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Hold horror stories: Chief, we've got a f*cking idiot on line 1. Oh, you heard all that

'Idiot? You're calling me a f*cking idiot?!'

Who, Me? Once again, Monday has put an end to the weekend's fun – and Who, Me? is tagging along, as always.

This week, El Reg's regular column of cringe-worthy reader errors comes from "Trevor", who wrote in to tell us about a facepalm involving a telephone call.

Back in the late '90s, Trevor was working for a major UK ISP selling cable, which often saw him having to field complaints from irate customers that didn't want to wait for support to pick up the phone.

Figures of workers have a coffee break on a keyboard

Sysadmin's three-line 'annoyance-buster' busts painstakingly crafted, crucial policy


"Most callers would understand that we could not help them as we didn't even work with the same product, and were in sales not support," he said. "But occasionally we'd get one through though that really didn't care if we could help them or not and demanded support."

The company's policy was that staffers couldn't hang up unless the caller was abusive, though, so they often had to deal with angry and "fairly [IT] ignorant" callers.

"One time, I got an extremely irate guy on the phone who had been having a hell of a lot problems with his dial-up service," Trevor told us. This chap "announced immediately" that he was recording the call, and demanded to speak to a supervisor.

Trevor tried to explain that he could only put the caller through to a cable sales supervisor, who wouldn't be able to help – but it made no difference.

So Trevor did what so many of us have wanted to do – or perhaps have done – with an annoying caller. He put him on hold and yelled over to his supervisor:

"I've got this idiot on the phone who won't go through to support and insists he wants to speak to a supervisor... yeah I've explained to him you can't help him... OK I'll put him through."

But when he hit the button again and put the receiver back to his lughole, he had barely had chance to say "Hello, sir" before he was ear-blasted: "IDIOT! IDIOT! YOU'RE CALLING ME A FUCKING IDIOT!"

Somehow, poor old Trev hadn't engaged the hold properly, so the already angry caller had not just heard the conversation, but also recorded it.

"Sure enough, the recording made it to my work and I ended up sat with my supervisor and two managers," he said.

"After explaining again what happened they gave me a stern warning not to call the customers idiots... or just to be better at engaging the hold button at least."

Have you ever made a fool of yourself by failing to use the most basic piece of office kit properly? When did you last insult a co-worker or customer over the phone? Tell Who, Me? all about it and your story be next week's column. ®


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