Japan is currently at a sort of social crossroads, with a rapidly aging population dealing with rapidly advancing technology such as the widespread use of smartphones. It’s been reported that some phone dealers are mulling service charges for visitors due to an influx of elderly customers hanging around and seeking advice from clerks on unrelated matters such as asking how to join Netflix or send an email.
While its easy to sympathize with the seniors who must adapt to these new devices late in life, there’s also a heavy burden on the front-line customer service staff of associated companies. For example, just imagine if the same guy called you 59 times a day to complain about his phone.
That’s just what happened to the staff working at telecom giant KDDI‘s toll-free customer service hotline last month. Police arrested and are currently investigating 71-year-old Akitoshi Okamoto of Kasukabe, Saitama Prefecture, on charges that he called KDDI 411 times during a single week last month with complaints such as “Come and apologize for violating our contract and for unfair business practices!”
The company was initially hesitant to press criminal charges against its own customer, but the repeated complaints were interfering with the call center’s ability to assist other customers and had been taking a mental toll on staff. So, after consultation with police, an arrest was made.
The investigation is still ongoing, but KDDI’s own logs revealed that Okamoto had called them roughly 24,000 times over the past two years, working out to an average of 33 times a day if he had called for 730 consecutive days.
According to police, the suspect was upset that his phone was not able to pick up radio broadcasts. Okamoto denies the charges, telling police “I am the victim.”
Most online tend to disagree with his assessment, but some netizens felt KDDI should have done more to prevent this situation from escalating as it had.
“Telecom companies are getting more and more monster complainers it seems.”
“He probably believes that because he’s the victim, it gives him the right to act horribly to other people.”
“Clearly this man has too much time on his hands.”
“If the telecom company bothered the man it should apologize appropriately, but now it has to press harassment charges.”
“Without knowing the full problem it’s hard to say who’s wrong, but it really seems like he has too much free time.”
“Seems like they should have reported him sooner.”
“If you work in customer service for a while your soul will get crushed. Old people are the worst, but younger people are sensible.”
“Because of idiots like this, now I’m paranoid that whenever I call customer service, they’ll treat me like a maniac.”
“I think calling 10 times ought to be enough for an arrest.”
Pending the results of the investigation, Okamoto may face obstruction of business charges.
“Obstruction of business” is a convenient Japanese criminal definition that makes it illegal to interfere with someone’s ability to do regular business, and can cover a wide range of unconventional crimes such as stabbing oneself to get out of work or paying for beef bowls with blood-soaked money.
And assuming anything beyond two complaint attempts is a waste of time for both parties, 23,998 phone calls is a whole lot of obstructed business. Let’s hope Okamoto’s punishment, if needed, is to attend some sort of IT training seminar to help him along in these changing times.
Source: NHK News Web, TV Asahi News, Hachima Kiko
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