What I Learned Working in a Call Center

What I Learned Working in a Call Center


Don’t take anything for granted. I can’t tell you how many of my calls are from people who just assumed something would happen and now are pissed that it didn’t. Triple check your shit. Just because something happened in the past or makes logical sense, does not mean that it will automatically happen. I’m looking at you, lady who stated that having her medical premiums deducted from her payment issued by the exact same institution is “scary!”

On that note, read everything. Not only should you not assume that things will just happen as you except them to, you should read every correspondence you get from your student loan/health/life insurance company. You look pretty stupid if you just operate on assumptions, but you look even more stupid if you have a letter in front of you telling you whatever you are freaking out about was going to happen months before it actually did and you just didn’t bother to look at it.

Being an asshole can help you get what you want, even if it makes people think you’re a real asshole. If you call in and are an asshole of the “I DEMAND TO SPEAK TO A MANAGER WHENEVER I HEAR SOMETHING THAT CONFUSES AND ENRAGES ME” variety, chances are you will effectively make normally confident reps tremble and bow down because no one wants to be yelled at. Out of basic human decency to the reps, the supervisors and administrators will try to expedite your shit so that you stop calling and yelling at everyone. The downside? Everyone at the call center will know you are an asshole, even and especially the supervisors who inevitably have to deal with you. You will receive no sympathy.

Call centers are a total crapshoot. You might luck out and get the one rep that actually wants to be there and knows benefit calculation methods like the back of her hand, but chances are you won’t. Call centers hire mostly 20-something temps who are just doing it for the money while they publish their e-book/cast their bronzes/support their drug habits. The turnover is high, because working in a call center blows and everyone knows it. The chances that the person you talk to legitimately cares about your issue beyond not noticeably fucking it up further are abysmally low.

There will always be That One Person. Even at a call center, where your coworkers are in the same “screw this, but please pay me” boat, there will be that one person who ruins everything by being a stickler for the rules, like my coworker who once held the door for me but wouldn’t let me in until I scanned my badge. Or the office manager, who yells at people over instant message if they are ten seconds late from break. This suggests that there will always be at least one life-ruiner in every office. This also blows, but is just an indelible fact of life.

You can always quit. This kind of work does not matter in the grand scheme of things. It’s been a good lesson in keeping my head down, making my money, and getting the hell out.

– Charlie Acton

Photo by Lamont_Cranston (Creative Commons)

  • crazy that the thought catalog did this exact topic. first.