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Telstra has had a rough week. First, the company pulled back its support for same sex-marriage after pressure from the Catholic Church; one of its biggest clients. Then, a Telstra customer service representative identified homosexuality as an “ideology” and not a sexuality during online correspondence with a customer. It wasn’t the best choice of words, but it’s likely the Telstra representative did not understand the sensitivity of the issue at hand because he worked in an overseas call centre. Simply put, there are some things you can’t train for.
Working in retail, I still remember one of my worst customers. He went to hand me what I thought was a five dollar bill for a ten dollar product. I politely said, “Sorry, the total is actually ten dollars.” He pulled apart two bills, which I didn’t notice were stuck together, and slowly counted, “Five…ten. Do you speak English? Do you know maths?” I was fuming, but I said nothing. I was, however, short with everyone else that day, until a friend asked, “what’s your problem?” The problem was: I let that jerk turn me into a jerk, too.
People say that “everyone should work retail or service at least once in their lives.” I couldn’t agree more. Like many people, some of my first jobs were retail service gigs. One in a department store, another in a bookstore. I’ve long since moved on, but I learned a lot about the nature of people — and how that battle between selfishness and empathy is something we all struggle with, every day.
Working in IT is no picnic. You’re overworked, over-stressed and overwhelmed by an onslaught of stupidity from Luddite customers and colleagues. We recently asked our readers to share their worst experiences from the front lines of IT. Your stories were so terrifying that we may need to wipe and reboot our brains to recover. Here are some of the worst.