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Dutchess_III's avatar

When dealing with government customer service reps, do you find you have to read between the lines?

Asked by Dutchess_III (46863points) 1 week ago

Especially when they really WANT to help you, but they’re so restricted in what they can say.
I was dealing with the IRS once (really nice folks, btw) because they carried Rick’s birthday as 1952 but he was born in 51.
As I was talking to the rep, who was uneasy giving me info because I wasn’t Rick, at one point I said “So do you show his birthday as 52 or 51?”
There was a hesitation, then he said “What you said the first time.”
So then I said “What would I have to do if my birthdate was wrong?”
And he told me.

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12 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

Depends on the person.

I had a totally unsatisfying conversation with a guy at the Georgia Income Tax department last Friday – he was reading from a script and was a complete dolt. I was very unsatisfied and didn’t get the information I needed.

On the other hand, I had to call the County Clerk (totally different reason) and she was great, and went out of her way to get me the info I needed.

Maybe the question was easier, but my guess is that some government people actually enjoy helping others and go the extra mile, while others are just not happy being in their jobs and do the absolute minimum.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well you were asking on behalf of yourself @elbanditoroso. You wouldn’t want some random person trying to get your info from the IRS.

JLeslie's avatar

Usually, government employees at every level have been very helpful.

It is harder when it is inquiring about someone else’s account, but not just government, it’s true in the private sector too.

I don’t usually feel like I need to read between the lines, I just get frustrated when I ask a general question that does not need to pertain to a specific person’s account, and they keep asking for the account name or number or won’t answer anything because they can’t seem to understand that some questions can be answered without them looking up the account, because I already know the information. I might have full access to the account.

jca2's avatar

I worked in local government for about 30 years and I can tell you there were people there that were great – very helpful, very accomodating, very personable. There were also people there that were either totally nuts, or total bitches, totally unhelpful. I used to say we had some receptionists that weren’t receptive. Some people there were just cold and uncaring, and their goal was to have you go away.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Years ago I needed to call an office from overseas and had to identify myself with a 12 digit number. I told the rep I did not feel comfortable giving the full 12 digits over a non-secure line. I suggested a compromise. The rep can ask me any 4 or 5 digits and I will answer. The rep said “OK what are the middle 4 digits?” and I answered correctly of course. That was acceptable.

jca2's avatar

When I worked in government, we had one receptionist who wouldn’t look at people when they came to her desk to talk to her. She would stare at the computer and answer their questions in a cold voice while not looking at them. She would never smile and say hello to people. I used to think to myself that if she worked in private industry, she’d have been fired long ago.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca2 Why didn’t a manager coach her a little?

jca2's avatar

Because an employee like that is so cold and intimidating that most bosses don’t want to deal with them at all. Either that or the employee won’t act like that where any boss will see.

Dutchess_III's avatar

What I don’t understand is how the stupid ones hang on to their jobs.

jca2's avatar

In government, it’s very hard to fire people, @Dutchess_III.

Dutchess_III's avatar

In the private sector too @jca2

jca2's avatar

@Dutchess_III without a union, it’s way easier.

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