Do you vary your approach?
January 21, 2018

The first three or four times it was okay. Amusing, actually. I was on the line with Darrell, listening to him ask a customer service rep about a hundred-dollar charge she kept calling a deposit. We wondered what it was for, and -- considering it was a “deposit” -- when it would be returned.

“It’s just this first month,” she said. “You won’t see it from now on.” Darrell told her he understood. What he didn’t understand was why it had been assessed. But every time he asked her about it she told him the same thing, that it was only for the first month of this particular contract.

My turn. “You keep calling this a deposit,” I told her. “If it’s a deposit, it will be returned at some point. We’d like to know when that is. If it isn’t a deposit, and it’s just a one-time charge as you keep saying, we want to know what the charge is for. And if you can’t answer those questions we want you to ask someone who can.”

Darrell had been so friendly, so conversational. I was firm, businesslike. My tone told her she could take our contract -- and her script -- and do something decidedly unbusinesslike with them.

“May I put you on hold?” she asked. “You bet!” I chirped.

She came back on the line a couple of minutes later. The hundred dollars was indeed a deposit, and she told us why it had been assessed. She added it would be returned in thirteen months.


“Anything else?” she wondered. I told her no, I thanked her, and we got our lives back.

I’m usually friendly to a fault with customer service people, that’s how thankful I am not to have their jobs. Friendly doesn’t always work, though. Neither does rude. But firm? I’m with Goldilocks on that. Just right!