This is not going to end how you think. Really.
I don’t have anger issues, really. I am very laid-back, happy and deferential when it comes to 99% of my interactions with people. That last 1% however can screw up and put a negative spin on the rest of my day.
I have been on “that side” of the phone, as a CSR (Customer Service Representative) and help desk. I always tried to be helpful and giving of information and resources. It seemed to me that giving the information would improve the customers’ experience. Some help desk/CSR banks though have intentionally gone the other way. This department of this company seems to ascribe to the “Piss them off so they won’t bother us” school of thought.
My work history has been unsteady lately. Out of the past 31 months, I have been unemployed 14 months and underemployed (30% base pay cut compared to the 5 year job plus no benefits) 17 months. When I got the underemployed job, I worked with the bank that holds my car note to fold the three payments I was behind into the end of my loan. The lady I worked with was sweet, kind, attentive and caring. Six months ago, I had to file for bankruptcy because my expenses were more than my income. Being severely underemployed will do that to you. Due to various delays I have not fully discharged the bankruptcy yet.
I covered all of that so you have the context of my call transcript below. I am now (again) three car payments behind. So I called the bank again and was routed without choice to the bankruptcy department because I am still in Bankruptcy.
Me: Hello, I am calling because I am three payments behind on my car and I need to speak with someone about what I can do to roll those payments onto the end of my loan.
CSR: We don’t do that here.
Me: I did this exact thing back in December 2014. What do you mean ‘we don’t do that here’?
CSR: We don’t do that here.
Me: Okay, what you're saying is the Bankruptcy department can’t do that, I understand. Who would I have to talk with to make this happen?
CSR: We don’t do that here.
Me: [Looking for my ball-peen hammer]
Me: […pauses to keep from shouting…]
Me: Could you please volunteer some information so I don’t have to be extremely pedantic and exacting in my questions in order to try and gain some information you have that could solve my issue???
CSR: You have to reaffirm your debt to get it out of this department.
Me: [Found the ball-peen hammer, debating to use it on the phone or my head]
Me: […pauses some more to keep from shouting…]
Me: IF YOU INSIST THAT I MUST BEG AND GROVEL FOR EVERY LITTLE PIECE OF INFORMATION FROM YOU, how in the hell do I reaffirm the debt?
CSR: Your lawyer must fill out and return the appropriate paperwork to us.
Me: [Sarcastically] THANK YOU. I just want to tell you that you could have prevented the last five minutes of my life from being excruciatingly painful merely by being slightly forthcoming in the information. If you had said the first time you opened your mouth, ‘We can’t do payment rollovers in this department. The loan has to be transferred out after you reaffirm the debt.’ I would have been understanding instead of aggravated.
Me: Now that we got that out of the way, is there a way you could inform me if you are about to take my car for non-payment?
Me: [Puts hammer down. Looks for a power drill with a paddle bit to drill on myself]
Me: “Bye.” [Hangs up]
At that point in time I was aggravated to the point I was going to call into question in a very detailed and graphic manner the genetic relations of her prior three generations and use very impolite language. Normally I would do this and use language suitable at a ladies afternoon cotillion but I was rushed and not in the right frame of mind.
I didn't, because at the last second before I opened my mouth I realized she could have been under orders to not be helpful (yes, there are help desks that do that). Maybe she had a bad day herself and my yelling at her and belittling her more than I did wasn't going to improve the attitude of either one of us.
I learned a while back that in any interaction I have with another person I should always ASSUME GOOD INTENTIONS. This means that I should never think the other person is intentionally trying to ruin my day. That does not preclude that they might be a mean person, however you should always assume that the other person is fighting a battle you will never learn about. This bad news will affect how they interact with others, but you should never let their attitude spread to you then you take that and hurt others.
I illustrate this point using a story from Stephen Covey:
Stephen was coming home on the subway, trying to unwind after a stressful day. At one stop a man gets on with several children. The man seemed unconcerned that his children were running up and down the car, screaming, fighting with each other and being very unruly. Stephen walked over to to the man to tell him to control his children, but at the last second something in the mans demeanor gave him pause. Instead, Stephen sat down next to the man and asked, "What happened?"
The man replied that he and his children were heading home from the hospital, where his wife and the children's mother had just died a few minutes ago. Stephen's attitude changed 180 degrees from "yell at him for not controlling his children" to "How can I help?"
I apologize to the lady I spoke with. It was my failure of control that caused me to be upset and yell at her. I try to leave every person I encounter better than how I found them. I failed with you.