Lysette Mendoza, then 27 of San Jose, Batangas did not hesitate to apply for a part-time call center job when her close friend Joy asked her to do the gig. Mendoza, a former campus beauty during her college years in De La Salle Lipa is from a prominent San Jose family of poultry farmers. She chose to work part-time just for socializing while also working as a part-time instructor in one of the Colleges in Lipa.
Lysette works only for 4 hours in the morning on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in a special non-voice account but occasionally answers phones when needed. In her 4 months of working, she recalled she only made around 20 phone calls with customers about special billing issues.
Most of her duties focused on answering emails and calling other internal departments concerning customers’ bills. She never expected that one day her life would change because of one call.
It was Monday morning when she took over a call from a customer because Jen, her seatmate took a break without logging off so the call went through. She pulled out the customer’s account on the record and although the name looks familiar, she personally knew 3 local people who have the same name so it did not bother her.
“My name is Lyn of (company name) Billing, how can I help you?”, she said after turning on her microphone.
“Hi, I want to find out why you billed my credit card twice for a plane ticket I purchased last week?”, the customer asked.
“I apologize for the inconvenience, please give me a second to check your account”, she replied in an empathic voice.
While checking the customer’s record, she suddenly feels something unnatural and she started feeling uneasy. It’s been almost a minute since she was looking at the customer’s record but couldn’t think of something to explain. Jen returned but the lady told her to finish the call instead of transferring the customer to her. Lysette did not notice that the person on the other line has been saying “hello, are you still there?” in the last couple of minutes.
“Are you still there?”, a very loud and frustrated voice almost made her throw away her headset. “I’ve been asking you for the last two minutes and you put me on hold for no reason, can you please answer if you are still there?”, the previously softer voice is not becoming angry and the frustration in his voice is noticeable.
“Yes, I’m still here, sorry”, she responded abruptly and unprepared like she was teasing one of her friends while trying to regain her composure.
“Can you please let me know why you billed my credit card twice?”, the customer asked the same question.
Lysette noticed that she hasn’t done anything in the last five minutes while putting the customer on hold. She panicked and asked the customer to give her more time but he demanded to speak to a supervisor because he is running out of time. She tried her best to de-escalate the situation but the frustrated and angry customer is not determined to talk to someone with higher authority.
Lysette is a woman who is known to have a strong personality and a situation like this is unacceptable for her, especially if she is the one at fault. Her pride did not allow her to report a small issue to her supervisor. She couldn’t explain why a simple call, with a simple issue, is becoming problematic.
She tried her best to calm the customer down until he asked her. “Okay, if you don’t want me to talk to your supervisor, give me your name and I’ll give you more time to check my account”, he said. Lysette saw a little hope and immediately responded, “I’m Lyn sir”. “No, your real name”, he insisted.
Call centers do not allow agents to give their real names to customers unless it is needed to calm the customer so she decided accordingly.
“Okay sir, my name is Lysette Mendoza, please give me a couple of minutes more. I’ll do it quickly this time and I really apologize for the inconvenience, thank you”, she confidently said.
She took her time and noticed that the customer on the other end of the line went into silent mode. “Hello Sir, are you still there?”, this time she’s the one who’s asking. “Yes, I’m still here, take your time”, he responded and she just raised her eyebrows and continue checking the record.
Arnel Marquez received his credit card bill through email earlier that day and wondered why the airline charged him twice. He called the billing support only to speak to a lazy agent, he thought.
He has been in the US for a good 6 years and is already a dual citizen. He considers himself the luckiest person on Earth. A graduate of Computer Engineering at De La Salle Lipa as a scholar, he grew up without a father and was survived by his late mother. His father passed away when he was 4 years old, and his mother, a former public school teacher died just after he graduated from college due to lung cancer.
Working as a virtual assistant in the last 2 years of his college, his American personal client who was then an HRD head of the University of Washington Medical Center brought him to America 3 months after he graduated college. Since then, he has worked in the same hospital as a network engineer.
His first love and girlfriend for 3 years gave up on him during the height of her beauty pageant career. Lysette Mendoza, a former runner-up of Miss Batangas has been unknown to him since his unsheared departure to the US 6 years ago. His college friends were too busy and too full of Lysette during her stint, while he was too busy taking care of his dying mother. No one knows where he has been except for his childhood friend Marinel, who is also a second cousin of Lysette. Marinel works in the City’s Civil Engineer’s Office and has been in close contact with him in the past 6 years but the thing about Lysette has long been forgotten between them. Marinel’s husband is also a close friend of his.
Arnel was stunned and couldn’t mince a word after the agent on the other line told him her name and he suddenly recognized her voice.
“What happened to this woman?”, he asked himself. He couldn’t believe that someone of Lysette’s caliber, who dreamed of becoming a commercial model or an actress, is working in a call center in her hometown. As a longtime customer, knows beforehand that the call center he is calling to is in Lipa as this is not the first time, he talked to someone from the same office. He had thought a long time ago that she must be working as a commercial model, a flight attendant, or a fashion designer. “What happened to this woman?”, he murmured. His mind is asking countless questions but couldn’t say a word.
“Thank you very much for patiently waiting. The second charge was actually a mistake and I have already processed the refund. The fund should be returned to your account within 24 hours. Again, I apologize for the inconvenience.”, Lysette broke the silence.
Arnel analyzed her voice and he is 100% sure that he is talking to her former girlfriend.
“Hello Sir, are you still there,” she asked. “Yes, I’m here, thank you”, he responded casually.
“Do you have any other concerns that I can help with?”, she asked.
“You’re still the same, authoritative”, Arnel wasn’t able to control himself and he thought it was just his mind but he did actually whisper it.
“What? I’m sorry?”, she asked in confusion.
“No, nothing. Thank you and nice meeting, you Miss Lysette Mendoza. Have a great day and bye”, he mentioned his first name and hang-up.
She left stunned and couldn’t believe what she heard. She knows 100% that the man on the other line recognizes her and she feels terrible for some reason she could not explain. She has mixed emotions of excitement, regret, and everything else that is hard to explain. Her mind is full of questions as to why his ex-boyfriend is in the US and holds US accounts and social security numbers.
She didn’t wait to end her shift and took an early out and went straight home. He wasted no time searching for Arnel’s profile on Facebook but the account is private and offers no detail except for his name and profile picture which was obviously taken lately. She can’t do anything with a profile picture that she couldn’t zoom. “One mutual friend,” it says and when she clicked, she saw a light when it was her cousin Marinel.
She contacted her cousin later that day and asked her about Arnel but Marinel was hesitant and was confused as to why she is digging for someone that was already forgotten. Marinel first was hesitant but couldn’t believe it when she told her about that call earlier. She told her everything about her ex-boyfriend. Arnel goes back to the Philippines after leaving for the US but sends money to her aunt and supports his younger cousin in college – the only family he left on his mother’s side. Marinel gave her access to her Facebook account so she could browse Arnel’s photos. She didn’t sleep that night with a heavy heart and a confused mind.
Marinel told Arnel everything but the latter did not contact her. After 3 months he returned to the Philippines without Lysette’s knowledge. He sent her flowers and the two meet again after almost 7 years of zero communication. After six months, they got married.
The couple has since been living in Tacoma, Washington and Lysette has been working as a flight crew in an American airline a year after having their first baby.
Note: This is a real incident but the names of persons involved and places were changed to protect their privacy as requested by the husband. /Juliana May Cervantes – contributed to this story/