Health Department Worker Suspended Due to Answering Calls as a Robot
NY Post: He knew just how to press his boss’s buttons!
A city Health Department worker was suspended without pay for answering the agency’s help desk phone using a robot voice, city documents show.
Computer specialist Ronald Dillon, 66, was slapped with a 20-day suspension for speaking in a “deliberately robotic fashion” while fielding calls from co-workers and the general public, according to an Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings decision.
Dillon, who answered calls at the department’s IT help desk, was caught using the weird monotone voice at least five times between February 2012 and April 2013, according to the document.
“You-have-reached-the-Help-Desk. This-is-Mr. Dil-lon. How-may-I help-you?” he would over-enunciate.
His robot impression was so convincing that one annoyed caller demanded to “speak to a human” after she thought an “automated system” had hung up on her.
Other callers filed formal complaints — tipping off his boss, Barry Novack, who told Dillon to stop using the phony voice, according to the decision.
Dillon told a judge at a disciplinary hearing that he was simply reading from a script that his boss had asked him to follow.
His thick Brooklyn accent had caused him trouble in the past, so he was trying to speak slower so that callers could understand him better, he told Administrative Law Judge Kara Miller.
He added that he’s not a “people person,” according to the document.
Miller didn’t buy it, ruling that, “He appears to be [a] disgruntled employee who is acting out.”
Dillon’s position involves handling tech problems on two phone lines — one that deals with his fellow Health Department workers and another for members of the public who are having trouble with the Nycmed.com web site.
To prove he was intentionally alienating callers, the Department of Health recorded five examples to present as evidence at the hearing, documents show.
Channeling his inner Siri will cost him around $5,000 in lost wages for the 20-day suspension.
Dillon has worked for the city since 1976 with no trouble, according to his lawyer William Massey.
“They were exceedingly harsh…We’re very disappointed with the decision,” he told the post.
He also claimed that Dillon’s boss hadn’t treated him fairly.
“Novack was bullying Mr. Dillon, belittling him and refusing to train him…Mr. Dillard went from nothing on his record to a 20 day penalty. That is very severe,” he said.
The Health Department initially gave Dillon a 34-day suspension but the judge lowered it the penalty to 20 days on Feb. 14.
Dillon appealed that decision with the Civil Services Commission on Oct. 2 and lost.
Kinda love this guy, kinda hate him. Either way I love this story. On the one hand, I love him because it's pretty funny to answer the phone as a robot. That's the last thing a caller wants to hear when they call in to the help desk. But it's too funny to get mad at him because he was so convincing. At that point you just gotta tip your cap to a funny prank. And he only did it 5 times in a year, not that big of a deal. If you're fielding calls all day at your job, you gotta make it fun sometimes. I'll take a 20 day suspension any day if it meant I got to make my job somewhat fun for 5 days a year.
And on the other hand, I hate him because he claims to not be a people person. Bro, you work at the IT help desk for the Health Dept. in New York. Pretty sure your job will require you to field some calls on occasion. Or more like all day. Maybe choose a different career path, because that clearly involves being even somewhat of a people person. And honestly, it seems like this guy has the skills to be a people person, he just doesn't realize it. Maybe answer the phone as a robot, but as soon as someone gets pissed off, just say "hey, it's a person, we're just having fun a little bit, how can I help you?" Personally, I'd love a help desk employee like that. When the job gets a little dry, you gotta spice it up a bit. So that's on him to not realize his phone answering potential. The talent is right there, he's just gotta put it all together. Maybe his 20 days off will help him realize it.
P.S. The guy's missing out on $5000 while he's gone. I'm a bit of a math connoisseur and figured out that this means this guy gets paid over $90,000 a year. I HATE talking on the phone, but sign me up for this job. I don't mind people, but hate phones. That's where I differ from this guy. I could figure it out for 90k a year. Maybe I'd just answer as a robot every time. Or maybe I'd send em to another hotline, or just shove some product down their throats Billy McMahon style.
P.P.S. 90k would be good for me now, but when I can make more doing something else, fuck answering phones.