Saturday, April 17, 2010

Life at LiveBridge - Part I

Well people, as of now I officially have 32 followers. My last two Kristianne and Alyson are both former co-workers at a call center I worked for called LiveBridge. So in honor of their joining my blog I thought I would write a something about my LiveBridge memories.

First of all, let me say that even though it was a call center (and my first real call center job I have to say I really enjoyed it for the most part. There were many times during the time I worked there when I may not have thought so but on the whole it was a good experience.

Let's start at the beginning. I got the job after just finishing a get back to work course at a place called PSDN (Personal Support Development Network) that I am not sure exists anymore.

The course was broken up into a few parts. There was a Life Skills course component that was central to the course. Then there was a remedial English and Math component and finally a computer component that taught Office 98 or something. A brief overview of word processing, spreadsheets, databases, and powerpoint. Just enough knowledge to get you in trouble. LOL.

So after taking this course, as I had had no or extremely crappy jobs preceding this, I got a very short term job at CIS (Customer Information Services). It was a job doing telephone surveys for a company that was doing a short term (very short term) educational health care survey.

I got this job on the basis of two things really. First I actually researched the job at the library and brought printouts of that research that I referred to at the interview which seemed to have impressed one of the two interviewers I had (it was my first - and so far only two person interview in my career). Second, I brought up Toastmasters on my resume and in answer to a question and it turned out both interviewers were fellow current or former Toastmasters.

As you can see, I was fortunate. It also helped that I really was interested in the job as I wanted to do survey work! It obviously showed. It also helped that the course I took was so recent and was for a full 6 months. I was still in the job search component of it when I found this job.

Finally, the fact that the job was so close to ending meant that they probably really needed people. And I guess, most people would have found asking people endlessly if they were very, mostly, or sort of or however the terms went v-e-r-y boring.

The day I applied at LiveBridge was extremely hot. I remember this for a definite reason. LOL. Well, before I go there, when I was busing to the site of the job which was just past Mayfield Common in an area that is considered a light-industrial district the bus driver forgot to tell me when to get off so I had to walk back several blocks in that awful heat.

That wouldn't have been so bad, except it was so hot that my foundation was melting on my face. Yuck. LOL. So I had to do a touch up of major proportions when I got there.

Then I had a interview with the personnel lady or hiring manager. The first time I think that I saw an actual hiring manager/personnel person for an interview. It went very well, considering the only "decent" job I had had in several years was at CIS and it was only a few weeks to just over a month long. One thing in my favor was it was related to the job at hand. Surveys.

When I was first hired at LiveBridge, I did surveys for a company called Experian. The first day I worked (actually just sat in on I think) in the Experian area I remember being almost on the verge of tears. I don't remember what was so hard about it as in retrospect it seems like it was pretty easy but it didn't seem like it that day. I'm glad I got through it though and stuck it out as it turned out to be a very good job that I kept for about 2-1/2 years and met some really nice people at.

There was either a three day or a week long original training session. Of the people in my training class only four (including myself) stayed any reasonable length of time. Funny enough, the class that started four days later, had four people that stayed on for a signifigant length of time as well. I got to know most of them reasonably well for acquaintances so that is why I remember this.

My start date was August 4, 2000 which I remember because it was the 100th birthday of the Queen Mother (now deceased). This event stuck in my memory because she was born the same year as my grandmother (also deceased) and my mother was born the same year as the current Queen Elizabeth.

Something else that happened, at the very beginning of my job at LiveBridge was that I had a really bad accident the day I started my job. I was trying to get there on time and was rushing. I was running up an escalator (yeah, really smart) and luckily I didn't fall down the escalator backwards. Instead my shoe, which was a bit loose, slipped off one foot and I fell forward, up the escalator. I had books in my hands and luckily I was close enough to the top that my shoe and the books landed at the top landing of the escalator.

I did end up with one honey of a bruise just under my knee. I am actually mis-stating it to call it a bruise singular as it became, in a progressive way, a series of bruises. It was so bad that it started with a fair size lump under my knee that was the inital bruise. Then it travelled down my leg including on both sides of my leg. Then down, down, down my leg until it actually reached my toes in the span of several weeks! Crazy.

I obviously didn't totally learn my lesson, as several weeks or months passed and as I was running to catch the bus after work because it ran so infrequently as it was considered a light-industrial district as I said before, I fell off a curb, running for the bus. Missed it too boot, I think. That injury, was a bad one too as my full weight (not inconsiderable) landed squarely on my one ankle. I ended up bringing bags of peas to work for several days.

Anyway, on to the job itself. Experian was, as I said before, a simple enough job. A series of questions that did not change regardless of what business was being called. After I got over being a weinie about it and got into the job I started to make it more fun by chatting a bit with the "customers" and making jokes here and there. This was definitely frowned upon as it was supposed to be a serious, business-like "business" of taking a capsule history of sorts of the company financially and structurally.

I remember one joke that I often asked when asking for the names of the head people in the company was if a CFO (Chief Financial Officer) was any relation to a UFO (Unidentified Flying Object). Usually, I was the only one laughing - there may have been a groan or possibly even a chuckle or two - but once the lady answering the questions (the owner or CEO,I think) gave me a full laugh and said she was telling their CFO that. Vindication! I am smart enough, and gosh darn it people like me (and think I'm funny).

While in Experian, I started doing overtime in newspapers. Now that was hard work. For me anyway. Some people took to it like ducks to water. But then again, every area - credit surveys, newspapers, and credit cards all had their stars. I even managed to become one - but it sure wasn't in Experian or newspapers. Not the Calgary Herald, not the Edmonton Journal and certainly not the National Post. I did well enough that they let me have the over-time, so I guess I wasn't horrible. But that's about all.

I did win two cookbooks in newspaper area contests. There were two editions of this cookbook and I won both. Although I never saw the second one because it got inadvertently given to someone else. Oh well I know. Oh and I won a copy of the local paper for 9-11. Dubious honor that that may be. Speaking of 9-11, I still remember going to work that day. I was running late and took a cab part of the way (bused the main trip and cabbed it the final leg).

I was in the cab and he had the radio on. I heard something fuzzy (the radio was annoyingly low as some rather stupid, in my opinion, cab-drivers seem to think low is a viable alternative to off) about planes flying into buildings. This sounded ludicrous, as I had never heard of the first World Trade Center terrorism a few years before as I don't always follow the news). Anyway, I remember thinking this was like a modern-day War of The Worlds broadcast and wondered if Orson Welles family were getting residuals.

Even without the cab, I couldn't have missed this WTC news event as almost everyone if not everyone was pulled from credit surveys and credit card sales to do newspapers. They were determined to get the maximum mileage out of the situation, although to be fair, the papers were being sold in Canada and the credit stuff was all being done in the states where I'm sure they would have been less than happy to hear from us. Needless, to say, even I did reasonably well in papers that day.

Fast forward a bit, and I am being asked (well actually told!) to transfer to the credit card section because my Experian numbers were too low (all that chatting didn't help and yes, even in credit reporting there were quotas) so they thought I would do better in credit cards where you were "selling" something more directly and personality could be more useful. I remember, having a conversation with one of the bosses, oddly enough one who dealt more with the newspapers, about credit card sales being for the soulless people who would bankrupt people. LOL. Little did I know how much I would come to love it. Shows how much I know myself. Soulless indeed.

Selling credit cards was where I spent most of my time in my 2-1/2 years there. There were a few different companies we sold for the 3 that I remember being First USA, Capital One, and a really high rate card (at least I thought so at the time) called Metris (a Fingerhut company - insert dirty joke here - lol).

Of all the companies we sold for I preferred Metris because for whatever reason, I was best at it. I used to have a b.s. line that often seemed to work with the Metris customers - "as a last used, first paid card as such you would have no interest!"

Imagine me using that line on any of you. I'd probably get socked in the eye. But the Metris customers really needed the credit obviously, or thought they did because they would pay up to 29.99% as an APR. That is awful but recently I heard (I wish I wrote down the specifics - I think it was on Yahoo News) of a credit card in this post economic meltdown era of 70 or 79.99%. I didn't even think over 30% was legal. Yikes.

Well, that's it for today. Next time I will tell you a little bit about the people I met there. It was a fairly big place and so there were a number of interesting people who cycled through there over the course of my time there.


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