The Shittiest Watercooler/Campfire/TED Stage Ever

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Defenestration
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The Shittiest Watercooler/Campfire/TED Stage Ever

Postby Defenestration » Sat Aug 25, 2018 4:46 am

So, I realized today that my NDA from my dumbest job has long since expired, and boy oh boy do I have some stories that would be fun to share openly. It occurred to me that there are other people that have such things, so here we are in a thread for only your best/worst/most fucked up stories.

The job I had before my current was what I always summed up as "Playstation Network Administrator." It's not entirely accurate, as I was contracted to do work for SCEA through a third party phone based customer service company. Our company organized it with "Tier One" being the base level tech support drones that took in all incoming calls to the Playstation Tech Support phone line, "Tier Two" being light back office work and escalation handling, and "Tier Three" being an offsite, direct corporate employee based contact line filled with a small number of (generally unhelpful) people that we all knew by name working directly out of the San Mateo HQ (for just in case).
Tier One and Two were thus the only ones at our job site, with Tier One having a number that hovered between 200 and 350 members depending on the time of year, and roughly twenty people in Tier Two.

I worked in Tier Two. In many ways, it was the best job I ever had. All my co-workers save three were great, we had our own cave in smallish loft on the second floor where nobody else was (our official team name was "The Olympians" so we jokingly called being promoted "ascending"), three Playstation 3s and two Playstation 4s, and enough downtimes that we commonly either watched, participated in, or talked trash about how bad the person was at playing video games.

My actual job duties consisted of processing (probably denying) refunds, banning accounts, other light administrative account work, and taking calls to help Tier One agents know how to do their job or take calls that they couldn't. That last bit was either due to processes that they couldn't... or all too commonly, customers that escalate (AKA: Let me talk to your supervisor!)

But I'm not a supervisor you say. You're right, I'm not. Escalations were so goddamn common on the SCEA line, we were implemented partially to make sure that our middle management would have time to do their actual jobs. Turns out that gamers are entitled pieces of shit, who knew? That being said, if they escalate again it would go to an actual supervisor that generally was less knowledgeable and able to help than we were.
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Anyway, that was my job, and onto my first story. You might remember the bit about New York state's Operation: Game Over right? Well, the biggest wave of that processing was before my time, but I got to talk to a few of these gems. The few times I did get one, I made sure not to judge. I mean, you can be labeled a sex offender in New York for being 18 and caught with your age 17 girlfriend or pissing in public. But one fella stood out.

<scumbag> What the fuck do you mean there's no way around it and you'll ban me again if I reregister! I'm going to XBox!
<me> Probably not, sir. This is a state law thing. They'll have you on a list too. Same for Steam and Games for Windows Live, I imagine.
<scumbag> What the fuck! This is horseshit! Who came up with this shit!
<me> Yeah, sorry. If you Google "Operation: Game Over" you'll see what I mean.
<scumbag> You think I have a computer? What the hell is that supposed to mean?" (Not having a PC or smart phone was disturbingly common for people that call in)
<me> It's a bit of legislation in New York that requires all registered sex offenders be barred from online gaming services so they won't talk to kids.
<scumbag> WHAT? I almost never seen any goddamn kids online!
<me> Yeah, my hands are kind of tied though.
<scumbag> This makes no fucking sense! Just because I diddled my six year old sister, I never get to play video games again?!
<me> ...
<scumbag> HELLO?
<me> Yeah, no. That's *exactly* why you don't get to play video games ever again. Thank you for calling SCEA Tech Support.
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Re: The Shittiest Watercooler/Campfire/TED Stage Ever

Postby Newbie » Sat Aug 25, 2018 9:53 am

Daaaaamn. Yeah, I'm not gonna top that one anytime soon. All my stories amount to how truly marginal were the benefits for "post-2008 loan refinancing made possible by bailouts"/Medicare Advantage plans.
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Re: The Shittiest Watercooler/Campfire/TED Stage Ever

Postby Silversong » Sun Aug 26, 2018 5:52 pm

My most ridiculous work experiences came from my five years at GameStop. I had great bosses and co workers, but I worked in a mall store and got that kind of customer base.

The best/worst one was the time I was minding my own business stocking GBA games, when this dudebro strolled in. He slowly lowered his mirror shades and stared over them at me. "You work here? Do you play games, too?"

I can't remember how I replied, but when he left the store he gave me his number. The manager on duty asked to see it a minute. When I handed over the slip of paper, he immediately pulled out a lighter and set it on fire.

I said I had great bosses.

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Re: The Shittiest Watercooler/Campfire/TED Stage Ever

Postby Mongrel » Sun Aug 26, 2018 5:56 pm

Silversong wrote:He slowly lowered his mirror shades and stared over them at me.

oh my god

how is it humanly possible for people to actually be this clueless in real life without just dropping dead on the spot from terminal dumb
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Re: The Shittiest Watercooler/Campfire/TED Stage Ever

Postby nosimpleway » Sun Aug 26, 2018 6:59 pm

"Hey, this is vegan cheese sauce. It's not made with cheese, it's got... uh, tree nuts."
"Think it's cashews like you're allergic to?"
"One way to find out."

I read this transcript in the complaint report after one of the resident assistants found this idiot puking his guts out in one of the bathrooms an hour later.

Yes, it was cashews.

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Defenestration
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Re: The Shittiest Watercooler/Campfire/TED Stage Ever

Postby Defenestration » Tue Aug 28, 2018 1:29 pm

This particular one is from before I "ascended" myself, and was still a Tier One agent. In fact, it was in the first two months that I worked there.

<me> So from what you said I understand your PS3 stopped working for some reason, tell me more about it. (This was a ploy to keep her droning on for a bit to prevent dead air so I could input data into the tools I was using)
<crazy> Okay so, I for my 11 year old son's birthday I got him a PS3 because he asked.
<me> okay
<crazy> He wanted some sort of horrific war game, but we got him LittleBigPlanet and that Gran Turismo racing thing and a baseball game instead...
<me> uh huh (clearly paying half attention while I do the data entry part of my job)
<crazy> And we were all very satisfied with it. It worked wonderfully for about a month or two...
<me> alright
<crazy> and I have to say that we only had a problem with it, that is, when the red light stopped coming on, after I baptized it.
<me> (full attention) Wait, stop, back up a moment.

It turns out that when she started paying closer attention to the console, she grew more concerned over time about what was doing. Specifically, how it grew warm during extended operation and tended to let out an "ominious" humming sound. Naturally, this probably meant that it was possessed. She described how she filled a bathtub, said the Lord's Prayer over it to bless it, and then baptized the console.

She offered up a fair amount of detail without any prodding from me. When she finished I left a bit of silence on the line. Not that I didn't want to get more details. I was just completely gobstruck. She probably sensed something was off.

<crazy> Did I do something wrong?
<me> (half whisper without thinking) You destroyed it...
<crazy> (shocked) What? But how? Holy water isn't supposed to harm anything unless it's...
<me> Waitwaitwaitnonono, there's a rational explanation. Water is a partial conductor so if you drench the board in it, it will fry the... (shocked into lucidity, I grew up with enough religious crazy to know what was coming)
<crazy> that made it STOP WORKING? what do you PUT INTO THESE MACHINES? AND SELL THEM TO CHILDREN?!?!?!

There was no de-escalation possible on that one. The greatest dismount in the world would still leave that bronco bucking. She escalated twice. I saw the coach that got it on the Tier 1 floor talk to her for 45 minutes, before eventually just hanging up mid-sentence in frustration.
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Re: The Shittiest Watercooler/Campfire/TED Stage Ever

Postby Silversong » Tue Aug 28, 2018 1:38 pm

What the actual fuck. Still staring open-mouthed at your story, Def.

I once had a customer at GameStop freak out and scribble the $6.66 off her receipt, but yours takes the satan-defying cake. (We laughed in her face and she was offended. We couldn't help it.)

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Re: The Shittiest Watercooler/Campfire/TED Stage Ever

Postby Joxam » Tue Aug 28, 2018 2:02 pm

People get crazy about that stuff. I once had a cashier (as a customer) literally input a cash payment of 1 penny (which she paid from the leave a penny cup) so she didn't have to charge me 6.66 for something, not because she was crazy religious but because people had been crazy religious at her so many times that it was just standard operating procedure.
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Re: The Shittiest Watercooler/Campfire/TED Stage Ever

Postby Z%rø » Tue Aug 28, 2018 2:08 pm

For 6 months a few years ago, I worked at M$'s Xbox customer support center in account retention. Mostly I don't recall that whirlwind of bullshit, but this one sticks with me:

There was a time that they systematically removed customer's ability to cancel their subscription through the internet unless it was required by the state. Most people calling would cite "I can get a cheaper prepaid card from Amazon", and then I had the ability to hit them with a number of deal options that were even cheaper than that - provided they kept the automatic renewal on at the end of the call. (They could just call back and turn it off again.) I got a bonus check every month based on the number of them who kept it on after you dealt with them after at least a month. It was basically against policy to set them up on a deal and turn renewal off.

<Nice Old Lady> "I want to buy an xbox live subscription for my grandson, but month to month is so expensive so I need to cancel"
<Me> "If you buy the whole year upfront we can actually offer a discount"
<Nice Old Lady> "That sounds great."
<Me> "Okay, so with this deal, the automatic renewal is on, so you have to call back in like a year-"
<Nice Old Lady> "I don't know if I'll have alive in a year."
<Me> "-Let me turn that off for you"
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Re: The Shittiest Watercooler/Campfire/TED Stage Ever

Postby mharr » Tue Aug 28, 2018 3:14 pm

I can barely fathom living in that kind of society. We did some bullshit getting-to-know-you exercise at my last office job where you post-it a name to someone's back and they play twenty questions. Some wag scribbled 'God' on the line manager, he opened up with "Am I a fictional character" and everyone in the office enthusiastically chorused "Yes!"

Y'all need to come over here for some time off these people.

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Re: The Shittiest Watercooler/Campfire/TED Stage Ever

Postby Mongrel » Tue Aug 28, 2018 3:30 pm

Joxam wrote:People get crazy about that stuff. I once had a cashier (as a customer) literally input a cash payment of 1 penny (which she paid from the leave a penny cup) so she didn't have to charge me 6.66 for something, not because she was crazy religious but because people had been crazy religious at her so many times that it was just standard operating procedure.

I was about to say "Man, I haven't seen those take a penny leave a penny cups in AGES." ...and then I remembered that's because we phased out the penny. DURR HURR I BRAIN REAL GOOD.
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Re: The Shittiest Watercooler/Campfire/TED Stage Ever

Postby Mongrel » Tue Aug 28, 2018 4:26 pm

I have a ton of ridiculous stories from my time at Virgin Mobile - where I worked with Koipond!

There was the time Koipond and I trolled Richard Branson.

Or the huge staff party where the entire company got hammered - which was the night before our literal busiest day ever so most of the workforce was hung over as fuck during that nightmare (great plan there, guys!), which features something like four or five pretty crazy sub-stories. The guest of honour was Ron Jeremy.

Or the day my spice-loving buddy Chris getting a third of the floor staff high on capsicum (funny enough, Chris' real job was being a fortune teller. He who controls the spice...).

Or pretty much ANYTHING my batshit insane Russian buddy Anton did.

Or the time my manager Maria, the senior Care Manager (my last job before I gave up and got myself fired was Warranty Manager), who was blitheringly incompetent (even by "incompetent corporate middle manager" standards), not to mention a huge cunt, being banned from speaking to other departments by the head of IT.

Or the time that Maria sent a good friend of both Koipond and I, a great dude named John who was sort of a Manager Without Portfolio but was the de facto complaints manager* to go talk down a crazy violent customer in the lobby with absolutely zero consideration for his - or anyone's - safety. *(the org chart was a fucking disaster, because they refused to actually title anyone properly so that they could keep underpaying us... nothing new there). John actually would have been a fucking AMAZING senior care manger, but you know, corporations.

I can tell any of those if you like, but my all time favourite is basically the prototypical story of Maria, which showcases her ability to be vindictive, stupid, callous, and petty all at the same time.

====================

So, the call centre wasn't active 24h a day, but it was open for something like 18h a day. All the stations had office chairs of course and since no stations were assigned except for managers or our tier 1 tech support guys (and the latter was only because they were small enough of a team to just work out an arrangement amongst themselves).

After three years of near-constant use by multiple people per day, the office furniture was getting fairly worn out. This was not due to abuse, it was simply the exact normal sort of wear anyone ought to expect when you buy a crapton of cheap junk and then use the shit out of it.

While there were some funnier failures, like chairs falling apart Bluesmobile style while the hapless CSR sitting in it was taking a call, the most common defect was that the foam rubber armrests were loose and/or crumbling. Again, I stress that this was normal wear and tear. Sure a handful of employees would occasionally tear off bits due to being fidgety or just to try and shape the damn things to be more tolerable, but this was not a significant contribution to the condition of the furniture.

Of course no one wants to sit on broke-ass chairs for eight hours of being yelled at, so CSR's started to hoard intact chairs in specific regions of the floor, or hide them wherever they could, which only compounded the problem. Meanwhile there was a pile of broken chair parts in a side room which only grew larger every day.

Naturally, Maria took this deeply personally. She always had a "schoolmarm" management style where she condescended to everyone like they were ten year old kids (when in fact the only way you could get anything through to her was to reverse this and speak to HER like she was ten, a discovery pioneered by John), so this reaction wasn't exactly a surprise, even when several of us more senior types tried to convince her otherwise. In this case, Maria decided that the chairs were being deliberately destroyed and that this was somehow disrespectful to the company and a personal affront to her.

In spite of that, they still had to, you know, buy replacement chairs which weren't tattered piles of broken parts (grumble, grumble. The expense!). So Maria decided to order new chairs without armrests at all, declaring that if you can't treat your armrests right, you won't get any at all. As you might expect this only worsened fighting over the remaining older chairs (as well as turning the whole thing a big running gag among the staff), because I suspect most of you know exactly how ergonomically disastrous it is to work at a desk using a mouse and keyboard for eight hours without armrests.

Anyway, in the middle of all that I finally got myself fired. But about two weeks after I was gone, I got a call from Chris where he could barely contain his laughter.

"Hey Matt, guess what's happening right now?"
"I dunno, what's up?"
"There's a guy going around taking the armrests off all the chairs that still have them."
"What, like a maintenance guy trying to fix the broken ones?"
"No. They're just taking them off and throwing them out even though these ones are still perfectly fine. Maria's paying an outside contractor $80 an hour to go through the office and make sure that none of the chairs on the floor have armrests."

(Managers, of course, got to keep their armrests)

So remember kids, if you don't treat your armrests right, you won't have any at all.
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Re: The Shittiest Watercooler/Campfire/TED Stage Ever

Postby mharr » Tue Aug 28, 2018 5:56 pm

Ugh. Flashbacks to Royal Mail data entry. Their solution to the collapsing cheap-ass office chair paradox was to hire an ergonomics expert to spend a fortnight individually training each individual employee on how to sit in a chair.

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Re: The Shittiest Watercooler/Campfire/TED Stage Ever

Postby Thad » Wed Aug 29, 2018 11:45 pm

mharr wrote:I can barely fathom living in that kind of society. We did some bullshit getting-to-know-you exercise at my last office job where you post-it a name to someone's back and they play twenty questions. Some wag scribbled 'God' on the line manager, he opened up with "Am I a fictional character" and everyone in the office enthusiastically chorused "Yes!"

Y'all need to come over here for some time off these people.


Nine years ago when I signed up for match.com, under "Religion" I put "I'm too old for imaginary friends." I imagine that saved me a lot of first dates with women I would not have been compatible with.

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Re: The Shittiest Watercooler/Campfire/TED Stage Ever

Postby Defenestration » Thu Aug 30, 2018 2:48 pm

You might remember how one of my duties was to process refunds. For a long, long, LONG while, the hard and fast rule was that if the refund request was more than a $150, it was denied. (Note that three new AAA console games are $180.) Also, if any of the games were used long enough to get trophies, they were denied. This was an incredibly common occurrence, and the reason for about 60-70 percent of the escalations Tier Two handled. How, you might ask. The policy stated on the store is that there are *no* refunds under any circumstances, why would you try so much?

Because of shithead children and poor thinking on the part of the parents. Step one: Child wants something on PSN. (Typically a COD Map Pack or season pass, so you know, they can play with their friends.) Step two: Parent enters their credit card into the console due to convenience instead of using a better funding option. Step three: Parent ignores or never sees disclaimers about how your credit card info will be saved, please don't check this box if you want to save your credit card info on the PSN account. Step four: Parent is absolutely, incredibly shocked, when their child figures out that they can go and buy whatever they want.

Mind you, if the account was *actually* stolen or the purchase was done by someone else wherein there was no control over the situation, I would refund it. But it was never the case. It was always a soccer mom pearl clutching with "But *my* little Johnny would never do something like this! It was surely his shady friend I've never met from school! How dare you not process the refund!" This is where I would use the console serial number, the purchase log, and IP addresses, (among many other things) to prove otherwise.

Also, we always point out another recourse; SCEA's official stance on the "over 150" refund deal was to have the customer do a chargeback on the card with the understanding that this will permanently ban the PSN account, or at least as long as it has a negative balance. That way, they can choose whether or the account or the 200 dollars is worth more to them. If people push back,

To be honest, in general I found it hard to have an incredible amount of sympathy. I had some, mind you! I understand that not everyone can be bothered to understand what their kids are doing at all times, much less understand how the console works when they are "not a computer person." But why, WHY would you EVER put your *credit card information* into something that you do not understand?! Also, just how many times you hear it with it being the grand majority of the call intake jades you rather easily.
----------------------------------------------------------

This brings us to our third story. This fellow's child had spent about $3500 on PSN content in about 24 hours. This fellow was an uncommon specimen. He was polite, and very interested in whatever information we gave him. I ended up proving to him that his child did the purchases on his personal console at his IP that he had used for the last 6 months to access the PSN most often, as well as where the original sanctioned purchase dad authorized happened.

He was pleasant, actually. He was all but happy, and indeed eager, to learn about parental control features, ways to limit access to the internet specifically and the console in general that were built in, and completely understood that he'd have to do a chargeback. He joked that it might be a teachable moment. His tone of voice was not unlike the sort of very understanding gentleman that Mr Rogers could have.

<pleasant> Well if that's it! I'd like to thank you for your time, sir. This has been very educational! This will probably even help me think about online purchase for other things!
<me> No problem at all. It was honestly my pleasure. I'm glad to help.
<pleasant> *laughs* Is that so! Well, I must be going. Please have a *blessed* day yourself.

I opened my mouth to do my closing, but never got the chance. I jumped from the sudden slam and enormous clatter that followed it. I heard the same man go through a tone shift as he was clearly walking away from the phone.

<pleasant> HEY! <KIDSNAME>! YOU FUCKING SACK OF SHIT! YOU GET OVER HERE RIGHT NOW! YOU THINK YOU CAN PULL THE WOOL OVER MY EYES?

I assume he slammed the phone down into the cradle so hard that he missed it completely, and as it clattered probably turned on speakerphone. I then was able to hear a 12 year old child get the shit spanked out of him for at least 2 minutes before I closed the call. I was laughing. I mean, kid actually lied and misled the parent before I got there to clear everything up. Shit deserved it.
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mharr
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Re: The Shittiest Watercooler/Campfire/TED Stage Ever

Postby mharr » Thu Aug 30, 2018 3:24 pm

Defenestration wrote:don't check this box if you want to save your credit card info

I mean that kind of setup is why it happens so often. It is shady to not have a "Save this credit card information for repeated use? [Y/N]" pop-up, we know how normal people go tech blind when dealing with these systems. Not to say support wouldn't get just as many calls, just that they'd be from dumber people. (Yay)

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Re: The Shittiest Watercooler/Campfire/TED Stage Ever

Postby Mongrel » Thu Aug 30, 2018 4:59 pm

Tanks is Russian, so I ticked no and then they saved my info anyway. I gave up after that and figured, well, they already have it now.

HONESTY WORST POLICY, COMRADE. FOLLOW EXAMPLE OF GREAT POTEMKIN.
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Re: The Shittiest Watercooler/Campfire/TED Stage Ever

Postby Kayma » Thu Aug 30, 2018 7:21 pm

I did a great deal of Tier I and II tech support. I don't remember much of the crazy thanks to automatic physical and mental defense mechanisms, so I haven't got much to add. Just wanted to chime in and say that I love this thread so far

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Re: The Shittiest Watercooler/Campfire/TED Stage Ever

Postby Mongrel » Thu Aug 30, 2018 8:08 pm

This isn't really a story so much as it is a namedrop, but Koipond and I both remember working with Talli Osborne, who was a regular care rep at Virgin Mobile back then, and I just want to mention her because she fuckin' rocks.

Among her many impressive coping abilities, she could type lighting fast, in between talking to customers, with just her chin, faster than a lot of employees using both hands.

Anyway, I didn't actually get to talk to her very often because she was great with people and pretty good about not needing escalations (Koipond got more because he was on the level one tech support team). But whenever she came to ask about a warranty-related thing I was always self-conscious feeling like I was staring down at her when we were talking, so I would drop down into a squat for any conversation that was more than a short exchange. She never said anything about it so I don't know if I was being mildly insulting or just goofy, but at the time, I could never shake the feeling that I should be having conversations with her on the same level.

More than a decade on, I still have no idea if that was right or wrong or just silly.
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Re: The Shittiest Watercooler/Campfire/TED Stage Ever

Postby Newbie » Thu Aug 30, 2018 9:34 pm

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