We here at the CRA . . .
. . . have no sense of humor that we're aware of.
David Gallant, a worker at the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and gaming hobbyist, has been fired for lampooning dealings with customers during his day job in a game called I Get This Call Every Day. "Because I've become nothing more than a numb meat popsicle I've decided to make a game about my day job," he said on his website …
Worse yet: they also seem to have no clue, what so ever, what's living amongst their own employee's. Which I think is really bad; running a business also means that you have at least >some< touch into what the employee's are up to.
I come to that conclusion because those idiots (my impression) learned about this stuff later. Not because one of David's co-workers thought it was offensive, not funny or totally misplaced (otherwise I'd assume they would have taken it up with management).
Management is simply totally clueless and are now playing their "political correct" part.
Well, If it was the IRS, the 'Merkin equivalent of this gentleman's former employer, they probably wouldn't notice until the dev failed to mention the extra income on their Form 1040. They aren't very perceptive.
And hell, I know a guy from the New York Army National Guard that makes a power point based cartoon that constantly makes fun of the Army and to date he's only gotten in trouble once. So I guess it depends on the Government agency or Government.
Frank, the difference between the guy from the Guard with his Army cartoon and Mr Gallant here is that your guy is only poking fun at his employer. Gallant is making fun of the people who called him for assistance. I don't know how things work where you are, but over here I would expect anyone in a customer-facing role who openly held customers in contempt to be fired for misconduct. Under the circumstances and given how few people had downloaded the game Gallant's employer should probably have given him a severe dressing down and told him to pull the game and replace it with an apology before moving directly to dismissal, but he can't complain about unfair treatment.
(That's not to say his customers weren't stupid, by the way - just that he should have kept his thoughts on the matter to himself.)
99% of the folks that call 1st line tech support are morons - yes, you present a professional face to the cretins, but stupid is as stupid does, and there is no help for it. There should be teams standing by with black helicopters, waiting to descend and strip anything electronic from some of these people's homes.
In the Beginning, many,many, moons ago, there was a punching bag set up in the ISP tech support department when I started out, it was well used between calls.
Horrifyingly bad memories...
Surprising you put it that way, as on a recent episode of Undercover Boss, some honcho for Boston Market had to deal with a customer facing employee who made disparaging remarks about customers. Got the same treatment (termination).
The customer is always right is a well understood business mantra; what is often missing is the corollary, even IF they are an asshole.
I don't know how things work where you are, but over here I would expect anyone in a customer-facing role who openly held customers in contempt to be fired for misconduct.
*snorts coffee out of nose*
Huh? What? Openly holding customers in contempt is unacceptable for employees! That's the company's job! That's why we direct their enquiries to a call centre, full of badly trained, underpaid, horribly managed, staff with no power to deal with their complaints anyway...
Or on a more serious note. No! Holding customers in contempt is a standard way to let off steam. There is no company in the world who could sack all their staff who did that, because they'd go bankrupt overnight. Due to not having any staff.
Admittedly doing things in public could make things worse. But unless he used government data or actual recordings in the app, I'd have thought that lower-level action would be more appropriate.
"Our shields can't repel failure of this magnitude!"
I don't hold most of my users in contempt. Anyone who is rude though, well frankly they deserve all the mocking they get. There's a difference between a knowledge gap and wilfull ignorance.
"......The Minister considers this type of conduct offensive and completely unacceptable...." Having a sense of humour is unacceptable? I'd suggest the guy lawyers up as, unless his game actually depicts either his employer or the customers in an unrealistic manner, the game cannot be held to be any more offensive than a train simulator game! If he can demonstrate that his game has real customer comments and that he does not make them behave in an undue manner (and having myself more than once shouted down the phone at HMRC I suspect he has plenty of leeway here!), I'd say he's on pretty good grounds for a wrongful dismissal.
I wouldn't bother. The official arse-covering response (civil servants being much the same everywhere), is irrelevant. As, in all probability, is the game. They'll almost certainly have him for mentioning his job to a newspaper without written clearance, and with public-sector redundancies being something of a sport almost everywhere, the opportunity to save a redundancy payment will have been just too good to miss.
and having myself more than once shouted down the phone at HMRC,
An excellent plan, sir, with only two minor drawbacks. One, we don't have a power source for the lasers; and two, we don't have any lasers. .....
Or why would you shout at HMRC because:
a. they hold all the cards
b. the guy who answers the phone is just doing his job (albeit an offense)
c. did I mention cards
d. plus a small chokes and some (stage whisper) silent sobbing is more effective
In my experience, almost all support call centre staff are well-informed, helpful, calm, and polite. It's their bosses ten levels up who cause most of the customer dissatisfaction.
Today, for example, I looked up my Bank of Scotland (Halifax) [Lloyds TSB] Web banking site, and turned to my Mastercard page. At the top was the balance, and below that... nothing. Just a blank page. Perhaps something weird happens on the 1st of the month? Anyhow, I am quite sure that if the bank's top management put customer satisfaction a little higher on their list of priorities (perhaps somewhere in the top hundred?) that kind of thing wouldn't happen.
But if I rang the support hotline, I am quite sure I would get a friendly voice, a little measured sympathy, and the best help and advice that person can give. (Admittedly, that may not be much - but it's not the call centre person's fault). And they never have any difficulty understanding that it's not *them* I am angry with, but the cynical, heartless, faceless corporation that hides behind them. Talk about human shields!
"The Minister considers this type of conduct offensive ............. to ensure no confidential taxpayer information was compromised."
I personally feel he was wrong in bringing out the game. Certainly to not expect any comeback, if that's the case. However, I would say that bringing up the confidential info thing is just playing on peoples' fears to paint a rosier picture of the Agency. They should've disciplined him, yeah, but not sacked him, I'd say.
The comical thing about this is, we had a very similar thing at school but regarding bullying, it was a video on the 'jeebus' bus that went to schools to teach Christianity.
You had a fat kid getting bullied on the TV, then you had to answer with how he should deal with the situation. Surely this is much the same, except you're not a fat kid, you're a fat call center employee. They probably could have used that video as a training resource.
From working in retail I can easily agree with how stupid customers can be, and it really is a level of stupid beyond what you'd expect. You hear stories about people calling up for the most inane stupid questions. but you never believe them. Friend of mine works for an insurance company, I've heard stories about how he's had people call up because a fuse blew on their "insert electrical appliance" and they wanted to know if their insurance covered it. Most comical is the guys an abrasive moron so I can only imagine him sat there in the office going. "Please hold" *click* ARCH WHY ARE THESE PEOPLE SO BLEEPING BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP *okay sorry about that, just had to confer with one of my colleagues"
(As an FYI, my advice to the fat kid was always wrong, apparently 'threaten to sit on them' isn't the right answer to bullying, but telling the teacher is... Personally I found the opposite to be true, telling teacher did nothing, but jumping on them made them reconsider >.> and I wasn't even overweight)
His next game can approach it from the other side:
CRA calls you about a missing return and you win if you have any money left after they're done with you.
"In light of your failure to file, we have estimated that you owe whatever you have in the bank less the $30 kickback to the bank for giving us your money".
"I'don't have that kind of money. I'll go bankrupt"
"Then borrow money to pay us first"
"That's OK. We do it all the time" (actual conversation)
"Cash in your RRSP and give us the money and maybe we can work something out" (where "maybe" == "we're lying because we legally can't. Oh and by the way, cashing your RRSP will create income so not only will you lose your RRSP but you will actually owe us more after you do this than before.")
...but I'm not bitter.
The Canadian government is, unfortunately, presently in the hands of the 'Progressive' Conservatives who don't do humour.
Gail Shea, an ugly fat frump < http://www.vip.it/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/gail-shea_torta.jpg > used to be Fisheries minister which, by her appearance, suited her fine.
We await to see if David Gallant appeals this knee-jerk decision.
As Skyhawk said on the CBC.CA site "When a lowly call centre employee of a government department gets the attention of the Minister, you know they're doing something right!"
Whilst the firing might be excessive, it quite probably could be the best thing that ever happened to him. Way too many people stick around in jobs they hate. In this day and age it really is not that hard to change jobs, yes it helps the more education you have, but there are jobs out there. Maybe dont quit your current job until you have a new one, but there's nothing wrong with looking and applying.
Most people seem to be afraid to change jobs (its bad here but the next company could be worse) but the truth is that everytime you change jobs its usually a step up in pay (cause your unlikely to take something offering less then your current salary), and if you already hate your current job, even if the next job is only a little bit better thats still a massive improvement!
(Spoken as someone who has tended to change jobs every couple of years for 10 years now)...
I would send a message of support " I feel your pain, buddy"
but I fear the ....................I am not your buddy, Sir............response.
(TBH it's a passive aggressive pet hate of mine that really gets me goat. ..Old joke alert!! Don't call me Pal, what do think I am? a tin of dogfood!......Sorry, Chum. )
"Don't call me Pal, what do think I am? a tin of dogfood!"
Don't call me Pal, what do you think I am? The European television broadcast standard widely in use through the era of analog broadcasting!
In a related note, I was recently talking with someone named 'Shirley', who made a joke - and I singularly failed to respond, "Shirley, you jest!" when given an absolutely golden opportunity. I was kicking myself, let me tell you.
Well - if the call-centre staff are helpful, well informed and charming then they are not doing their job properly.
Unhelpful, cnutish script-readers is in the JD and it must be stuck to rigorously if those pesky customers are ever going to get the message - "Just give us the money and shut up"
They fired him for designing a game where "If the player is terse or crabby, or handles the call incorrectly, then they lose."
Fail. Not because they have no sense of humour, but because they've just told all their staff that clients doen't matter, they will only be fired for not sucking up to management.
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