Crazy people encountered working at a call centre

  • I worked at a call centre a few years ago for about 6 months, bothering people at home to answer surveys during their time off. Needless to say, most weren't too thrilled to talk to me. Also, the centre would give surveys from ANYONE who paid, so a lot of the questions I asked were totally idiotic. It was made even worse by the fact that everything I said was scripted, and I couldn't deviate at all or I'd get a reprimand.

  • I recently found the file in which I'd stored all of my most bizarre encounters with people, and the oddest surveys. A lot of them are quite entertaining (to me, anyway), so I decided to post them here.

  • Ridiculous survey questions:

  • Set of questions on a beer survey:
  • Which of the following beers...
  • takes you away to a better place?
  • gives you a sense of belonging?
  • embarrasses you in public?
  • disappoints you?
  • causes feelings of resentment and anger?
  • discriminates against you?
  • looks down on you?
  • is sexy and attractive?
  • is athletic?
  • has low self-esteem?
  • is unintelligent?
  • is a stupid, pathetic loser?

  • On a scale of 1-10, rate the level of hemorrhoids you suffer from, 10 being very severe, 1 being not severe at all.
  • On the same scale of 1-10, rate the level of hemorrhoids your closest friends suffer from.
  • On the same scale of 1-10, rate the level of hemorrhoids your acquaintances suffer from.

  • Disqualifiers on a survey: (meaning if a person meets any one of these criteria, they can't take the survey)
  • Does not suffer from a severe sinus disorder.
  • does not have severe allergies
  • knows someone who is either:
  • - a doctor
  • - someone who works with medicine, or works anywhere that sells medicine of any kind (including any store that sells chapstick, painkillers, balms, and other minor treatments)
  • - a lawyer
  • - works for a company that advertises
  • - works in research of any kind
  • - works in any retail store
  • Is not female
  • Isn't 25-49
  • Does not buy allergy and sinus medications on a regular basis
  • uses allergy medications over 90 times per year, or every day for a whole season.
  • {not one of us got a single person}

  • Great survey questions on a survey:
  • How many hours out of the 150 hours in a week do you watch television?
  • How many days out of the 360 days in a year do you watch television?

  • Answering machines:

  • I'm gonna die in 50 seconds! If you have anything left to say to me, leave it on my machine, quick!

  • Owner does not answer his phone, or return messages. Please leave a message after the beep.

  • Messages received will only be responded to if they are left in morse code. (beep) (beeeeeep) (beep) (beep) (beep) (beeeeep) (beep) (beep) (beeeeep) (beeeep)

  • Man: Halleluiah! The Lord Jesus Christ!!! He resides...HERE!
  • (gospel singers, singing): Halleluiah! Halleluiah! The Lord Jesus Christ has returned!
  • Man: That's right I am the Lord Jesus Christ!
  • Gospel singers: He is the Lord! He is Jesus!
  • Man: I am Jesus! And it is my divine desire that you leave me a message!
  • Gospel singers: Leave him a message! Leave a message to Jesus!

  • Hi, I can't come to the phone 'cause I'm making a poopoo. It's so big, and it smells so good, I just wanna eat it for breakfast. You wouldn't come to the phone if you had a poopoo like that. (sings) Poopy poopy poopy poopy poopy poopy poopy...(beep)

  • (kids's voice singing): I'm on the highway to hell! Fuck yeah! On the highway to hell!
  • (older male, very professional) I am currently unavailable to take your call, as I am currently on the highway to hell.

  • Hi, I am unable to answer the phone, as I am currently out. Why the fuck else would I not answer the phone, dumbass? What kind of a stupid question is that? Leave a message, moron.

  • Hi, this is the telephone wire. You can leave a message, but I can't call you back, as I am a wire, and lack vocal cords.

  • Hi, if you're a phone solicitor, leave your home phone number, e-mail address, home address, postal code, and province, and we'll make sure not to put you on every mailing list and call centre directory in the country. For anyone else, The Thompsons are not home.

  • Hi, you've reached a whorehouse. For a tittyfuck, press 1. If you want to be raped in the ass, press 2. For customer service press 3. If you want to leave a message for Mr. McAllister, please remain on the line until after the beep. (beep)

  • (banjo music) You're reached...THE HOEDOWN!!! AH YEAH! (beep)

  • Weird encounters:

  • Me: What is your city?
  • Woman: Pine Cove.
  • Me: What is your state?
  • Woman: Sheer, unending misery.
  • Me: I mean...what state do you live in?
  • Woman: I live in sheer, unending misery.
  • Me: Um...I meant, state as in state of the United States.
  • Woman: We're all living in sheer, unending misery.

  • Me: Are you between 24 and 49 years of age? [note that I had been reviewed twice already this day and knew I wouldn't be monitored]
  • Woman: Now wait just a dang minute young man! I don't do anything that isn't Christianity.
  • Me: Well, in completing this survey, you'll be helping other people, and what's more Christian than that?
  • Woman: Now you look here! The only way I'm gonna do your goddamn survey is if you are the Lord Jesus Christ himself!
  • Me: Well, is it not written in the Bible that Jesus lives on in the hearts of us all?
  • Woman: You shut the fuck up, you blasphemin' little pile of shit! Haven't you ever heard "love yo' neighbor as yo'self," and "do unto othas as you'd have them do unto you," fuckface?
  • Me: Are you between 29 and 49 years of age?
  • Woman: You shove your phone up your ass!

  • Me: Approximately how many hours do you watch television in an average week?
  • Woman: I watch a different amount every week, so I can't say how many hours of TV I watch in a week.
  • Me: How much would you say you watch on average in a week, then?
  • Woman: I just told you! I watch a different amount every week! Like last week I didn't even watch TV! How am I supposed to answer that!?
  • Me: Miss all we're looking for is your best guess as to how many hours you watch on average in a week.
  • Woman: Like I said, I can't answer, it varies from week to week!
  • Me: But what about the AVERAGE? As in, if you had to pick a number that represents the amount you watch per week every week. For example, if you watched TV no hours last week, and 10 hours this week, you could say the average would be about 5 hours for those 2 weeks.
  • Woman: There is no average! It VARIES!!!
  • Me: Well, if you HAD to say a number for how many hours you watch in a week, what number would you say?
  • Woman: The number I would say would be IT VARIES. If you can't be bothered to understand simple math, I can't be bothered to continue the survey. Goodbye. (hangs up)

  • Me: Could I please speak to a woman between 18 and 24 years of age?
  • Man: Do I sound like a fucking woman to you?
  • Me: No sir, I'm simply asking if I could speak to one.
  • Man: I already fucking told you, I'm not a woman!
  • Me: I understand that you're not a woman, I am simply looking for one.
  • Man: This is a fucking insult! For the last fucking time, asshole, I am not a fucking woman! Like, are you fucking deaf!?!?

  • Me: can I please speak to a woman between 18 and 65 years of age?
  • (manliest voice): Speaking.
  • Me: But I need to speak to a woman between 18 and 65.
  • Manly voice: I just told you. Speaking.
  • Me: I apologize for this next question, but I need to ask it in order to validate the survey. Are you male or female? [we had to ask this if we couldn't tell gender by voice]
  • Manly voice: Neither.
  • Me: Pardon?
  • Manly voice: Neither. Neither male nor female. What you've got no place to record it? Female above the waist, male below the belt. Like honestly, I'm not a citizen because I don't fit into one of your stifling categories? Fuck you.
  • Me: I'll just put you down as "don't know." [there was an option to skip questions by inputting DK - in extreme circumstances]
  • Manly voice: Record me as female, my operation's next week.
  • Me: OK. Could you please tell me your age?
  • Manly voice: Actually put me down as male, I've still got the parts.
  • Me: Alright, fixed. Could you please tell me your age?
  • Manly voice: Actually, I won't accept this survey unless you put me down as neither.
  • Me: Alright, done. Could you please tell me your age?
  • Manly voice: 34 (continues survey).. [I actually got a full survey out of this one].

  • Me: Could you please tell me your age?
  • Man: Yeah. Three hundred and fuck yourself.

  • Me: Are there any women in this household between 18 and 65 years of age?
  • Man: Not right now.
  • Me: Do you know when they will be available?
  • Man: The game is on! I'm watching football, no TV shows, I'm watching football football, oh yeah, football.
  • Me: Pardon?
  • Man: Why would you call when the game is on? I'm watching football football hahaha football. Hahaha football football.
  • Me: I'll call back at a later time.
  • Man: HAHAHAHAHAHA ooh yeah football, yeah yeah yeah yeah football! I got a foot and a ball and football football yeah yeah yeah football!

  • Me: Could I please speak to a woman between 18 and 65 years of age?
  • Young boy: This is a man house, bitch! We ain't got none of them feminine shitfuckers here, bitch.
  • Me: Excuse me?
  • Young boy: And you're a fucking shitfucker for accusing us of havin' a bitch here. (calls) Hey Daddy, you hear this mothafucka? He thinks we gotta cunt in our house!
  • (in background): You kick that fucker's ass!
  • Young boy: My daddy's gonna sue you, shitfucker. That's a fuckin' insult, and I ain't gonna take that shit. This is a fuckin' man house.

  • Me: Hi, could I please speak to a male between 19 and 29 years of age?
  • Male: No, my mom's not home.
  • Me: No, could I please speak to a male between 19 and 29 years old?
  • Male: Uh, yeah, she'll be home around 10.
  • Me: No, I'm looking for a MALE between 19 and 29 years of age.
  • Male: No, I told you, she'll be home at 10, call back then to get her. Bye.

  • Me: How many hours have you watched TV in the last 3 days?
  • Man: yeah, my parents went and picked up salmonella for my grandparents.
  • Me: um...Sorry, could you repeat your answer? I asked, how many hours have you watched TV in the last 3 days?
  • Man: Yeah, I told you, they picked some up. Some salmonella. It was for my grandparents. That's why they got it. Salmonella, that is. For my grandparents.

  • Me: Hello?
  • Woman: Hello? Hello? Who is it?
  • Me: This is [my name] calling from Ipsos-Reid and...
  • Woman: is not here at the moment. Please leave a message after the beep. Beep! Er...I mean... (makes beeping noise).
  • Me: Hello?
  • Woman: Hello? Er...I mean...beep!

  • Mid-survey - about 6 minutes in, out of nowhere [Note: this woman did not have a foreign accent, and had a slight southern drawl - clearly native to the southern US]:
  • Woman: Do you have sudoku?
  • Me: Not with me. As I was...
  • Woman: What? ... Oh, you mean not with YOU!
  • Me: Yes, that's what I said.
  • Woman: No, you said "not with ME."
  • Me: OK, then, not with you.
  • Woman: What do you mean "not with ME?" I was asking about YOU!
  • Me: OK, not with ME.
  • Woman: I'm asking YOU a question, not ME.
  • Me: OK, sorry. As I was saying, do you...
  • Woman: No, this isn't over! Do you, or do you not have sudoku on you?
  • Me: No, I don't.
  • Woman: I don't care whether I have it or not, I want to know if YOU have it.
  • Me: No.
  • Woman: No, who?
  • Me: No, there is no Sudoku on me.
  • Woman: Are you one of them retards?

  • Me: What is your impression of companies tat manufacture cars? Is it very favorable, fairly favorable, neither favorable nor unfavorable, fairly unfavorable, or very unfavorable?
  • Woman: Oh, I love Subarus!
  • Me: Which category would that fall under?
  • Woman: Well, I don't know, mine never really breaks down, it's a great car. (extremely long pause, like 5 seconds)
  • Me: Well, then what impression of companies that manufacture cars would that give you? (I then re-read the scale)
  • Woman: And the mileage is great too! I almost never have to fill that thing, and it has the best steering wheel. I can grip it with BOTH hands! BOTH HANDS, I tell you!
  • Me: Ma'am, I really need to record your place on the scale. I'll need either a very favorable, fairly... (reads scale again).
  • Woman:And that brake! It feels like (pleasurable moan?)...a angel built it in heaven just for me! And ooooohhhh...those windshield wipers...
  • Me: I'm sorry, but there's no where to record all of this, I can only record a (reads scale again).
  • Woman: Very unfavorable. Except for (pleasurable moan?) Subaru...

  • Me: (reads intro) Would you like to perform our survey?
  • Man: Actually, I have something better than that for you. I have a great piece of advice, it's a sort of three-step program to improve yourself. OK, step 1: insert your head into the closest door opening. Have you done it? Step 2: Slam the door. Step 3: Continue to slam the door until you stop moving. Done? Well, I would do the survey now, but I don't think it's physically possible to give a survey to a dead man (hangs up)

  • Me: Hello, my name is [says name] calling from (reads survey intro)
  • Woman: You've reached the 911 dispatch. Would you like report an emergency
  • Me: Sorry, miss, this is a survey firm, it seems this is an accidental dial.
  • Woman: I'm sorry, but by law we have to dispatch police, firefighters or an ambulance to any call.
  • Me: That won't be necessary, this is just a wrong number from a call centre.
  • Woman: We're going to have to dispatch the police anyway, for security reasons.
  • [the cops actually showed up about 15 minutes later and questioned me (since they had my name on file, because it was in the intro). I started using a fake name at that point]

  • Me: Hi, my name is [says name] and I'm calling from [reads intro blurb]
  • Woman: This is the babysitter! You should know better than to call when the owners aren't home!

  • Me: Hello, I'm [says name] calling from Audience Studies. Today we're conducting a public opinion survey, and we are not selling anything. Could I please speak to someone in the 18 to 65 age group?
  • Little girl (in background): Mommy, mommy, there's a weirdo on the phone. I think he's a pedophile coming to molest me.
  • (Older woman comes on): Hello?
  • Me: Hello, I'm [says name] calling from Audience Studies. Today we're conducting a public opinion survey, and we are not selling anything. Could I please speak to someone in the 18 to 65 age group?
  • Woman: Listen asshole, you stay the fuck away from my daughter! If you so much as lay one finger on her I'll cut your goddamn balls off. (hangs up)

  • Me: May I please speak to the person in your household who most recently had a birthday?
  • Man: Well, nobody here's had a birthday since, oh, before January.
  • Me: Could I speak to whoever's birthday was most recent, then?
  • Man: I don't think you understand, sonny boy, there ain't no one here had a birthday since 'fore the new year.
  • Me: I can still speak to one of them, I just need the MOST recent birthday.
  • Man: You just don't get it, do ya sonny? Ain't no one here had a birthday in at least 6 months.
  • Me: Well, would you like to take the survey then?
  • Man: I can't do no survey, my birthday's in September.
  • Me: You can still do the survey.
  • Man: Do you understand anythin' I'm sayin' to ya boy? MY...BIRTH...DAY...IS...IN...SEPTEMBER!!! (hangs up)

  • Me: (read blurb) Are you between 18 and 65 years of age?
  • Woman: I'm gay!
  • Me: That's quite alright, I just need to know if you're between 18 and 65 years of age.
  • Woman: I told you already, I'm gay!
  • Me: Actually, we need people of all demographics, including those with alternative lifestyles.
  • Woman: Well, I'm a gay activist. What company are you calling from?
  • Me: Ipsos-API and Ipsos-Reid.
  • Woman: Of course I can read! What kind of idiot do you think I am?
  • Me: What I said Ma'am is that the name of the company is Ipsos-API and Ipsos-Reid.
  • Woman: I know what kind of idiot you think I am, a gay activist! You're calling from that conservative party office in Minnesota to harass me about how gay I am. Yeah, I'm an activist!
  • Me: We are from no such place, nor are we trying to harass you. this is Ipsos-ASI and Ipsos-Reid performing a survey. Are you between 18 and 65 years of age?
  • Woman: Of course I'm in a rage! You conservative psychopaths won't stop harassing me about being gay!
  • Me: Miss, this is only a survey.
  • Woman: Oh. Well, I can't do it, I'm gay.
  • Me: That does not disqualify you from the survey, your opinions are just as important.
  • Woman: I told you, I don't qualify! I'm gay, I don't qualify! (hangs up)

  • (Woman answers phone): Shit Bob, that thing on your desk stopped ringing!

  • Woman: My husband can do the survey...he's just stepped outside for a couple of minutes, then he'll be free for the rest of the day.
  • Me: When should we call back to get ahold of him, then?
  • Woman: Let's see...he's free in 2 minutes, back tomorrow night at 7.
  • Me: Would you be able to give me his first name, so we can ask for him when we call back?
  • Woman: I'd rather not give that information. I won't be stalked, or put on a mailing list, or suicide bombed, so you can just shove it. Bye.

  • Me: Hello...
  • Her: How did you get this number?
  • Me: It is randomly generated by a computer.
  • Her: But HOW? It's unlisted!
  • Me: Like I said, it was randomly generated, a computer created this set of numbers randomly, and we dialed it.
  • Her: But HOW?!? It's not listed! It can't have been randomly generated, it's not listed!
  • Me: It doesn't have to be listed, it's just a set of 10 numbers that were created out of nowhere by a computer.
  • Her: That can't be the case, BECAUSE IT'S UNLISTED!!! You can't possibly have this number, it's unlisted!!!

  • Me: Which of the following political parties do you currently most support? The Liberals, Conservatives, NDP, Green party, Bloc Quebecois, or some other party? {note that these are all of the political parties in Canada}
  • Him: Uh...I've never heard of any of them. So...uh...some other.
  • Me: Some other party?
  • Him: uh...uh...uh...uh...uh...uh...uh...I think.
  • Me: Is that a yes to "some other party?"
  • Him: uh...uh-huh.
  • Me: Which other political party would you support?
  • Him: uh...probably the Leafs. Yeah, I support the Toronto Leafs.
  • Me: Of the following forms of energy, do you strongly oppose, somewhat oppose, somewhat support, or strongly support: nuclear energy?
  • Him: uh...uh...sorry..uh...what's that?
  • Me: I'm sorry, I'm not allowed to answer that.
  • Him: Is that like on The Simpsons? 3 eyed fish? Uh...I don't like fish eyes. Uh...I always have to cut them off.
  • Me: So would that be strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose?
  • Him: Yep.
  • Me: But which category do you fall into?
  • Him: uh...uh...uh...uh...strongly oppose. I like fishing.

  • Random guy: You should drink nitroglycerin and give yourself a seizure. (hangs up)

  • Strangest names I encountered:
  • (family name) The Hitlers
  • (company name) Fatbitch Industries
  • Jamaican Itch
Author Comments: 

EVERYBODY from the Southern US that I talked to was completely insane.

My friend and I are literally ROFL!

totally favoring this.

Haha, glad you enjoyed :D

Oh man, that was great reading.

For a VERY brief time in...summer '06, I think it was, I worked for the March of Dimes, calling people and asking them for donations.

My most memorable experiences:

Someone answered the phone and shouted, "LICK MY BALLS!" and hung up. I collapsed in laughter.

Voice: "Hello?"
Me: "Hello, sir--"
Voice: "I'm a woman."
Me: "Oh."
Before I could apologize, she hung up.

An old woman lectured me on the fact that she didn't have much time left in this world and wasn't going to be taking a survey. Yet apparently she still had time for lengthy speeches.

I went through my entire spiel with this one guy, he agreed to donate, and then RIGHT at the end, after I had already thanked him and was about to ask the last follow-up question, he said, "Actually, I don't think I want to do this," and hung up.

I'm trying to think if there were any other great moments, but like I said, I barely worked at that job. It taught me to hate humanity.

Oh, and just today I got incensed with two callers from the same company since that place calls here five times a day to speak to my dad, and apparently the fact that he's in the hospital does not deter them. Hmm...

Lol! It seems all of us who have worked at call centres have had these kinds of experiences.

I didn't even manage to put all the oddness down, there was just too much to type in one session. 6 months is a lot of madness if you've been at a call centre. I too hated humanity working there.

Glad you could relate :D

This is awesome.


This was fantastic.

All of the Southern people you mentioned are probably my neighbors or something. They are a crazy faction of society.

So they really were crazy then, not just messing with me...

This list makes me want to work in a call centre so bad, sounds like so much more fun than most places.

Trust me, it's not.

It's repetitive - same survey over and over for days. Plus you're tightly controlled by power-trip managers who enforce every tiny infraction like it's murder. IE I was once denied a large raise because I sometimes lift my feet out of my shoe when I work, and this was declared a fire hazard, because if a fire occurred, it would take me extra time to put my foot back in my shoe. This was despite having the best survey rate and the best survey quality ranking in the entire call centre - not as impressive as it seems though, because most people only last a week or two because its so psychologically taxing.

And it really is quite taxing: almost everyone you call hates you: I was probably told to kill myself, shoot myself, dive off a bridge, get a real job, "do a favour to society by killing myself," bash my head into a wall until I die, or drown myself over 500 times; or alternately called all kinds of names or given death threats (very common, actually - IE one guy refused to hang up until I gave him my home address (which I didn't, obviously) since he knew I wasn't allowed to hang up - it went on for like 10 minutes with him continuously threatening to kill me and torture my family to death). Very few people were ever nice, even most people who did the surveys did them begrudgingly, slipping in snide remarks throughout. A lot of people left in tears on the first day and never returned, and a couple of people I knew had to see a psychiatrist after their time there (they were admittedly quite sensitive people). But I mean, it's understandable, you're calling people and annoying them on their time off, and our centre often called the Southern US, and they apparently get telemarketing calls continuously throughout the evening. I was never too bothered by it, but I wouldn't have called the job fun.

The worst part for me was probably how people would just snap and walk off the job all the time, so it felt futile to make any friends - everyone inevitably left the job after a very short time. I met probably over 60 people during my time there, but my last week of work was spent entirely alone.

In short, there's a reason why call centres are considered the absolute dregs of the working world. Don't get a job at one, if you can avoid it.

Aww damn you spoiled my boyhood fantasy of wanting to work in a call centre :P

I see your point, but as a novelty I reckon I could stomach it for a few weeks, merely as a point of interest. There's no way I'd work there long term, as it seems riduculously pedantic, but the advantage is that you could tell your boss to shove one of the headsets up his ass when you leave, which could be very satisfying if you go through that much abuse.

What are you doing now, still your cognitive science degree?

Haha, I wouldn't even recommend it for a few weeks - it's not fun from the outset. Everybody who worked there did it as a last resort. Work at McDonald's or tree-plant or something, anything but a call centre.

As for what I'm doing, yep, still on the cognitive science (well psychology, with a focus on courses on the behavioural neuroscience and psychopharmacology side of things). I'm currently working heavily on my thesis. I graduate at the end of the year, then I've got another 7 years on a neuroscience Ph.D (after a gap year, thanks to some strange bureaucracy) in graduate school. Plus I'm working on a small web startup, and working as a webmaster at a research centre. And planning my upcoming wedding... although I've basically given that over to the girls (fiancee, maid of honour, and bridesmaids), they like that kind of thing a lot. Plus lots of crazy nights - it is uni after all.

What are you doing right now?

Nice, sounds really hectic (but great fun too). =)

Alas, school, so not nearly as interesting as your life. Still, gives me the ability to spend most of my time dossing around with friends or consuming as much list worthy material as possible :P

I'm particularly into new hip-hop atm, stuff like cLOUDDEAD, Subtle and Flying Lotus and Portishead's new album is great, what did you think of it?

Haha, my life is not as interesting as it sounds. A significant portion of the time is spent studying, going to class, and doing mundane technical work on computers. Although I will say I'm not exactly bored :D (And I do spend a lot of time dossing around with friends and consuming list-worthy material - which perhaps involves some of my best times :D )

cLOUDDEAD is lovely (dark ambient hip-hop! Genius!), as is Portishead. Subtle is a lot of fun too. I'll have to try out Flying Lotus, if the other 3 items in your list are any indicator :D