Friday, March 06, 2009

Telemarketers Are People, Too

Here, as closely as I can remember, is an honest-to-goodness conversation I had on the phone last night.

The caller ID came up as Charter Communications, and I have been ignoring their calls for a while, but they are my internet and phone and tv providers, so I decided I had better finally answer, just in case there was actually something they needed to communicate with me.

Me: Hello?

Charter Chick: Hello--is Mr. or Mrs. Grosser there?

Me [I get this a lot, and it's really fun to tell people they've left the country]: Um, I'm sorry--they don't live here anymore.

Charter Chick: Oh. [Pause.] Should I take their names off the account?

Me [I'm about to say yes, but I happen to know their names were never on the account, because I switched to it after they left the country]: Well--are their names on the account?

Charter Chick: Is one of them Jennifer Grosser?

Me: I'm Jennifer Grosser.

Charter Chick: What? Wait. I'm so confused!

Me: [Laughing] Me, too! I'm Jennifer Grosser--you kind of threw me off with the whole "Mr and Mrs" thing. [I could have a whole rant about this here if we wanted, but that's for a different post and I don't think it was her fault.]

Charter Chick: [Laughing, too] Oh--sorry! Okay. [Pause, though still laughing.] Well [deep breath] my name is Kristy and I'm calling on behalf of Charter to let you know about a very exciting offer.

[I don't remember if her name was really Kristy, but that's probably just as well.]

Me: [Pretty sure I'm not going to accept the offer, but we just had a laugh together and so I feel it would be rude to hang up now.] Okay.

Kristy: First I need to tell you that this call may be monitored or recorded for quality control purposes. [She's still laughing.]

Me: That should be entertaining for them.

Kristy: Okay, you ready?

Me: Go for it.

[Kristy launches into a schpiel about their offering me HBO and a whole bunch of other stuff for only $5 for a month for an entire year. This would be a good deal if I ever watched TV, other than Lost and sometimes The Office, both of which I can also watch on-line. As for movies--I rarely have time to sit down and watch a full-length movie. I decline. She tries again. I still decline. She offers me a free trial month. I still decline although she has been very pleasant about the whole thing.]

Kristy: You know what? This is the most fun conversation I've had all day!

Me: Well that's good! I'm glad. I hope your other conversations are a little more profitable for you, but . . .

Kristy: You know what? It doesn't matter if you buy anything or not--this was the best conversation!

We both heartily wished each other a good evening and I went on my way, but I couldn't stop smiling. I think it was because I realised I had just inadvertently treated her the way I wished people at Starbucks would treat me. And some of them do. But that day I had worked an eight-hour shift during which Mouse got chewed out essentially for not wasting paper product, and I got chewed out because Starbucks charges extra for packets of jam for bagels. ("I'm pretty sure they give jelly out free at Dunkin' Donuts," said one of the accusers. "Well, you can go to Dunkin Donuts," I offered.)

I don't know that I will make a practice of engaging in friendly banter with telemarketers, but you know what? It didn't kill me. It kind of made my night.


Cliff said...

I worked for a little over three years as a CSR for Time Warner Cable. I was an inbound rep, never outbound like "Kristy," but either way it can be really tough. It's good to remember there's a body and a life attached to the voice on the other end of the phone line.

I like this story. :)

Annelise said...

That's a cool story! :-)

Anonymous said...

Hey Jenn,

I am sure you probably didn't think telling this story was going to result in me reaching out either, but it did.

My name is Eric Ketzer, and I am a Manager at Charter Communications. I just wanted to thank you for being kind to our Agent. As Cliff said, it is a tough job. I, and I am sure "Kristy," sincerely appreciate it.

If you ever need anything or have any questions, feel free to reach out to me at

Thanks Again, Eric

By the way, I do love Venti-NonFat-Decafe-Iced Mochas, of course I think I got the string wrong. I think they switch it up on me to confuse me.

Jenn said...

Cliff--yeah, I think it's good to remember, too. Sometimes even when people can see the body in person they still forget it IS a person . . .


Eric--wow. I guess I thought maybe sometime down the line some Charter person would come across this post, but not so quickly, and I certainly didn't expect an actual response. Thanks for commenting, and for the offer of assistance.

By the way, it's Decaf Iced Venti Nonfat Mocha. You can write that down and put it in your wallet for handy reference. ;)

Mary Anne said...

Wow, I had heard that companies do searches on blogs to see when their names come up, like if people are all complaining about them on their blogs. And then they do customer service via the blogs. Now we have proof!