Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

FLASHBACKS: 2/21/02: Fraud and "Afterburner Woman"

After I wrote this blast e-mail, I got called into the office of the Vesta Fraud Department supervisor, who told me he had read it (it had gotten back to him) and felt people could glean from it how to fool our fraud protections. I toned down my work-related e-mails after this, but now, with UTTERLY NO REASON to feel loyalty to that company anymore, I bring it back! Mwa ha ha haaaaaaaa!

The woman thought we were picking on her.

I've had some sagas in my 50 days or so in Fraud Escalation, where people I'm trying actually to help just, don't, let, you, but she was an ESPECIAL treat. (And yes, I mean to spell "especial" like that. It sounds right.) Depressed and caffeinated; that's how I'd describe her behavior. She spewed words in a torrent, and got mad if I tried to explain what was happening. (She also got mad when I was too quiet. Her actual quote: "Because I'm not important enough for you?")

Here's what happened: She made an order, adding 2000 minutes to a friend's card and 1000 minutes to her own card. On a first-time order, if there are that many minutes ordered right off, our computers start a security measure. The orders pend, we get phone numbers, we research, we call back to confirm the orders are authorized; the process is more complicated than that, but that will do for this e-mail. Guess what, the first two orders (adding a thousand minutes at a time to the friend's card) went through fine; HERS got held up. Apparently she got militant to the operator who first handled her order, incensed that it didn't go through right away, and why did we need any phone numbers anyway? The operator, thank goodness, got the info, then hung up with Ms. Happy and sent the order to us.

We were busy. We've been busy in Fraud. Last week was obscene, how busy it was: at moments we literally had four times the workload we're supposed to have. We do what we can, and then do some more, but orders take longer to confirm. Simple as that.

I got Flame Woman when she called back.

She had an engine for a mouth, and I had to listen to the words and try to get a word in edgewise. I explained. I explained some more. I explained even more. I had to keep hoping that maybe some of my words were reaching her. She continued to spin in her mood, revved up to near nonsense, she was so incensed. She wanted my full name: I can't give that out. (Name, rank, serial number is almost literally what I can give: I can say my first name, my position – though I can't use the word "Fraud" – and my Operator ID. By the way, it's 2442.) She wanted ME to clear this up RIGHT NOW or suffer the wrath of HER. Maybe she wanted my head on a platter.

And I actually found myself saying, "Ma'am, we are NOT picking on you."

This was that kind of call.

I, again, did what I could. I don't do confirmation calls, not yet at least, so someone else had to do it. I had to warn that someone. Of course, I first had to get the woman off the phone. If she had been in another situation, she very easily could have been, shall we say, S.O.L. If she had not been at the same phone number where her bank would reach her, no third order. If our address verification came up with nothing via her phone number, again, nope. If she had been trying this with someone else's credit card...we'd be talkin' world of hurt. (We roll our eyes at third-party credit card orders. Don't like those.) But this would mean the bare minimum of effort. At least, we'd hope. And I had to explain that to her...while also bringing Keljean, a clerk, up to speed. This caused the "not important enough for you?" comment: I put my phone on Mute, told Keljean something as the customer talked (and talked and talked), then started talking to her again.

With the Mute button on.

Which I realized right before she started saying, "Hello? Hello? You there?"

"I'm here!" I said. "I'm sorry," I only half-lied. I added, "I had to be off the phone for the moment," or something like that.

You know the rest.

After finally (finally, finally) getting her off the phone – with myself then on "Unavailable" so no other calls would drop into my headset – I signaled Keljean. She got on it. She called. She listened to more torrential spillings of far-too-fast talking. She managed to get the needed confirmation. She got off the phone as quick as she possibly could. She then described the customer with a word you might guess.

One-third of the calls were that way.

I try not to exaggerate. That sounds right. It was that kind of day.

And the sign of all this being good? I handled them. I handled the jerks. I didn't let them get under my skin...even when one guy accused me of "yelling" at him when I was speaking to him just a little more sharply than typical. "I am not yelling," I said to him. "Oh! You! Are!" he said.

Drama queens today, yes indeed. And yes, I took my first break after Afterburner Lady singed my and Keljean's ears. I got food into me, to balance myself again after the verbal storm.

Then I thought of some words. They made me laugh. I wrote them down. Here they are:

"I can't help what you think;
"I can just try to help you."

Philosophy moment! Part of me wished I had said that to her. That customer could have made things so much simpler if she had just, calmed, down. So she was mad. She made her own life harder 'cause of it. She was assigning mean ideas to me, when I'm doing my job...and, yes, I think, doing it well. But, of course, as the sign said above the pharmacy fountain in downtown Vienna, Virginia:

"Rule #1: The customer is always right.

"Rule #2: If the customer is wrong...See Rule #1."

So if I HAD said the above thought to her, she might have leapt through the phone and swallowed me whole. How DARE I suggest she's a little too worked up over this! How DARE I say that I'm doing my job, and that she's making it harder with her recalcitrant-ness! (Don't know if that's a word. Don't care.) How DARE I laugh!

But, of course, now, I can laugh.

We're good at decompressing in Fraud. We have to be.

My sense of humor fits, by the way. Melissa, a newer escalation clerk, did a strong job today of explaining a problem to a man who simply would not listen to her; I was impressed with how she mostly kept her cool, even with his nastiness oozing from the headset. She got off the phone, shaking her head at the ugly words he spat at her for, again, doing her job.

I said, "It's time for America's favorite game show: You Can't Win."

They understood. My fellow Escalation people understood. And they laughed.

Ahhhh... That was fun. Writing that was fun. A good capper to what actually was a good day.

Tomorrow also will be good. I am having my first mid-week day off tomorrow. Another new escalation clerk, a guy named Deris, needed more hours. I let him have a shift. I will find other stuff to do once the day dawns on Thursday.

Keeping his cool, it's

Tags: flashbacks, work

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