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For a short time to make extra money, my mother would do customer follow-up calls for a firm specializing in these. What they’d do, is they’d get clients from all around the country, who would send them lists of customers. The firm would send the lists to people like my mother, who’d call these people (they’d pay for the long distance – they gave her a special account number, sort of like a calling card), ask them questions about their service at the client’s business and she’d fill out a form (mostly of the type of “Rate From 1-5, Very Satisfied, Not-At-All Satisfied”) with their responses. All of the people Mom’d call were out-of-state; the theory being that with an out-of-state caller, the people being called would be more anonymous (she was calling a lot of small towns, where everyone could presumably know each other). Since the results would be sent to the client anonymously, the firm worried if the people being called knew the person doing the call-backs, their responses could be tied back to them, potentially leading to reprisals against them if they said negative things about the service/client.
On the other hand, the client wanted actual constructive criticism, so I think the real reason was not to protect the responders from reprisals, but to just give them the feeling that they were safe and wouldn’t have to worry. Anyway, I figure if the client really cared, they could easily find out who said what – like, if someone said “Well, when I went in there to get my brake-line fixed, they over-charged me, and I raised such a fuss and they still over-charged!”, they could easily just go to their files, look up which people had their brake-lines worked on, and ask around the shop to find out who flipped out. So, I think it was mostly just an illusory thing anyway. Not that any of this really matters to the story, it’s just a bit of background so you know what she was doing.
For this particular day, she was given a bunch of numbers in Alabama to call. She sat down and did her calls and then went to the store.
While she was at the store, one of the people called up because when Mom had called her, she wasn’t home.
The phone call went like this:
“HELLO DID YOU CALL ME?”
“Uh… I don’t know.”
“IS THIS [my number]”
“WHY DID YOU CALL ME?”
“I… don’t… know. I didn’t.”
“WELL YOU’RE IN A DIFFERENT AREA CODE SO IT MUST BE IMPORTANT.”
“Uh…. I don’t know, ma’am.”
“WELL WHY WOULD YOU CALL ME IF IT’S A DIFFERENT AREA CODE AND YOU DIDN’T LEAVE A MESSAGE ON MY ANSWERING MACHINE!!”
(At this point, I realize that this must be one of the people my mother’s been calling, since if someone’s not home, she has to call back 3 times, and then that particular follow-up can be abandoned. And, she’s out of this lady’s area code, and she’s got a Southern accent, so basically all the pieces click finally.)
“OH, my mother works as a customer service representative-”
“WELL THAT’S GOOD FOR HER WHY DID YOU CALL ME!”
“Well she makes calls–”
“WHAT WOULD SHE BE CALLING ABOUT?”
“I don’t know, I don’t know what she–”
“WELL IT MUST BE IMPORTANT SO WHAT IS IT?!?!!”
“I’m sorry, I don’t know.”
This went on for quite sometime, until she finally decided to have me make sure my mother would call her back, because it HAD TO BE IMPORTANT!!!111, and hung up.
Still, what would have happened if it was a wrong number? Cause… MAN, that would have been horrible. I wouldn’t have been able to figure out why she had been called. And I probably never would have gotten off the phone with the moron. I’d still be speaking now, telling her that there’s no reason for her to call us back and it must have been a misdial.
And for the record, though I told my mother when she got home about my fun with Alabama Lady, and that she made me promise to have her call back, since it MUST BE IMPORTANT, I don’t think she actually did (since she’d already done her three callbacks and all).