Saturday, August 21, 2004

Be That As It May

Yesterday I went into work for overtime. Yes, I volunteered to take escalated calls for four hours. What we will do for money...I had two very interesting calls, one right after another.

The first one was a customer who could not be identified. Keem briefly touched on this in another post but I'd like to expand on it, if I may (Eh. It's my blog and I'll post if I want to). Why do people get so upset when we refuse to release information to them if they can't be identified? I don't get it. I will do a separate post someday about some of the stuff we hear.

Anyway, the customer, Ms. Unidentified Doorknob (UD), was throwing a fit because she didn't know any of her account information. The banker introduces her to me and we are off.

UD: I don't understand why you can't use my address, my birthday, my driver's license (Beth pointed out - Hmm, those are all on your driver's license. Someone can steal that.)
DM: I'm sorry, Ms. UD, but unfortunately, I am unable to see your driver's license. However, if you visit the branch, they can assist you there by looking at the license and giving you your account number.
UD: Can I close my account at the branch? I have had nothing but problems with NABABNA. You are stealing my money. You took money out of my account without my authorization.
DM: What do you mean?
UD: I have a loan with you and you took money out of my checking account to pay my loan and I didn't authorize it. You stole my money.
DM: Was the loan delinquent?
UD: Yes. But you just can't take my money.
DM: I'm sorry, Ms. UD, but if you don't make your payments, we do reserve the right to withdraw the money from your account. It's in our disclosures.
UD: Someone said that before and I had them mail me the disclosures and it's not in there.
DM: Yes, it is. It's under Delinquent Accounts (There's a more technical name for it. But it might also give away who NABABNA really is and I'm not taking that chance).
UD: Be that as it may, I have a lawyer.

She hangs up. Okay, I'm sorry. But I really hate the expression "Be that as it may." Because what you're really saying is "I don't care that you have a perfectly logical explanation, I want to do things my way. And it's always said in that really snotty tone. It's the adult version of sticking your tongue out at someone and saying "Nya-nya-nya." And your lawyer is going to read the disclosures and say "Hmm. Looks like they have everything covered here and were within their rights. Now give me lots of money."

The second call was transferred to me by a banker who really tries not to let calls escalate. So when he can't work with the customer, I know the call is going to be a doozy. This was Mr. Whacked Out ((WO) possibly on some really good drugs) and he wanted overdraft fees reversed. Never mind the fact that he continually calls the call center to get his fees reversed.

DM: My name is Dana, Mr. WO. I'm a supervisor and am going to assist you further today.
WO: I wonder why every time I talk to a supervisor, it is always a woman (What? What is that supposed to mean? We occasionally get calls from men who refuse to speak to women supervisors because they feel superior to us and we also, as evidenced in this post, get calls from men who only want to speak to women supervisors. Which type is he going to be?).
DM: I'm not sure. What can I help you with today?

I then sit there for five minutes and listen to Mr. WO talk. He did not pause long enough for me to get a word in edgewise and I'm not sure when he actually took a breath. I got to listen to him tell me how he was disabled because he couldn't remember things and that his card shouldn't work if he doesn't have money and did I think he would have spent the money that overdrew his account if he would have known that he didn't have money and didn't I think that $100 (no, our overdraft fees are not that expensive) was too much to charge when his purchases were only $6.50 and $3.00 and his wife made the purchases because she thought he had made the deposit already and yes, that was his fault but he's disabled and he balanced his checkbook everyday by the automated system but he forgot about a check he wrote a few weeks ago and so he spent the money and that's why they became overdrawn.

Finally, he stops. I am able to speak.

DM: Mr. WO...
WO: I know what you're going to say. You're going to say you're sorry for my frustration and it's going to come out of your butt (Okay, what the hell does that mean?).
DM: Mr. WO, I am sorry for your frustration...
WO: I knew it. I knew you would say that. You sound like (I am waiting for him to say a robot and then he surprises me) Paula Poundstone.
DM: Okay...(What the hell is this?)
WO: That's a compliment. I like Paula Poundstone. You can tell all your friends that I said you sound like Paula Poundstone.
DM: I was going to take it as a compliment. I like her as well.
WO: I used to work in sales. I sold door to door and when the husbands came to the door I knew I had an easy sale. I think that's why there aren't many male supervisors at NABABNA. The females aren't an easy touch. You have a nice day. Bye.

And he's gone.

Now, the thing is, I do feel sorry for Mr. WO. I am sure it is a challenge living with memory loss. However, I wonder, since this has happened many times before (due to the amount of reimbursements he's received in the past), why does his wife trust him to make the deposit?

I am amused by him telling me that I sound like Paula Poundstone. I have, in the past, been told that I look like Roseanne. Why do people use female comics to describe me? Is it because I am so witty and wonderful? Must be.

Anyway, have a nice day. Be that as it may.

An open letter to movie goers everywhere

Dear movie goers,

Last night, I went to the movies. I am a big movie fan and usually spend upwards to $30 a week to partake in one of my favorite activities. I don't mind spending $8 to watch the latest offering from our friends in Hollywood. I don't mind paying $16 for a bag of popcorn and two pops. I don't mind sitting through the commercials and the previews. In my mind, this is part of the movie experience and I am okay with it.

Here's what I'm not okay with:
  1. Being held captive by a bunch of teenagers who seem to think that the entire theater wishes to hear about the trials and tribulations of being a teenager. Here's a clue, I already was a teenager. I grew up. I'm an adult now. If I wanted to hear all about your love life, how your teachers are soooo mean to you, who you thought was cute - well, I'd go and get a teenager of my own.
  2. People entering the theater late and, instead of walking up the stairs like a normal person, making sure they hit each step loudly. And, when someone comments on it, like we have a right to since we paid 8 bucks for the damn movie, showing your maturity by now stomping on each step as hard as you can.
  3. The musical chairs thing that goes on. Now, I have to sit on the left side of Keem when we go to the movies. It is easier for me to reach the popcorn with my right hand. And yes, sometimes I forget which side I want to sit on. But when I have realized my mistake, I very quietly will switch. I don't stand up and at the top of my lungs say "No. This won't work. Muffy, you sit here next to Pooky and I'll sit next to Dopey." Oh, and even if I did, well, because Keem is the organized one, we're usually in the theater 30 minutes before the movie starts and you wouldn't know because you waited to the last minute.
  4. If you are going to stand up, please do so slowly. Otherwise your seat will fly up and bounce back and forth and make that damn thwacking sound I hate.
  5. Just a thought, parents, if you're going to let your daughters go to the movies by themselves in their "I want to be a pop star so I'll dress as provocatively as I can" outfits, you may want to suggest that they not announce as loudly as possible about how they are there by themselves and Mom's going to pick them up after the movie. I'm sure you're aware of the amount of sexual predators out there in the world that might take that as an invitation.
  6. Stop kicking the back of my chair, dammit!
  7. I make my own money. I really don't need the pennies you are whipping through the theater because you don't have a life and think this is entertainment.

Does anyone else remember when the theater manager would come in and make an announcement before the beginning of the movie? Something like "Have a good time but please respect others and do not talk during the movie. If you do, we will ask you to leave." When going to the movies was fun, not an exercise in futility as you are forced to listen to people talk on the cell phone, crying babies, loud teenagers and rude adults?

If I ever open my own theater, there will be rules. And if you violate those rules, you will be asked to leave and informed you can never come back. And if you are under the age of 18, your parents will have to provide us with a phone number so we can call them and make them come and get you when you act up. The only people allowed will be those who can watch a movie and respect others.

And if someone slips and yells at the screen "Why? For the love of God, why?" it'll be like yesterday when we were watching Napoleon Dynamite and everyone laughed. I'm sorry about that, by the way.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Even morons receive paychecks

Inspiration hit me today. Frustrated and pulling my hair out, it hit.

At my job at NABABNA, the occasional task of finding out if a check has been paid through the account it is drawn on comes up. Not a big deal. I, like others in my position, call over to the maker bank and ask, "Has check #1234 cleared on account #1234567890?" The other bank usually says, "Yes," or the other popular answer, "No." This is simple. Should it take an hour?

It did today.

My customer had deposited a check for $1000 into his account. This check was a cash advance from a credit card. The check itself was not drawn on the credit card, it was drawn on an account held by Bank of Bank. The funds to clear this check were in an internal bank account, not a customer's account.

Thinking this wouldn't be so difficult, I called Bank of Bank. I spoke to Ignorant Female (IF). Here is the conversation:

IF: Thank you for calling Bank of Bank. I'm IF. How can I help you?
B: Hi, my name is Beth. I'm calling from NABABNA and I'm hoping you can help me determine if a check has cleared from an account. The account is held by Bank of Bank, not a customer. Can you do that?
IF: Yes I can. What is the customer's account number?
B: Well, I have that, but this check is not drawn on the customer's account.
IF: What are you looking for?
B: I want to know if this check has cleared the account it is drawn on.
IF: I'll look. What is the customer's account number?
B: The account number of the customer is 1234567890. But the account it is drawn on is 9876543210.
IF: The funds have cleared the customer's account.
B: But the item is not from the customer's account. It is from an internal bank account.
IF: What do you need to know?
B: I would like to know if the check has actually cleared the bank.
IF: Can you hold while I check?
B: Yes. Please, please, please ask someone for help.

I wait. She returns.

IF: That check has cleared.
B: Good. Are you able to tell me when it cleared?
IF: It cleared on Monday.
B: Um, the check wasn't deposited to NABABNA until Tuesday. How can it clear before it was given to us?
IF: Well, we gave the customer a check and billed his credit card on Monday.

Here is where I get the twinge that this employee of Bank of Bank doesn't have a clue. None, what-so-ever.

B: Okay. That doesn't answer the question of whether or not this physical check has cleared your bank then.
IF: But we billed him on Monday.
B: I get that. You gave him money, billed him, and cut him a check from another account. I am hoping that you can tell me if the check you gave him has cleared the other account. That account number again is 9876543210.
IF: Okay. Can you hold?
B: Yes.

She may have been asking for help here. If she was, she either got wrong information, or asked the wrong questions to her helpdesk.

IF: We paid the check from his credit card.
B: Has it cleared the account it is drawn on?
IF: Hold please.

Okay then. For the sake of frustration, I'll shorten this. She placed me on hold five more times. Each time coming back to tell me that his credit card was billed but having no information about the actual check clearing.

Finally, she transfers me to her supervisor.

IF: Beth, I have my supervisor, Gets It, on the line. You're speaking in technical terms and maybe she can help you.
B: Okay. Thank you.
GI: How can I help you?
B: I'm wondering if check #1234 has cleared account #9876543210.
GI: No. It is still outstanding. We have billed his credit card, but the check has not reached our bank yet to release the funds to NABABNA.
B: Thank you. You were a huge help.

I have a question. Maybe I've been in banking too long, but I do believe calling another bank and asking, "Has this check cleared?" is not technical. It's not like I said, "I am pondering for information to see if the negotiable item designated by the serial number 1234 has been presented for payment by being processed through the Federal Reserve system and the funds were released by the maker bank on the account specified by the numerical sequence 9876543210." Do you think "Has the check cleared?" is technical? Am I way out of line to think a bank employee should understand this? My inquiring mind wants to know.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

And sometimes the morons try to kill you

I used to work in the fast food industry. I didn't particularly enjoy it but I really enjoyed annoying my mother. "Dana, you're so talented, so smart, so funny, why do you waste your time in these dead end jobs?" Would someone explain to me why I would take offense at her telling me I'm smart? I would usually end up saying something stupid like "I enjoy working with people. I'm a people person."

Ha. Try working 10 years in fast food/retail and see how much you like people after that. 10 Christmas seasons in the Mall. I really have to say, I hate people. And yet, you might wonder, why would I choose to work in a call center? Am I just insane? Well, the nice thing about my job is that when someone is screaming at me, they can't see me. I can stick my tongue out at them, I can hit the mute button, I can roll my eyes. And I don't really hate people, I just hate people when they shop. You want to torture me, drag me to the Mall during the Christmas season. Yuck. You want to be my best friend? Bring me to a library.

Anyway, I digress. So I worked fast food for this little taco joint before we were bought out by a big taco joint. And, since we were a big taco joint, we had to hire a lot of new employees. Suddenly, I, the assistant manager, was now the evening assistant manager, which was quite the shock for me. Suddenly, I was placed in control of people I would never ever have hired, not in a million years.

There were the Owie Sisters. Can't remember their names but they were 15 (this was 1986 and it was legal for them to work, they just couldn't do certain things) and pretty much all they were allowed to do was wash dishes. And every day I'd ask them to wash dishes, I would get this litany of complaints.

The water was too hot.
The water was too cold.
The detergent was too harsh.
They had just done their nails.
They had paper cuts and the bleach water would hurt.

Pretty much all they would do was flirt with the older and dangerous guys working there. One of them fell for a nice stable guy, the other one fell for the bad boy (Who I knew personally and would continually hiss "Jail bait" at him whenever he would come over to my apartment. And he would grin that bad boy smile. He was hot. A moron. But hot. I saw him about 4 years ago. He looks the same. Damn him).

Then there was The Putz. Complete idiot. I had two employees that did frying. Taco shells, taco salad shells, etc. One employee, Mr. Perfect, who was perfect in every way (and who I would have married in a heart beat except for the small barrier in the way of our perfect romance, the fact that he wasn't attracted to women) could finish all the frying in two hours. An entire day's work in two hours which was way above standard but he was perfect, after all. The Putz took two hours to fry a pan of taco shells. And half of them were broken.

I hated The Putz. So you can imagine my shock and horror when my roommate, Anya, comes over to the store, sees The Putz and falls madly in love with him. It was 1986, the hair bands were in full force and The Putz would walk around after work with the hair band rocker style wig on. And a mesh shirt. With his pasty white belly and man boobs hanging out of it. Shudder (At least when I fell for Mr. Perfect, he had the decency to be a snazzy dresser and attractive and in good shape and intelligent and witty and funny. And we had the same taste in men). I remember when Anya first told me she was interested in The Putz. I think my exact words were "Oh, God, no. Anya, it takes him two hours to fry taco shells. Two hours!" Which, now that I think of it, really wasn't that convincing of an argument.

But even The Putz wasn't the worst employee, not the biggest moron working at the big taco joint. No, that would be the really sweet, nice kid who just didn't have a clue. Clueless Boy would stare at you when you gave him instructions. He would watch your lips move. And then when you would ask him to repeat something back to you, he had no idea what you had just said to him. If you told him to wash dishes, he would cut tomatoes. If you asked him to sweep the floor, he would mop it.

I remember the night I got the warning that the district manager would be visiting our store the next morning. Clueless Boy was the only person closing with me. I went into a frenzy of cleaning, racing up and down the row, scouring and polishing everything. I asked Clueless Boy to do one thing for me. Sweep the floor. "Clueless Boy," I said. "I need you to do one thing for me and then you can leave. Sweep the floor. I want this floor so spotless you can eat off of it. Can you do that for me?" He nodded. I left to have a quick cigarette because I knew I would spend another 2 hours making sure the place looked perfect. I come back. He is standing in the middle of the floor, his eager clueless eyes looking at me like a puppy (Can I go, can I go?). I look at the floor. Oh, yeah, you could eat off of it. There was enough taco remains scattered on the floor to feed an army.

I sighed. "Okay, Clueless Boy. I'm just going to ask one thing from you. I need you to fill the mop bucket for me with Bleach and hot water. Then you can go." I continue my hurried cleaning. The water is running in the background. Then I smell this acrid scent. What is that? I start coughing. I look over at Clueless Boy. There is this cloud emanating from the mop bucket, along with the horrible smell that is making my eyes water. What is going on?

Then I see the Lime Away in his hand. Lime Away and Bleach do not mix well. There are warnings on the labels. There are big signs all over the wall near the mop sink that say "Don't mix Lime Away and Bleach. It is bad." Do you know why there were big signs all over the wall?

Because Clueless Boy was the second employee who tried to kill me. You would have thought he would have listened when I was talking to a coworker about the near death experience I had encountered the night before. Maybe he would have figured it out when I had the discussion with the staff that night about the dangers of Lime Away and Bleach.

You really would have thought he would have grasped the concept when I had asked him to make the signs to post on the wall, though.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

I need a fork*

I am a fairly easy going person (I know that people are laughing. I can sense it. Shut up!) and manage to maintain my temper fairly well. Unfortunately, there are certain things that can set me off, morons being one of those things.

When I first started at NABABNA, I had this wonderful corner desk that I adored. And then they started surrounding me by idiots (My favorite line in The Lion King is Scar - "I am surrounded by idiots"). First I end up with the Annoying Irish Guy (AIG) - "Oh, I am so great. I am Irish and such a better person than you. Blah, blah, blah" I hated him. Loved his accent. Hated him.

Then there was the Insane Mother (IM) - "And then, the guy told me my envelope wasn't in the box. And I made him move so I could look in the box. And then, Dana, you wouldn't believe it, my envelope was at the very bottom. So I hit him with it. And he had the nerve to call the police." Um, you beat up a federal employee with an envelope. The shock isn't that he called the cops, the shock is that you're not in jail.

But the worst, the very worst person who ended up sitting by me was the Troll. That is the only description for him. If you were to look under a bridge, I'm sure you'd find him. He was stupid and mean and thought the world revolved around him. And I'm sorry, Troll, but the world doesn't revolve around you. This is my universe and you are merely a speck of dust (the difference between us is when I say that, people generally realize I'm joking. He would go to management if someone looked at him funny and complain about the horrid way he was being treated. Such a pain).

This is what I was subjected to on a daily basis.

A customer calls. The Troll speaks. In this nasally voice that made me want to scream. It sounded like fingernails on a chalkboard, like a rusty screen door creaking on its hinges, oh, like any annoying voice you've ever heard. This is what I had to listen to from my once premium corner of the call center:

Troll: Basically, ma'am, if you basically want to basically go to the branch, they can basically help you with your problem.

Argh! Do you understand my pain? I wanted to say "Basically, Troll, if you don't basically stop saying basically, I'm basically going to basically bludgeon you to basically death."

The day he left the call center was a day of rejoicing in my universe. But he's been replaced by someone even more annoying.

I am in the computer room NABABNA has generously provided to their employees. There are also telephones so you could call your loved ones if you so desired to call them. I am reading a very funny blog and all is well in my life. And then he walks in. Baby Talk Man (BTM).

Here is a conversation I have overheard (I may have exaggerated slightly. There is a reason I never became a journalist, you know. It had something to do with the fact that I am, although sweet and wonderful and caring in every way, not exactly a unbiased person. Yes, I sense your shock and accept your forgiveness):

BTM: Hello, my smooky. How's my sweetums today? Oo, how is my little um's tum-tum? Oh, that's good, my random nonsense words. I love my sweet baby. I can't wait to get home and kiss my smooky on her (whispered). Should we go out tonight, my more random nonsense words? I want to show off my love dove.

Argh! Shut up, shut up, shut up! Adults should not be talking like this to other adults. It is sick and wrong and it drives me absolutely insane. I'm so happy that you two have found each other and are in love and the world is your oyster but I've got to tell you, if you keep it up, I'm going to hunt down your love dove and pluck all of her feathers. Got it?

Although, I have to admit, a few weeks ago, he was talking to her and I softly released a small tone of frustration that he may or may not have overheard (okay, I actually said "Argh" quite loudly but then pretended I had read something annoying). The few times he's been in here when I'm blogging, he's been a bit more quiet. Maybe what the world needs is for me to scream "Argh" more often. What do you think, world?

*The fork reference is from when Beth, Keem, Matt and I are at Perkins and loud drunk people surround us. There was a night when Beth had to take my fork away from me because she was worried about the guy sitting behind us. Apparently, I was clutching it a little tightly and making vague stabbing motions. So now, when anyone annoys me, I ask for a fork. She won't give me one.**

**Well, there was the one time when the guys behind us were so annoying that she said she would have given me a fork if she had one...***

***I'm really not insane. I threaten to fork people but I don't think I'd ever really do it. Don't be afraid, people of the internet. I won't hurt you.

Monday, August 16, 2004

These are a few of my favorite things..

I love my job. Truly, I do. My favorite part is the oddest requests or expectations from customers and non-customers alike. My favorite call is from Third Parties. They always assume that we will do anything for them because they are a business. Yeah, that makes me want to help you and go against company policy.

The most common is funds verification. Nope. Can't do it. What they don't realize is that this is not the age of video phones. I know that it is possible, but it is certainly not common. You can tell me that you are from Customer Service From Hell, but I have no way to verify that. "I call to verify this with other banks, why are you the only one that doesn't?" Because we are smarter than all the rest? If I were to do that, and the caller is trying to obtain information about the account for fraudulent use, that would be wrong. They could call with a dummy check number and amount. They keep increasing the amount until we say no. Anyone care to guess at what they now have a general idea about once we do say no? That's right. They now know approximately how much is in the account. Kinda stupid to verify funds, don't you think? The sad part is, more banks will actually verify funds than verify paid items. Since you have to know the check number, dollar amount, account number and maker name that would be more secure. Hmmm....something to think about.

My favorites include a merchant calling to tell us that they found the customer's card and they want us to call them and tell them that they have their card (they do this for checks too...). Unfortunately, I am unable to do this. Security purposes and all that. I understand why they want us to call, however, it just isn't something we are able to do. I also love the third party calls where they say that the customer has given authorization to discuss their account. Why on earth would you have your wife/husband balance your account and then not put them on the account as well? They already have your account information and probably know where you keep your checks or atm card anyway. It's not like I can give them information. And then they argue with you because they can't get the information. HELLO.....what are not a signer on the account did you not understand? This is real money. Not a credit account. Credit accounts have lower risk. It doesn't tie up the funds in your deposit account. If I can release the information to you, I will, but please don't yell at me and expect me to give you information that you are not authorized to have. It will get you nowhere.

Merchants also expect us to be their message service as well.

Ignorant Merchant (IM): My office didn't get some required information from a customer of yours. Here's the account number we have. Call them for me and tell them to call us back.
K: Unfortunately, I am unable to call the customer and request that they call you. The bank is not your message service. Call them yourself and hold your employees accountable for what they didn't get that was required. (I am thinking this, of course)
IM: Aren't you willing to go the extra mile and contact your customer?
K: Since this isn't a bank issue, I am unable to contact the customer on your behalf. Why would I call the customer and go the extra mile for something that you didn't do in the first place? Take responsibility and do it yourself. I am not a message service, nor a researcher for your business. I do not work for you!
IM: Then let me talk to your supervisor! (Keep in mind that she escalated to me on this as well.)

Does she really think that she'll get anywhere with this? I'm happy to go the extra mile for our customers, but if you aren't a customer and you screw up, deal with it yourself and take responsibility for your own screw-ups.

I also love it when you cannot identify a customer. They always say that they understand the security of asking for whatever information we ask for, but if you understand, then why must you argue? If you don't have the information we need to identify you, accept it and call us back with what we need. I don't have the power to see what you look like even if you can fax me a copy of your driver's liscense and I don't think that the bank will pay me to drive to your house and verify it.