How you can record customer service calls for quality assurance purposes

"This call may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance purposes." How many times have we all heard that annoying message? Be assured, the purposes aren't for your benefit.

How about turning the tables and doing the recording yourself for your own quality assurance purposes? Then the next time you get a commitment from a customer service representative to resolve a problem you'll have your own record of the discussion.

It's about giving the consumer a chance to have equal footing with a company that can deny any promise was made since they have the recording and don't have to let you hear it. But this is not a recommendation without potential peril and it must be exercised with great caution since it is against the law in a dozen states to record phone calls without the consent of both parties. Those states are: California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington.

For those in most states the recording laws are intended to prevent wiretapping -- having a third party record a conversation. So as long as one of the participants knows (in this case you) it's OK. There are still some sticking points, such as which state "customer service" is actually located in, in case the laws in the state are tougher than the laws in yours. So, you can either ask where they are and quickly determine whether single-party consent is OK or do what they do and say the call might be recorded for "quality assurance purposes."

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has put together a useful primer regarding recording laws (applicable to journalists and non-journalists alike) that explains how to legally tape a conversation and breaks down the laws by state.

A variety of different devices are available to get the sounds from your phone to your recorder or computer. Some can be on the costly side, but usable adapters, such as this one made by Olympus, shouldn't cost you more than $20

Whether you record or not, for some insight into better handling your dealings with the customer Service, read what someone who runs one of the companies that actually listens to the recordings has to say.
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