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back to article Customer service rep fired for writing game that mocks callers

David Gallant, a worker at the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and gaming hobbyist, has been fired for lampooning dealings with customers during his day job in a game called I Get This Call Every Day. "Because I've become nothing more than a numb meat popsicle I've decided to make a game about my day job," he said on his website. "I …

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Joke

We here at the CRA . . .

. . . have no sense of humor that we're aware of.

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@Tom

Worse yet: they also seem to have no clue, what so ever, what's living amongst their own employee's. Which I think is really bad; running a business also means that you have at least >some< touch into what the employee's are up to.

I come to that conclusion because those idiots (my impression) learned about this stuff later. Not because one of David's co-workers thought it was offensive, not funny or totally misplaced (otherwise I'd assume they would have taken it up with management).

Management is simply totally clueless and are now playing their "political correct" part.

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Stop

Re: @Tom

"Worse yet: they also seem to have no clue, what so ever, what's living amongst their own employee's."

NOW PLEASE WAKE UP.

This is a goverment department, so what in hell do you expect!!

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Re: @Tom

Well, If it was the IRS, the 'Merkin equivalent of this gentleman's former employer, they probably wouldn't notice until the dev failed to mention the extra income on their Form 1040. They aren't very perceptive.

And hell, I know a guy from the New York Army National Guard that makes a power point based cartoon that constantly makes fun of the Army and to date he's only gotten in trouble once. So I guess it depends on the Government agency or Government.

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Unhappy

"I know a guy from the New York Army National Guard ..."

Frank, the difference between the guy from the Guard with his Army cartoon and Mr Gallant here is that your guy is only poking fun at his employer. Gallant is making fun of the people who called him for assistance. I don't know how things work where you are, but over here I would expect anyone in a customer-facing role who openly held customers in contempt to be fired for misconduct. Under the circumstances and given how few people had downloaded the game Gallant's employer should probably have given him a severe dressing down and told him to pull the game and replace it with an apology before moving directly to dismissal, but he can't complain about unfair treatment.

(That's not to say his customers weren't stupid, by the way - just that he should have kept his thoughts on the matter to himself.)

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404
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Mushroom

<waves dead chicken @Jedit>

99% of the folks that call 1st line tech support are morons - yes, you present a professional face to the cretins, but stupid is as stupid does, and there is no help for it. There should be teams standing by with black helicopters, waiting to descend and strip anything electronic from some of these people's homes.

In the Beginning, many,many, moons ago, there was a punching bag set up in the ISP tech support department when I started out, it was well used between calls.

Horrifyingly bad memories...

;|

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Re: "I know a guy from the New York Army National Guard ..."

I don't know how things work where you are, but over here I would expect anyone in a customer-facing role who openly held customers in contempt to be fired for misconduct.

*snorts coffee out of nose*

Huh? What? Openly holding customers in contempt is unacceptable for employees! That's the company's job! That's why we direct their enquiries to a call centre, full of badly trained, underpaid, horribly managed, staff with no power to deal with their complaints anyway...

Or on a more serious note. No! Holding customers in contempt is a standard way to let off steam. There is no company in the world who could sack all their staff who did that, because they'd go bankrupt overnight. Due to not having any staff.

Admittedly doing things in public could make things worse. But unless he used government data or actual recordings in the app, I'd have thought that lower-level action would be more appropriate.

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Re: @Tom

The forward to a book of George Booth's cartoons said that when he was in the USMC, the editors of Leatherneck magazine suggested that he try to vary his submissions, and that one or two cartoons of starving Marines eating from Navy garbage cans would be as good as a dozen.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: <waves dead chicken @Jedit>

404 - as is so often the case on this topic, you're confusing ignorance with stupidity. They aren't the same thing and neither implies the other.

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Re: "I know a guy from the New York Army National Guard ..."

"Our shields can't repel failure of this magnitude!"

I don't hold most of my users in contempt. Anyone who is rude though, well frankly they deserve all the mocking they get. There's a difference between a knowledge gap and wilfull ignorance.

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404
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Re: <waves dead chicken @Jedit>

@AC 12:43 No sir, I am not. An ignorant person will listen to directions and will try to understand what you are saying, a stupid person has already done that, knows it all, and does not listen,.

I understand the difference.

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Re: We here at the CRA . . .

What's the joke, Tom?

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Re: <waves dead chicken @Jedit>

Surprising you put it that way, as on a recent episode of Undercover Boss, some honcho for Boston Market had to deal with a customer facing employee who made disparaging remarks about customers. Got the same treatment (termination).

The customer is always right is a well understood business mantra; what is often missing is the corollary, even IF they are an asshole.

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Go

Load the lawyers!

"......The Minister considers this type of conduct offensive and completely unacceptable...." Having a sense of humour is unacceptable? I'd suggest the guy lawyers up as, unless his game actually depicts either his employer or the customers in an unrealistic manner, the game cannot be held to be any more offensive than a train simulator game! If he can demonstrate that his game has real customer comments and that he does not make them behave in an undue manner (and having myself more than once shouted down the phone at HMRC I suspect he has plenty of leeway here!), I'd say he's on pretty good grounds for a wrongful dismissal.

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Re: Load the lawyers!

I wouldn't bother. The official arse-covering response (civil servants being much the same everywhere), is irrelevant. As, in all probability, is the game. They'll almost certainly have him for mentioning his job to a newspaper without written clearance, and with public-sector redundancies being something of a sport almost everywhere, the opportunity to save a redundancy payment will have been just too good to miss.

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Go

Re: Load the lawyers! @Matt

and having myself more than once shouted down the phone at HMRC,

An excellent plan, sir, with only two minor drawbacks. One, we don't have a power source for the lasers; and two, we don't have any lasers. .....

Or why would you shout at HMRC because:

a. they hold all the cards

b. the guy who answers the phone is just doing his job (albeit an offense)

c. did I mention cards

d. plus a small chokes and some (stage whisper) silent sobbing is more effective

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Load the lawyers! @Matt

Never understood those who shout and threaten call centre people... They have all your personal info, and they're just an anonymous voice on the phone....

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Re: Load the lawyers! @Matt

In my experience, almost all support call centre staff are well-informed, helpful, calm, and polite. It's their bosses ten levels up who cause most of the customer dissatisfaction.

Today, for example, I looked up my Bank of Scotland (Halifax) [Lloyds TSB] Web banking site, and turned to my Mastercard page. At the top was the balance, and below that... nothing. Just a blank page. Perhaps something weird happens on the 1st of the month? Anyhow, I am quite sure that if the bank's top management put customer satisfaction a little higher on their list of priorities (perhaps somewhere in the top hundred?) that kind of thing wouldn't happen.

But if I rang the support hotline, I am quite sure I would get a friendly voice, a little measured sympathy, and the best help and advice that person can give. (Admittedly, that may not be much - but it's not the call centre person's fault). And they never have any difficulty understanding that it's not *them* I am angry with, but the cynical, heartless, faceless corporation that hides behind them. Talk about human shields!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Load the lawyers! @Titus Technophobe

"a. they hold all the cards"

"c. did I mention cards"

Precisely - this sort of thing always reminds me of an episode of Alien Nation.

Matt Sikes : " ... You put your foot down at the *IRS*?"

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Two thumbs up.

They don't make those call centre jokes for nothing you know.

As per usual, the employer is clueless in many ways, including to the Streisand Effect.

Good luck to David and his newfound profession. ;-)

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Happy

Success...

" I'm hoping the proceeds of this game will get me a few steps closer to less day job and more game making."

Well so far he has achieved the "less day job" bit...

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My immediate thoughts re. The Minister

""The Minister considers this type of conduct offensive ............. to ensure no confidential taxpayer information was compromised."

Po faced, tight arsed, uptight, straight laced, small minded, reactionary, ......... bah, humbug!

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Re: My immediate thoughts re. The Minister

That is pretty much the definition of the Harper Conservatives, well, except you left out control freak.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: My immediate thoughts re. The Minister

"The Minister considers this type of conduct offensive ............. to ensure no confidential taxpayer information was compromised."

I personally feel he was wrong in bringing out the game. Certainly to not expect any comeback, if that's the case. However, I would say that bringing up the confidential info thing is just playing on peoples' fears to paint a rosier picture of the Agency. They should've disciplined him, yeah, but not sacked him, I'd say.

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Coffee/keyboard

the point of the game?

Wasn't it to keep your cool? Or did I misread this article very badly?

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WTF?

Re: the point of the game?

that's what I thought. What exactly did he do to deserve getting fired?

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Agreed [was: the point of the game?]

"If brains was lard management couldn't grease a pan."

-- Jed Clampett, _Beverly Hillbillies_, reworded slightly to reflect the current subject

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Devil

Re: the point of the game?

What a bunch of muppets. They should have bought it off him as a training tool.

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FAIL

Re: the point of the game?

The comical thing about this is, we had a very similar thing at school but regarding bullying, it was a video on the 'jeebus' bus that went to schools to teach Christianity.

You had a fat kid getting bullied on the TV, then you had to answer with how he should deal with the situation. Surely this is much the same, except you're not a fat kid, you're a fat call center employee. They probably could have used that video as a training resource.

From working in retail I can easily agree with how stupid customers can be, and it really is a level of stupid beyond what you'd expect. You hear stories about people calling up for the most inane stupid questions. but you never believe them. Friend of mine works for an insurance company, I've heard stories about how he's had people call up because a fuse blew on their "insert electrical appliance" and they wanted to know if their insurance covered it. Most comical is the guys an abrasive moron so I can only imagine him sat there in the office going. "Please hold" *click* ARCH WHY ARE THESE PEOPLE SO BLEEPING BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP *okay sorry about that, just had to confer with one of my colleagues"

(As an FYI, my advice to the fat kid was always wrong, apparently 'threaten to sit on them' isn't the right answer to bullying, but telling the teacher is... Personally I found the opposite to be true, telling teacher did nothing, but jumping on them made them reconsider >.> and I wasn't even overweight)

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FAIL

Hunh ?

Sounds like a straight case of Unlawful Dismissal to me, or the Canadian equivalent.

Isn't the Canadian civil service unionised ? As well as their call centre employees. Let me in there !

Chris Cosgrove

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Re: Hunh ?

This is purely a guess, but as he's charging for the game (and hence earning revenue), could this be considered 'moonlighting' ?

Maybe the service has a a rule against that? Any Canadians know?

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Anonymous Coward

Sense of humor

I thought Cannucks didn't have a sense of humor. Who knew, eh?

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WTF?

Re: Sense of humor

When Steve Smith was first pitching the Red Green show he was rejected, being told, "Canadians aren't funny."

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Anonymous Coward

Next idea

His next game can approach it from the other side:

CRA calls you about a missing return and you win if you have any money left after they're done with you.

"In light of your failure to file, we have estimated that you owe whatever you have in the bank less the $30 kickback to the bank for giving us your money".

"I'don't have that kind of money. I'll go bankrupt"

"Then borrow money to pay us first"

"That's illegal"

"That's OK. We do it all the time" (actual conversation)

"Cash in your RRSP and give us the money and maybe we can work something out" (where "maybe" == "we're lying because we legally can't. Oh and by the way, cashing your RRSP will create income so not only will you lose your RRSP but you will actually owe us more after you do this than before.")

...but I'm not bitter.

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FAIL

Tories have no sense of humour, especially Harper 'Progressive' Conservatives

The Canadian government is, unfortunately, presently in the hands of the 'Progressive' Conservatives who don't do humour.

Gail Shea, an ugly fat frump < http://www.vip.it/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/gail-shea_torta.jpg > used to be Fisheries minister which, by her appearance, suited her fine.

We await to see if David Gallant appeals this knee-jerk decision.

As Skyhawk said on the CBC.CA site "When a lowly call centre employee of a government department gets the attention of the Minister, you know they're doing something right!"

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Anonymous Coward

"You do the math."

I really really hate that phrase, along with "I could care less".

I find it difficult to take people seriously who use those phrases.

In other words, a fair amount of Americans ;)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "You do the math."

Go figure.

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Re: "You do the math."

I want to upvote you more than once.

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Re: "You do the math."

Well I've done the math. $2300 in the first 2 days. $2600 in the first two weeks. $2600 in the next twenty years....

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That is very unfair

He has a good point, irregardless.

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Good on him

This sacking, and the publicity around it will be the best thing for him!

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WTF?

" investigate urgently to ensure no confidential taxpayer information was compromised..."

Taxpayer information compromised? How? Why?! Talk about a non-sequitur... perhaps they should make sure he hasn't broken any weapons laws or wiretapping statutes, too - you know, just in case.

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Joke

It could be a sequitur - if the minister thinks that 11122211 is her SIN ;)

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The Minister considers this type of conduct offensive and completely unacceptable, —

— il est totalement scandaleux, que ce jeu n’est pas disponible en français !

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Joke

He Should Have used a CD

His mistake was distributing the game via unapproved methods.

Had he used an unencrypted CD and sent it in the mail then everything would have been OK, after all the HMRC does it all the time and no one really cares - and they use real customers data, lots of it!

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El Reg wishes Mr. Gallant much luck in his new career...

No room at El Reg Canada then (or too afraid of a sequel "I read this comment every day")?

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Go

Well hopefully it helps him...

Whilst the firing might be excessive, it quite probably could be the best thing that ever happened to him. Way too many people stick around in jobs they hate. In this day and age it really is not that hard to change jobs, yes it helps the more education you have, but there are jobs out there. Maybe dont quit your current job until you have a new one, but there's nothing wrong with looking and applying.

Most people seem to be afraid to change jobs (its bad here but the next company could be worse) but the truth is that everytime you change jobs its usually a step up in pay (cause your unlikely to take something offering less then your current salary), and if you already hate your current job, even if the next job is only a little bit better thats still a massive improvement!

(Spoken as someone who has tended to change jobs every couple of years for 10 years now)...

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Callcenters already mock callers.

"We apologise for the long delay."

"Your call is very important to us."

"We're going to stop the on-hold music, so that you think we're going to answer, but all we're really going to do is subject you to another automated message."

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has made just over $3600...

Presumably he included that on his tax return...

Anyway, good luck to him.

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Anonymous Coward

"The Minister considers this type of conduct offensive and completely unacceptable"

The minister needs sacked and replaced by someone who knows what they are doing.

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