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  • September's Theme Of The Month: Overheard!

    Don’t Commit The Crime If You Can’t Do The Overtime

    | Greenville, SC, USA | Awesome Workers, Bosses & Owners, Overtime

    (We’re in training at a call center for a large, national corporation, working directly for the company rather than through an outsourcer. Of 18 people in the training class, 7 of us came from another local call center, this one run by an outsourcer known for their less than quite legal practices, but being in a ‘Right to Work’ state, the employees don’t speak up about it out of fear of losing our jobs.)

    Supervisor: *addressing the class to go over some information on our new schedules once we get out of the training class* “So, any questions?”

    Coworker #1: “Will we be able to get all of our hours every week here?”

    Supervisor: *clearly confused* “Well, we hope that you’ll come in and stay for your regular shifts. If not, then we’re going to have a problem.”

    Coworker #2: “No, what he means is, at the place we worked before, they had this thing called voluntary time off, but it wasn’t voluntary.”

    Me: *seeing that the supervisor still seems confused* “What they would do if it was slow, they’d log us out and not let us back in. They called it VTO but—”

    Trainer: *misunderstanding* “Oh, no, if you accidentally log out during your shift here, they’ll come find you and—”

    Coworker #1: “Oh, no, we didn’t log out accidentally; they’d log us out and send us home because they didn’t want to pay us.”

    Supervisor: *now looking a bit shocked* “No, we won’t send you home early unless you volunteer.”

    Coworker #1: “Do you guys cut our lunches when it gets busy? Or move our shifts around all day?”

    Supervisor: “No, your lunches don’t get cut back. If you’re scheduled for a 45 minute lunch, you get the whole 45 minutes. That’s the law. We have to do that.”

    Coworker #3: “What about overtime? How much can we work in a week?”

    Supervisor: “Oh, you can work up to four hours a day, but your stats have to be up to par. It’s a privilege, not a right.”

    (I can see him cringe, as hands go up from the group of us from the other call center.)

    Coworker #4: “Only four hours a day? What if we’re used to working more?”

    (At this point, all of us are staring at Coworker #5, who was known for working open to close seven days a week at our previous call center.)

    Supervisor: *leaning towards our particular group, and emphasizing* “You can’t work more than four hours of overtime in a day. Only 12 hours in a shift, because THAT’S THE LAW. And you get three breaks on a ten hour shift, because THAT’S THE LAW, TOO. I don’t know what kind of sweat shop you people came from, but we like to do things right around here.”

    (At this point the group of us from the other call center are staring at each other in shock.)

    Coworker #1: *in amazement* “You mean… [National Company] actually takes care of their people?”

    A Badly Timed Period

    | New Zealand | Bad Behavior, Bosses & Owners, Health & Body

    (My workplace tries to get every second out of us on the phones. They are pedantic about breaks down to the second, and you will often get grilled about those ‘two minutes’ over a day that you weren’t speaking to a customer. In light of this, they are always developing schemes to ensure they are getting precisely 7.5 hours from us per day. We are called into a meeting in shifts, and I am in the last meeting of the day.)

    Centre Manager: “So, between us and our sister call centre in [City] we’ve developed a new way of using the bathroom quickly!”

    Head Of Call Centre: “I have made it my personal mission to time people using the bathrooms, and I have planned out how long each person needs in the bathroom. If you’re doing number 1’s, you only need one minute. If you’re doing number 2’s, you need 2 minutes and 20 seconds. So in future, we’re going to expect you to follow these guidelines, and aim for these times when using the bathrooms.”

    (I’ve worked with lawyers for years, and am known for being a bit of a smart-a**.)

    Me: “Um, what about those of us who need to have ‘number 3’s?'”

    Centre Manager & Head Of Call Centre: “What?”

    Me: “Well, you said you’ve monitored people using the bathrooms, so you can get an average time, right?”

    Head Of Call Centre: “Yes.”

    Me: “Did you only monitor the men?”

    Centre Manager & Head Of Call Centre: *worried glances* “Yes…”

    Me: “So, it never occurred to you that women have an issue once a month that they can’t control? And that issue may take more than a minute in the bathroom?”

    Centre Manager: *both go pale* “Um, surely, that’s not an issue?”

    Me: “Surely, you’ve never been women, and only surveyed half of the centre’s population. And I suspect that the union would be furious if they knew you were timing our bathroom breaks!”

    (Funnily enough, no one else had brought this up, and when the suggestion got around to the other female staff, they backed me up. The policy was dropped by the end of the week. It turned out they were trying to prevent people using their smart devices in the bathrooms, which was fair, but why not just say so?)

    The Post Snail-Mail Generation

    , | CA, USA | Employees, Technology

    (I work in a call center at a help desk for a bank, assisting representatives with problems and doing research. Often we get asked how systems work or how to find something. I’m in Colorado; the person calling is in California.)

    Me: “Thank you for calling [Company] help desk. This is [My Name]. How can I help today?”

    Teller: “I’m trying to write a letter in Google but it’s not letting me.”

    Me: “What do you mean, you’re trying to write a letter in Google?”

    Teller: “I’m trying to write a letter to go with a check we’re returning to the client, but Google won’t let me do it.”

    Me: “You need to use a word processor, not Google.”

    Teller: “But I can type. Why won’t it let me write a letter?”

    Me: “Let me just write that letter for you.”

    Teller: “Then how will I get it? Will you drop it on my desk?”

    Me: “I can email it to you.”

    Teller: “Then how will the client get it?”

    Me: “You can print it off and mail it to them with the check.”

    Teller: “How do I mail a letter?”

    (It just kept going like this for 10 minutes. Sadly, this is not the first or last time I’ve had to explain how to mail a letter.)

    Learning A New Home Truth

    | Perth, WA, Australia | Bad Behavior, Bosses & Owners

    (My boss is notorious for giving conflicting information and changing her mind about things. It drives us all mad as we can’t figure out which way she’ll jump next. This client has called in at 4:55 pm and has been very argumentative, eventually asking for a manager.)

    Me: “[Boss], this guy needs to speak to a manager. Can you take it?”

    Boss: “No, it’s too late. Tell him I will call him back tomorrow.”

    Me: “Okay.” *back to customer* “I’m sorry, the boss has gone home already. Can I get her to call you back tomorrow?”

    (The guy is fine with this. We make a joke about it and he leaves a little happier than when he was complaining. However, the next day I get a very long email about how it was inappropriate for me to say that she had gone home and that it made her look unprofessional, etc. Fast forward three months later…)

    Me: “[Boss], I’ve got a client demanding to speak to a manager.”

    Boss: “Tell him I’ve gone home and I’ll call him back tomorrow.”

    Me: “…”

    (I think I need a new job!)

    Very Hard Drive

    , | Lexington, KY, USA | Coworkers, Rude & Risque, Technology

    (I worked the support line for a large PC company. One night a woman calls in who has the breathiest, sexiest voice I’d ever heard and she is relaying my instructions to her boyfriend. I mute my phone and grab my friend.)

    Me: “[Coworker]! I need your help!”

    (Coworker plugs her headset into my phone.)

    Me: *unmuting* “Okay, ma’am, let’s boot into safe mode and see where the problem is. Press F9 over and over as fast as you can.”

    Customer: *to her boyfriend* “Ohhhh, baby, you gotta go faster! Hit it faster, baby! FASTER!”

    (Coworker’s eyes go wide and stifles a giggle.)

    Coworker: “Holy s****, [My Name], what did you drag me into?”

    Me: “Are you kidding? When I tell this story later no one would believe it if I didn’t have a witness.”

    (Coworker started to protest but stopped and gave the ‘good point’ acceptance nod. Sure enough for the rest of the night our whole floor went to her to confirm my ‘porncall’ story wasn’t made up.)


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