Massachusetts: Not That Nice to Customer Service Reps, But Not Vulgar Either

What those recorded calls you make to businesses tell us about our state's behavior on the phone.

Recall those occasions when you called a business and were told that it might be recorded? Well, the Marchex Institute, the research and data branch of the Marchex advertising firm, decided to put those recordings to use for something other than quality assurance. Instead, they examined over 600,000 phone calls from consumers to businesses in 30 different industries from the past year, and used technology to isolate certain words that indicated courtesy—”please,” and “thank you”—as well as words that indicated … something less than courtesy. (Curses. That’s right, they heard what you had to say to your Comcast representative last month.)  Cross-referencing those isolated instances with the location from which the call was placed, they were able to determine the swearingest states in the union as well as the most polite. They assembled the data and received a recent boost in attention from The Atlantic earlier this month.

So, Massachusetts dweller, do you want the good news or the bad news first?

Okay, the good, and perhaps shocking, news: Massachusetts is not very foul-mouthed. The commonwealth actually ranks second in the  “Goody Two Shoes” category, behind only Washington. Then came Arizona, Texas, and Virginia. High five! This means that when you bit your tongue even though your internet cut out for the third time last week, someone noticed. Meanwhile, the dirtiest mouth awards went to, in order, Ohio, Maryland,  New Jersey, Louisiana, and Illinois. Watch your mouth, Ohio.

Now the bad news: we’re not very polite. In fact, Massachusetts callers were the second least-likely to say “please” and “thank you” on the recordings. The only state even more lacking in courtesy was Wisconsin, which is pretty surprising when you cross-reference your stereotype of a Boston driver with a kindhearted midwesterner, but there you have it. 

It’s a mixed bag for us. We’re not going to thank people for helping us, but neither will our calls be rated PG-13. We’re better than Ohio, which ranked among the worst in both categories. We’d thank them for making us look better, but, well … that’s not really our thing.