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Canada Government Your Rights Online Games

Man Fired For His Online Customer Service Game 210

Posted by samzenpus
from the was-that-wrong? dept.
First time accepted submitter DiscountBorg(TM) writes "An employee of the Canada Revenue Agency lost his job after releasing a humorous game in which the player answers customer service calls for the Agency, usually leading to his termination. In an email National Revenue Minister Gail Shea said: 'The Minister considers this type of conduct offensive and completely unacceptable. The Minister has asked the Commissioner (of Revenue, Andrew Treusch) to investigate and take any and all necessary corrective action. The Minister has asked the CRA to investigate urgently to ensure no confidential taxpayer information was compromised.'"
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Man Fired For His Online Customer Service Game

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  • Butthurt (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 31, 2013 @06:31AM (#42748897)

    Can't have our employees making light of our oppressive workplace policies, they might actually improve morale!

  • Correction please. (Score:4, Informative)

    by will_die (586523) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @06:37AM (#42748935) Homepage
    As of the stories the guy had not been fired or another done to him. The guy is playing up that he could be fired and is using that as a reason people should purchase the game.
  • American sweatshop (Score:5, Informative)

    by alphatel (1450715) * on Thursday January 31, 2013 @06:40AM (#42748959)
    You have to smile while you're on the phone (uhm really?), follow the cubicle dress code (but I just answer the phone), not allowed to hang up on abusive customers no matter what they do. The week's vacation you earned and got approved 3 months in advance was just re-allocated as forced time off due to the business being slow. World's worst health insurance if you get any at all.

    Fluorescent lighting from hell, vending machines for lunch, 19" square monitors from the 1980's, computers running Windows XP, no service pack.

    We live this job every day.
    • by Smauler (915644) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @07:04AM (#42749055)

      And then complain when it's outsourced for someone else to cope with.

      One point to note is that _we_ are the abusive customers. I personally always try to be nice (I'm not talking "have a nice day" nice, I mean sincerely - I don't have to do it all day, every day), especially to people I call up for a service (even if they do have to try and sell me the little add on warranty whatever it is at the end).

    • by acidfast7 (551610) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @07:07AM (#42749069)

      Not me! I left the US behind almost 6 years ago. In the meantime, I've had a full year of paid holiday (6 years x 35 days/year holiday + 10 days/year of federal days off.)

      My gross salary is even higher, but the net salary lower with the 50% deductions.

      No desire to go back. The lack of unlocked phones and reasonable prepaid plans it just one recent example of you guys taking it in pooper.

      • Not me! I left the US behind almost 6 years ago. In the meantime, I've had a full year of paid holiday (6 years x 35 days/year holiday + 10 days/year of federal days off.)

        My gross salary is even higher, but the net salary lower with the 50% deductions.

        No desire to go back. The lack of unlocked phones and reasonable prepaid plans it just one recent example of you guys taking it in pooper.

        I would be very curious to know what country.

        • cue obligatory self-congratulatory "any other country is better" in 3...2...1...

          • by 1s44c (552956)

            cue obligatory self-congratulatory "any other country is better" in 3...2...1...

            No, many are worse. Also many are better.

            It depends on what you want out of life to decide on how you measure better.

        • by acidfast7 (551610)
          Sweden first, Germany now, Denmark soon.
    • by Grimbleton (1034446) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @08:05AM (#42749291)

      You got Windows XP? I had a fucking amber text WYSE TERMINAL in 2007. That they're probably still using.

    • by prefec2 (875483) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @08:20AM (#42749379)

      I would recommend two things in this situation:
      a) Found a union, based on continental European approaches. The UK and US approaches are not that good.
      b) If a) does not work, because your colleagues and fellow US citizen like to be mistreated, leave the country. In Europe we have standard health care above the MediCare stuff you have. You get 4 weeks holiday a year, protection from too many over hours, payed sick leave (in Germany) etc. according to apologists of neo-liberalism that will cause high unemployment rates. However, we do not have such thing in Germany.

      On a side note: You really should get organized in the US. The information we get from the US looks more and more like stories normally associated with developing countries not a first world country.

      • by ArsonSmith (13997) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @10:01AM (#42750055) Journal

        " The information we get from the US"

        and is mostly false. It's mostly good here except for the noisy people with political agendas to push.

      • by ildon (413912)

        LOL, leaving the country over a fucking call center job? Do you realize how insane that sounds? It's like leaving the country because of poor conditions working at McDonalds. It'd be easier to learn to be a carpenter or a plumber, or some other skilled trade job that needs bodies (there are a lot of those here in the U.S.).

      • The information we get from the US looks more and more like stories normally associated with developing countries not a first world country.

        Then the information Europeans get from the US is ridiculously inaccurate. The living standard in the US is significantly higher than in Germany according to the United Nations HDI rankings. Health care quality in the USA is miles ahead of Germany or any place in Europe for the 86% of the population who have it (though I'll admit that the other 14% have a probl

    • by DaMattster (977781) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @09:22AM (#42749723)
      America has always been about sweatshop workplaces. We need more unions, not less but styled after a European one. Heaven forfend should we offer an real perks to our employees. Why, perish the thought, we might be seen as socialists! Hopefully you've concluded that my statement is dripping with sarcasm. No wonder America ranks lower than its industrial counterparts in lifespan, health, and education.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by radiumsoup (741987)

        instead of a lame attempt at comedy by improper use of "dripping sarcasm", perhaps you should try critical thinking.

        America has always been about self determination. If you are at a job where you don't like the situation, you have many choices. Here are a few of them, listed in increasing risk/reward order: You can join or form a union (even in non-union states, most of the time you can unionize even if it's a right-to-work state.) You can speak up and try to change the culture of your workplace. You can fi

    • You have to smile while you're on the phone (uhm really?), follow the cubicle dress code (but I just answer the phone), not allowed to hang up on abusive customers no matter what they do. The week's vacation you earned and got approved 3 months in advance was just re-allocated as forced time off due to the business being slow. World's worst health insurance if you get any at all. Fluorescent lighting from hell, vending machines for lunch, 19" square monitors from the 1980's, computers running Windows XP, no service pack.

      It is just as galling when the company's communist propaganda machine (aka HR) calls these benefits, "excellent and competitive." We live this job every day.

    • by Greyfox (87712)
      And as a phone monkey you can't actually solve real problems. Solving problems will drive your call stats down too much, and low call stats will lead to your termination. The best possible outcome for you is that for whatever reason the customer should give up almost immediately and go away. Perhaps because they can sense the ineptitude oozing down the line at them. Those guys aren't rated on customer satisfaction or problems successfully resolved, They're rated on how many people they can convince to go aw
      • This. So much of this.

        I worked at AOL for about 3 years in their tech support queue (this was straight out of high school) and the metrics for support staff were something along the lines of maintaining a 7.5 minute call time and 90% satisfaction rating from callers.

        My average was about 9 minutes, but I routinely got 100% satisfaction ratings quarter after quarter. My boss told me to stop being so nice so I could take one more call per hour. I ended up moving to the DSL queue which had no time limit, and th

        • by BitZtream (692029)

          Yes, because fresh out of high school you understood the point of the business and what they were trying to accomplish.

          Sadly, you seem to be somewhere post-after-high school and you still don't understand that your goals may not actually be the goal of the company as a whole and that they may have a strategy that fits them better.

          They may not, but fresh out of high school you certainly didn't have the cluepon needed to understand that.

      • by Livius (318358)

        "They're rated on how many people they can convince to go away in an hour."

        Single most perceptive thing I've read in years.

    • not allowed to hang up on abusive customers no matter what they do.

      A friend used to work for a different government agency, Passport Canada. He would give verbally abusive customers one, maybe two warnings, and then yes he'd hang up on them if they persisted. One time, someone called back and demanded to speak to his manager, the call was transferred, after talking for a few moments the manager asked the caller if he had been verbally abusive before my friend hung up on him. When the caller answered yes and started trying to justify it, the manager told him "good" and hung

    • by Jmc23 (2353706)
      Perhaps you haven't noticed we're talking about Canada. You don't have to smile (though people can tell), dress code can be non-existent depending on the province, you can hang up on abusive customers. You get awesome health insurance and they really can't change any time off requests after they've been approved. Modern lcd's, Vista or 7 on up-to-date computers. Plenty of really nice restaurants near, or in the building of most of the call centers (never ever saw a vending machine) and the fluorescent l
  • by VendettaMF (629699) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @06:42AM (#42748971) Homepage

    We're with the government. We don't have a sense of humor.

  • by Viol8 (599362) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @06:45AM (#42748979)

    If he did it at home then firing him is a flagrant abuse of the departments power. If he did it at work then its a flagrant abuse of his position and he deserved to be fired. Anyone know which?

    • by ciderbrew (1860166) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @06:54AM (#42749017)
      Years ago when I had a phone job - I got pulled in to the office for drawing at my desk. I said everyone here doodles. Apparently there is a skill level limit to the doodle. Bored managers amusing themselves by being awful never helps a bad job.
      Good job this guy didn't work there http://www.biro-art.com/ [biro-art.com]
      • by AbRASiON (589899) *

        It's incredible just how often 'phone jobs' make their staff fucking miserable. If you're doodling / drawing you must be either not busy enough or not engaged in the conversations well enough to do your work properly.

        Now I don't entirely agree with that, as someone who passes work out to the other staff, I can understand a small aspect of wanting the staff to look busy but I'd rather they were happy than miserable, often happy employees are more productive or at least easier to manage.

        Any phone jobs I've h

        • by Phrogman (80473) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @07:53AM (#42749253) Homepage

          I did a few years of tech support for a Real Estate software company. They claimed they had 700,000 US Real Estate agents as customers.
          * The software was written in Visual Basic 5, and used an Access Database.
          * We suggested that customers limit their list of potential customers to 20,000 so that the database would not have issues as often (it was Access based so it was guaranteed to have at least some issues some of the time). One of the people I talked to wanted to load 1 million names into his database, and tried to do so before calling. He had no forethought to back things up first. It did not go well.
          * Real Estate agents as a whole do not understand computers, and seem generally to have little patience for any problem - whether or not they caused it. The conversations got rather heated - a lot. I remember one guy who worked in Beverly Hills, screaming at the top of his lungs that he was losing 100k a hour while he was on the phone with us. My coworker in the cubicle took the call but I could hear it clear as day over top of the call I was taking at the time.
          * We had over 60 tech support people crammed into their cubicles. I must say the quality of the Staff and the Tech Support leaders was actually quite high.
          * We had a script we were required to follow and which was almost never relevant. This was a major problem since usually we could identify the problem quite quickly, but had to trudge through the routine first until that failed to solve the problem and we could carry on with actually solving the problem.
          * A lot of the problem was of course the Sales staff who would lie through their teeth to get a Sale, knowing that Tech Support or Development would have to solve the problem, not them. In general, I hate Sales people as a result of those at this company.
          * Our in house tools were written by the company too, and since what they knew was Visual Basic, thats what they wrote them in. Since the database they knew was Access, thats what we used. Every day at noon, for 1 hour, we had to revert to pen and paper because the Access Database for *our* customer base had to be repaired. Then we would madly enter call details in, in between other calls until we got caught up.

          It was an "educational" experience, but not one I care to repeat if I can avoid it :P

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            A lot of the problem was of course the Sales staff who would lie through their teeth to get a Sale, knowing that Tech Support or Development would have to solve the problem, not them. In general, I hate Sales people as a result of those at this company.

            Don't feel bad, like you're biased or something. In general, the sales "people" at any company behave precisely the same way. Whether you're talking about a delivery tracking software company with a dozen employees or IBM itself, this is how the sales department always behaves. No one should ever talk to the salesmen, because they will sell features that don't exist that they thought they heard someone say was in the product but might only be theoretically possible, or indeed, theoretically impossible. Trea

            • I'd have to agree. The sales people generally have a motto of "Anything is possible. Never say no." and set unreasonable expectations.

              Coming from that type of environment, though, I've found that generally anything IS possible, as long as you throw enough resources at it and get creative with how you implement it. The first round may not be pretty, but it'll probably get the job done.

              Its the salesperson's job to then go back to the customer and explain why what they want costs an arm and a leg and will t

              • I've had sales people promise we'd report data we didn't have.

                What they needed was an accounting procedure (Import our existing report subtotals into their general ledger) and a report out of their GL.

                Of course once the VP of sales had made a promise, we were fucked.

          • by TheSpoom (715771)

            This is almost exactly the situation, minus the angry sales people, I experienced when I was doing tech support for a major outsourcer. All software tools were made by agents who were effectively silently promoted by their immediate supervisors because upper management wouldn't pay for any software development whatsoever. So as far as upper management was concerned, the agents doing the most helpful tool building were just taking calls. Of course, they had no access to any infrastructure (that costs mone

        • Back when I was a phone grunt, I first started out by doing homework. Then they said no, no home work allowed. No reading any more either. So I switched to doodling. I, too, got hit with the "skill limit" warning because my doodles were too good. Then they forbade drawing entirely for anyone. I switched to origami for a long time - just something to keep my hands busy - and when they told me to stop with the origami, I finally quit. I have no regrets.

          These days, many call centers are actually distribu
      • I was in a similar situation. Then I noticed there were women that would knit while on the phone and they didn't seem to have a problem with that. So, always up for a challenge, I learned to knit. I made a 22foot, stitch for stitch replica of the original Dr Who Scarf.

        • There is no single original Dr Who Scarf.

          They used a different one for each episode. They are coveted collectors items for Dr Who fans.

          Fake up a certificate and sell yours. Dr Who fans are morons. Remember to claim a particular episode on the certificate.

      • by Yebyen (59663)

        At our phone job, we actually encourage the call-center employees to doodle, because it's a) not on your screen, where the work/customer record is supposed to be (at all times excepting breaks), which makes it much better than either youtube or reading the news and b) it's something that's easy to stop if the customer picks up the phone, since it's an outcall position with no auto-dialers, a lot of time is spent repeating three dead simple steps of clicking onto the next record, pressing the dial button, un

  • That is all.

  • He was investigated for disclosing "confidential taxpayer information". Right. He used real customer names and numbers? At least they could be honest and say his crime was making a joke about his job -- and since it's a government job, at the tax department, (though he didn't actually say that in his game) it's not like they have to worry about losing customers.
  • by prefec2 (875483) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @08:13AM (#42749329)

    There are a lot of people out there calling help or support lines. Some of them are frustrated, some of them are angry, depressed or helpless. Depending on their mood and way dealing with it, they use the support stuff as a verbal punching ball. However, for some problems there is a solution.

    a) A person calls and does not have ready all the stuff required to have a successful help line talk. For example, the do not have their customer number or other details available. And they start searching for them while on line.
    Solutions:
    A) Tell the person on the other end which information they have to collect, and that they can call back when the have it. These request should include all required and optional information you want to have as a help line person. Then wish him or her goodbye.

    In cases where people are waiting for hours to get through, this is often not an option. Also some company policies could require you to keep the line open. In that case use B

    B) Tell the person on the other end which information they have to collect, and that you are waiting for her/him until she/he can bring all the information. To survive this situation you have to switch from a goal centric state of mind, to a service state of mind. Even if you are doing nothing beside breathing and other vegetative stuff, you are there for the caller, your pure presence is the job. This might look like nothing, but it means a lot mentally for the caller, which has now someone who is there for him or her. For Europeans and people with a similar cultural determination have often a problem with that. That's why (beside the money) India is so popular for helplines. For help on that issue ask someone who meditates or a Buddhist.

    In cases where the person is angry or otherwise aggressive, it helps to think that it is not you the person is angry with. It is like parenting. If you little baby cries, it is not angry with you it is just angry. It is not personal. Therefore, do not act like you are the source of the anger. You just have to comfort the baby. For older children, the approach is a little different. However, do not try to persuade it, as it is not open to any reasonable argument. Working at a help line is very similar. And you should act similar to that. Also you might have a supervision talk with your colleagues on a regular basis. If your company is great, they pay for it. If not, do yourself a favor and organize something privately.

    • by TheSpoom (715771)

      A is impossible because the caller can't direct dial an agent. I have never seen an IVR that allowed direct dialing through to a call center unless it was a special line to get a third level agent, and that line isn't given out publicly.

      B is nearly always impossible, because the major metric the call center is judging you on is your Average Handle Time, or AHT, which mean how quickly you get the caller off the phone without hanging up on them.

      The reason call center work is the most frustrating is because a

  • ....please give this gentleman a real, non-soul sucking, non-phone job.

    The kid that was kicked out of school for finding the security issue was given an internship and a scholarship to help get him back on track when he was the victim of administrative idiocy. I hope someone with some power to help can do the same here.

  • usually leading to his termination

    Yep, just like what happened to him in real life.

  • He pissed off the wrong people, the ones with the tight asses and dour faces.

    How may I obtain this game?

    • by hduff (570443)

      Ok, I got a copy. I had trouble running it using Linux, but the author was helpful via email and it now runs just fine. Essentially it all extracts into one folder and everyhing needed to run it is in that folder. WINE handles it OK.

  • Truly and deeply wants to believe that

    The Minister has asked the Commissioner (of Revenue, Andrew Treusch) to investigate and take any and all necessary corrective action.

    ...means that the Minister is referring to sad state of customer "service" in the agency and not to someone who's poking fun at it. But that's a sucker bet, for sure.

  • Think about it this way. It is not good for your company if your customers believe that customer support staff are sitting on the other end of the phone rolling their eyes, or worse.

    That is the image that this portrays.

  • I worked at a notorious Canadian call center in 2004 providing Comcast internet support. It was part of the call center culture to share the annoying and stupid calls with our coworkers. I don't think for a minute that the same culture doesn't exist inside the CRA call center. Lets face it - some of the people that we are forced to deal with in customer service positions are .. well, stupid. Some of the other calls are downright hillarious - like the one-armed man that kept dropping his phone while h

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