I had customer phoning today in a right panic. He asked me to put him through to customer service. When I asked what it concerned he said “drilling”. Well our customer service certainly don’t deal with drilling.

I asked the person for more details to which he explained, in a panic, that he needed customer service about the drilling in the water supply. I asked if it was to do with a claim, thinking it could be a repair he was talking about. The poor guy was in such a panic that he was breathless and incoherent.

After much questioning he eventually explained that he had seen a TV program about some company in the US drilling into the water supply pipe and mixing the water with gas. According to him the program stated that when a householder turned on the tap water and gas were pouring out togeth, the gas then catching fire.

“Haven’t you seen it?” he paniced. “You can probably get it on catch up. You must watch it.”

Well, I took a look on the internet. That source of all knowledge told me that unscrupolous companies in the US were drilling for natural gas in a way that was polluting water and the environment. That doesn’t mean that it is happening in the UK. In fact the US is one of the biggest polluters in the world so it is not surprising that their own companies are poisoning them. Besides the environmental agencies in the regions affected are putting safeguards in place. And I can’t see American citizens being happy about a polluted water supply.

I’m pretty sure if it happened in the UK the local population would be in an uproar, and would force closure until safeguards are put in place.

That said, why ring me? I work for an insurance company not a natural gas drilling company. I work full time so don’t get chance to watch TV programs during the day. If I was on the dole I probably would be watching TV as there wouldn’t be anything else to do.

Why didn’t this guy do a bit of research himself?. Why start to panic over scare mongering tactics that are so popular by the media? We all know they do it. This is yet another case of someone not looking things up for themselves and allowing the media to tell them what to believe.


Crap Day

I had a few unnecessary calls today. People telling me they had insurance with other companies and asking me what they were covered for. How the hell do I know? ‘Ring the other company’ I politely suggested. Yes, I was polite. It is very difficult at times.

Well, I guess that some people think that we are the fountain of knowledge and know everything about every body else, even what insurance policies random people in the street happen to have with other companies.

I wonder if the other companies were 0845 numbers? Ours is a free phone number. I suppose these people thought it best to ring an 0800 number and harass us about their other-company insurance policies. Maybe they frequently have other-worldly experiences. There’s obviously something wrong.

Next time I buy a top from Debenhams I’ll take it into M&S to return or ask questions about it. I pass M&S on my way to work. So it will be easier. I’m sure they’ll help, being the company that didn’t sell it to me.

Okay. Enough of the sarcasm. I wonder what type of calls the 118 services get? That would be interesting. But then there is a charge to call them. That would filter some of the more lazy peple out. There will still be those that don’t realise they’re being charged.

If you’re on Cable do you ring Sky? Would you ring Virgin to see what service you have on Sky? Those of us with intelligence would say no, we would ring the company we have the service with. Unfortunately some people don’t think like this.

Events Today

I’m now ranked 7th in the call centre. So that’s definitely improved. Apparently in some conversion areas I’m working at over 200%. That was good news in a day where no sales were happening at all!

I don’t know what the problem was today, but the customers were usually moaning about something. Very few of them were pleasant, and the ones that were nice I couldn’t understand. Took me 5 minutes to understand the postcode one guy was giving me. He had a very strong Scottish brogue. I must have sounded a real idiot asking him to repeat it so often.

I set up a new sale for a customer and asked if she wanted to pay it monthly, quarterly or annually. ‘Yes’, she said. The same customer asked me about cancellation so I gave her the details including the bit about a pro rata refund if she cancelled during the year. ‘How much will that be?’ She asked me. I explained that I couldn’t say as I didn’t know if she would be cancelling or when. ‘Oh. You don’t know.’ She sarcastically replied. Maybe I should have given her the pro rata refund month by month over a 12 month period!

This crap sums up the day completely!


We are based in the UK with a primarily British workforce, which is spread across different cultures and religions. There are also a small number of Europeans, Africans, Americans, and other nationalities, many of whom are students, or are in the UK because of their partners’ work. They all speak impeccable English – they have to as they are dealing with British customers.

Occasionally we get the ignorant prejudiced twat calling in and having a go at us for being in India. We’re not in India. We’re in the UK. We also have the occasional male bigot who does not want to speak to a female agent – tough it’s the 21st century and 50% of the workforce is female. Get over it. We also get people having a moan and venting their spleen about various situations in the country. This often includes relating to us their thoughts on various cultures or religious communities. The world at large is multi-cultural – be realistic. Do you go abroad? Do you still have a go about other people while you’re abroad?

These people can’t see us. They don’t know what the colour of our skin is, or what religion we happen to follow. They don’t know if we were born in the UK or elsewhere. Unless they get through to someone who obviously has a non-UK accent! I’ve spoken to people who often begin to relate their religious beliefs to me. One customer asked if I would like some information sent. I don’t discuss my religion with customers – it’s my business.

Quite a few of my colleagues have spoken to customers who have been openly prejudiced about people of other colours. Often they have been speaking to black or Asian agents and have not even realised it. These agents have had the grace to remain positive and polite on the phone to these people, when they are in their rights to refuse the call and to cut them off.

As agents we are doing a job and trying to help the people phoning in. Sometimes these people make life very hard. Yes, I have cut people off for being rude or prejudiced. I have even cut people off when they are sniffing down the phone and can’t be bothered to blow their nose before they phone in. I don’t need to listen to the crap. Whatever thoughts or beliefs people have, they should keep them to themselves when dealing with companies.

Stupid Questions Deserve A Stupid Answer

I changed some details on a policy today and offered to reprint the documents for the customer, so that she had confirmation that I had made the change as requested. This question is usually met with either a ‘yes, I’d like confirmation’, or ‘no, my old documents are ok’. Today I was met with a different reply.

‘Oh. Are you going to send the documents to me?’ asked the customer.

I gave a polite answer. Not the one that was running through my mind…

We always print documents and leave them stacked on the printer without sending them out. In fact there are ceiling high piles of documents. We just print them for the hell of it. Yes, we just print documents whenever we want. The room is full of policy documents that we’ve printed. Why should we post them? Don’t be silly. We love the smell of the ink and the sound of the printer. We love being pushed up the wall because there’s no room. It’s like being in heaven…

What Phone Number Did You Call Us On?

I’ve been getting a number of calls from people who should be going through to another department. Because of this I’ve been asking people what number they called us on to find out if they have the incorrect details, or if they can’t be bothered to press the correct option on the phone. One such call yesterday had me ripping my hair out – metaphorically speaking that is.

‘What number did you call us on?’ I asked the customer, who then related her own phone number to me. I asked again in a different way. ‘Which number did you use to phone us?’ She again gave her own number. I asked again in different way, to which she said that she had phoned up last week from her work which was … number. This went on for several minutes, until eventually the penny dropped and I got the answer I was after.

This is not an unusual occurence. We have to ask for the customer’s phone number as part of the security check when they call. The simple question of, ‘Can I take your phone number please?’ is often met with the question, ‘Do you want mine or yours?’

It seems to be getting a lot harder for people to understand a very simple question. There could be a lot of reasons for this, but I put it down to the fact that people aren’t taught to think for themselves. It’s a lot easier to let someone esle do the thinking for them. It often comes from childhood where parents don’t encourage kids to think for themselves because it’s easier to tell them what to do and keep them quiet. The same goes for schools. Kids are told what to do from the moment they are born. They are then expected to obey their parents, school, religion, cultural heritage, etc. This is not healthy for them or the world we live in. We are living in a world that is becoming populated by the brainwashed.

Do You Know Your Address?

We have to ask for address details to find the policy for a customer or to set up a new policy. You would think that this would be obvious. Not to some of our customers, however.

On asking for the full address we do get some of the more educated people giving us the full details. We also get some people who give us anything but. How about…

1) It’s number 1.
(Where would that be I wonder?)

2) It’s number 1 the street.
(Ok there’s a bit more information here but still not enough.)

3) The Street, Nottingham.
(Wow! I have a town name. I’m still none the wiser as to where the customer lives.)

4) W14 6QQ.
(Wonder how many properties are in that area. At least it narrows it down to a few thousand and not a few million.)

5) 1 The Street, London.
(I asked for the full address. As far as I remember the address includes a postcode.)

6) Can’t remember. I have several properties.
(I’m not a mind reader.)

It’s a sad fact that there are people going missing all the time. Is one of the reasons because they can’t remember their address? Surely this is something we should all know. It’s something that we should be teaching our children. They need to know where they live.

I can’t even say that it’s something relative to certain sectors of the population, as it seems to spread across class, culture, age, sex. I do feel, however, that the education system could be a lot better. Over the last few decades I personally think it has been downgraded due to the amount of non-English speaking pupils attending school. Other people may disagree with this.


I found out yesterday that I’m ranked 12th in the call centre, out of about 300+ people. I was quite proud of that. One of my team mates was at number 1, and most of us are in the top 60. It’s based on a few different things, not just sales and conversion, but also on quality and adherence.

There are about 20 teams of 12 agents each on our floor, and my team as a whole are the best of the bunch. I think we should feel really proud of that.

The only problem is that this ranking will change every day. We don’t know what type of calls we’re going to get, or whether we’re going to make any sales or not. So today I could be at number 1 – or at number 300!

New Boiler

My new boiler is now installed. I don’t need to use the electric shower now I can have a nice soak in the bath. The only problem – it’s too bloody hot to have a bath! I’m not complaining about the heat – I love it. I just hope it’s lasts longer than 2 weeks. I can use the shower indefinitely while the weather is nice. I don’t mind. As long as the rads are working for xmas. That’s all I’m bothered about.

Admin at the Call Centre

I paid a visit to our admin department today. This is a very rare occurance. It was done to try and improve communication between departments. What an eye opener it was too…

In the call centre we often view admin as a basic department where application forms are processed and cheques banked. It was nice to see that there is a lot more to it than just the mundane.

The staff start the day early at 7am. The mail arrives in crates around 7.30am. About 4000 mailings on average are handled each day, by approximately 60 staff. The mail is first scanned or x-rayed to make sure it’s not something we don’t want to be receiving. It’s then placed on one of three machines to be opened and sorted.

Every piece of mail is scanned and logged on to the system with the customer details. The program scans about 40 items in 20 seconds. The scanner is also used to verify the information, and it logs cheque numbers and amounts automatically on to a spread sheet. Not bad for a piece of technology!

In the call centre we are frequently heard commenting on some of the strange and wonderful calls we have. I have even made mention of some of them on my blog. It was interesting to find that our admin department have their fare share of strange and wonderful mail, only it seems a little more sinister.

Metal can tops have been posted to us – obviously in the hope that someone is going to cut themselves. They even had a house brick sent in because the sender knew that we had to pay postage. Mail being mixed up is a big problem too, as they are frequently sending mail back to the post office, meant for local hospitals! Then there are the suspect packages…

They’ve had to call in the bomb squad a few times. Luckily we haven’t received any real bombs, but our admin department have had training on what to look out for. Aparently bombs can now be found in birthday cards – the musical apparatus; A bottle of nail varnish – as you unscrew the top it explodes into small shards of debris; Parcels – anything from timed bombs to nail bombs.

Admin also received a package of white powder a few years ago. This resulted in a panic over anthrax. Admin were put on a lock down. They weren’t allowed to leave the office until they were decontaminated by a small army of people in what looked like plastic space suits.

I went back to my own department thinking how dangerous admin work is.

Margaret Road Wednesbury WS10 7QT 07505067286 By appointment only, so please contact me to discuss available times.