If You Have Borderline Personality Disorder, Sometimes You Have to Back Off Customer Service Staff

Borderline Personality complicates many things in life, particularly resolving conflict with customer service staff. When a large amount of money is involved, matters quickly go from bad to worse unless you know when to back off.

Everyone likes to collect money but not pay it. Your stingy boss at work denies your requests for a raise. The internet book seller that promised you a speedy refund after a botched order takes 2-3 weeks to “process the money”, when in reality money can be returned to credit cards in 48 hours or less. Other times, you’re waiting for a transfer from a bank, and it seems to be taking much longer than normal: frequent calls to your business partner and banking rep produce nothing but misinformation and confusion.

Here’s how my behavior pattern progresses (well, regresses 🙂 ) in these situations:

  1. Firm, yet polite requests. If necessary, I might even do the company’s job and research my credit card company’s policies or current banking laws. This helps them along and doesn’t allow them to use ignorance as an excuse.
  2. Persistent customer service queries EVERY day, for days on end, until I’m satisfied. I reach this point when it’s clear the other party is in the wrong and not doing anything about it. I’ll call at any hour and rattle them until someone gives me answers.
  3. Angry calls and emails – nothing profane or insulting – just pissed off. I try not to make it a personal matter. I let them know I will not tolerate being treated like a doormat. If they respond angrily, then I reply with an even angrier retort. Important:I only get this way when I know I’m right. If I’m in a grey area or out of line, getting mad just makes me look like an a$$hole opposed to a victim.
  4. Manipulation. People with BPD are great manipulators, so why not put it to good use? I’ll start with emotional pleas like “My rent is due and I need the money” or “I can’t buy my medicine without my credit card”, trying to play on their sensibilities. If that is unproductive, I’ll concoct manipulative schemes. Usually those involve calling a manager and asking for an explanation, while simultaneously emailing a support representative for their response. If the replies are inconsistent, I’ll reply to BOTH the manager and support rep with their mixed up stories, copy/pasting chat sessions, recording phone calls, etc. This tactic embarrasses most businesses internally, although they won’t admit it to you.
  5. When tricking them into admitting incompetence fails, I start playing Good Cop/Bad Cop, unpredictably changing from quiet and understanding to loud and (legally) threatening. The point is to let them know they’re dealing with a whackjob 🙂 . Getting me out of their hair as fast as possible means holding up their end of the deal. This usually works after a couple months of frustration.

Important: Avoid at all costs personal insults, bigoted remarks, or any kind of threat other than legal action. Once you cross that line, now you’re in the wrong, and could be prosecuted. Alternatively, the company might have their lawyers send YOU a cease and desist letter for harassment.

I’m truly a victim, the company isn’t doing anything about it, and months have passed by

Most of the time, companies will settle disputes amicably, even if it takes them several weeks. In other cases, they will refuse to budge, and begin to grow tired of hearing from you. These types of operations are truly crooked or horribly mismanaged and inefficient.

If the company is outside the United States, also realize that there might be cultural conflicts at work behind the scenes. Some cultures believe following the company’s distinct set of rules and regulations for resolving conflict takes precedence over their own blatantly criminal actions. Not everyone does business like the local general store or family owned restaurant. Americans usually expect prompt redress – financial or otherwise – when it is clear they have been scammed. Other cultures will only award the customer compensation once their own internal procedures – usually complicated and utterly nonsensical – have been exhausted.

Before having a BPD tantrum about it, back off for a couple days and look at all the facts. Ask yourself if the amount of money is still worth your time. A $20 cookbook that got lost in the mail is worth chasing for 2-3 months. After that, your persistence and anger will only produce diminishing returns.

It’s about the principle: $5 or $50,000, I need my refund!!!

Yes it is, but realize after you’ve tried everything and want to take legal action, most lawyers will not bother with any case involving less than $10,000 fraud or breach of contract. The other party is wrong for scamming, stealing, or not honoring their contract, but anything less than $10,000 is better settled in small claims court. This requires another time commitment on your behalf.

Calling a lawyer over a $100 damaged collectible plate would not be productive, especially if the offending party is out of state. Small claims might work if you can travel. Otherwise, your best recourse is to use every LEGAL method possible to ruin their reputation. Visit consumer reporting websites or the Better Business Bureau and lodge complaints. Bad press will steer other potential customers away from their crappy company, ultimately costing them money. This might seem petty, but it might help turn your anger into something more productive.

You can also back off and return to polite, well documented communication

This tactic works when you’re ultimately at the mercy of the other party, particularly if they are located outside the USA or forced you to sign a predatory contract.

A business in Argentina that owes you money is fairly immune to any sort of USA legal action. You can file the paperwork, but it would be up to Argentinian authorities to prosecute the offending party. Most countries are NOT known for playing ball with the United States legal system, particularly for trivial matters involving less than $100,000. Obviously a $25,000 debt isn’t trivial to most people, but it’s not worth the other country’s time to pursue.

Accept that you might never get your money. Prepare yourself to take a loss and dip into your savings for bill paying. If you have no savings, begin spending your emotional and physical time on something that WILL reliably pay the bills. Take a part time job. You can be a victim of criminals but you can also be a victim of your own self pity. At some point, you need a positive cash flow. Don’t wait for the crooks to realize the error of their ways or have a “Come to Jesus Moment”. It won’t happen.

Therefore, if you think there is a slight chance you *might* get paid, back off on the constant customer service queries, turn down your emotions, refocus your energy on something productive, and resign yourself to sending the offending business weekly emails or calls reminding them about their debt.

The squeaky wheel usually gets the grease, even after the squeak turned into an annoying squawk and decided to quiet down. Don’t let them forget you’re there. Otherwise, they will never pay up because they think you’ve called it quits.

If some legal authority eventually catches up to them – foreign or domestic – they will no doubt see your slew of complaints inside the company’s database and will most certainly give your grievances a higher priority compared to others that went quietly.

Use your BPD to vocalize your outrage IF JUSTIFIED, then, use your brain to move forward with your life constructively.