Caller (female): "Hello, I'm trying to reach Christine at her extension but no one answers. They only have an answering machine."
Me: "Ah, yes. I'm sorry Christine has taken an unexpected leave for the day. She should be back in the office tomorrow."
Caller: "Well... I want to talk to someone about my account. I need to understand what is going on with it."
Me: "Certainly. I'll see what I can do for you. What is the account number...?"
Caller: "The number is _______________."
Me: "Thank you. I'm looking at your account now. How may I assist you today?"
Caller: "Well... I got a letter saying that you sent me to a collections office and (laughs) I don't see how that's possible!"
Me: "Ah, yes. Well, I do see that you have missed two payments. One was due on November 21 and the third payment was due February 21."
Caller: "No... our first payment was due in September!"
Me: "Actually, your first payment was due on August 21 and we DID receive that one. That's not an issue here."
Caller: "When we agreed to do this advertisement, they said they'd do that quarterly. That's not quarterly!"
Me: "We're billing you $115 every three months beginning August 21. How is that not quarterly?"
Caller: "Well... well... um. I'm having trouble. What IS quarterly?"
Me: "Quarterly is 'every three months'. Twelve months divided by three months is 4. Four times a year times three months is twelve months. There are twelve months in a year."
Caller: "Huh? Um... hold on a minute."
Nothing happens for about 30 seconds and I need some water.
Me: "Would it be okay if I put you on hold for a moment whilst you get this sorted on your end?"
Caller: "Um... okay. That's fine."
I leave for about 40 seconds and return to the line.
Me: "Thank you for holding. Have we got this right now?"
Caller: "Okay... here's there problem. When we started the ad, it was $580 for the year and you gave us a $120 discount..."
Me: "So... we're charging you $460, which is less than the standard two-space advert for that account. That's a problem?"
Caller: "Well, yeah... 'cos we paid you $115 for our first payment."
Me: "And... $115 times four payments is $460."
Caller: "Uh... oh? Are you sure? That's not what I get."
Me: "I'm quite sure about this. I just did the math. If you'd like, I can do it for you again but on my adding machine this time. (tap tap tap) Yep... $460!"
Caller: "Um... oh. Well... if you are doing it quarterly, it's all wrong. We paid in September. September... October... November... December... January..."
Me: "As I previously stated, your first payment was due August 21 and we received that. Please follow me on this one. August 21 to September 21. One month. September 21 to October 21. Two months. October 21 to November 21. Three months. See? It works out."
Caller: "Well, sure... the way YOU did it..."
Me: "It's the way that ANYONE would do it. Why can't you seem to get it right? 'Quarterly' is STILL 'every three months' in any country and in any language if your total contract term is one year, which, by the way, it is."
Caller: "Well, look-- we do over $20,000 in flower and plant business with this church every year. I can't believe you sent us to collections."
Me: "Well, your dealings with the church is between you and the church. If we were the gas company or the power company, we'd shut off your utility or send you to collections. This is no different. If we provide you a service and you fail to pay us on time, we have someone in place to come get that money!"
Caller: "But this is for the church..."
Me: "It's not really pertinent, ma'am. A business is a business and we have to pay our bills on-time as we expect you to pay yours. I can't understand why you feel that you are an exception to the basic rules of commerce."
Caller: "Well-- I don't want to run my ad again."
Me: "That's perfectly fine with me. I don't think we'd allow you to run the advert again after having such trouble getting a payment for services rendered. I'd be surprised if we didn't cancel you immediately."
Caller: "Um... can you put me back into Christine's voicemail again?"
Me: "Most certainly. Have a nice day."