I stumbled across this book through the Goodreads suggestions after I read Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops. I set it aside on my "to-read" shelf, and then noticed that the book was another one of those that started off as a website. So, to see what I was getting myself into, I went to the website.
And then I read through more than 1,000 pages of stories in a single day.
These are incredibly addictive and amusing, and are a wonderful testament to the joy that is working in the customer service industry. Half of the book comes from stories on the website, and the other half from the backlog of stories that are sent to the site each day, but haven't had a chance to get posted yet.
My personal favorite is the tale of the Blue Ting, which is both on the website and in the book.
(I worked tech support for a major software company, specifically with their digital media products. This call was about their video editing software.)
Me: “Thanks for calling ***** tech support.
(The customer gives me her info and has a thick accent I can’t place.)
Me: “Great! What can I do for you?”
Her: “Yes. I am trying to edit dees beedio, and eet’s blue and blue on de ting.”
Me: “So…it’s blue, and blue…on the thing?”
Me: “Where is it blue?”
Her: “On de ting.”
Me: “By ‘thing,’ do you mean the Computer screen or your camera?”
Her: “Yes…de ting.”
Me: “Ma’am, I can’t see what you are looking at so you’ll have to tell me the name of the thing that is blue.”
Her: *getting angry* “DE TING!!! Eeet’s BLUUUUE AN BLUUUEE ON DE TING!!!!”
Me: “What exactly is blue? The video on your monitor? Are you outputting to TV? The viewfinder on your camera?”
Me: “Yes…which one?”
Her: *yelling* “DE TING!!!!”
Me: “Ma’am, I’m sorry but I don’t understand where you are having a problem.”
Her: “THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS!!! I SPEAK PERFECT ENGLISH!!! MY HUSBAND TAUGHT ME HE WILL BE VERY VERY ANGRY WIT YOU!!! I DEMAND RESPECT!!! HOW DARE YOU!!!”
Me: “Ma’am, I agree. You speak english very very well. The problem I am having is you are not telling me where you are seeing blue video.”
Her: “ON DE TIIIING!!!”
(This exchange went on for a while before she got frustrated and hung up. The best part is, my call was being listened to by some higher level support guys. They created an internal troubleshooting document that appeared as follows:)
PROBLEM: VIDEO IS BLUE AND BLUE ON THE THING
SOLUTION: NONE AT THIS TIME
>(TECH SUPPORT)IS THE THING BLUE? TRY REINSTALLING THE THING
>(TECH SUPPORT) THING REINSTALLED. STILL BLUE
>(ENGINEER) CANNOT RECREATE THING IN LAB.
>(ENGINEER) PROBLEM ALMOST RECREATED. THING RED.
(And so on and so on…)
It's really satisfying, reading through these stories and finding out that there are terrible customers, no matter what field you work in.
But should you ever start to feel bad for the poor customers, for some reason, don't worry. There's a sister site called Not Always Working that collects stories of incompetent or bad workers.
And, as a parting gift, I will leave you with the best story I have, from working as a front desk clerk at a timeshare hotel.
(St. Patrick's Day weekend is pretty big down here. Because we have Bourbon Street. Obviously. One of our timeshares owners waves at me, and then heads out for the night. I think nothing of it. Ten minutes later, her husband comes down to the desk, incredibly drunk, and starts staring at me.)
Me: Yes, can I help you?
Guest: ... (continues to just stare)
Me: Um...can I help you, sir?
Guest: My wife.
Me: Yes, what about your wife?
Guest: Did you see my wife?
Me: Yes, I did. She left about ten minutes ago.
Guest: Where is she?
Me: I don't know. She didn't tell me where she was going.
Guest: Where is she?
Me: Sir, I don't know. I don't keep tabs on where every guest is going when they head outside.
(He leaves, and the comes back downstairs five minutes later.)
Guest: Where's my wife?
Me: I already told you, I don't know where she is. She went outside. She did not tell me where she was going.
Guest: I need to find my wife. Where is she?
Me: Sir -
Guest: She has diabetes.
Guest: Do you know what diabetes are? She can't be alone. She's crazy! She has diabetes.
Me: Have you tried calling your wife's cell phone?
Guest: (starting to get violent) WHERE IS SHE?
Me: I don't know!
(He leaves, then comes back downstairs five minutes later, again.)
Me: Sir, I don't know where your wife is. You need to call her.
Guest: She can't be alone. She's crazy! She has diabetes! She's crazy! Tell me where she is!
Me: I don't know what else I can do to help you.
Guest: (screaming) If you don't tell me where she is, I'm going to call the cops on you!!!
(At this point, my coworker has had enough, and comes to the front desk.)
Coworker: Sir, she already said that she doesn't know where your wife went! Leave her alone.
Guest: My wife has diabetes! She can't be out on her own! I'm going to get the cops here to arrest you, you b*tch!
Coworker: I said leave her alone.
Guest: I'm not talking to you!
Coworker: But I'm talking to you. Now, go back to your room before I call the cops on you for harassing my coworker.
Guest: I'll call the cops!
Coworker: Go ahead and call them! What are you going to charge her with? Hmmm?
Guest: ...I'm going to call my wife's cell phone.
(His wife comes back twenty minutes later.)
Me: ...your husband was looking for you.
Guest's Wife: ...I know. He called me.
(Despite being a timeshare owner, they haven't been back to the hotel since. My coworker still jokes about my magical ability to kill people with the power of diabetes.)