worst job ever: TELEMARKETING


it was 1989. i was 19 years old, going to college at southern utah university in cedar city, utah.

getting a job was a necessary evil--my parents were paying for my rent and school, but for some reason frowned on me laying around listening to milli vanilli on my walkman and watching mtv. part of the deal was me getting gainful employment, but jobs were scarce in that small town. so i applied for the job that every college student was working at: nise corporation telemarketing. i got the position since basically the only requirement for the job was for me to have a pulse and not show up drunk.

i started the 10 day training process with high hopes. we started studying the "scripts"--actual pages and pages of dialogue that they wanted us to use with the potential customer that we had to read from a binder. there were a lot of words, but i memorized fairly fast and considered myself quite skilled in the fine art of winning friends and influencing people. this would be like shooting fish in a barrel, i told myself.

we were selling credit card insurance to card-holders of a large corporation that employed us. keep in mind that this was in the age of guerrilla-style telemarketing: you keep talking and pushing and talking and pushing until the potential victim either caved or screamed naughty words at you and hung up.

the script had a rebuttal for every rejection. if they said, "i need to check with my spouse before i purchase anything." then you would turn to the "talk to my wife/husband prior" page and read the script. if they said, "i don't need credit card insurance." then you would turn to the "in denial of needing insurance." page and torment them some more. any single scenario you could think of? yup, they had a page for it. the answer that was the most dreaded? "my spouse, who was the card-holder, is dead." then you went to the "deceased" page and read from the script which went basically like, "oh. i'm sorry, ma'am/sir. i am so very sorry for your loss. would you happen to be an authorized signer on the card? if not, could you please put them on the phone?" legit.

they did NOT want you to hang up that phone until you had given at least THREE rebuttals. which meant that they had to tell you "no. stop. screw you, you jerk!" thrice before you were allowed to hang up and move on to the next number. that's like a million years in telemarketing-on-the-phone time.

i made it 15 days before having a nervous breakdown. the final straw came when the phone call i had made to a potential customer in modesto, california (will NEVER forget that location. it's scarred into my brain. like a cattle brand.) ended with him telling me that he would bet i was the ugliest looking woman in real life. cue tears, mascara running, and collection of final paycheck after slamming the phone down and yelling, "DAMMIT! i'm OUT."


it was my worst job, ever.

can you 'one up' me on this one?

37 comments:

Mikki said...

I don't think I can one-up you on this one, but I can sympathize. My worst was for a large bank/credit card corporation, working their customer service on phones. I seriously had a knot in my stomache on the way to work every day. Angry people calling in about their credit cards-I just couldn't hack it, I lasted about two weeks after the six week training course.

Devri said...

Poor Mindi, you win on this one.

tammy said...

Nope!

I just read a friend's blog, who said she sang "I Belong to the Church of Jesus Christ" to the telemarketer that called. Was there a page in your book for that?

Brooke said...

I think you win. Do you think that rude guy who called you ugly was the creepy guy who killed his pregnant wife? You don't want approval from him anyway.

Tiffany said...

No, you definitely win. My husband worked for Discover Card when we got married and for about $9/hour, they slowly sucked out his will to live. He used to get in trouble for using his own words instead of his script.

It was when he quit Discover Card that he got really serious about wanting to go to graduate school. So the lesson is that twelve agonizing years of school with no pay is STILL better than working at Discover Card!

Anonymous said...

BURGER KING... Brown Polyester uni with some kind of western theme going on. running and then tearing the whole burger machine apart every night until 1 am..... I lasted three weeks.

Hummmmm. now that I think about it..do you think i could get that job back?

Hildie said...

I worked at a kiosk in a mall that photographed people, then made ugly posters and buttons out of them. Or pillowcases.

It wouldn't have been so bad except the boss wanted us to shout to people passing by, and invite them in. Like the guy working at the carnival games! I couldn't do it. I can't even get the guts up to yell something good like 'free cookie samples".

I lasted two days.

Annje said...

I've had a bad telemarketing job, but my husband's was worse. He came here from Chile and had just gotten his work permit and got hired through a temp agency to work at a call center where people called in to get quotes for car insurance. He didn't speak very much English and they had hired him for the Spanish speakers--but none called in so he had to take calls in English. He had to take name and address info, but what killed him was getting the VIN #s for the car--those things have about 25 numbers and letters. If you have ever had to talk on the phone in a foreign language, you can appreciate how much fun that must have been--for both parties. The customer would be finishing the VIN # and my husband would be "LP39. . . can you repeat that?...it took him at least 3 repeats to get it. He dreaded going to work and only lasted about a week (I alternately die laughing and shed sweet tears of pity every time I think about his first job here).

Brittany said...

holy what the?!?! i totally used that pic on my blog today! but for a very different reason... great minds think alike i suppose...

rachel said...

one semester I washed dishes in my dorm cafeteria for "work study". Hair net, plastic gloves, steam, and half eaten cafeteria food. Oh and the topper? Our dorm was on the backside of "Fraternity Row" so all the cute frat guys came there to eat. I looked oh so glamorous...NOT!

gina bina said...

I think I can one-up you! When I was 15 turning 16 I worked on the night cleaning crew of the Provo MTC cafeteria. We would dress in rain boots and ponchos and literally spray the filth down the drains. I saw a LOT of crap go down there. Let's just saw cockroaches were a problem.


I never went on a mission.

Nathan said...

This isn't a "one up" but I thought I'd add to the growing pile. (this is also my sister's experience, not mine)

When my sister was in school, she worked at an ice cream shop. Inevitably, whole families with 15 kids would come piling into the place. They usually couldn't speak English, and rather than just pointing at the kind they wanted, they would say, "Ten baniya cones, please." My sister always adds that the vanilla was always rock hard and took an ice pick to get even a small chunk out. After ten cones, she wouldn't be able to feel her hand.

JMadd said...

I did market research, which was bad, but since we weren't trying to sell stuff, people weren't that mean. But one time, I had this summer job doing custodial at BYU's Helaman Halls. It was a boys dorm turned into a girls dorm, so we had to clean it really good before the girls moved in during the fall. We scraped boogers off of just about every surface and wiped strange stains off of all of the walls, but the worse was the toilets. We went in there the day after the boys moved out and all of the toilets had been pooped in and then either a shoe or a brick was placed in the toilet. OMG! I only lasted a week on that job.

Elena said...

Um, yeah. I totally worked for the Devil Wears Prada. No joke. Fashion industry designer, very high-end. I can't name names, but she was awful. She'd tell me to do something, and after a lot of hard work it would be done...I would then find out I had done it wrong because during my production process her directions had secretly changed and she never told me. She would then never recall having told me to do it that way in the first place. She also docked pay for every single individual minute you were late/took a longer lunch/had someone die and you went to a funeral, etc.

I lasted a month before quitting. I've never quit anything else in my life. It just wasn't worth the measly pay and stress-induced zits on my otherwise porcelain skin.

Plain Jame said...

I've had about 300 jobs. Even the awful telemarketing in college - 'cept mine was in Ephraim when I went to snow college. Western Watts baby. Snow sucked. It sucked bad. I dropped out the last quarter after drill team was over.

Then I worked for Satan himself in St. George, and that was about the worst. I've never worked since.

Mia said...

I think all of my jobs were pretty dang good compared to what I have read so far.

mCat said...

No topping yours Mindi, you win!
However, my worst job ever was in high school. Picture if you will a decent looking young 17 year old with a (then great) figure. Working the Denny's right off the freeway. Every perverted trucker stopped there and scarred me for life! I lasted a month, then just didn't show up again. Total job abandonment, but I can live with myself.......

kami @ nobiggie.net said...

I was a janitor at my Elementary school for about 1 week...my mom made me do it. Dang Mom...no wonder I need counseling. ;)

ps. Let's get that guy...any excuse for a girl trip with Mindi. ;)

heidi said...

not a one up, but a similar taste of hell. when my husband was in law school i worked in consumer finance(one step above car title loans) making loans at 27 percent interest on things like 4 wheelers and guns and outdoor metal sheds and sometimes just cash over a 5 year period. classy people, classy stuff. when it wasn't peak loan making hours, i was calling people at work and demanding that they pay their bill that was 3 months outstanding. and sometimes we went to their houses to collect. we were sort of like thugs except for the fact that i am not scary in any way. i lasted 6 months. and that was the amazing part.

Omgirl said...

I did tele-surveys. Not quite as bad as telemarketing. Not EVERYONE hates you calling, just most people. But I worked with a bunch of freinds and we played cards in between making calls, so it wasn't that bad.

By the way, you've been tagged! so please go to my blog to see what it's all about.

Misty said...

Does a job making minimum wage, while working in a Snow Shack count?

Cassie said...

Enjoying the stories! Not a one up either, but...I worked for a used car salesman. Picture a skinny tall man, slicked back hair, leisure suit, and made the "guh-huh" sound when he laughed. I was to do some bookwork. He also had a husband/wife team that cleaned the used heaps up for him (picture two really greasy people who only SAY "guh-huh"). Two days into it, I had to go about 60 miles away and help him drive some heaps back to the lot (I could barely keep the car running). Two days after THAT I came in to open the lot, and the husband/wife team were waiting for me. I opened the door, and a pregnant mouse ran by, the wife said "guh-huh" and stepped on it. Baby mice scattered everywhere. I quit that instant!

veronica said...

Can't "one-up" you but I CAN feel your pain.
I only lasted 12 days (yes that's just 2 days past training) and most of that time was spent passing around a list we had compiled of phone numbers that had funny (or obscene) answering machines.

tara said...

been there.

only I was selling "real estate seminars...you can do transactions RIGHT ON THE SPOT"!! i didn't know what the H I was selling. i sucked wind. i would call a number, pray they weren't home and then let it ring for like, 5 minutes so i wouldn't have to talk to people. HATED it.

only other CRAP job was cleaning a medical office building. creepy eyeballs floating in jars (eye replacement Dr) and foot long q-tips (OBGYN- nastiness beyond belief). sick. gross. ewww.

L and T said...

I used to shovel manure on a mink ranch in my neighborhood. Does that count? About two dollars an hour. all alone for hours with nothing but my pitch fork and a small tractor, surrounded by ferocious flesh eating mink. and now twenty years later, you can imagine the groundswell of guilt I feel by supporting that industry. I carry it with me always, festering. The only thing that takes the sting away is working for my foundation...MABOTIT...Mink Are Beautiful On The Inside Too.

Trina said...

I can't one up you, or most of the other stories. I've only ever been a nanny and a Courtesy Clerk--otherwise known as grocery bagger and cart getter.

It wasn't bad as long as I wasn't getting asked out by 30 year old business men (when I was 16).

Physcokity said...

"the only requirement for the job was for me to have a pulse and not show up drunk."

that's a winner fo' sho'

Physcokity said...

I'm sorry for your loss...of self-esteem at least you know for sure that you will never do tele-marketing again.

Right?

Merrill Family said...

Ha Ha Ha this post brings back some memories. When I went to SUU in 1994 I had two job offers, one at Dairy Queen and the other Matrix marketing. I took the telemarketing job because it paid $6.00 an hour. Oh yeah big money! I hated the rejection when someone didn't buy.

Tori :) said...

"Hi, this is Tori and I'm calling on behalf of Cable Vision..." Yep I did it too. WORST JOB EVAH!!

Renee said...

I did marketing research a lifetime ago, but I still throw up in my mouth when I think about it.

Harlene said...

How did I miss out on the telemarketing experience?

I've always worked in Special Ed. The worst was my first job right out of high school. I was an aide for Disabled high school students. The feeding was pretty gnarly some times, but the worst was helped the teen guys in the bathroom. A few were really aggressive and "excited" to be alone with a teenage girl trying to pull their pants down for them.

Aimee said...

Oh... I hear you! I was a telemarketer once, too... I think I lasted about 4 days at that part-time job. Then I went on to my 2nd worst job of all time - salad prep at the Morris Center at BYU. Who knew you could get nasty rashes from cutting cantelope and pineapple?!

Vennesa said...

I worked there the same time as you did (except in Ogden). I had to sign businesses up to accept Discover card! And everytime the phone dialed, I would say "please don't answer, please don't answer, please don't answer." But they usually did. I lasted about 2 months.

tiburon said...

I bow to you.

Angie A. said...

No one upping, but I feel your pain! I worked at Convergys in Logan. They were contracted with Sprint cell service, and I worked in collections. If someone didn't pay their bill and tried to make a call, it was re-directed to us telling them we needed a payment. Oh, the obscenities I heard and it just made me want to scream, "Pay your freaking Bill!!" Needless to say, I only made it a couple of weeks past training. Good Times!

Mama C. said...

My worst job ever was at a dinky little, she-she, "upscale" restaurant. I worked there as a dishwasher, and spent my entire shift up to my elbows in hot water and grimy plates, pots, pans, utensils, and glasses. The kicker? I got fired 'cause I was "too clean".

Yep.

Never ate there after that. EVER.