I worked in customer service over the phones for a number of years. How many? It doesn't really matter, but having known a number of people to hold jobs like mine I can say any amount of time is really too long. It is a very thankless and trying job. No one likes the person on the other end of the phone when it is not a social call. Heck sometimes you don't even like the person during a social call.
Being on the phones taught me a few things. The first, and a fact that my mother would have never believed when I was a teenager, is that I despise talking on the phone. That may have simply been a side effect of working on the phones, but it is certainly a truth now. For a girl who could easily spend eight hours on the phone during high school, this is an interesting revelation.
The second thing it taught me, and the more important thing, is that I never want to treat anyone the way I was so frequently treated. Irate customers are very common, but most of the time it is not actually the phone reps fault. Most of the time the customer is mad at the corporation or the circumstances and they will lash out at the perfectly innocent rep that had the misfortune to answer their call.
Having been cursed at in ways that would embarrass a seasoned sailor and hung up on more times than I can count, I determined never to be that person. As long as the rep is being as helpful and polite as they can be, I won't be that asshat on the other end of the phone.
When I am angry I will preface my conversation with some sort of disclaimer like "I am not mad at you, but I am very angry, and I may shout some and say some ugly things, but it is not directed at you.". I will also not hang up on people. I hate being hung up on, so I don't want to do that to someone else.
This morning I broke all my own rules and became that person. I hate that I did that, but I was so incredibly angry I couldn't help myself. Everyone has their limit, and I found mine today.
A little background:
We own our house in the way most people own their houses; we owe a small fortune to banks to which we will be paying off until we retire. We had the unfortunate pleasure of purchasing our house mere months before the housing bubble burst and were among those poor saps who got predatory loans. Our large loan was horrible, our small loan was just annoying.
A few years ago we managed to refinance our way out of our very predatory large loan and were happy with what we had. Then our small loan was sold to a very large well known financial institution. This turned out to be anything but a good thing.
Our house sits in a flood zone. Actually one five foot section of the far end of our back yard sits in a flood zone. Still this is enough to require us to have some ridiculously expensive flood insurance required on our home. In the beginning we purchased our own insurance but quickly found this to be an issue.
For some weird reason our larger mortgage company kept insisting we didn't have sufficient flood insurance. They wanted equal flood and homeowners insurance on our house. Considering we have a significantly larger amount of home owners insurance than flood insurance this was an issue. Flood insurance is only supposed to cover the physical property, not contents. My home owners insurance covers both.
This was a long drawn out fight that ended with us telling them to take out their own damned policy and rolling it into our escrow. It was so asinine. In the end the policy they took out for us cost the same as the policy we had taken out for ourselves. If it meant I didn't have to fight with them anymore I was happy.
The only problem is they can't ever seem to send the renewal of policy notice to our other mortgage company. So every year for the last five years my smaller mortgage company (big well known financial institution of doom) has sent us angry notices about not having flood insurance.
This is a dance I am annoyingly familiar with. Every July when our insurance renews I get the new policy and immediately fax it to all appropriate parties. After a month we start getting angry notes. I refax the information. After a few months we start getting the letters again, this time they are certified. I fax the information yet again.
Then around Christmas they decide they will just take out a policy for us and throw an insane escrow onto my account jacking up my monthly payments to nearly three times what they normally are. I fax the information to them again after an angry phone call.
Then they return my January mortgage payment saying they do not accept partial payments. Then I get late notices and angry letters saying I owe them a hell of a lot more money than I really do and that they don't appreciate me skipping a payment despite them having auto drafted my payment like they always do. More angry phone calls and more faxing.
February payment is also brushed off as an unacceptable partial payment. I am now getting late fees and penalties piled up on me, not to mention what this is doing to my credit. Every rep I talk to through gritted teeth insists that even if this is their mistake they can't stop the collection and foreclosure process. We have to pay everything the system insists we owe or else.
Finally I manage to get a rep to get my other mortgage company on the phone who gets their insurance company on the phone and then there is a long confusing four way conversation that concludes with confirmation on all sides that I have flood insurance.
Seven to ten business days and I will be able to fix the issue with my payments not being current is what I was told a week and a half ago. I called this morning to straighten things out. I got a curt young woman telling me I owed way more than I do insisting that I still had an escrow.
This was when I started losing it. I told her to just transfer me to escrow so I could fix this. She kept asking me stupid questions and I started snapping at her. I started cursing. She transferred me as fast as she could. I was not any nicer to the next woman who answered. She made some noises as she checked my case notes and told me she requested that they remove the escrow; 3 to 5 business days and I should be able to call back to discuss the issue of missed payments.
At this point I think I may have shouted at her despite being at work in my cube. I am pretty sure I said something along the lines of 'You people are all grossly incompetent fuck up' and ranted a little about how it was unacceptable that I have had to do this bullshit for five years. Then I hung up on her.
I am so disgusted with the situation that I can't actually manage to work up being upset with the way I behaved. I am flustered and agitated. I shouldn't have to put up with this sort of thing. It is complete crap. I should behave better, but every person has their breaking point.
What is a girl supposed to do?