We're listening in.
April 26, 2010 4:03 PM   Subscribe

"Your call may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance purposes". Okay, but do I have to tell you someone else is monitoring the call on my end?

Got into a billing dispute with a credit card my family holds. I pay all the family's business bills, but some of the cards are in my mom's name. When it comes to a dispute process, they sometimes want to talk to her at a certain point.

In today's dispute, I was 99% certain we'd end up closing the account and taking our business elsewhere, so while I was on hold waiting for a customer service rep, I conference called my mom into it, but told her to remain silent until it came time to actually cancel the account ... not for any nefarious reason other than I can maintain my cool when dealing with credit card companies and their customer service reps, and she can't.

So the time came to cancel the account, and I was told the primary cardholder would actually need to call in to do so. I told the rep that my mom had actually been on the line the entire time and she'd take the call from that point forward. This flustered the rep and made her audibly angry. While she didn't state per se I'd done something wrong, she implied that having someone listening to the call on my end without her knowledge wasn't cool. She kept using the phrase "I'm not a lawyer" quite a bit...and I'm not sure why other than I took her by surprise and that pissed her off.

I wasn't recording the call and to my mind, if I'm not recording a call (and maybe even if I am) then I can choose to let anyone I like listen to any phone call I'm making at any time.

But is this the case? The consumer is told their call may be monitored or recorded, but does the consumer have the same obligation to notify the customer service representative?
posted by WolfDaddy to Work & Money (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: "Can we tape?"
posted by lalochezia at 4:04 PM on April 26, 2010

Best answer: Depends on the state from which you're calling. In Texas, only one party involved in the call must consent to being recorded. You are that party. So you're fine and you don't need to disclose.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:08 PM on April 26, 2010

What you did was just fine. Regarding taping, the law varies - in Canada it's perfectly legal to tape your own call.
posted by Dasein at 4:09 PM on April 26, 2010

Two words, speaker phone, you could have the U.S. Senate sitting there in the room, it is your room & your phone and your business, long as no device is in play no laws are involved.
posted by Freedomboy at 4:36 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

You were given the courtesy of being notified that they were recording the call. That you didn't notify them of the same from your end is rude, so it shouldn't be a surprise to you that the rep was upset. But, the rep's emotions are not your problem. Big deal. It's not personal, and it was silly of her to take it personally.
posted by randomstriker at 5:04 PM on April 26, 2010

I disagree with randomstriker; there's no equivalence between 1) their notification you may be monitored or recorded for their own purposes (required by law in many states) and 2) your mother listening quietly at your end until the necessary moment for her to speak. The rep's surprise may be understandable but the sputtering about lawyers was stupid and unprofessional. Sure, it would have been gentler of you to mention mom was listening early on, or just to say, "She's right here, let me put her on" without creating that awkward moment for the company rep, but failing to do so in a customer setting like this hardly qualifies as rudeness.
posted by mediareport at 5:21 PM on April 26, 2010

(And certainly isn't illegal.)
posted by mediareport at 5:24 PM on April 26, 2010

randomstriker, the OP was not recording the conversation.
posted by hermitosis at 5:28 PM on April 26, 2010

I don't see how her listening in could violate any laws. That's a different question from whether you would need to notify a company (who is recording you) that you are recording them. Different states will have different laws on this regard.
posted by Happydaz at 5:45 PM on April 26, 2010

In 12 US states you are required to notify the other party if you are recording a call; the remaining states only require the consent of one party to the call.

But since you weren't recording, all you've done is startle a call service rep.
posted by ook at 5:51 PM on April 26, 2010

I agree that a semantically gentler way to handle it is more "she's right here, I went ahead and put her on" or "s'okay, you're on speaker, just go ahead" than "she's been listening to you the whole time."
posted by desuetude at 7:00 PM on April 26, 2010

Yes, it depends if you're in a notification state or not. Some states require both parties to consent; some only require one.

But I have found, generally, that customer service reps HATE to be recorded by customers and will almost always freak out. Regardless of the legality of the situation.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:58 PM on April 26, 2010

Best answer: First of all, you are fine. Because no recording was made.

But I think even if you were in one of the 2 party states, you would be ok with recording the call. I think you could make a case that by them saying the call might be recorded, they are consenting to the call being recorded. You don't have to ask them because they already gave their consent by putting that message on there, even though that's not what they thought they were saying. (Because when they say "may" they mean "might, not "allowed to".) But the point isn't the language, it is the consent. And by installing recording equipment, they gave their consent.
posted by gjc at 9:43 PM on April 26, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks all. Indeed, I was not recording the call and I guess at worst you could say I invited my mom to be an eavesdropper. And, yeah, I was a bit snitty with the rep, but it was my third call to this agency regarding the dispute, and on one of those calls the rep hung up on me when I politely asked to speak to her supervisor, so I wasn't feeling all that predisposed to give the third and last rep advance warning that someone else was on the line, as, again, I was certain we'd be closing the account and taking our business elsewhere.

Thanks again!
posted by WolfDaddy at 6:04 AM on April 27, 2010

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