If you are “flagged”: how to detect this and what to do about it

What do I mean by “flagged”?

If an organization, for its own convenience, needs to label certain of its clientele as problematic for some reason, it might flag those clientele, just as you and I might flag email so that it stands out for our attention in the future, or star something so that we notice it, or “favorite” a recipe.

Likewise, a company might flag its higher volume customers, or top sellers, or best potential buyers.

Your local college loves those donors that donate over $1,000 and targets them. Actually, I heard this from a college person who dealt ONLY with those donors. This was a former college of mine.  I said to myself, “Wow, I really know I mean a lot to them now.”

You, as clientele, have an account number, or at least a name and date of birth. To this company or organization you might be identified by your phone number or address or “last four of your social.” Or username. Or you have a secret question on file. Mother’s maiden name or favorite food. In fact, they know everything about you, which is a bit scary when  they start quizzing you. On you.

Let’s say this is your local gym. Let’s say you are behind on dues by four months. This may get you flagged. So say you are calling to ask about their exercise classes. You aren’t asking about overdue payment methods, you’re asking about classes. But when you call, the first question is,

“Please dial your account number….”

after which you will be routed to the appropriate operator.

My experience tells me that a flagged account won’t make it past this point. You’ll be routed to a loop, or to the billing department, or disconnected, or to “please wait,” and the worst muzak you ever heard.  The solution?  Please forget your account number, or goof it by a digit to bypass these automated idiots so you can ask your question.

Likewise with your local “help” organization. If they don’t like you, they REALLY don’t like you.  Not only do they NOT want to help those of us who are flagged, but they will deliberately lie and put us off or even hang up on us just to get us off the phone.

I’ve had that happen with the National Eating Disorders Association recently. I phoned their office in New York a few months ago to ask about a legal matter. This was on behalf of a group of patients I was concerned about. I know something is happening to do with funding that I found out about and I am trying to stop it. I wanted to make NEDA aware of it. It looked like they were already well aware, but didn’t give a shit. Who cares about poor people? NEDA never has.  Apparently, they didn’t want anyone talking. They didn’t want to deal with it and didn’t want me pestering them pointing out that people with ED aren’t all rich and don’t come from families that can afford to send their kids to horse farms.

So I was dumb enough to say my name. I have spoken to them before and told her so.

Immediately, the person on the phone said. “Can you hold on a second?” There was a long pause. She came back to the phone. She stated apologetically that her supervisor had interrupted her momentarily and she was back. That, of course, was a lie. She had gone to CHECK with her supervisor to see if I was flagged, and found that I was. Her supervisor had told her to immediately end the conversation.

She said to me, “I’m sorry, we don’t handle that kind of case.” Within ten seconds, she hung up.

If you are just plain a nuisance you might be flagged. You might be flagged if you call too frequently just to ask tech support questions. They’ll tell you, “Call whenever you need us,” but when you do, don’t call too much or you’ll find out that all the sudden the wait times are like two hours unless you change your originating phone number or punch in a different account number as an experiment. Or call the sales department instead of tech support. That works every time.

Never mind the big banks. Don’t even call them.

Call up the sales department of that piggish place that flagged you for the heck of it and ask for one of their packages. Ask for something you know only a big business, high volume customer would want. Tell them you will think about it, then hang up. If they don’t hate you and don’t know you’re really an activist, they might actually believe you. For a minute.

Of course, if you are calling a suicide hotline, I wouldn’t phone order 1,000 suicides or you might be in trouble.

Feedback and comments welcome!