Friday, July 08, 2005

My Life in a Call Center

I’ve had quite a few jobs in my life. I’ve worked for grocery stores, for food manufacturing plants, for pizza stores, for newspapers, for college landscaping offices, and I’ve even worked for the military. This post is the story of the career path my life has been directed over the past few years, how it started, how it continued, and how it is now. It’s a bit long-winded but I suppose it’s worth the time to read it. I guess you can be the judge about that. Here you go:

America Online

Oklahoma City (November 1999 – February 2001)
So this is where it all began. It began a really strange way too. I had just left Panama City, Florida (yeah, right by the beach, cool, huh?) and came to, of all places, Oklahoma City, which has go to be one of the Top 10 cultural armpits of the United States. Anyway, I was really planning on staying there. Mostly, I was there to visit my parents, but I also came to regain a little bit of focus. See, I had left a really nasty situation in Florida and really just needed to clear my head. So, I’m there in OKC, and for some reason I walk into Sheppard Mall and into the office of America Online. I’m thinking, ok, I’m not really going to get hired here, I don’t have any experience in this sort of thing. But hey, if I get lucky somehow and get hired, I’ll work for about a month or so, get some money, and move on to my next great adventure. So, the day I went into the office was a Wednesday. I went in, filled out my application, did their little test, and left. The next day, I get a call from one of the managers who wants to conduct a phone interview with me. Oh great, I’m terrible talking on the phone. I hate talking on the phone and I have been told on several occasions that my phone etiquette, quite simply, sucks. So, here I am doing this phone interview thinking, well I won’t be getting this job. So, at the end of the interview, the guy says he’d like to hire me and needs me to come in tomorrow. What?!? You’re actually hiring me? Man, you guys must be desperate. So anyway, I go, I start work at AOL, and I end up staying there for a little over a year. So much for only staying in OKC for a month or so.
The job itself wasn’t all that bad. The atmosphere was ok, kind of high schoolish, but not too terrible. I made some pretty good friends there. Started out working in the Tech Support department. Basically, people call in because they can’t connect to the internet or for some other problem, and I attempt to fix it. Pretty simple stuff actually. After a few months there, I ended up getting moved into another department, which was called CAT / Passwords Reset. This was a really easy job, much easier than Tech Support even. The job consisted of people who forgot their password and simply needed it reset. Another part of the job was dealing with people who have gotten their accounts suspended for various reasons that had to do with violating the Terms of Service. After being in that department for a while, and after the company merged with Time Warner, the whole department went through a major change. There was another department in the company that was called Registration Assistance. Their job was fairly simple too, people called up that needed help setting up their new AOL accounts and the R.A. rep would help them out with that. Anyway, the Password Resets department and the Registration Assistance department were merged together and became the C.A.R.E. department. This is the department that I stayed in until I left the company.

Verizon Wireless

Bellevue, WA (March – October 2001)
I left AOL because I had decided to leave Oklahoma for the Seattle, Washington area. So, I moved in February and started looking for another job, why I decided to look for another job in the customer service / call center field, I still don’t understand, but I did. I found this job through a temporary placement agency.
This job was slightly different from working at AOL. Instead of working on problems with internet connections, I was working on various problems with cell phones. Troubleshooting phones that can’t place calls, explaining bills to people, that sort of thing. Wasn’t too bad. It was actually a pretty nice place to work. In fact, the only reason I left is because I realized that the cost of living in Seattle was way too high and decided to move back to OKC, where there was no Verizon Wireless call center.

Sprint PCS

Oklahoma City (December 2001 – May 2002)
This job started out good enough. I was working in the collections department. Basically, we would call people whose bills were extremely late and let them know they need to pay their bills or their cell phones are going to get shut off. Sounds like a bit of a pain but it really wasn’t, we weren’t really hard on the customers. The call center was pretty nice too, had a good setup and I met some people there that I had worked with at AOL with, so I had some friends there, and made some new ones.
This job basically started going downhill when my team’s supervisor was placed in another department and everyone on the team got pawned off to whoever would take us. The supervisor that I ended up is really the reason I ended up leaving this job. It wouldn’t have been as bad if I was only going to have this supervisor for a couple more months but it was looking like I was going to end up staying with this person for another year. In a nutshell, I loathed this person, I hated everything they stood for, they were constantly on my back about stupid crap, etc…we just really did not get along at all.


Moore, OK (May – July 2002)
This place was awful, I have very little to say about it. I only worked there for a little over a month. This company is one of those out-sourced call centers. This one was a vendor that did customer service for DirecTV. The work itself was very simple, almost everything we did we read off a computer screen. That could have been part of the problem, feeling like a robot. Even when I signed on to work for this company, I never really saw myself staying with it. The main reason I left this job is that I was offered a job with the next company for better pay, so I left.


Oklahoma City (July – December 2002)
Ok, even though I left my previous job to make more money at this one, I didn’t like this place much better than Convergys. I was hired on to do customer service but once I started training, I came to realize they were hiring me to be a sales rep. Selling phones, different calling services, internet service, wireless phone service, stuff like that. I never really thought I could ever be a salesperson until I started working this job. I was doing really good. However, one of the big problems was that, unlike most companies where the more you sell, the more you make, this company paid a base rate with no commission at all. So it never really mattered how much you busted your butt to sell more. You had a quota that you had to make in order to keep your job but if you went above and beyond that quota, you got little more than a pat on the back. The other problems with this company is that the management was horrendous. Management in this company, including upper management, was the worst that I’ve ever dealt with in my life. And what makes it worse is that this company was union, so the management should not have had the problems they did. Anyway, I left this company when a friend of mine who worked for the next company, convinced me to apply for where he worked.


Oklahoma City (December 2002 – February 2004)
Teleflora is a company that was basically a floral wire service, much like FTD. They made different floral containers and sold them to their member flower shops. In addition, they advertised for these products in various local newspapers and allowed, for a fee, their member flower shops to have their name listed in these advertisements. So, the department I applied for was product sales. Basically, we called up the flower shops and tried to get them to buy these containers for their shops. I went in on a Friday and had an interview. The interview went so well, in my opinion, that I went to SBC that afternoon, packed up my stuff and told them I was out of there. Thankfully, later that afternoon, I got a call back from Teleflora asking me to come in on Monday. Whew!
So this was a really good job, so good in fact that I might have still been with this company had it not been for the move back to Washington. Which leads to where I’m at now.

AT&T Wireless / Cingular

Botthell, WA (March 2004 – present)
Me and Jesica decided that we wanted to move back to the Seattle area after a lot of thought over our station in life. Kind of hard to explain, but basically I felt we were being spiritually called, for lack of a better term, back to Washington. So we moved back and I had to quit Teleflora. When we got to Washington, I found a job through a temporary agency in yet another call center, with AT&T Wireless. Pretty easy job, I’ve work cell phone call centers before, there’s really not much different between them. Toward the end of 2004, AT&T Wireless was bought by Cingular Wireless. The whole call center thought we were going to lose our jobs, but lo and behold, we’re still here. That’s about it for this company. I like it, I don’t see why I wouldn’t stay with this company for a while.


  1. Reminds me of my call center career...without all of the moving though.

  2. Just passing through, I'm liking the blog by the way.