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This Is The Single Most Annoying Thing When Speaking With Customer Service Phone Reps

by joeheg

No one enjoys having to call a company and speak to a customer service rep. First of all, doing so usually means that something has gone horribly wrong. Whether it’s a flight cancellation, award certificates that won’t attach to your hotel reservation (Hello, #Bonvoyed) or a problem with a payment, calling to speak with someone leaves to chance that the person on the other end of the phone may not have any level of knowledge about your problem.

Hunger Games

There’s one thing that always bothers me when having to make these calls, no matter what they’re about…


The level of inconsistency when dealing with customer service reps has led to its own acronym, HUCA. For those not familiar, it stands for Hang Up, Call Again.

What it means is that when you start speaking to someone on the phone and it’s obvious that either they don’t know what they’re doing or if they have no willingness to help you, it’s best to cut your losses, hang up, and try again to get someone else on the phone.

Now, it’s not a good idea to let them know on the phone that you’re doing this. To keep up appearances, some people pretend there’s someone at the door, or their dog is barking, or the car alarm went off; whatever will excuse a quick hang up. No matter the reason, should we have to go through this charade in the first place?

There’s no avoiding the fact that when dealing with a group of people, there are going to be some people better at a job than others. The company may try to provide training that’ll result in a base level of knowledge but there are bright stars and then there are black holes. It’s a crapshoot and unlike in the past, having access to the premium extra special ultimate reserve line no longer ensures that the person on the phone you’re talking to will know what they’re doing.

Being aggravated with this problem isn’t going to make it go away. Customer service phone lines will still be manned by a combination of people who have years of experience who will do whatever they can to help you, alongside people who feel it’s their job to protect every penny of the corporation they’re working for and will offer no more than the absolute minimum that’s required. Then there are the people in between, who either don’t know how to help or don’t care enough to try.

What Can You Do?

The first thing you need to know is what you’re entitled to. If you’re depending on the person on the phone to tell you your rights, you’ve lost the discussion. Being able to stand up and say that “I should be able to do this” is important and might force the person on the other end of the phone to do some work that they just weren’t in the mood to do at the moment you called. Now, if you hear a defiant tone when you state your case, it’s best to HUCA instead of feeling that it’s your responsibility to tell this person how to do their job.

What if the person you’re talking to is just not that good at their job? That presents a difficult case of talking to a representative that’s really nice, just not very smart. It’s a hard situation because you can tell that the person really does want to help, they just don’t know how. Once again, you need to remember that you don’t work for the company and it’s not your job to train their employees for them.

For every case where you’re able to talk them through the procedure you’re needing them to complete, there’s a time where they still don’t get it right and in the end, you end up having to HUCA after spending way too much time on the phone. It’s best when you’re dealing with someone like this to just cut your losses. Just politely excuse yourself; the super nice person will totally understand 🙂

Final Thoughts

I’ve read numerous posts, comments and threads about dealing with a representative who won’t help with a problem and after hanging up and trying again, the next person is able to solve the problem in a few minutes. Who’s at fault? The first person who was doing what they were trained to do? The company who didn’t train their employees properly? What about the person who’s worked at the same job for years and knows all the backdoors and workarounds? Should we expect everyone to know the same amount of information they do?

I think the middle ground is to not ask for things you’re not entitled to. If you’re asking something within your rights, it’s O.K. to fight for what you deserve. Just don’t push your luck when on the phone, as it might be best to find someone more accepting of your request.

The gray area is when you’re wanting something that’s possible but pushes the line of what’s required. It might take a couple times of HUCA to get someone willing to do what you want. If things don’t work out, don’t be upset. Lick your wounds and live to fight again instead of burning your bridges by having a negative comment put in your file.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


james January 14, 2020 - 1:22 pm

And I thought this post was going to mention how, when given my first and last name, reps address me throughout the phone call repeatedly as “Mister (firstname)”..

Lara S. January 14, 2020 - 4:22 pm

My issue with this situation is that sometimes, even as a frequent flyer, I am not 100% sure if something I want to do is possible. For instance, calling United and asking if I can pay to upgrade a flight my work booked through a travel agency. In the past whenever I’ve tried to change a booking by calling United, if it was booked through a travel agent, they said they can’t do it and it has to go through the travel agent. Which is infuriating since its my ticket on their airline. But then I got a United person who said that unless the system they use is this one certain kind, United CAN make changes such as paid upgrades. But who wants to gamble that this agent is right and the other one was wrong by booking via the travel agent (which is strongly preferred by my work) versus buying on United myself and getting reimbursed but knowing I can do it. I just wish that there was more consistency (and this is the 1k line). Cause I’ve also had it where someone told me one thing and I called back and the new agent said the old agent was wrong and they just can’t do it. Then I am left feeling stupid, or trying to insist that I am right.


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