By Aislinn De'Ath

By Aislinn De'Ath
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Saturday, 30 November 2013

Oh hi, I'm calling from....

Reader, as you will probably know, I used to work in a callcentre (pretty standard practice for an actor starting out in the world). In fact, I worked at two! One was a charity callcentre who basically call the people who get stopped in the street by enthusiastic people in hoodies, the other sold various things, from wine to fruit and veg to magazines.

So, working in a callcentre isn't exactly the nicest job in the world. In fact, it sucks some serious ass. Because you're basically only as good as your last day's sales and if you don't make your target, you get either fired or have a patronising talk from your manager that makes you feel like a total loser as they explain things to you that you already knew. You also have to talk to lots of idiots on the phone, who assume that because you work in a callcentre, you must a) be from another country b) have an IQ of 4 c) have stolen their number out of the yellow pages d) be trying to scam them in one way or another. You work in an ugly building, with little motivation apart from your commission (interesting fact-money alone is not enough to motivate you. Even after record breaking sales, you still want to lay down on the floor and never get up again), and with an 8 hour working day of staring at a screen wearing a very uncomfortable headset, you get bored, develop awful headaches and get ill a lot more often.

But what actually happens on the other end when you pick up the phone to someone at a callcentre? Well, I am here to tell you all the things that you never actually find out...


  • If you're really really lovely to us, we will do EVERYTHING in our power to chuck in a freebie. We will let you know about the best offers we have, the cheapest ways to get them and be sweetness and light to you. If you treat us like dirt, we won't tell you about the free offer we have on.
  • Asking us to waive the delivery fee won't happen. With the majority of sales companies, delivery is outsourced, so we have no control over it. Most of the time, our managers have told us not even to bother asking on your behalf.
  • We rarely have contact with the company we sell for. Callcentres are not run by that particular company, we are hired by someone else entirely. If the company we sell the product of is really nice to us and likes to teach us about the product, give us paid training days and free samples, we will sell for them as much as we can and have drive and passion. If they just allow the management to deal with us, the motivation of the team is dreadful.
  • Leading on from the last point, one of our few points of contact with the company we sell for is to pass on feedback. If you have an awful horror story and tell it to us nicely, explaining that you know it's not our personal responsibility but let us know that you just want to pass it on, we will not only try and fix the issue for you, but we will fight your corner in a detailed email to the company. We also pass on nice feedback. Which we rarely get.
  • You are probably the 150th phone call we've had that day. If you're going to say no, please just say no. And say 'Please take me off the call list' nicely if you don't want someone to call you back. It makes our lives so much easier.
  • When you're rude to us, we mute ourselves and take the piss out of you.
  • Sometimes, even though it's against the rules, we do accents on the phones.
  • If something is really really cheap, then there will be a catch. If you buy a half price case of wine, there will be a full price box coming every month thereafter. However, you can get around that by ordering just the first one and then cancelling the plan as soon as it arrives. Just don't tell the operator you'll do that, otherwise they won't be allowed to sell you the wine (calls are listened into and recorded, so they could get fired if they do)
  • As I have previously said, the callcentre worker IS NOT the company. Which means if you shout at us, you're not actually doing a great deal of good, you're just making someone's day hell. If you really want results, play nice.
  • At least one person on the floor cries. Every day. At work.
  • The pay is pretty much awful. Everyone is on a zero hour contract, which means that 'holiday pay' is built into your pay schedule. Which means that including that, you only just scrape minimum wage. Which is not living wage. And you don't get paid for sick days. 
  • Someone sound really fit on the phone? They're probably not doing it for your benefit. They're likely flirting with the manager they fancy who's sitting next to them.
  • Callcentres are rampant for inter office romance/sex
  • If you are really stupid on the phone, sometimes we record you and play it back to all our friends.
  • If you are a wanker to us and ask us to take you off the call list in a mean way, we will reschedule your calls for once a week. Yeah. Exactly. 
  • When we talk about 'our kids' or 'my husband' we are usually lying to get the sale
  • Ditto when we laugh uproariously at your joke of 'it's on sale? Ooh is it free?' We've heard that 4 times today. SO FUNNY. Not.
  • We regularly call people who have just died and then have very awkward conversations with their families. When I was selling wine, I once called 9 dead people in one day whilst doing a reactivation drive.
  • Callcentre workers leave notes about you on the system. These can range from 'Really nice lady, big fan of our organic milk!' to 'Total twat with a small penis. Do not call'.
  • When you say 'Fucking callcentre people again' under your breath as you answer, we can hear you.
  • We also just overheard you tell your housemate to tell us you aren't in.
  • And your kid telling you that they just pooed in the bath.
  • We will talk about you over lunch if you say something really thick. Like calling spanish wine 'ree-o-ja'. It is pronounced 'Ree-o-ka'. Idiot.
  • If you're a guy and call us girls gorgeous, babe, darling, sweetie, dear or beautiful, we will be swearing furiously at you with our hands throughout the whole conversation. Even if we sound nice as pie.
  • No, we are not scamming you, you signed up with our company. You get a brochure from us every month. I can tell you what you last drank from us. I can tell you how many crates you've had for us. No you can't pay bloody cash.
  • When you ask to get put through to a manager, you're quite often being put through to our friend who sounds older than us. Or to a callcentre manager. Who doesn't know that much more than us about the product. And who still won't be able to waive the delivery fee.
  • If you hang up on us, you will just get called back. Again and again. Automatically. The people who phone you have to assume that it was a technical fault even if you think you made it obvious. Unless we hear the words 'please take me off the contact list' we cannot stop calling. 
  • Sound scripted? It probably is. New recruits work off a rigid script.
  • Yeah, we have tried the product. But we're not experts. Much like how Asda till workers probably don't know everything in stock.
And that's it for now! So be nice to the people who phone you up trying to sell stuff. And if you're going to say no, do it fast, do it kindly. I've probably worked with them in the past!
Tarrah Reader!

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