Monday, November 10, 2008

Phone Etiquette

It seems that the rules of phone etiquette have just flown right out the window. People in my very own family are GUILTY as sin!

Names have been changed to protect their privacy, of course.

Incident # 1: Sam had to get some medical procedures done. Sam's wife, (we'll call her Suzie) called the insurance company to ask some questions about copays, coverage, etc, and was stonewalled. She was told that no information could be given out without the insured person's express, written permission. Sam proceeded to call back and yell at the customer service department. Sam's family member, who just happens to work in the health care industry, called Sam to snoot at him when she heard about his meanness.

HIPAA prohibits health care workers from sharing ANY information with ANY person other than the insured/patient himself. That means our hands are tied, folks. No matter how much you yell, scream, cry or threaten, we can be held legally accountable if the wrong person ends up with your information. So there.

Incident # 2: Lester has a bill that he doesn't believe he owes. He calls up the customer service department and says, "Look, dear heart, I don't owe this bill and I want to speak to your manager RIGHT NOW!

First of all, beginning a sentence with "look" or "listen" immediately puts the other person on the defense. We know we've got a live one on the line and *surprise* we're probably going to record your call for legal purposes.

Second, calling a person "dear heart" (which is the nicest way I could think of to say what I really mean, which is "idiot" or worse) is degrading to that person. It just makes them mad and if they can, they'll probably make this as tough on you as possible. You'll be routed you to 20 different people or left on terminal hold. (The same goes for doll, sweetie, honey, or any number of other names.)

Last, nine times out of ten, I know more than my manager. If you call me up and ask me to help in a calm and civilized manner, I will do my best to resolve your situation. Look at it this way, I don't want to be talking to you any more than you want to be talking to me. Why prolong our displeasure?

I could go on, but I'm not used to writing so much and it's weird. Maybe I'll continue another day.

Why do people not say "bye" anymore? It's starting to rub off on me now. I just hang up when I'm done talking.

Also, voicemail is not the devil. Leave a message, people! It's ok, leave one!


Octamom said...

Ah, the phone. Ah, talking with customer service reps and health care reps and all the rest. Ah, the difference a little bit of respect and kindness can make for both conversationalists....

great reminders!

Suldog said...

So true, alas. Manners and civility have gone right out the fucking window.

I'm sorry. That was a very cheap joke. Feel free to come over to my place and be unnecessarily obscene.

Janet said...

Suldog just made me laugh.
I try to be very polite on the phone, particularly when I have a problem, but it seems to depend on a number of factors whether the customer service person will be helpful or not. For instance, utilities companies will not be. EVER. None of them.
Health care, depends. Oddly enough I have more problems paying things than disputing charges.

I hate talking on the telephone but I try to be polite. My grandfather never said goodbye either. He'd just hang up whenever he was finished talking. But usually my Grandmother was on the other phone, so she'd respond to whatever I was saying when he hung up. :)