not ranting against you, I'm ranting against the automated system. Illinois is the worst I've encountered so far.

25. Re: Customer service rants

Originally Posted by Peelee
Automated System: [rattles off literally everything I just got off the website, taking up the better part of five minutes detailing each line item]
Me: [kills time on D&D-based nerd forums because I'm a huge nerd]
Automated System: I have you as a Durable Medical Equipment provider, specializing in Durable Medical Equipment. What service are you calling about?
Me: [dying inside] Durable Medical Equipment.
Automated System: Would you like to hear the Benefit Details? If not, you may hang up.
Me: Agent assistance.
Automated System: Agent assistance is not required.
Me: Cool, so I'll just tell the patient we can't give them their stuff because the website won't say the requirements, the automated service won't say the requirements, and I can't talk to a person for fifteen seconds to ask "hey is the requirement X or Y?"

ETA: I'm not ranting against you, I'm ranting against the automated system. Illinois is the worst I've encountered so far.
Speaking as somebody in CS, automated systems can go die in a fire. Give me a person to talk to for three seconds who can just send me where I need to go directly, don't make me go through a flowchart of options trying to guess where the end that I want is.

26. Re: Customer service rants

Originally Posted by Keltest
Speaking as somebody in CS, automated systems can go die in a fire. Give me a person to talk to for three seconds who can just send me where I need to go directly, don't make me go through a flowchart of options trying to guess where the end that I want is.
Having worked with a number of these systems, I can say with some confidence that they know how to fix them. They have the tracking results that tell them X many callers ask for this and the system doesn't know how to handle it, so maybe you should add it; Y amount of prompts result in 'no, that didn't help, can I get an agent' so the system should either transfer that to the live line or additional responses need to be added for that subject. The problem is that takes money to rewrite the tree, add information, add hooks to the company's data so the auto system can pull from or update the caller's account information.. and since most of these were implemented as money-saving measures in lieu of investing in the company's actual customer service department, well, you can imagine what happens when they look at the price quote for improving the system versus the mostly unmeasurable loss to the company from customer frustration in dealing with the broken system.

27. Re: Customer service rants

at work i tend to take a lot of calls from the general public most days.

we have a short automated menu.

let's hypothetically state that the menu goes something like this:

thanks for calling donuts donuts donuts!

for information about sprinkles, press 1
for information about fillings, press 2
for information about toppings, press 3
to speak w/ the donut operator, press 4.

i'd say at least 95% of the sometimes 100's of calls i get a day, the caller immediately asks about sprinkles.... and most of these folks say something like "i don't know if I'm calling the right number" before then immediately asking about sprinkles...

i do not have a lot of faith in the general public anymore :(

28. Re: Customer service rants

I do not know if the client (a) does not have the procedure written down, or (b) has one sufficiently written down, but will not give it to us. The end result is that a crazy high amount of tickets are generated, and my company looses money/sales as a result (some, but perhaps not too many as we follow up, but more than 0).

I think that there is a real possibility that (a) someone does not want us to do a good job, and/or (b) the procedures given to us are specifically handcrafted to create work for a department (not mine).

If ones goal was to create work, then they succeeded in spades. Seriously they create a NEW ticket for every update on a problem. We all know that more tickets looks better than less tickets . . . why have 1 ticket . . . why not have 7 tickets about the issue and all of its updates! Why give clear directions that A, B and C are needed for a situation when you could just say A and B are needed, and *poof* you created a ticket that your department has to work, and you justified being more important and more needed.

I wonder how often this scenario occurs.

----

Also people just really suck at writing procedures and sometimes write "do the thing" and leave it as that.

29. Re: Customer service rants

Originally Posted by Peelee
I really like it when customers actually listen and understand what you're saying..

When I was younger I found that doing that led to my getting job offers, which aftet I'd take the jobs led to me having to deal with customers and finding out that I ain't no nice guy after all

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