Saturday, August 07, 2004

A Drawer Full of Stories

Paperwork can sometimes be an inspiration. I was cleaning up my desk at work and came across a file of situations that were too unique to put aside forever. Sometimes they were customers I spent a long time talking to, sometimes the files in here are for customers with massive amounts of fraud or extremely complex situations, and then, sometimes the customers just say things that are, in a word, INSANE. There are quite a few different situations listed here and they are all a little bit different. Enjoy!

The first file I ran across tonight was for a woman I spoke to over 3 1/2 years ago. I will always remember her. Especially since she didn't actually bank with NABABNA, but thought she did. She never opened an account, never made deposits, never had any type of card for her non-existent accounts, but she BELIEVED that she might bank with us. I tried desperately to help her. The best part of the conversation is as follows:

Disenchanted Woman (DW): I need proof of my deposits into your bank.
B (me!): I am more than happy to help you if in fact you did actually bank with us. I'm trying to find any information about you in our systems. What is your Social Security number?
DW: 123-45-6789 (it was different than this, but I can't release information like that).
B: I tried that number and nothing pulls up.
DW: Well, that's my fake Social Security number. Of course you won't find anything.
B: Then why did you provide that number to me?
DW: In case you had it.
B: What is your real Social Security number?
DW: I'm not giving that out. I hate 60 Minutes. You know, the TV show. I hate it. And that dog for the RCA commercials.
B: Why won't you give our your Social Security number so I can see if you actually banked with us? I'm sorry that you don't like the dog on RCA commercials and that you don't like 60 Minutes.
DW: I was beat up by the Secret Service at LAX. They were looking for a white collar case. They strip-searched me. Then the police in Texas beat me up at the bank. The campus police beat me up and there's a statute of limitation.
B: I'm sorry to hear that. Police don't just beat people up. I know this is hard to believe, but they don't just walk around and start hitting people. What did you do?
DW: Those people at the bank were mean to me and made the police beat me up.
B: My experience is that the branch will call the police if there is a problem, but they don't ask the police to beat people up. What happened?
DW: I'm not talking about that. Do you have my information?
B: No, I would like to look with your real Social Security number.

DW: I'm not giving you that. How come you can't find my information?
B: As of this time, you've provided me with your first name and a fake Social Security number. You said you might have banked with us sometime over 5 years ago, but you're not sure. Do you have any information I can look you up by?
DW: I spoke to Jackie 3 years ago. She works for another company.

B: What?
DW: I called you because I want to talk to your head office.
B: But the head office is no where near here.
DW: Well, then I can talk to you.
B: Okay, about what exactly?
DW: About Wal-Mart of course.
B: Did Wal-Mart do something to your account?
DW: No.
B: Then there's no reason to talk to the bank about Wal-Mart.

Well, needless to say, this woman went on for over 2 hours about random things. She's been beaten up by many different law enforcement officers apparently and she never did actually bank with us. I'm still trying to figure out why a person would have a fake Social Security number. And why they would give it out when they haven't used it before.

When there is a problem (real or perceived), it is always more efficient to be helpful and polite to the representative helping you. Being difficult when a representative says they will help you only wastes your time.

One night I spoke with a gentleman who was not happy with the price of checks. Here's the deal, we don't really come up with the prices. An outside vendor prints our checks and for the quality of the checks, the price is worth it.

The guy had been a great customer so I told him I would reverse the fee for the checks as an exception. That's right, I told him he didn't have to pay. I gave him his request. Was he happy?

It would not be a good story if he was. I asked the gentleman for his phone number to complete the request. He spent 40, that's right folks, 40 minutes telling me that he would not give me his phone number. He said I already had it and that he didn't need to give it out. Unfortunately, if there is a problem and I need to call him back, I need him to actually tell me the number. I explained, politely, that I would be unable to reverse the fee without the phone number. He still wouldn't verify the number.

What does he start on now? He starts complaining about inflation and that the bank should give him an interest-free loan because the United States of America has inflation. Okay, let's break this down. Inflation is a fact of life. Alan Greenspan works very hard with interest rates trying to keep our economy alive and trying to keep inflation from rising. Money does lose value. This is a fact of life. All people have to deal with inflation. This is not his own personal problem.

Here's the other thing, loans are not interest free. The cost of using someone else's money is expensive and that is where interest comes in. Since you are borrowing the money from someone, they are unable to use it. That means the bank (or individual) cannot spend those funds on products/services, or invest the funds somewhere else. Interest-free loans do not happen.

So, the guy finally gives me his phone number. And then he asks for compensation for the last forty minutes of his time. At this point, I explained that I asked him forty minutes ago for his phone number and it was his choice to make the phone call last as long as it did. Sad to say, the customer was not pleased with the fact I wouldn't give him free money. I gave him free checks and I still don't understand his problem.

Automated Teller Machines

In this day and age, technology is jumping forward in leaps and bounds. You can use a card to access your account pretty much any time of day. Unfortunately, some people don't understand how to use an ATM. Here are some brief calls we've received at NABABNA about the ATM transactions:

Really, really drunk man (RRDM): Your machine wouldn't give me money! I gotta pay my tab.

Me: I'm happy to help. Let's troubleshoot the problem. Where in the transaction did the machine deny the transaction?

RRDM: It didn't work and didn't give me money.

Me: Did you get a message before or after you put in your personal identification number?

RRDM: Before.

Me: Okay, so you put your card in the machine and it denied the transaction right then?

RRDM: You have to put your card in the machine?

No, the machine is psychic. You can just walk up and it starts spitting money at you. What? Please, please tell me you have a designated driver.

Mr. Fix-It (FI): I have a problem.

Me: I'd like to help you out. What happened?

FI: Well, I went to the ATM to make a deposit and I put the envelope with my check in the card slot.

Me: How did you make it fit? And it's stuck now?

FI: Yes. I need my deposit.

Me: I can file a claim and call our support area to report the broken machine.

FI: Well, I went home and got the pliers, but I still can't get the envelope back out.

Me: Um, let me file the claim and in the future, please don't try to open an ATM without being a bank employee.

Whinny Woman (WW): My deposit is missing.

Me: How did you make the deposit?

WW: Well, I didn't really make it.

Me: How is it missing then?

WW: On the way to the ATM, I dropped my check in the crack.

Me: In the sidewalk?

Turns out, the woman didn't drop the check. She forced it into the slot between the machine and the wall because she somehow thought that's where it went. Then she realized that there's a spot for deposits and it's actually on the machine.

And technology has gone too far. There are now machines that have options for visually impaired individuals, which is a great thing. These customers have headphones and can listen to the machine if they have troubles seeing the screen. Here's the guy who picked this option and should not have:

Mr. I-Can't-Handle-My-Money (ICHMM): I used one of those speaking machines and it embarrassed me!

Me: I'm sorry about that sir. Did you use the headphones?

ICHMM: No. I'm not blind.

Me: Okay. Why did you select the talking option?

ICHMM: I wanted to see what happened.

Me: The machine talked to you then?

ICHMM: Yes, it took my card and this computer voice loudly stated, "Your card has been detained!" I'm so embarrassed. I want my card back.

Me: Unfortunately, your account was not handled properly and the card is ultimately the property of the bank. I am unable to get you a new card.

ICHMM: Your card has been detained! Your card has been detained! (Yes, he kept imitating the computer voice) I hate you people! Your card has been detained! Dial tone.....

Back to silly calls that don't involve ATMs:

This call was from a man (Would Benefit from Anger Management (WBFAM)) whose account was closed due to threats at the bank.

Me: Thank you for holding Mr. WBFAM. My name is Beth. How can I help you?

WBFAM: That's a weird name for a girl. Your name is really strange.

Long pause. This is me sitting is stunned silence. Maybe I'm biased, but Beth is not an unusual name. It's not as common as Jennifer or Kim, but it's not unusual. Whatever.

Me: How can I help you?

WBFAM: The people at your bank followed all the regulations passed by Congress and I'm pissed off.

Me: I want to understand. You are upset that the bank employees followed the law?

WBFAM: Yes. I wanted to do a whole bunch of investment fraud and they wouldn't let me.

Me: The bank wouldn't let you commit fraud and this upsets you?

WBFAM: I'm going to give your company $100,000 in bad publicity because you followed the law! These are bogus laws!

Me: Sir, if you do not agree with the laws passed by the Federal government, I suggest speaking with your Congressman or an attorney.

WBFAM: The line in the bank was too long. There were 100 people in line and only two people working. There were two people on break. I was in line for an hour and fifteen minutes!

This is where he hung up. Here's the question I have. How is it bad publicity to have a customer go to the press stating the bank did not break the law? Also, how would he know if two people were on break if they weren't in the bank? I've worked in branches before. I've never seen 100 people in line. I don't think I've ever seen a line that lasted more than 10 minutes.

Here's another long line story (that I will honestly say I don't believe):

Insane Woman (IW): I went to the bank. I was in line for over an hour. The line was so long, I had to take a taxi to get through it. (What? How do you take a taxi inside a bank?) While I was getting into the taxi, someone ran over my suitcase! Can you believe that? Someone ran over my suitcase! (Why, why, why did you bring a suitcase to the bank? What is the purpose of that? It's not like you can camp there. No one goes, hey, I'm on vacation, I think I'll check out a room at the bank and sightsee. What was this woman on?)

And finally, one of the scariest calls I've ever received. I didn't actually get to talk during this call, the gentleman just started on a rant and then hung up. This call did involve contacting security and the shut down of this person's account. Believe me, threatening the lives of bank employees, other customers, or yourself is not something that is taken lightly by the bank. Here's the call:

Upset man: I'm bi-polar and my medication makes me tired. I fell asleep on the bus and someone stole my ATM card. I want to get the money from my account but I don't have a card and the nearest bank is over 3 hours away. I want to have my money now and you need to give it to me. I'm going to write to Reader's Digest and expose NABABNA for following the rules. I lived in DC with this guy before who took advantage of me because of my mental illness. I left there and moved in with this woman in [deleted state] who I thought I loved but she also took advantage of me and laughed at me. She stole my money and she had another guy move in and he wears my clothes. I spent last night at a homeless shelter and I haven't had an address for three months now but your employees should track me down and give me my statements. I am going to kill someone at your bank if you don't get me my money right now.

And that's when he hung up. All of this was over $12. That's right. Twelve dollars. He was serious that the bank should be able to make twelve dollars appear in his hands immediately. Luckily, the man was three hours away from the nearest branch but we still took all precautions. People like this scare me. Threatening others is not something that is beneficial or allowed. My advice to him (and many others that we've dealt with at work) is to think before you speak.

This is a bank. Not a 900 number.

On occasion, I have answered the phone to have a slightly hysterical banker on the line. The banker is hysterical because their customer has turned a simple transaction, such as getting a balance, into dialogue for a pornographic movie.

Now, the sad thing about this is that, dude, we're your bank. We have your account information, we have your name and we know where you live. Why, why would you call us when there are so many other places you could call anonymously? Hey, I've got an idea. Next time, skip the bank. Call the police and start harassing them. Avoid the middle man. Because, you moron, do you really think we're going to just sit there and say "Oh, yes, sir, it's so sexy when you say those words to me. What a turn on!" If you do, you are dumber than we already think.

Here are just some examples of things people will say (my remarks are in italics, as usual):
  • "Can you go through my account? I want to know all of the checks that have cleared my account in the last 90 days." Banker begins reading information off to customer. "Oh, yeah. Would you read that slower? Ooh." Banker hears noises that you don't normally hear during a phone call. Sounds involving lotion and friction. Then there's a low moan. "Okay, thanks. You can stop now. You've been very helpful." Can I just say "Eew?"
  • "You have an accent. What nationality are you?" Banker informs the customer that she is Chinese. "Ooh, are you a hot Chinese chick? You suckee long time?" Oh, yes, let's meet now! I'm so turned on by your stereotypical remark that I can't wait to meet you!
  • Sometimes the customer gets really intelligent and starts mentioning random words such as "P*ssy" or "C*ck." Oh, mister, I love animals as well. Let's have some barnyard fun. I'll call you Jackass.
  • "What is your name? How do you spell that? Is that S as in Sex?" Yes, sir, that's exactly what my mother had in mind when she named me.
  • "You are really nice. May I have your phone number so I can have my son call you? He needs to date a nice girl. If he did, maybe he'd get a job and move out of the house. You know, I was just telling my friends the other day that what I was really looking for was an unemployed guy who lives with his parents. That's my Prince Charming!
  • When the banker ignores the customer's inappropriate remarks and tries to keep the call on a professional level, the customer says "Oh, I'm sorry. Don't be mad at me. I'm being a dick. I'm a big dick." Sounds like someone thinks a bit highly about themselves...if you were such a big dick, maybe you could find an actual date?
  • The customer has called in and filed five separate research tickets. On the same item. In one hour. Turned out that he was calling in for other reasons which were revealed when he started moaning when a banker started reading off a reference number. It turned out that this customer called in 30 times a day. Yes, sir, reference numbers make me hot as well. Let's read it together...12345678. Oh, baby, oh baby, oh. You stud.

About 15 years ago, I used to work for this submarine shop. Now, this, perverts of America, is the type of place you want to call. You can just dial a random number and harass away (please, please don't take me seriously. Calls can be traced, it is illegal to make obscene and harassing phone calls, just go and buy yourself some porn, okay?). We used to get calls every night, on the hour. I will never forget my first night.

The phone rings. I answer the phone.

DM: Thank you for calling The Sub Shop. This is Dana, may I take your order?
Ham Sandwich Guy (Ham): Yes, I would like to visit your fine establishment and partake of a submarine sandwich.
DM: Wonderful, sir. We'd be happy to have you visit us tonight.
Ham: But wait, before I can come down there, I must ask you a question.
DM: Okay.
Ham: What type of ham sandwiches do you have?
DM: Why we have a ham and cheese submarine sandwich, a Hot Ham and Cheese sandwich and also a ham salad sandwich.
Ham: My, those sound yummy (swear to God, this is how this guy talked).
DM: Yes, they are very good. May I start an order for you?
Ham: Oh, well, before I can visit you, I must ask you. Do you have any girls working there tonight with long hair?
DM: Um, actually, we all have long hair, sir. But we do wear hair nets (and really exciting brown derby hats as well).
Ham: Oh, no. I'm afraid of women with long hair.
DM: What?
Ham: Oh, but, I might be able to get over my fear. Are any of you wearing sweaters?
DM: It's January. In Minnesota (and our owner is too cheap to get the heating fixed). Yes, we are wearing sweaters.
Ham: Oh, that's too bad. I'm afraid of women with long hair but I'm terrified of women with long hair in sweaters. I won't be able to come in tonight. Goodbye.

I just stand there, staring blankly at the phone. The assistant manager walks by. "What's wrong?" she asks. I start my sentence with "I just got the weirdest call about ham sandwiches" and she starts laughing. And then tells me he's relatively harmless. It's the other ones I have to watch out for.

And she's right. While working there, I was flashed, propositioned, threatened, learned how to ask someone to go to bed with me in French and had a fairly interesting time. The obscene phone calls came nightly. You learned how to deal with them and just went on with your life. Because the owner was too cheap to put a trace on the phone as well.

Here's another fairly memorable example:

DM: Thank you for calling The Sub Shop. This is Dana, may I take your order?
Random Pervert (RP): What type of hot sandwiches do you have?
DM: I'd be happy to help you with that, sir. We offer a Hot Ham and Cheese, a Meatball Sub, a really weird sandwich with black and green olives (don't remember the name of the sub).

RP: Oh, well, I have a really hot and juicy Italian sausage I'd like to sell you. Are you interested in hot and juicy Italian sausages?
DM (tired and cranky and I have 8 real customers in the store): I'm sorry, sir. But all orders must be placed through the office. Here is their number. Maybe they will be interested in your hot and juicy Italian sausage.

I hang up the phone. I walk back up front to wait on my actual customers. And every single one of them is looking at me dumbfounded. We all have a good laugh at the random pervert's expense. And this really nice guy answered the phone for the next 15 minutes because random pervert was ticked off and kept calling back. Finally, the really nice guy introduced himself to random pervert. "Yes, sir, this is Officer Mike Johnson from the Saint Paul Police Department. Please stop calling or I will have this call traced."

So when you call me and ask me to read your bank information to you slowly, all I have to say is "Honey, I've dealt with better and more creative perverts than you. Get a life. And look into getting a new account, because yours is going to be closed."

Friday, August 06, 2004

Helpful Advice for Home Buyers

Look, if you're going to buy a house, there's going to be some things you need to know. I don't know much about the whole mortgage thing but, working for NABABNA, there has been some things that I have discovered. And I will give you this list now, because I am a nice person and quite frankly, I am getting sick and tired of people calling me the day before their closing and asking for statements for the last year.

When you approach the mortgage people, ask them exactly what you will need for your closing or any other random things they might want. They will lie. They probably don't mean to lie but they will. They will ask you for some things and tell you that's all they need and, at the very last minute, they will say "Oh, by the way, we need photocopies of a check you wrote 3 years ago. Just for fun, let's say it has to start with the number 5 and be written to a cable company. Because we're just evil bastards." Okay, they probably don't say they are evil bastards. But they are. Trust me on this.

I've never bought a house but, from working in the Call Center for NABABNA, I have come across some odd requests. Here are some things you may want to have on hand before you even go to apply for the mortgage, let alone have a closing date.

Oh, and for the record, it goes without saying that you will need your last 12 statements. And the last 12 rent checks you wrote out. Be smart, ask for photocopies early. Do not be one of these people (This is an example of one of probably 30 calls I have received over this):

DM: I'm sorry, sir, I understand that you are closing today. However, while I would be happy to order your photocopies, I cannot guarantee that you will receive them in one hour.
Time Challenged Moron (TC): But you're my baaaaaannnk (Yes, he actually wailed. I thought I was talking to a 12 year old for a moment)! You have to get me this!
DM: I'm sorry, sir. It is impossible for me to get these photocopies in one hour.
TC: Well, you better! I'm going to lose my house and it will be all your fault!
DM: May I ask, sir, when did you know you would need these photocopies?
TC: Three months ago. Why?
DM: I see. And it didn't occur to you to contact us earlier?
TC: Well, I'm busy! I am a powerful person! I am Zeus, the All-Powerful (okay, remember, italics for the customer are what I think he wants to say, not what he actually did)! Get me my copies! I want you to go to the warehouse and get them!
DM: Sir. It is not possible for me to go to a warehouse and get these copies for you. They are on microfiche and will be retrieved by our Photo Unit. I have placed the order. The request will be completed tomorrow and please allow 3-5 days for delivery.
TC: Do you know who I am? I am going to call So-and-So (names someone I have never heard of but, when I later look up in the employee database, discover he is talking about the District Manager for 3 branches halfway across the country. Ooh. Scary) and have you fired (He hangs up).
DM: Thank you for calling NABABNA, sir. I am sorry I was unable to assist you further.

Here are some of the things your mortgage company might also ask you for, waiting until the last minute:

  • Copies of checks you wrote to them for earnest money
  • Copies of checks you wrote to someone to repair the home you are moving out of to prove that you actually did do the repairs
  • Copies of statements that have your name on it (if you are on a joint account and have known for 2 years that your name is not showing up on the statement but your wife's is, do not call us the day before your closing and ask us to fix it. We can't)

It's not that we don't want to help you. It's just that my magic wand broke and I can't will these things into existence. And it doesn't help when the mortgage company rep gets on the line and starts screaming "Well, you're a bank! You should be able to get this stuff for the customer! They're going to lose the home!" I always want to scream back "Well, you're a mortgage company! You should have told the customer they needed this stuff two months ago! And you don't care if they lose the home, you care that you're going to lose your comission!"

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Did you know?

Did you know that....

Writing a check to yourself from your overdrawn account and then depositing that check into the same account at an atm that that is considered kiting from your own account and your account will be closed? (customer response: Oh, I guess I shouldn't have done that... ya think?)

Statements are sent out by the bank to help you balance your account? (yes, there are people in the world that truly don't know what a statement is)

Just because there is a commercial on TV telling you that if you travel and only bring your check card with you that that doesn't mean the bank can help you if your card is lost or possibly closed without your knowledge? (Unfortunately, your card can be closed at any time and it is only one way to access your account. It is not the bank's fault if you only bring your check card with you as your only means of payment)

That the bank is not 411? (we do not have the number to another bank of your choosing, your local police department, etc.)

If you don't balance your statements for years and there is an unauthorized charge, the bank cannot dispute anything older than 6 months? Here's my conversation with Mr. X:

Mr. X: I just balanced my account statements for the last 9 years. I have unauthorized debits from Company A.
K: Well, Mr. X, I would be happy to file a claim for you. Unfortunately, I would only be able to go back 6 months.
Mr. X: You don't understand! I didn't authorize this charge! I cancelled my subscription 9 years ago. They have no right to take out this money. They have been charging me $50.00 a month for the last 9 years. You are my bank! You have to fix this and get my money back.
K: I would love to help you get all of your money back Mr. X, however, I am unable to dispute anything over 6 months. Why haven't you been balancing your account on a monthly basis?
Mr. X: I don't worry about my account as I have plenty of money. I don't have to balance my account every month. You need to fix this. I want my money back.
K: Well Mr. X, I can file a claim on the last 6 months of transactions that are unauthorized. For anything older than that, please contact Company A.
(at this point the conversation is stuck in a loop)

Moral of this story: Always balance your account and check your statements or you could be out $5,400.00 too.

**all information above based loosely on actual conversation with the customer.

Now to continue on with more fun while working at the convenience store....

I eventually got tired of managing a convenience store and started managing a Tobacco Outlet. That was interesting as I am not even a smoker. Funny thing is that I actually created training material on Cigars to be used in our stores for co-workers to assist customers. Occasionally, I would have a break in in the middle of the night. This isn't specifically what people said, but more what they did.

#1. At one point, the power had gone out in my store, actually the entire neighborhood was without power due to severe weather. I came into work the next day and called the home office about the power outage. They were asking for it by telling me to put a sign on the door saying "Closed due to Power Outage." Keep in mind that there was a security system in the store. It has battery back-up, but it only lasted for 24 hours. Can you imagine what happened? The jerks took a metal cutter and cut around the dead-bolt in the door. Pulled the door free and took merchandise and cigs. Hmmm...think that one might have been a little inviting? I should have put up a sign that says "Battery back-up only lasts 24 hours..come back at midnight if you want to steal'll be in the clear."

#2. If you are trying to shoplift, don't stand in the middle of the store in plain view and put a carton of cigs in the sleeve of your coat and then deny it when I have it on tape.

#3. If you are going to be intelligent enough to attempt to shoplift, don't make it obvious by walking directly into the shelf to grab some Swisher Sweets and tell me that you have to go outside and talk to your girlfriend. Didn't work did it?

I have to say that it was definitely fun to work there. I'll have to blog the shoplifting and break ins on my other blog. I'm just not doing that fast to irritate Dana. :) Hee hee.

Are you blind?!?!

The following story is based on actual events. I wouldn't say that it would necessarily warrant calling the people involved morons, however, the customers in the store could very possibly qualify for the title. Prior to working at NABABNA, I worked for a convenience store. The great thing is that I can say anything I want to about it. Trust me, I have tons of material that would fit. I just have to have the time to actually write it. I hope you enjoy the first installment.

Imagine being the manager of this store. It is in a very, very unsafe neighborhood (had I realized it at the time, I probably wouldn't have chosen that particular store). The store had video cameras, however, you weren't able to see the entire store on any given camera. Knowing this, it will explain how this actually happened. If you are going into the back room of the store and find someone (who doesn't actually work there, by the way) in the back room, wouldn't you think it was odd if it happened more than one day in a row? Here's the conversation I had with the manager:

Scott: Keem, you aren't going to believe what happened at my store!
Keem: Well, Scott, considering where the store is located, I'm sure this is going to be good. What happened?
Scott: Okay, so I walked into the back room on Monday and found a customer wandering around back there. I asked him what he was doing and he told me he was looking for the restroom. I didn't really think much of it at the time, but I told him it was on the other side of the store.
Keem: Interesting. Kinda makes it easy for someone to go into the back room when the door doesn't actually lock (but then it's hard when it's a revolving door, I guess).
Scott: On Tuesday I found the same guy in the back room again. I did think it was strange this time. He didn't have a good excuse this time.
Keem: (at this point I'm just trying to figure out what this is leading up to...)
Scott: So imagine my surprise when I came to work yesterday and was shocked to find that the TV was missing from the back room.
Keem: OMG Scott! How could that happen? It's not like we do TV repair or anything. Didn't anyone say anything? Did you see anything on the store video?
Scott: You have to see the video. When you are done at your store, come on by and watch this.
Keem: Okay Scott. I'll be there in a little bit.

At this point, I arrive at the store and am kind of curious how someone could get a TV out of the back room of the store and walk it right out the front door without anyone seeing or saying anything.

Before explaining the video, I'll explain how the store looks. The store is set up so that it's pretty much a rectangle. If facing the back of the store from the front, customers enter on your right. There are three rows of shelves split so that there are actually six sections. There are windows on the right side after the doors and the bathrooms are in the back on the right wall. On the left are the cooler/freezer doors and the back room door after the freezer. This is the basic set up of the store. You'd think that it would be easy to see everything from the register. However, the person at the register has to see past the rather large computer monitor that is the display for the register..I'm not talking small either. I would say that they are about 17" monitors. If you can see past the monitor, there are 2 banana trees beyond that (a banana tree is a display that has bananas stacked on the top, bread below that, bins for specials below the bread and then pop or other items stacked under that).

Now we settle in our chairs to watch the video unfold. There are 4 cameras in the store that show the view of the registers up front, the coffee bar, the front doors and down the first aisle by the cooler/freezer doors. We see 5 men (so as not to stereotype, I'll withhold and further details) standing by the freezer. Then there were 4. It was hard to see where the 5th man went as they were rather obviously standing around the back room door. Hmmmm...I wonder what he could possibly be doing. So the next thing you know, there he is holding this rather large, black, box-like object. This store is extremely busy at this point...can't anyone see what is going on? The 4 men proceed to block the 5th man with the TV. At this point they move to their left (my right) and they go off camera. I, at this point, am imagining the Flinstone tippy-toe effect. I can see them going from the end of one aisle to the next hiding behind the end caps. After about 5 minutes we see them march right up the aisle by the windows and right out the doors. Not a single person stopped them. Not one!

I almost fall out of my chair after seeing this.

Keem: Scott! How could Heather and Don not see this at all?!?
Scott: I have no idea! I would have seen this.
Keem: Why didn't customers see it? It's not like we do TV repair. Wouldn't you think it was odd to see 5 men carrying a TV and trying to be inconspicuous about it?
Scott: I can't figure it out. Let's re-enact it to see what they would have seen.
Keem: Okay Scott.

At this point, we realized that it was because of the monitors and the banana trees blocking the view. My only question is this: If you were a customer and saw this, wouldn't you mention it to someone?

There is a first time for everything. I would say that I've seen everything now, but sadly, I haven't. Here are a few quick ones about situations that happened while working for the same company.

This is an actual event in my home town. Sadly, my roommate from hell (I would think that everyone has had one of these at one point and time) knew the guy and was best friends with his wife. I had the opportunity to meet him once. Let's just say that he was a few cards short of a full deck. They say that robberies are often spur-of-the-moment rather than planned out. So a guy comes into the store with a shotgun and has the cashiers clean out the registers. He leaves the store and flees the scene of the crime. Imagine the clerk calling 911 and telling them that they were robbed. When asked about the robber, they told them that he took off on a bicycle and has the money and a shot gun. you think he got very far? Imagine my surprise the next morning when it was in the paper and my roommate and I realized that it happened to be her best friend's husband. Could it possibly be because he was going crazy working as a caretaker in the local cemetery? Yeah, I'd go crazy too if I could only talk to dead people at work. HA! I'm surprised that this didn't end up on Stupidest Criminals.

One guy that worked for the company had been held up and thought that he could prevent the thief from being successful because he was going to school to be a cop. He told the thief that he had to get something to scan from the shelf in order to open the cash register. Any guess on what happened? Yeah, don't piss off a person that is holding you at gun point or you just might get pistol-whipped. He was lucky he didn't get shot. I'm sorry folks, but if I am being held at gunpoint I'm going to cooperate. My life just isn't worth losing for my minimum wage job (okay, it wasn't exactly minimum wage, but it still isn't worth my pitiful salary).

My favorite part about working for the company as a manager was the interview process. You wouldn't believe the people. We were required to conduct security interviews for the second round interviews with a drug test to follow if they were someone you determined that was worth hiring. Here are some of the questions we were required to ask:

Have you ever done drugs?
Specifically Pot or Cocaine.
Have you ever stolen anything? Even as a small child? If you did, why did you steal? Will you ever steal again? What did you learn from stealing?
Have you ever bought stolen merchandise? Why or why not?
How did you know it was stolen?

Of course you tell the applicant at the beginning of the interview that everyone has done something at some point and time in their life. I am looking for honesty. If you aren't honest with me now, it will be harder to trust you in the future. Yeah. Honesty. If you tell me you did drugs, better luck next time.

Here are some of my favorites:

Keem: Well Jason, I would like to hire you. I have an appointment set up for you at the clinic for a drug test. You have to take it now. Once I get the results, as long as you pass, you will be hired.
Jason: I have to be honest with you. I tried Pot for the first time last night. Is that okay?

Keem: Mark, have you ever bought stolen merchandise?
Mark: Yeah, I buy it all the time.
Keem: Really, why?
Mark: You know, I know it's stolen, but the police never really do anything. I just report it and they give me this report number. They tell you that they will contact you if it comes up in an insurance report or whatever.
Keem: Wow. I'm surprised that they just give you a report number. I wonder why they don't do more than that. What types of stolen merchandise/property do you buy?
Mark: Stereos, speakers, radios, that kind of thing. Sometimes some clothes or whatever.
Keem: Well, Mark, it was great to talk to you. I should have my decision in a day or so.

Keem: (to the manager who did the initial interview) Shireen, I wouldn't hire him.
Shireen: But I really like him. He'd be great for the store.
Keem: I know, but he buys stolen merchandise. I don't think he'll work out. It's great that he was honest and all, but I don't trust him.
Shireen: Are you sure?
Keem: Yes, I know you liked him and this is the first person you've hired and all, but he won't work out.
Shireen: Okay. I understand.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

I am not a shrink

Let's face it. People need to talk. I understand that people like to hear words come out of their mouths, but try to understand and find the correct forum for this type of blabber. In working at the NABABNA call center for over 4 years, I've come across some extremely strange situations. I'm not trying to make fun of these people, but there are some calls that may have been crank calls, perverts, and psych ward patients.

One of the favorite calls I ever took for strangeness (and I think this was a crank, I really do) is as follows:
B: Thanks for calling NABABNA. This is Beth. How can I help you?
Mr. I-Need-a-Friend (INAF): I was shopping today and I saw a million dollar bill on sale for $1.99.
B: You saw a novelty item at the drug store?
INAF: What would happen if I bought it and spent it?
B: The Secret Service or the Federal Bureau of Investigation would arrest you for trying to pass counterfeit money.
INAF: Oh. Do you think my family would like one of these for Christmas?
B: I'm sorry Mr. INAF, but unfortunately I am unable to speak about the tastes of your family members. I'm not related to you or know your family.
INAF: Oh. I saw an ad on TV for presidential coins. When will they come out with the George W. Bush coin?
B: Unfortunately, I don't know. You might want to contact the Office of the Treasury.
INAF: You don't make the money?
B: No. The government handles the printing and minting of US Currency. We are a public bank. We could not make the physical money, that would be counterfeiting.
INAF: Would you like it if someone in your family gave you a million dollar bill?
B: Personally? No.
INAF: What's the largest bill in circulation?
B: In circulation? The largest bill that is commonly used is the $100 bill. The $1,000 bill hasn't been printed since the 1960s and when they come into circulation, they are pulled and given back to the Federal Reserve.
INAF: I think my family would like the million dollar bill for Christmas.
B: Then it's your choice to buy it for them.
INAF: I can't spend it?
B: No.
INAF: What if someone accepted it?
B: Then they'd get into a lot of trouble.

INAF: I don't want to get anyone in trouble.
B: Then I'd suggest not trying to pass it as a legitimate form of currency.
INAF: Okay. So, who do you like for presidential candidates?
B: Sir, I work for the bank. I can discuss banking related topics with you.
INAF: Oh. Can we talk about the million dollar bill some more?
B: Sir, that has nothing to do with NABABNA. Did you have any NABABNA related questions or concerns about your account?
B: Thanks for calling. Have a good night.
INAF: Bye!

Another call received at our call center. This one was not a prank. This was a legitimate person who needed help. This one actually made me a little sad and I understand why we have hospitals and people who devote their lives to this type of work. I admire the people who can handle this on a regular basis. The thing is, we are not trained for this at the bank. We are trained to help with accounts. That's what we do. Here's the call that was taken by a co-worker. I'll call her Sugar. That's how she sounded on the call. Sweet, caring, and helpful. I'll call the customer Personalities? Multiple. Syndrome. Otherwise known as PMS.

Sugar: Thanks for holding. My name is Sugar. How can I help you?
PMS: You're letting people steal money from my account!
Sugar: I'm sure I can help you. Are you stating there is fraud on your account?
PMS: Yes! Stop letting them take my money!
Sugar: Do you know who is taking your money?
PMS: Of course I do. It's my twin sister who no one else can see.
Sugar: Uh...
PMS: Make her stop.
Sugar: Let's start with the fraud claim. Which transactions are fraudulent?
PMS: I don't know.
Sugar: Which ones don't match your checkbook register?
PMS: They all match.
Sugar: So, all the transactions that cleared are ones you know about and you wrote in your register?
PMS: I didn't know about all of them. My sister writes them down in the register and then balances my checkbook for me.
Sugar: So you don't know if any of the transactions are fraudulent?
PMS: Well, some of them are. I have more money.
Sugar: Is there anyone who can help you go through your register to see which transactions are yours?
PMS: No. My sister is married to the Arch-Angel Michael and he works here at the hospital. They're all on her side.
Sugar: But no one can see her?
PMS: Well, Michael can.
Sugar: And he works at the hospital?
PMS: Yes.

Sugar: And that's where you are?
PMS: Yes.
Sugar: Is there anyone there I can talk to?
PMS: Here's my caregiver.
Caregiver: Hello?
Sugar: Hi, my name's Sugar and I work for the bank. I want to help this person, do you know if this is a legitimate call?
Caregiver: She needs more medication. I was just coming in to give her the next dose. I'll handle it from here.
Sugar: Thanks for calling...

We get a lot of calls that don't need to come to the bank. People share information with us that they really shouldn't. Some of my favorites:

"I just brushed my teeth with Pesident. My breath is fresh. What type of toothpaste do you use?"
"Thank you for telling me when that purchase to the discount store was. Now I know the last time I menstruated and I can't be pregnant."
"My sister had a problem with ovarian cancer. Make sure you get tested. I worry for all women."
"I just had a hysterectomy. They took out all of my insides!"
"But I need more money. How am I going to pay for this prostitute?"
"Do you smoke crack? I do. Crack, crack, crack, crack, crack!"

"Herpes are forever."
"Public drinking fountains spread disease."

"I got beat up by the cops are LAX."
"Oh look! A car upside down on the side of the road."
"We're just happy little chipmunks."
"I'm naked. How old are you?"
"I need a girlfriend. Can you help with this?" (To which I replied, "Unfortunately, NABABNA does not offer a dating service." That's right. I did actually say this.)
"My neighbor's house is blue."
"But I need that money. I want to date my cousin and I need to go online and pay for the service to find her. She has beautiful eyes."

I did not make up any of these. I have a list that I keep. To get on the list, you need to be odd.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

It's time for that new dance that's sweeping the nation - The Joint Account Jive!

I've received many an escalated call regarding joint accounts, enough to make me decide that if I ever finally find the guy just warped enough to marry me, there's no way his name is going on my account. I have enough problems trying to remember what I'm spending my money on, let alone worry about anyone else. Here are some examples of some of the calls I've received over the years.

Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery
Look, whatever you do is between you and God, okay? If you want to flout your disregard of one of the 10 Commandments in His face, well, better you than me, is all I can say. But, c'mon, if you're going to cheat, be smart about it. Your spouse is going to figure it out eventually, especially if you use your check card to buy your new sweetie a special gift.

I received a phone call from a banker who was having some problems with a non-customer. She was demanding to speak to a supervisor.

DM: Thank you for holding. I understand you wished to speak to a supervisor.
Clueless Woman (CW): What are these overdraft fees for? I don't bank with NABABNA.
DM: I'm sorry, I'm not sure of what the situation is, the banker said you couldn't be identified.
CW: This is just stupid. This is a mistake and I'm going to prove it and then you're going to be sorry! Here is the account number...(she rattles the number off to me)
DM: Okay, I have pulled up that account. May I have your name, please?
CW: Clueless Woman.
DM: I'm sorry, Ms. Woman, I'm not showing your name on this account.
CW (Deep sigh tinged with sarcasm): That's what I'm trying to tell you. I don't bank at NABABNA. Why am I getting overdraft fees?
DM: Unfortunately, I can't discuss this account with you since it's not in your name.
CW: No, it's in my husband's name, Cheating Jerk. But we bank with Bank of Bank so he shouldn't be getting these overdraft fees.
DM: Have you checked with him to see if he opened an account with us?
CW: Well, why would he do that? That's just stupid. This is all your fault. You people screwed up and put his name on the account and mailed the statements to our house and started charging overdraft fees and he doesn't even have an account with you!
DM: I see. I'd suggest that you speak to him about this, ma'am. Unless you're a signer, I can't release any information to you.
CW: And look at this! Look at this statement! It's got a deposit from Large Corporation, where he works, in his name and with his Social Security Number. How did you get his SS#?
DM: I'm sorry, I can't discuss this account with you (On mute: He's hiding money from you!).
CW: And look at these purchases! Why would he possibly have any reason to make these purchases? Why would he go to Sleazy Bar or visit Sex Shoppe or Lingerie Store? He would have no reason to go there!
DM: Ma'am, I'm sorry, again, I can't discuss this with you (Oh, you poor deluded woman).
CW: Stop saying that! You keep saying the same thing over and over again! Quit it! I know this is a mistake! There's no reason for my husband to go to the By The Hour Motel! Tell me what's going on! Continued screaming! You people! I'll sue! Arrrrrrrrrrrgggggghhhhh!
DM: Ma'am. Please calm down. This is not helping the situation. I would suggest that you speak to your husband about this. Unfortunately, I cannot answer any of your questions.
CW (Deep frustrated sigh): He's cheating on me, isn't he?
DM: I really, really wish I could answer that question for you, ma'am. Unfortunately, I can't discuss this with you. I would suggest speaking to your husband (or your lawyer (telepathically transmitted through the phone)).
CW: Screw him. I'm getting a lawyer. Thank you.

She disconnected. I look at the phone. "Are you aware it's illegal to open mail addressed to someone else?" I ask her. There is no answer, of course, because she's hung up. I sometimes wonder what happened to her.

I'm Going To Tell My Mommy On You!
Why would you open up a checking account with your teenager? Well, if you were to do a survey about this, you would find that the majority of customers say it's because it's a great way to teach your child responsibility and how to balance a checkbook. And it is true, this is the best way to reach those goals. However, I have run into just a few situations where these good intentions are thrown out the window.

The following call is an amalgamation, if you will, of several calls I have received. In each of these calls, the teenager was the one using the account, the parent was only on the account to make transfers easier. So, since the teenager's the one using the account and they're being so responsible now, you would think they would be the one who would call about overdraft fees, right? Right? Wrong. Welcome to my world. Remember, italics are what I'm thinking. I would never ever talk this way to a customer. Really. Now, where the customer's concerned, the italics is what I imagine they are saying.

Banker: Dana (sadly, no one calls me DM in real life), I have an irate customer who is upset that there are overdraft fees on her joint account with her daughter (oddly enough, the majority of these calls are from the mother. An occasional Dad will call but not that often. And, yes, sometimes it's the son who screws up as well). She wants to speak to a supervisor and wouldn't let me identify her.
DM (sighs inaudibly): Joy. I'd be happy to help her. Put her through (Banker introduces customer to me). Thank you for holding. My name is Dana. I understand you're calling about overdraft fees?
Rabid Parent (RP): How dare you charge me overdraft fees! I have a great account and I refuse to pay overdraft fees! I've been banking with NABABNA for 15 years and I bring in a lot of money and I hold my mortgage with you and I'm not going to pay these fees!
DM: Ma'am, I'd be happy to help you but first I need to ask you some questions.
RP: Ask your questions! Go ahead, ask them! I dare you!
DM: Freak. May I have the account number in question?
RP: I don't know what it is, it's not my account!
DM: I'm sorry, I wouldn't be able to speak to you unless you're a signer on the account.
RP: Well, I am a signer but it's not my account! It's my daughter's. God, you're so stupid.
DM: Um, the minute you signed that account application, it became your account. Who's stupid now? Okay, do you have any other accounts with NABABNA?
RP: Well, yes. I told you I did!
DM: Could I have an account number, please?
RP: I just told you I didn't have...oh, any account number? (Rattles off account number)
DM: Thank you. (I follow the procedures to identify the customer) Okay, Ms. Parent, I'd be happy to assist you. What concerns you about this account?
RP: I'm being charged overdraft fees!
DM: Yes, I do show that this account first became overdrawn two weeks ago and now has a balance of -$163.52. There were two items that overdrew the account and there were two fees assessed at $50 each (Note: This isn't how much our overdraft fees are. They are expensive, just not that expensive).
RP: Well, I'm not paying them. This account can just stay negative for all I care. You bloodsuckers!
DM: Ms. Parent, I apologize for your frustration but the account became overdrawn because of purchases that were made. We disclose all applicable fees to our customers at the time they open the account. I'd be happy to go through the account with you and determine if there was a bank error...
RP: How would I know? This isn't my account! You stupid c-word!
DM: Don't call me names. Ms. Parent, I'm trying to assist you. Please refrain from such language. I would suggest asking your daughter to review the account history and contact us if there is an error.
RP: I want these fees reversed!
DM: Unfortunately, Ms. Parent, I would be unable to reverse these fees unless I was able to verify that there's a bank error.
RP: Reverse them! Arrrggh! I am screaming just for the heck of it! Reverse them!
DM: Ms. Parent, unless there is a bank error on this account, I am unable to reverse any fees.
RP: Why not?
DM: If there is a bank error, I would be happy to reverse the fees. At this time, I do not have any indication there is an error on our part. Please speak to your daughter and call us back or ask her to call us.
RP: Hold on a second (Slams phone down). Ungrateful! Ungrateful, you get down here right now! Here, talk to this stupid bitch from the bank.
DM: Yes, calling me a stupid bitch just makes me want to help you even more.
Ungrateful Child (UC): Hello?
DM: Hi, my name is Dana and I am a supervisor at NABABNA. I would like to go through your account to see if there is an error.
UC: Yeah, you better. I know I didn't make a mistake.
DM: Yeah, right. Certainly, let me identify you (I identify UC). Now, Ms. Child, I see there was a purchase here to Trendy Clothes Shop for $75 and another purchase at College Hangout. Did you make these purchases?
UC: Yeah. So?
DM: Were you aware that your account had a balance of $5.00 at that time?
UC: Yeah. So?
DM: Well, when your account doesn't have the funds to support a purchase you made, this causes your account to become overdrawn. When this happens, two things can happen. Either the item is paid and you are assessed an overdraft fee or the item is returned, resulting in an Insufficient Funds Charge or IFC. Now this particular purchase was paid and an overdraft fee was assessed.
UC: Well, reverse it.
DM: I'm sorry but I'm unable to do that. This was not the result of bank error.
UC: Fine, bitch. Talk to my Mom.
RP: I told you to reverse those fees.
DM (by now I have lost my patience. I have been called the c-word, I have been called a bitch, I have had this little punk sneer at me, I have had this woman scream at me. I have had it. It's time to get rough...or at least, as rough as I can get at work): Ms. Parent, I am going to speak frankly. I have explained that I can only reverse the fee if it is a bank error. Your daughter has just informed me that she was aware she only had $5 in her account when she made this $75 purchase. The overdraft fees were charged correctly. Courtesy reversals have been made on this account before and, in one situation, a remark was left stating that the customer was aware of the fact that no more fees would be reversed unless they are caused by bank error. There is nothing in our conversation that indicates to me that this will not happen again.
RP: I think you're being rude. You can't lecture me! You can't tell my daughter how to spend her money!
DM: Actually, at this point, she was not spending her money. She was spending NABABNA's money. And since we allowed her to make this purchase, we charged her an overdraft fee. There is not a bank error.
RP: I want to talk to your supervisor!
DM: Certainly. I'd be happy to transfer you to his voicemail, if you would be willing to hold. However, I must caution you that he will review your account the same way I have. Will you hold please?

Okay, so what did Ungrateful Child learn from this experience? If you said "How not to take responsibility" you would be exactly right. If you said "How to be a complete pain in the ass that will never amount to anything and be a blight on our society and will probably get busted for drug use and then her mom will be wondering what she did wrong and oh, my God, could I tell her!" you would not only be exactly right but learning to think like me...and that's just scary.

If you want to teach your kid to manage money responsibly, let them pay their overdraft fees. They'll figure it out.