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Retention Specialists

By Al Schumann on Tuesday October 18, 2011 09:50 PM

I find that job description hilariously appropriate, in its sphincter-snapping way. I was diverted to a "retention specialist", a few years ago, when I closed a credit card account. I don't argue with retentives. There's no point. When asked why I was closing my account, I thanked the specialist fulsomely, extravagantly, and said I was closing my account because I was closing my account. I gave the same answer to every subsequent retention sally. It took very little time to make things clear: the account was closed, because it was closed. I followed it up with certified mail anyway, return receipt requested, as an acknowledgment of the sphincter's insatiable appetite.

Can you imagine the self-loathing that must go into life as a retention specialist? It's got to take a serious toll. It also takes desensitization; a practiced routine or, more aptly, operant conditioning.

Elite-think is boxed in, as noted by MJS, between Giuliani head-bashing and Bloomberg's rational-instrumental sensibility. The latest management fashion craze tips towards Bloomberg. I put Obama-Romney in the same camp. The dichotomy seems as limiting as any retention specialist's scripted nagging. Such is the price of a good education. The entire point of which seems to be a race to the bottom, with each scripted reaction intended to foreclose on competing reaction options faster than they foreclose on themselves. I'll give the last word to Steven Pinker, a retention specialist of the first water:

Evolutionary psychologists are not ignorant of this hypothesis. They have considered it and found it to be unhelpful.

A general h/t to Corrente

Comments (11)


O O O a whack at that loathesome creep Pinker, who can't get whacked enough as far as I'm concerned. Last Sunday's NY Times book review gave its cover and half the inside pages to Pinker's latest exercise in intellectual disgrace.

Al Schumann:

It's an entirely gratuitous whack, too, for which I make no apology. I think any piece of writing can and should include a whack at him.


Like Cato: Praeterea censeo Pinker esse delendum!

If they sent me to a retention specialist, I'd ask for a referral to the projectile vomiting department.

"Retention specialist" is a pretty good paycheck, well over minimum wage, for an essentially unskilled job. Was a few years ago when I did it, anyway. Sure, MBNA sucks to work for, but so does McDonalds, and MBNA pays more. Of course I realize the motivation I describe is alien to a lot of the posters and commenters around here, but for those of us among the hoi polloi I assure you it exists nonetheless.

Al Schumann:

No need to be defensive about it, Aaron. There are jobs more awful than retention specialist. Telemarketing and debt collection can kill a fellow in short order. Working at an investment bank is a wrist-slitter. The paycheck from them is better than starving, even if the self-loathing half chokes you.


Web application security is pretty sucky too.


Al has hit a focal term


The de facto dime's difference
Betwen this pairing
Is patent to the point of blatant
The orthrian core
has never allowed it's two heads to look anymore twinish

Each one trying to sell to their assigned popular flank
The same center aisle black box

as if this black box contains
Not 4 more years of a fine corporate screw job
but very customized goodie
specially fashioned to meet only each flank's very special
And contradictory wish list

the magic
Frustrating both flanks at once
And in ways that
Get each flank to blame the other


Half a self loathe is better then none

Aaron, you don't work in academia, so the self-shame should be cut-rate, at best. Academics have cornered that market. They call it something else, but...

Son Of Uncle Sam:

MJS why so angry? Delendum! Really? Well if so... How about delendum by buolly buolly?

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