Too long ; didn't read

  • My SO works at a cars dealership
  • She is handicapped and can't spend all day making physical efforts
  • Her coworkers don't answer the phone, so she has to run around
  • Lady colleagues are gossiping about her
  • She is making the job of her coworkers because they ignore her
  • When she stops doing that, she is blamed for not woring enough
  • She is promised with promotions that are finally handed to other people
  • she is constantly monitored by her coworkers
  • She had a burnout and took a leave for sanity
  • I advised her to stand up for herself and confront her coworkers
  • She is too shy and introvert and would like other solutions


First of all, I am talking on behalf of my SO, so I only relate what she has told me so far (she is very trustworthy and I have seen some proofs myself), so I would like to apologize for any inconvenience that it would cause in the answsers you all could provide.

I also know that there is always two versions to a story, and she can distort the fact to her own version. Since it is my SO, I trust and believe her, and I expect you to assume that she is indeed telling the truth (or pretend she did) when you answer to this question.

If that matters, several of her coworkers have already left for similar reasons, including one that broadcasted an e-mail to the whole company explaining what they deal with in this dealership.

Finally, keep in mind that I just subscribed to this stack exchange, so I am welcoming any improvement advice with open arms.


My SO works as a "welcoming hostess" in a world-known leadership. She is at the main entry, welcoming clients and redirecting them to the dealers/workshop/secretaryship according to their needs.

On top of that, she also has to answer calls coming in, and redirecting them, just like the clients. She also has to make calls for campaigns, let it be anything (promoting something, recalling defective cars ...)

She has been working there for about a year and a half, after a not-paid intership there for a month.

She also is handicapped from a car accident in her youth : she is on painkillers but doesn't take them when she works to remain fully functional. This means she is feeling pain constantly : it is part of why she works there, because at her interview, they sold her a desk job (she left her previous manutentionary work because of that too).

Issue 1 : phone calls

When she first started, she noticed that most people were calling her because they could not reach other desks because they weren't answering the phone at all. So she had to transfer the call to the concerned desk, only to receive the same call a couple of minutes later, stating that they still didn't answer the phone.

She then decided to simply walk directly to the desk herself, and hand ask them to pick up the phone. She would then transfer the call so that she could keep her own phone to answer.

Not only this is time consuming for her, the client, and the concerned desk, but it also physically pains her (as specified in the background section). It is also an issue because they receive "mysterious customers" (customers that are engaged by her employer and check the customer satisfaction), and those "spies" are blaming her for not being at her desk.

She was little to no present at her desk, and started receiving complaints about the customers and her superiors.

She then explained the issue, and they installed an automated answering machine : now a customer could reach the service he wanted without having to go through her (if they didn't have the direct line). As you imagine, it didn't resolve the issue at all, since the people in fault were still not answering the phone.

They then made a configuration that would make all the phones ring when no-one is answering, forcing people to pick up. This didn't work either.

Issue 2 : Gossips

In her dealership, one secretary is married to the head of the workshop, and she is very jealous.

At first, my SO and the secretary were colleagues : they would have lunch, laugh at breaks ... You probably understand it.

Then, she once had to make the head of the WS sign a random piece of paper and handed it to him. She apparently had to stretch because of the mess, meaning she was leaning on the desk to hand him the paper.

The secretary saw that as hitting on him, and started ignoring her from that point. She also turned all other ladies against her : it didn't only affect their relations, it also affected her work : those ladies would stop answering the phone when she transfered the calls, they would ignore her mails ... Just like a kindergarten feud.

Seeing she could not talk to any lady, she forcefully started taking breaks with men. Those ladies then started gossiping about how she was sleeping with them, taking it one step further.

Issue 3 : promotions and bonuses

Seeing how hard it was for her to keep this job (because of the gossips and the need to walk around constantly), she asked for a promotion to her director.

The interview went very well, and he verbally promised her a job in the new dealership at the other hand of the city as a secretary.

But apparently, because of the gossip (unproven), the director left to that other dealership and hired two other secretaries, and stopped contacting her.

Now, another director came to replace him, and he also promised her a new job. Having been conned once, she asked more details, to which he replied

it's not a matter of "if", but "when"

(implying she would soon be transfered to this new job).

As for the bonuses : when she calls people for a given campaign, she would usually gain 8€ per customer agreeing. This was written in her contract.

They recently removed those bonuses, which was about 40% of her paycheck. Now, she can't have bonuses anymore, only dealers can. And they didn't remove the agreement from her contract.

Issue 4 : the new director

This same director has been receiving feedbacks from the gossiping ladies, saying that my SO hasn't been taking enough phone calls lately (see next part for why).

Instead of asking for clarifications directly, he told her

You're not promoted yet, so you should keep working as usual until you are

He then proceeded to ask for the dealers to monitor my SO, by checking who she was talking to on the phone and seeing what she was doing on her computer (she is very serious about her work, nothing to report on that, her issue is about the lack of privacy and the fact that 3 sellers are constantly orbiting her desk now).

Result : the burnout

After the first promotion + gossip issue, She called me to take her home at midday, crying her eyes out, saying she couldn't take it anymore.

Being very down-to-earth, I gave her the follwing advices :

  • take a paid leave for mental sanity
  • confront people causing you wrong to see what they have to say
  • stand up for yourself, stop covering other people
  • Don't hesitate to reply to your boss when he wrongfully blames you
  • Don't pay attention to your coworkers
  • Yell at them if they don't do their work
  • Ask for a written confirmation of the promotion
  • Stop answering every call and running around, let them do their work

She has accomplished

  • mental sanity leave
  • confronting gossipers
  • stopping answering every call

Since she is very shy and introverted, she has some issues about confronting people directly (except for gossipers, it happened in her previous work too - she was working with her then-boyfriend).

Now she tells me she can't really do what I've advised her, which I understand ; but those are the only advices I can give her, because I know from personal experience that they work.

So my questions are :

Are those advices fitted for the problems she encounters ?

If no (or they're not complete), what should she do ?

Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this huge question, and providing an answer !

  • 1
    Why is the hunting down people not answering their phones and making them pick up? That seems to be way outside her job description; it's something their managers should be doing when customers complain.
    – Erik
    Sep 10 '18 at 10:47
  • @Erik agreed, but she tends to lose patience, and she has about 150 to 200 calls per day, so she tries not to have people call several times for the same reason
    – Maryannah
    Sep 10 '18 at 10:50
  • @JoeStrazzere it is in France, and it's rather common to push people out (there was a gigantic case in the 2000s where Orange forced people out so much, they started committing suicide). Changing jobs is an option, but the commodity of this one is an important factor (20min walk from the house), as well as the fact that she doesn't have degrees, so if she wants to climb up, she needs to stay in a company long enough to get promoted
    – Maryannah
    Sep 10 '18 at 10:51
  • Losing patience seems like an issue she can work on. Transferred calls not being picked up and people calling again later should be escalated to someone who can deal with it.
    – Erik
    Sep 10 '18 at 10:51
  • 1
    @trichetriche Not really, they're hell bent on getting her out so for me it would be more of a case of doing some damage before I inevitably find something better for my own sanity. But someone might have a better answer
    – rath
    Sep 10 '18 at 11:05

Tell your SO to move on ASAP

They are doomed at this place. Even if they hire an attorney and earn some sort of victory, at the end of the day why on earth would they want to stay and work in such a toxic environment?

The best bet is to move on as soon as they can, preferably while still employed.

  • She wants to stay because she hasn't got a driving license yet (on the way) and the company is 20 min away by feet. She also doesn't have degrees, meaning she can only access "low-end" jobs : and since she wants to evolve and stop being an hostess, her main argument for that is her seniority. But we did look for other jobs, and she found some that could fit her !
    – Maryannah
    Sep 10 '18 at 12:44
  • @trichetriche Great to hear! Sometimes the fit just isn't there and the best bet is to cut bait and move on, sadly.
    – Neo
    Sep 10 '18 at 12:46
  • Totally agreed ! but as said, she is handicapped and recognized as such, and has no degree : this means she can't really reach a lot of positions, because of either the nature of the job, or its requirements. Would you have any recommendation to ease her workspace environment in the meantime ?
    – Maryannah
    Sep 10 '18 at 12:48
  • @trichetriche I sadly do not
    – Neo
    Sep 10 '18 at 12:49

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