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Bill Kalmar

Customer Care

Car 54, Where Are You?

Why is it easier to learn the location of a missile silo than a customer service agent?

Published: Monday, October 9, 2017 - 12:01

If you were born prior to the 1950s, you may remember a sitcom filmed in black and white about two New York cops and their exploits in the city. As they pursued criminals and responded to various neighborhood incidents, there was always the prescribed call on their radio: “Car 54, where are you?” Back in those days televisions shows were lighthearted and of course shallow, and that’s what we called entertainment.

Now wind the clock to the present, and many of us pose a similar question when we’re on the phone with representatives of various companies. For example, when I get in contact with a rep, I always ask, “Where are you located?” I’ve spoken to people in Romania, the Philippines, India, Canada, and even locations in the United States, including Rock Island, Illinois, of all places. For whatever reason, there are some people, mainly in the United States, who are reluctant or actually refuse to tell me where they are located.

This is so perplexing. I just like to form a bond with the reps because I have learned that doing so oftentimes gets you a better outcome on a transaction or a reduced rate on a payment. The rep feels like you are a friend, and you might just get the so-called “friends and family rate.” Trust me; it works.

What is interesting, though, are the reps who will not disclose where they are located. I spoke to a rep the other day who offered that she was located in Michigan. When I asked, “Where in Michigan?” she demurred and stated that they are not allowed to give out their specific location. Do you find this strange? I sure do. Does management actually think that once supplied with this information, I plan on making a personal visit for a better deal?

The rep in this case indicated that even if she would like to disclose her location, all the calls are recorded and thus someone would discover that she revealed this top-secret location. Heck, we know where most of the super-secret missile silos are in the United States, but trying to discover the location of a rep in a utility or grocery store call center is apparently taboo!

So give it a try next time you are on the phone with a sales rep. Ask for his location. And unless he’s in a secret Witness Protection Program, I would think that he would reveal his location. Perhaps reps in Romania and India and the Philippines have no concern about our flying there to confront them on some type of dispute. And by the way, when you get those scam calls from the IRS or Rachel from card services, tell the rep you are in Romania, and that should end the call!

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About The Author

Bill Kalmar’s picture

Bill Kalmar

William J. Kalmar has extensive business experience, including service with a Fortune 500 bank and the Michigan Quality Council, of which he served as director from 1993 through 2003. He served on the Board of Overseers of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program and has been a Baldrige examiner. He was also named quality professional of the year by the ASQ Detroit chapter. Now semi-retired, Kalmar does freelance writing for several publications. He is a member of the USA Today Vacation Panel, a mystery shopper for several companies, and a frequent presenter and lecturer.