Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The End

This job was supposed to be a quick stop-gap solution while I looked for something with dignity that paid well and was ethical. It lasted about six months. Now I've got a better job. Yesterday was my last day.

I never did hear any sort of acknowledgement from supervisors that I was leaving. I emailed all the HR staff yesterday to make sure they were planning to send appropriate paperwork, and got a curt note that they would.

Over the course of the six months the job went from harrowing and miserable to just tiring. The first few months, with non-stop calls from customers who were all angry from being on hold, were about as bad a work experience as I've ever had. The last month or so, in which the pace has been relatively slow and a large percentage of the customers actually pleasant, has been pretty decent and occasionally almost fun.

But yesterday was my last day. My first call of the day was someone who had been transferred to me inappropriately and got angry when I explained that I couldn't help them without a paid subscription. In the middle of the day I got a call from someone whose computer was totally destroyed beyond help (not because of us; the damage was done before she first called us) and who then sobbed and wept and demanded that we pay for it; and my last call was an hour and a half long and at the end of it I had to explain to the caller that his problem was that his computer was badly damaged and there was nothing I could do about it.

I told one of my coworkers by chat that I was leaving. He seemed incredulous that anyone could want any other job.

Two last thoughts:

The company I worked for provides white-label tech support for other companies. They seem like a decent enough organization. The ISP they contracted with, however, does not. All my experiences have led me to believe that this company thoroughly despises its customers.

Some of my co-workers were themselves customers of this ISP, and said they think the company provides great value (mostly these are people with extremely, extremely fast internet connections, which I just don't see the need for). For my part, I went into this job thinking they were a terrible company to do business with, and I feel even more certain of that now.

And yet... many of my customers talked about how great this ISP was compared to their previous one (including most of the big players). Far more told me how awful 'we' were. Maybe once you account for the fact that folks who call are already having a problem, this evens out statistically. There is a significant percentage of people who are getting a good experience. But there's also a significant percentage of people who are being very badly failed by their ISP.

Also... this country is filled with interesting people. I talked to a lot of folks from all over the compass points, in just about every age, ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Many of the people I talked to were delightful. Many, of course, were not delightful.

Some calls began with a long silence, followed by a guarded, suspicious, "WHO IS THIS?"... some calls began with a maniacal three-minute-long babble of everything the customer had to say, all in a rush. Some began with the sound of the customer cursing.

The job did not enhance my faith in humanity. It may have actually damaged it a bit.

I'm the sort of person who wants to treat everyone with dignity no matter what, because we're all one and we're all worthy of love. And I still believe that. And I had a lot of very sweet and pleasant customers. But a lot of my callers were so blinded by resentment, or so convinced they already knew everything they needed to know, or so intent on proving a stranger wrong, that they kept themselves from being able to get what they needed. A lot of people didn't seem interested in listening to advice. (Which sort of defies the point of paying for tech support). Some were suspicious and paranoid. Some seemed like they had an amazing amount of anger stored up. I feel bad for these folks, but I also feel bad for their loved ones, neighbors, and coworkers.

Anyhow, thanks for reading. May each of you do work that has some dignity and is for a good cause. Be cautious about viruses, back up your files, and be nice to strangers on the phone.


Jonathan Huffman said...

Oh man. good luck to you. I've been reading your blog for the last 3 months and it has been great. Absolute gold. I'm sad it will end but happy that you are moving on from that place. I worked at Best Buy and had some very very similar experiences. If you choose to do this with your next job I would love to read it.

Again. good luck and thanks for the laughs!

Sarah Bigle said...

Hey! Great Blog - I wanted to invite you to join us on HuffPost Live (the streaming network for the Huffington Post) on Monday via google hangout web cam to speak about your blog on the air. I couldn't find an email to contact you on so hopefully this comes to you. We will be discussing calling tech support & how it can be very stressful and frustrating for many.
The segment is scheduled at 630pm PST / 930pm EST

If you are interested plaese email me at

Thank you!

The Old Wolf said...

Extremely interesting blog post. I work Customer Service for a company that does cloud backup, and contracts with to handle things that are outside our scope. I've only been with these folks for about 3 months, but I can say that this outfit really cares about their clientele and while emphasizing reduction of call handle time is more concerned about giving their customers complete satisfaction. I wish you well in your new endeavour - it sounds like heaven compared to the old one.