Unprotected. Vulnerable.

I am a married mother of four grown children, three are female and one is a male. I have always protected my children from life's adversities. I have taught my daughters to advocate for themselves and be strong. As a Customer Service Representative for 27 years in a call centre, I take pride in talking to and helping clients find solutions to their situations daily.

I introduced myself as I typically do: “Welcome to XXX. This is XXX. How may I help you?”

The customer replied by saying, “You are talking kinda slow - do you have Downs Syndrome or something?” I responded by saying, “Even if I did, that wasn’t an appropriate comment to say.” He replied, “ You are a fucking cunt!” Then he said, “You can stick your mother’s pussy somewhere.” I told him I would have to disengage in the call if he didn’t want to talk about his account, knowing we have a no hang up policy. I placed him on mute – then he said, “I know you are still here cunt! I know you can hear me cunt!”

That interaction left me feeling speechless, humiliated, degraded, insulted and not ready to immediately take another call. I felt sick to my stomach, my heart started racing; my anxiety level was extreme and I was terrified that I would get him again as he had called in ten times prior the same day. I felt completely unprotected and vulnerable. This call was the most disturbing call I have ever received as it had nothing to do with a work situation at all; yet he was one of our customers. I was a sitting duck. I felt it was a psychological assault on me because I was a woman. I felt helpless to defend myself and I felt unprotected; my mind started racing and I was worried about this man escalating and harming women like Marc Lepine. I thought of my daughters and how I would never let anyone talk to them like that yet, I was expected to just suck it up. How could this be acceptable?

Let the general public know that it is not alright to abuse those that take your call. We are your parents, your sisters, your brothers and your children.

I would like XXXXX to step up and disclose their terms of service more widely and protect us, and have consequences for those that abuse representatives by adding a disclaimer to clients' bills and contracts that specially state that. After all the terms of service are clear.

We feel XXXXX should be an industry leader and adopt an IVR message such as that on the telephone line for Road Safety BC 1-855-387-7747. Their IVR says, “Our office practises a respectful workplace policy. Any disrespectful or rude behaviour will result in the termination of your call." Or create a new drop down that would transfer the customer to listen a recorded message stating the specific term of service, that they agreed not to “threaten, abuse or harass any customer service representative," and they will have the option to press 1 to request a call back or press 2 to listen to the terms of service.

As agents, team members are sometimes sworn at, verbally abused and personally insulted, which makes us feel uncomfortable – we are not allowed to hang up. It is unreasonable to attempt to calm down aggressive clients to even consider escalating and transferring them to another department.

My teammate and I both received abusive calls the last weekend in September 2016. We called each other after work and vented about how uncomfortable we both felt, and together we both filled out Health and Safety reports called HOIR’s. Our manager reviewed our No Hang up Policy in our weekly team meetings, reminding us never to hang up while at the same time encouraging us to submit a joint suggestion. Suggestions are reviewed and sometimes implemented by the company. Sadly our suggestion was closed.

We are sworn at, verbally abused and personally insulted. It is very uncomfortable to know we have a policy that we can not hang up on the customer. We find that receiving such calls is psychologically harmful and workplace violence. I have been called c*** 4 times in one call and also accused of sounding like I had Downs Syndrome . I and my coworkers have been called every name in the book. The impact leaves the rep feeling humiliated, degraded, insulted, psychologically harmed and in no state to immediately go and and take another call and be expected to perform exceptional service. These feelings are a consequence of not being able to disconnect the call. It unreasonable to expect us to calm such a person down when they are out of control. To be expected to continue to listen to repeated vulgar language and behaviour is psychologically damaging. We service reps would appreciate that the XXXXX terms of service were put into action. We request the no hang up policy be removed or replaced. The terms have a line that states the customer can not threaten, abuse or harass any XXXXX customer representative. We feel XXXXX should be an industry leader and adopt an IVR message such as that on the telephone line for Road Safety BC 1-855-387-7747. Their IVR says our office practises a respectful workplace policy. Any disrespectful or rude behaviour will result in the termination of your call." Or create a new drop down on IWS that would transfer the customer to listen to a recorded message stating the specific term of service, that they agreed not to threaten, abuse or harass any XXXXX customer service representative and they will have the option press to 1 to request a call back or press 2 to listen to the terms of service. 

I was shocked to see that XXXX feels because we are not exposed to these types of calls continually and that people’s tolerance levels for being sworn and screamed at vary, that the process remains status quo – and we are not allowed to hang up on clients no matter what – we must transfer them to the escalated department. These types don’t wait – they are completely unreasonable. XXXX can and does discipline customer service reps for hanging up on clients.