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This Call May Be Monitored ...

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the important-to-us dept.

Privacy 443

Iphtashu Fitz writes "We've all heard it. The recorded message when you call technical support or your bank or credit card company: 'This call may be monitored for quality assurance purposes.' But has it ever occurred to you that people actually DO listen in? Approximately 2 percent of these calls are listened to either live or after the fact, and it may come as a surprise that Big Brother even listens to what you may say while you are on hold. The people who monitor these calls routinely hear arguments between spouses or parents and children, people yelling at pets, and all sorts of other domestic disputes."

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Here We Go Again (1, Insightful)

the_mad_poster (640772) | more than 9 years ago | (#11324941)

And, as always, my question is this: how is it that this is related to my rights online when I call up a remote location, with no idea what's on the other end, and my call is recorded when I speak INTO THE PHONE *after* I'm told it might be recorded?

Is there a problem? Is the phone being tapped causing it to malfunction on the original caller's end in such a way that it picks up sounds that should reasonably be expected NOT to enter the phone circuit otherwise? No.

No, this is another example of where some idiot somehwere might have gotten pissy because he's so lacking in the basic knowledge required to operate a telephone that he somehow thought that if he's standing there yelling at his wife to get him a beer and not give him any lip, that somehow his voice was not going to go into the uncovered receiver on his phone and be picked up by whatever happens to be on the other end.

Then, michael, being a socialist prick and probably the biggest slashdot troll in history, saw an excuse to plop "big brother" down on the front page of the venerable "news for tards" site that is Slashdot, label it "Your Rights Online" and watch the ensuing flamefest as people bite.

IHBT by Michael Sims.
I will HAND.

Re:Here We Go Again (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11325011)

I'd like to tell their stupid machine that I'm recording their call; and keep the record for when I need to complain to their management about poor customer support.

I assume if I tell their on-hold-music-machine "I'm recording your call too" that would be OK.

Re:Here We Go Again (2, Funny)

GweiLeong (846704) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325040)

The sad thing is I hate to think what some people have said while on hold.

"Dammit, Bob, that's not how you make crystal meth! Hold the phone for a sec, Janice. Eugene! Put that blunt away, it's mine dammit!"

Re:Here We Go Again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11325062)

When one is on hold, it's reasonable to assume that any recording isn't really for "quality control or training purposes" and that you thus haven't given consent.

Re:Here We Go Again (1)

eln (21727) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325106)

That's the only reason I could see anyone really getting upset about this practice. But then, that's why God invented the "Mute" button.

Re:Here We Go Again (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11325081)

Dear Michael,

You got served.

Yours truely,
Anonymous Coward

Why even bother? (1)

Safety Cap (253500) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325181)

Just like Katz, the best way to deal with Mr. Simms is to exclude him from your front page stories. ...unless you like to bait 'n' troll him. In that case, be my guest.

What our beloved and svelt Mr. Simms doesn't understand (because he's never worked in any customer support capacity; ignorance=strength), is that this is not news. Calls have been recorded for um, a long, long time.


Maybe mikey can post my new sumission: This just in: THE GOVERNMENT CAN NOW RECORD WHAT YOU SAY OVER YOUR PHONE LINE!!!!1111 8r4nd n3w tech' a110w5 government agents to tap your phone line & you won't 3v3n no it!!!11 WTF!!!!111 LOL!!!!11

Re:Here We Go Again (1)

Mr.Ned (79679) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325250)

Hear hear.

Re:Here We Go Again (1)

m.h.2 (617891) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325255)

That was probably the most well-deserved bitch slap I've read in months.

(OT, sig) what do you mean you DIDN'T hate the tr. (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11325340)

I guess "supporting the troops" has been redefined by conservatives as "sending troops into battle without sufficient manpower or equipment under pretense while lowering their combat pay and family benefits and forcing them to stay indefinately and all this while keeping one's head firmly placed in one's butt about the potential that some people in Iraq might not like us being there."

If this is SUPPORTING the troops, I find it hard to believe that Kerry/Edwards could have done worse, other than randomly selecting some military personnel and personally killing them on primetime television. Or maybe I just missed my govt-sponsored ration of logic-altering substance today.

Re:Here We Go Again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11325398)

The problem I have with call monitoring is that I have no say in the matter. If I want service, then I must submit to montitoring. And, the service I may be wanting is to terminate my relationship with the party being called. In this case I really have no alternative to being monitored.

You can appologize for the bastards doing this all day, but it doesn't change the fact that there is really NO ALTERNATIVE!

Turn it to your advantage (5, Interesting)

fembots (753724) | more than 9 years ago | (#11324946)

Just pretend talking to your friend while on hold, discussing the option to switch to another competitor "if this call doesn't solve my problems", that might get you something.

Re:Turn it to your advantage (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325043)

Or play Meg Ryan faking an orgasm from "When Harry Met Sally".

Can I record their calls too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11324957)

Is it ok for me to monitor their calls as well. Would be helpful for escalating support calls with clueless techs?

Re:Can I record their calls too? (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325321)

When I did tech support for an ISP, our policy was to terminate the call if the customer was recording and wouldn't stop. We reserved the right to record but refused to allow anybody else to do so. Most places probably have the same policy.

Yes, it has occured to me (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11324963)

Is this going to turn into some big 'my rights are being violated' bitch fest? Come on people.

Crap (2, Funny)

GweiLeong (846704) | more than 9 years ago | (#11324969)

So the FBI and CIA know my mother's pissed that I haven't given her any grandkids yet? There goes my presidential hopes.

Re:Crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11325196)

You want to have the President's kids?

Dude, that's fucked up.

Sheesh (5, Insightful)

glaqua (572332) | more than 9 years ago | (#11324972)

What part of "This call may be monitored" did you not understand?

Time to listen to some old apple tech support (1)

suso (153703) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325329)

These are hilarious []

My favorite is Screamer.mp3

Re:Sheesh (1)

turgid (580780) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325377)

Many people might not realise that "This call may be monitored" also applies to the time you're kept on hold listening to irritating music, cursing the company you're calling....

Or me saying (1)

Prince Vegeta SSJ4 (718736) | more than 9 years ago | (#11324978)

$^@@%&&^%& god @#$%^%@ phone system, I #$%#@$%#$% had to wait 3$%#$%#$% 20 minutes just to punch in the numbers to get #$%#$%^#$%$ put on hold for another #$%#$%@%@#% hour just to have some @#$%#$%#$^$^ tech read from a script, when I know what the #$%#$%#$$^ problems is.

Big Brother? Not quite... (3, Informative)

Lindsay Lohan (847467) | more than 9 years ago | (#11324981)

Approximately 2 percent of these calls are listened to either live or after the fact, and it may come as a surprise that Big Brother even listens to what you may say while you are on hold
Listeners are primarily interested in monitoring the agent and his/her adherence to support protocol--not the caller per-se, as some sort of eavesdropping effort. IMO, that doesn't equate to "Big Brother"... however I'll keep my finger near the mute button :)

You'd think that if 2% of the calls are monitored for quality control purposes... then QC would actually improve in the long run. In my experience, phone support/service is generally about the same (or less) quality as it was many years ago.

Re:Big Brother? Not quite... (3, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325126)

however I'll keep my finger near the mute button
Have you tested yuor mute button - a LOT of phones, if you listen carefully, you can still hear someone who's pressed their MUTE button - it doesn't completely cut off the sound.

Re:Big Brother? Not quite... (2, Insightful)

danheskett (178529) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325162)

What they want to know is: how much crappy service is the average customer willing to put up with before thinking seriously about switching.

Then they aim to provide just above that level.. so they want to know: "What is the least amount of money we can spend to please the largest number of customers just enough to keep thme as customers"

Re:Big Brother? Not quite... (1)

MarkGriz (520778) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325244)

You'd think that if 2% of the calls are monitored for quality control purposes... then QC would actually improve in the long run. In my experience, phone support/service is generally about the same (or less) quality as it was many years ago.

No, no, no. You misunderstand.

They are monitoring the call to gauge the quality of their *customers*. The more annoying their customers appear to be, the more likely it is that your call is mysteriously dropped when they "transfer" you to another department.

Re:Big Brother? Not quite... (1)

XaviorPenguin (789745) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325341)

I am in a call center now for cell phones and here is my take on the recording issue...

It is used! Granted that our calls are not ALL monitored, some are, and they reach our Quality people, they make sure we are doing our job accurately. After 3 days, the recorded call is deleted. We do this all the time. The calls that were monitored are handed to our Supervisors and then handed to us as Associates. Call Quality for me at least has improved as I am told that I need to do things a little bit better than what I did. Apparantly I am making the Client we go through happy with the way I do my calls.

HAving worked at a big TeleSales company .. (5, Funny)

crypty (768045) | more than 9 years ago | (#11324983)

I always loved telling people they were on hold and listening to them for a while... People seem to lose all sense of reality when you tell them they are on hold.. Some of the names you get called are quite.... entertaining.

Re:HAving worked at a big TeleSales company .. (4, Insightful)

jetkust (596906) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325099)

People seem to lose all sense of reality when you tell them they are on hold

Actually what they say while they think they are on hold IS the reality.

Sp0rkB0tFr0wn (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11324986)


Hello? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11324994)

So what? I am glad somebody listens....Hello???....Heellooo....???

idiot (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11324996)

what made you think that they weren't?

This call may be monitored or recorded (4, Funny)

sgtron (35704) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325000)

This call may be monitored or recorded? Ok thanks, I'll just hit record now then.. thank you for your permission.

Re:This call may be monitored or recorded (2, Interesting)

crypty (768045) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325055)

Tele ___insert occupation here___ get very upset when you offer to record them. THey just stop dead in their tracks and wait... They are not really much fun..

Re:This call may be monitored or recorded (1)

henrik (98) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325357)

How is it in the USA? Are you allowed to record a conversation between two people if you are one of them?

Here it is legal to record conversations (anyone may do so) if one of the two participants know about the recording. So you may record the counter part on the phone as you know you are doing it.

Re:This call may be monitored or recorded (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325061)

Um, since when did you need their permission? You're a party of the conversation you can record it all you want.


Re:This call may be monitored or recorded (4, Informative)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325119)

Um, since when did you need their permission? You're a party of the conversation you can record it all you want.

There are twelve states that require permission from both sides of a phone call for it to be recorded. This site has the list. []

Re:This call may be monitored or recorded (1)

Holi (250190) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325202)

But once you hear that canned phrase "This call may be monitored or recorded..blah blah" startup your tape recorder as now both parties know a recording is being made. You don't have to tell them that you are making one too.

Arizona will be surprised (1)

FlightTest (90079) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325237)

They don't seem to be a state, according to the linked site. However Washington D.C. has been elevated to statehood.

Re:This call may be monitored or recorded (1)

miracle69 (34841) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325240)

Alabama isn't on that list.... :/

So much for all 50 states.

Re:This call may be monitored or recorded (1)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325284)

There are something like twelve states that interepre their respective wiretap accts in such a way that recording a phone conversation that you are a party to equates to illegal wiretapping of an electronic communications.

This is absurd, of course, the wiretap laws were created to keep non-parties from intercepting calls.

Also, TV likes to make it seem like it's normal to require permission to record a conversation, when in most cases, it's actually not as long as one party is aware.

Good. (0)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325016)

> it may come as a surprise that Big Brother even listens to what you may say while you are on hold.

I'm actually glad to hear that, because I usually spend the time telling them how crappy their service is and how much of my time they're wasting.

My Rights Online? (3, Insightful)

goldspider (445116) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325022)

I don't get it.

My rights: I'm told that the call may be monitored. I can hang up if I object. No 'rights' are being violated.

Online: You mean "on the phone", right?

Seriously, where's the BIG BROTHER story here? Slow news day?

I guessed as much... (1)

francisew (611090) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325030)

I pretty much assumed that was the case, so I usually make a point of complaining verbally about the wait, the music and te service during the hold period. :)

I think that it should be illegal for the other party to record the call without your explicit consent... after all, even though they mention that the call may be monitored, often it's a few minutes of hold time before you can actually tell the human responder that you don't want to be eavesdropped on.

Tricky dilemna:

Forego the service, or lose your rights?

Re:I guessed as much... (2, Funny)

psyon1 (572136) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325246)

You tell them you dont want to be recorded by hanging up. Then again, that does suck if your calling for support or something.

Re:I guessed as much... (1)

danheskett (178529) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325253)

What's the dilemna?

You have no right to cell phone service, or cable TV, or computer tech support, or whatever. It's agreement - tit for tat.

For the things that are truly considered rights: interaction with government, phone service, etc you can always conduct business like they did fifty years ago. By mail.

Listen to my curses (1)

teiresias (101481) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325031)

Sure, if they want to listen in on my cursing while waiting for their tech support than sure I have no problem with that. Maybe, just maybe, they might do something about it.

Although probably not.

Duh! (1)

kngthdn (820601) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325037)

I worked at Stream [] last summer...believe me, the QA people listen to lots of your calls.

Being evil to the customer is a surefire way to get fired.

Re:Duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11325096)

Dude you HAVE to introduce me to the hot redheaded chiquita [] at Stream... O_O

Re:Duh! (1)

Chexum (1498) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325238)

Being evil to the customer is a surefire way to get fired.

What I don't get if that need to listen to muzak, because there is not enough people... why are there people to listen in on? Verrückte welt.

Legality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11325053)

Some states require consent from ALL parties, and I don't think merely staying on the phone after being notified of recording, is legally considered consent.

Has anyone in a two-party state tried suing over this? I know it's legal in one-party states, same as I can record all calls I am part of in such states.

Re:Legality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11325193)

In what situation would both parties not be aware? If you live in a two-party state, then you know because they've told you and they know because they are the ones recording. If you are the one doing the recording then you know, and since they told you it may be monitored then they consent as well.

Re:Legality? (1)

eggoeater (704775) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325242)

For certain types of calls (commercial accounts, securities accounts) the SEC requires calls to be recorded (they may or may not necessarily be monitored.) I'm a programmer ink in a bank call center.
Also... all other reps have an "emergency" button on their phone they can press to record the conversation in case a caller starts threating to come down and start shooting people.

Re:Legality? (1)

youngerpants (255314) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325367)

I don't know about the USA, but in the UK, you don't even have to play the "this call may be..." message. However, the caller must still be informed of a recording taking place, so you will hear the occasional soft beep during the conversation.

listening in (2, Informative)

PTBarnum (233319) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325063)

I don't know about Iphtashu Fitz, but when I hear a message saying "this call may be monitored", I generally assume it is there for a reason, i.e. this call may be monitored. Are there really people who are suprised that some of their calls are in fact monitored?

This is fairly universal among call centers, because call center managers never trust their employees to do the right thing without first-hand supervision.

To be fair, I was suprised about the on-hold part. What is the point of listening to that?

Privacy concerns? (2, Insightful)

lothar97 (768215) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325075)

It's common for places to state "this call may be monitored for training and feedback," but I imagine most people (like myself) assume this means you're recorded only when talking to a live person.

Generally when I'm on hold, I'm either bitching about the f'ing annoying voicemail system that won't properly connect me, or about the idiot who has put me on hold for the fifth time while "helping" me. Great, I must have a lot of black marks on my "record" with Cingular, because I curse like a sailor when I'm on hold...

Re:Privacy concerns? (1)

recursiv (324497) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325276)

You know what happens when we assume:

U are called an ass by me.

It's true (3, Interesting)

paranode (671698) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325087)

I interviewed for a phone support job a few years ago when I was a college student. Before I even talked to the interviewer, they took me to the floor and hooked me up to listen with a support rep. This was a bank, I won't say which one. I listened to account numbers, socials, you name it. I wasn't even an employee. I didn't end up getting the job, either (though I was sort of glad after hearing the irate customers for ten minutes).

And yeah, they can hear you on hold, so do be careful.

From the other side... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11325094)

I'd be placed on the other side of this debate - I manage the callcenter phone systems and I'm in charge of the call recording systems. Our system takes approx. 25,000 calls per day with hundreds of agents - we could care less about what you say to your kids while on the phone. The systems are in place for our/your protection - when you call and say an agent was abusive or told you incorrect information, it's the call recording we listen to that will tell us how the call went. When we need to monitor live calls, it's for the agent's performance review - you're just a prompt they respond to. We're listening for the agent's attitude and ability to solve the problem. As paranoid as I am in my personal life, we really can't make this about "Your Rights Online"...

Not only do they listen, but.... (0)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325095)

" 'This call may be monitored for quality assurance purposes.' But has it ever occurred to you that people actually DO listen in? "

Not only do they have people listen, but the same people are also employed to say in identical tones every 90 seconds for hours on end "Your call is important to us...". It's a thankless job. I also feel sorry for James Earl Jones. No matter where he is, or if it is o-dark-30 in the morning, the poor sap has to call up the CNN headquarters every 30 minutes and say "This is CNN" into the phone, at which point it goes out over the air. It's enough to make anyone turn to the dark side.

Re:Not only do they listen, but.... (1)

CTalkobt (81900) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325270)

Off topic I know, but...

can we have a moderation of "UnFunny" for these feeble attempts at humor that really don't cut it.

( I hope that's what he was trying to do instead of being serious. Hope no clueless person marks him insightful ).

Thanks for ruining my date.... (4, Funny)

VE3ECM (818278) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325100)

"Recently, Pike stumbled onto a call where a young male customer was flirting with a female service agent at a cell phone company. After some giggles and banter, the woman relented and gave her personal phone number to the customer. Pike quickly alerted the cell phone company to the phone date."

Dammit... that was my first date this millenium, too. No wonder she told me off when I called!

which makes me ask a silly question... (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325111)

Is it legal to tape the call [yourself] while they put you on hold?

I mean what license do you have to those classic 1983s hits?


HA (2, Interesting)

megarich (773968) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325112)

Well my question is if these people say hear arguments, death threats and what not and now someone gets murdered, should they be held liable because they knew something could happen but didn't act upon it?

Of course they won't be but all I'm saying if you are gonna eavesdrop, you should take ALL responsibilities that come along with it....

Fact is... (2, Interesting)

beatnitup (616700) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325113)

I used to work tech support for a major ISP back when I was in highschool and our calls where monitored as well. The calls were mostly monitored in order to insure proper instructions support were provided...BUT...there where notes and logs of each transaction taken and *Very Often* there were notes and warnings about horrible and abusive clients. Not that any frequent /.'er would ever call tech support.

While on hold? (1)

MightyPez (734706) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325125)

I'm curious if they've ever listened to me utter, "bunch of assholes..." while I was waiting for help?

2 percent? (1)

rzebram (828885) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325131)

Approximately 2 percent of these calls are listened to either live or after the fact

That explains why I never actually get my questions answered... Nobody's listening!

what the message should say (2, Funny)

geekpuppySEA (724733) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325140)

"For quality assurance, your call may be monitored, quantified, duly mocked among coworkers, used in training courses as an example of a psycho user, or outright ignored."

I wish! (2, Funny)

underpar (792569) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325141)

This takes me back to the bad old days while working in a phone center for Cross Country Bank. On my last day I told everyone not to sign up for the Visa because the company sucked and the customer service number was long distance.

I really wanted someone to be listening to that, but I didn't get a response form the mysterious back room. I just hope they heard it on tape.


What amazes me... (2, Insightful)

krbvroc1 (725200) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325146)

What I don't understand is not that *shock* a call is being monitored after I hear a recording saying that it is being monitored. No, what I don't understand is how these recordings have not seemed to improve quality / customer service. I keep getting the same tech droid giving wrong answers as before. Typically I'm thinking to myself, if someone is monitoring this call for quality, please speak up and help!

Ha (1)

avalys (221114) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325154)

On more than few occasions then, they must've heard me muttering things under my breath while on hold:

"grr...what's wrong with this stupid company..."
"stupid asshats, I'm never buying their widgets again"
*click* *boooooooooooooooooooooooooooooop*

While on hold (1)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325157)

I make it a point to curse the company, the big shots, their kinfolks, pets and homelands, all the children they may ever have and their children, etc...

I never call anywhere just to say "Hi! I'm so pleased with your product/service that I just wanted to call and say thanks!", when I call anywhere about something, I"m pissed and I make sure they are bloody well aware of it..

Like anything will change. But it does feel good to let them know how I feel about their crappy, offshored/outsourced product/service...

Your wait time is.... (1)

I_am_Rambi (536614) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325164)

and it may come as a surprise that Big Brother even listens to what you may say while you are on hold.

I've always hoped that they listen while I am on hold. That way they get to hear my frustration of being on hold and calling their machines stupid and a bunch of other names. They also hear that I want to talk with a crazy person and not a machine. Bring on listening to while I am on hold, I don't care.

I had to do this (2, Informative)

British (51765) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325169)

Being an unofficial supervisor in my tech support job, I did my share of monitoring calls. It's pretty uneventful. You're just checking out if your tech support rep guy is doing his/her job right. You fill out a form in regards to the call, and send it to his/her manager.

Heck, I once got a super-irate customer yelling & screaming at me, and told a coworker(who had supervisor priveledges too), and he asked me "What's your extension?", and I gave it to him so he could listen in on the fun. When you work tech support, you have to make the job fun.

Information (1)

IncidentA5 (844618) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325178)

You technically are volenteering this information because you could mute the call. I think this blurs the line as to what the company can use against you: i.e. insurance companies overheading what is said while your on hold...

What if you just got a DNA Test for a life threatening disease in the mail and you were calling to update your insurance policy and somehow they overheard that you were positive?

The same might hold true for cases against abuse, misleading the company, and mindlessly whispering your password.. Could ID theft be made an issue with this kind of system?

-my 2 cents

This is not a surprise (1)

MattW (97290) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325183)

Aren't there enough people that have worked in call centers at one time or another that this is just common knowledge? I spent 9 months doing tech support. If you called, there was a tiny chance your call would get monitored. Where I was, it meant you were likely to get the best possible service, too; our supervisors warned us (especially those they liked) that they would be doing monitoring in the near future. It usually happened on a quarterly basis and would consist of a couple hours of their listening and taking notes.

I'm sure the details vary from place to place, but there's no conspiracy here.

Transfer me... (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325187)

Then they routinely hear me saying "Just tranfser me to a fucking human!" while I'm going through the voice-automated phonetree.

They've gotten ridiculous.

Please Terminate The Call (3, Funny)

charliefrog77 (729949) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325190)

I kept a young, hopeful MCI rep tied up for forty five minutes during a routine "would you like to try our internet service" call. Playing the role of a slightly mentally retarded teenager, I actually had the guy explaining to me that I could check my email when the computer wasn't connected, and that their install CD would work in my blueberry IMAC even though there were four other discs jammed in it already. The person monitoring the call broke in and asked the young man to "please terminate the call." He called me back when he realized what was going on and gave me a royal cussing, also informing me that he'd switched my long distance service to MCI's most expensive plan. I stayed in character the whole time, actually putting the phone down to go take a leak and returning to his angry yammering. When I returned, I explained to him (in my best "retard voice") that I'd set a pick lock on the line and he was full of crap. I got a call back the next day from the manager (who had broken into the previous call) and he explained that the kid had been disciplined. Whatever that meant. He probably got a few paid vacation days and an MCI tote bag.

You can often opt-out (1)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325204)

Occasionally it is explicitly stated in the message, most often not, but you can usually, at the start of the conversation state that you don't want your call either monitored or recorded. It is surprising how often the person at the other end will agree and do something about it (I regularly make a request to not be monitored or recorded in such situations). If they refuse... well, just demand to talk to someone who will allow your call to not be monitored.

As to whether they actually do stop any recording or monitoring... You can never know. They are legally bound to warn you that you may be monitored or recorded however, so if the person at the other end agrees to turn off all monitoring and recording and fails to do so, that has consequences should it ever come to light. It's the same as monitoring your call without telling you... which many places may be doing anyway. If you want to be ultra-paranoid, don't use the phone. If you just want a little privacy, ask for any monitoring to be disabled.


True story (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325205)

I used to work at a brokerage firm and one of the more senior assistants told us the time when she was calling someone within the organization about issues she was having with an account. She was placed on hold and while that took place she was talking to the assistant across the aisle from her, basically saying how much of an idiot the person on the phone was and other related matters.

After a time the person came back on line and provided the information that was needed and then told her that she had heard everything that had been said and then hung up.

Needless to say the assistant was very redfaced and made it a rule never to talk when on hold.

I too have followed that advice and have been very careful to say either nothing if I'm on hold or to say nothing incriminating.

Re:True story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11325349)

maybe she should have stopped being such a bitch.

When I'm on hold (1)

OwlWhacker (758974) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325219)

Big Brother even listens to what you may say while you are on hold.

When I'm on hold, I put other people on hold. My habits related to paranoia go back a long way, freak that I am.

I used to listen-in on phone calls at the bank... (2, Interesting)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325222)

...and it really was for quality assurance purposes. When I trained be a customer service rep for CoreStates bank, they would have you tap into various reps phone calls and listen-in to learn how the job gets done. Sometimes you would even physically sit next to that rep and listen-in, unbeknownst to the customer. The supervisors would also listen in to random calls to make sure everyone is being friendly, helpful, etc.

Call monitoring is a quality control function of the customer service department of the company you do business with, not the CIA/FBI/NRO/Freemasons.

listening in. (2, Interesting)

RoundTop-VJAS (580788) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325227)

I work at a support center (one where there is no punch menu system other than "if you wish to leave a voice mail" [and get ignored[) and this is very important for us as if a customer flies off the handle we can record it...and then threaten to cut the customer off internet until he behaves nice.

Other than that, mostly it is employee review, etc.

as i sit here in the call center reading this.... (1)

caino59 (313096) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325263)

*ding* i get a call.

this can and has protected the customer.

also, when an employee gets complaints, they raise the % of monitored calls. if a customer calls in, swears, raises hell, etc, there isn't going to be anything done to effect that customer's service adversly - i mean cmon - that's bad for business. These things REALLY are used for training. If you don't like being recorded - don't call. Either that - or don't act like a jackass on the phone - simple enough.

As far as what's heard while on hold - I know for a fact that customers here are NOT recorded while on hold. However, it is normal for them to call in, as soon as they get connected to you - they ask YOU to hold and then procede to ream out children/spouses.

Remember - it takes all kinds to make the world go round - you never know what you'll hear on a call.

News to me! (1)

pctainto (325762) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325267)

All the posts I see are comdeming the public for not knowing that your hold time is being recorded. But honestly, why would you EVER think that it would be? When they say "this call may be monitored for quality control assurance" or whatever -- wouldn't that apply only to what the operator says? It seems to me like it means that.

Also, remember that most people think of hold as the hold that you have on your phone at home -- you can't listen to someone while they are on hold, they are just sitting there waiting for you to pick up.

Stop being elitist pricks and saying that its stupid to think that no one is recording while you're on hold

I used to work in the Industry (1)

Noishe (829350) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325296)

I used to work for a company that contracted out a call center to AT and T so maybe this is why I'm not surprised at all, because new trainee's regularily "tap" into a conversation that another employee is working on and listen in to gain experience. I did it myself when I was a trainee too. I actually enjoyed it because someof the things people said when they were on hold could be quite amusing. Especially when it was obvious that the person on hold had no idea that "on hold" only disconnects the employee in teh call center, not the recording equipment or the trainee or Quality assurance manager who is also listening in. We even had to report in a man who was talking to someone about killing his wife.

ALL Call Centre calls are taped (1)

Torontoman (829262) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325303)

It's safe to assume ALL calls to a bank for example are taped. Rather than be afraid of your rights etc - you should know that at all times the taping is done in order to ensure you're being given proper service, information, and in a nice friendly way - the main reason is "call coaching". I used to work at one of these bank call centres and certainly I had never heard of anyone getting into trouble *Except* employees who stepped outside the box, or thought too much, or simply tried to deviate from any sort of scripting protocol... Oh yes, and these employees often got into trouble in the 'coaching review sessions' - where they replay samples of your calls - for NOT SELLING ENOUGH PRODUCT. Take it as a 'law' that even if you call a bank and ask for your account balance - the person answering the phone is being compensated or at least graded (ultimately affecting pay) on how much they sell you - ALWAYS.

Sample (1)

MrPinstripeCom (848671) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325316)

heard on QA'ing a Tech Support call at Earthlink Tech Support
Woman on Mute to man yelling in background:(on MUTE, not hold) I don't know what you're bitching and screaming about, I just sucked you _____ for two shut it!

yeah, man, bong tokes, parent/children arguments, weird giggling/slurping sounds, heavy breathers, its all out there, on whatever Customer support center's HD's you call into. If they have CS, tehey have QA, if they have QA, they've heard it all.

quality coaching (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11325323)

Quality coaching is absolutely essential at the call center where i work. a majority of agents have extremely limited technical abilities when they start (its isp tech support) and the training (a whole 2.5 weeks) is less than useless. without quality coaching, the place would fall apart.

Can lead to unexpected results (2, Funny)

eric76 (679787) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325328)

I knew one president of a company who noticed one day that every desk in the office had a recorder to record the telephone calls.

So he went to a local store and bought a bunch of casette tapes, took them back to the office, and put a tape in each recorder.

After that, about once a month, he'd go through the office to pick up the old tapes and put in fresh tapes.

He would then put the tapes he collected in a box in his car trunk. While driving around Houston, he'd listen to the tapes to see how his employees were dealing with the customers.

His wife actually ran the office. He acted more as an idea man and met personally with the customers whenever necessary.

One day his wife borrowed his car. She picked up the tape off the seat and put it in the tape player.

It was her telephone calls.

She thought her husband was spying on her and filed for divorce. As part of the divorce settlement, she received $1,000,000 paid in equal monthly installments over 5 years.

His lawyer screwed up royally. He didn't include a stipulation that she couldn't use the money to compete against his company.

So she used the money to start up a company that competed directly against him.

Without her running his office and without him delegating the authority very well to an employee to run the office, her company pushed his into bankruptcy in five years. At the time they filed bankruptcy, he had only one remaining payment of the $1,000,000 left to make.

Turing test - phonesex (5, Funny)

wash23 (735420) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325330)

I hope someone was listening the time I administered the Turing test to a female synthetic-voice / voice-recognition self-help system, in the form of an attempt to solicit phone sex... (Telus customer assistance robot: 1-800-400-2598)

Good (1)

elmegil (12001) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325331)

I'm glad they get to hear what I really think of their fucking forever wait times. Goddamn phone monkeys.

In other news... (1)

qwertphobia (825473) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325333)

Your neighbor is listening to your conversations through that baby monitor. If you value your privacy, turn off the transmitter AND the receiver when you don't need to keep an ear on those tots!

Put on your tin foil hat (1)

sutirt (801196) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325347)

FWIW at Dell it worked this way; the phone system would randomly select calls to record or your manager could silently listen in at any time. And yeah, these calls really were used for training purposes (coaching). We didn't have access to people on hold either, now mute is a different story. But this is really simple to detect on most systems... if you hear music you're on hold, if you don''re not! Not fail proof but that's what you're hat is for!

Not always people listening in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11325371)

They could be using software from NICE [] called NICE Perform which allows companies to do all sorts of analysis on what's being recorded.

I did this (1)

jridley (9305) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325373)

I used to work for a company (now out of business) that built some of the first touch-tone-directed ordering systems. One of them was a system that Michigan liquor retailers used to reorder stock from the Liquor Control Commission (the state regulating body).

We had listen-only handsets we could plug into the modular sockets on the front of any of a row of several dozen cards and listen to calls in progress. We did this while debugging systems in the field so we could see if the system was working, what sort of problems people were having, etc.

I've seldom heard the equal of the language used by old liquor store owners who are trying to order a hundred various bottles of liquor by typing touch-tones into a fully-automated system that wasn't cooperating with them. I'm surprised the phone didn't melt.

R&D (1)

AnonymousCactus (810364) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325390)

I had the opportunity to work for a company that collected tons of this information from their consumer side and used it extensively for speech recognition training data in their research department. It seemed like every talk I attended by a member of this group was started by the speaker playing an excerpt of one of the more humorous or frustrated callers. Customer> I can't believe they have me talking to a f#$king machine! System> I'm sorry, I don't understand what you said. Did you want information about your bill? Customer> No! I want to talk to a f$#king person! The moral: If you curse at a machine be prepared to be laughed at by people for years to come. Of course you probably don't know them and they've all signed NDA's...

and in other news... (1)

spir0 (319821) | more than 9 years ago | (#11325391)

some people are forced go to work because big brother makes them pay for their accomodation, food, and power.

fuck off.
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