Bitch-Slapping with the Invisible Hand
December 7, 2005 8:38 AM   Subscribe

Zombied-out customer-service reps beware: the Consumerist, the newest edition to Nick Denton's Gawker "nanopublishing" empire, is watching you. Gizmodo's Joel Johnson (who recently spent a month in New Orleans) serves up sassy shopping tips and customer-service-tests-from-Hell. More hip-product-pr0n-with-an-attitude, just in time for Christmas the happy holidaysTM.
posted by digaman (18 comments total)
edition != addition
posted by quonsar at 9:26 AM on December 7, 2005

An interesting read, but it looks like Denton is now saving money by hiring angsty goth teenagers to do site design.
posted by killdevil at 9:40 AM on December 7, 2005

"My dog's ancestors cry out for appeasement."

I like it. That's got a lot more class than calling the last telemarketer who contacted me, "Spawn of Satan." I gotta remember that one.
posted by leftcoastbob at 9:47 AM on December 7, 2005


There isn't even a designer listed in the credits, but you can definitely tell Gawker Media's no longer using House of Pretty for their designs.
posted by whatnot at 9:53 AM on December 7, 2005

quonsar, indeed! And FPP misspellings are a pet peeve of mine. So sorry.
posted by digaman at 9:55 AM on December 7, 2005

Wow, the CSR stress test is an incredibly stupid article.

It's lacking an explanation of how call centers work. "AOL’s dial-up customer service department" is a misnomer, because in all likelyhood AOL doesn't have a dialup customer service department. It's called outsourcing, folks, and the poor bastard talking to AOL subscribers is probably making little more than minimum wage. He's probably got a 'performance plan' that requires him to attempt to convince people not to cancel.

If you want to whine about how customer service at many Fortune 500 companies is crap, take it up with the corporate brass, don't shoot the miserable underpaid wretches toiling away in cubicle farms. Nobody ever said, "Gosh, I want to work in a call center when I grow up!" People should realize that when you work in a call center, you're competing against people on the other side of the world who work for pennies, and you're paid and treated accordingly.
posted by mullingitover at 10:09 AM on December 7, 2005

It led me to this article showing the dubious origins of Cyber Monday, which I had been a bit skeptical about. So that was nice.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:18 AM on December 7, 2005

I went to the site and was confronted by a "bait and switch" story. I'm always turned off whenever someone claims something is "bait and switch" ever since someone accused me and the store I was working for of doing it.

When I worked at this one very large red retail chain we had a crappy pentax camera on sale for a really low price. Unfortunately, as tends to happen with sale items, we sold out very quickly. A customer came in and demanded the floor model. I refused to sell it to him, as per store policy (and trust me 95% of the time, you do not want the floor model, as employees occassionally use them to practice juggling, which we're not very good at). I offered him a raincheck or to check another store. He accused us of "bait and switch." Which, considering that we were willing to get him the item was not a valid claim.

I'm glad I work for a place that doesn't have weekly ads anymore.
posted by drezdn at 10:30 AM on December 7, 2005

I'm with mullingitover re: the CSR stress test. I have trouble seeing the point of harassing a CSR peon who is just trying to make a living doing a crappy job.

Of course some CSRs are bad employees who give bad service because they just don't care, and some probably enjoy wielding what puny power they have to make or break a customer's request. But I'd imagine that all this kind of stunt does is reaffirm these attitudes.
posted by tentacle at 1:10 PM on December 7, 2005

Few people understand just exactly how crappy CSR jobs are. AOL must be one of the worst contracts to work on, especially when it comes to cancellations. Typically subscription-based companies will require their CSRs to follow a scripted process of attempting to 'save' the customer, that is, prevent them from canceling. Failing to 'save' enough customers gets you a chat with a supervisor/sales coach about your poor performance. It's stressful trying to convince people to continue to pay for something they explicitly state they don't want, and more stressful if you you fail to do this and have to have a chat with your manager. As an added bonus, you get to work in a massive cubicle farm with similarly demoralized and/or psychotic colleagues. All this fun for wages that are less than you'd get delivering pizza.

Somebody needs to make a movie about this. It would put Office Space to shame.
posted by mullingitover at 1:21 PM on December 7, 2005

Mullingitover, the screenplay has already been written.
posted by dobie at 1:38 PM on December 7, 2005

Joel's comments on our comments: "Besides, if someone posted to Metafilter that I had put butter on my toast, fifty of the hundred comments would be deriding my choice to empower the baking hegemony, forty-nine would detail the history of dairy products as a tool to enforce Christian morality in the face of encroaching Manichean gnosticism, and one would say the poster liked butter, too, but he wouldn't mean it."

Oh, snap!
posted by mullingitover at 1:47 PM on December 7, 2005

Not bad for an arch impromptu précis.
posted by digaman at 1:57 PM on December 7, 2005

Joel is encouraging people to harass call center employees? At Christmas. Because customers are all wondrous, literate, coherent beings who have a few organized brain cells? Hah! What a cunt. I've never had to work a job like that, but I have every sympathy.
posted by zarah at 2:06 PM on December 7, 2005

I like butter, too.
posted by graventy at 5:03 PM on December 7, 2005

A MeFite just mailed me a link to this, which appears to be the blog of a former CSR staffer.
posted by digaman at 5:10 PM on December 7, 2005

I know alot of people that do or have worked at AOLs call center in Albuquerque doing saves and tech support. They were all good people, though some of the people working tech support had barely touched a computer prior to their job there. It's mostly simple flowchart following. The saves people always seemed really proud about keeping people with AOL.
posted by The Cardinal at 7:27 PM on December 7, 2005

What if the long customer service wait times are caused by all the prank callers?
posted by drezdn at 8:16 AM on December 8, 2005

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