My cold comfort for cold-callers
- Credit: PA
Opinion: David Clayon has his own way of dealing with cold-callers...
I'll tell you one thing that happens more when you work from home - those damned cold calls on the phone. There's lots of them and they come in waves. Generally, it's a survey, or purports to be one, delivered by someone with English as their second language on a poor-quality phone-line from goodness knows where. I suppose I could slam the phone down and I know people who do, but that would be rude and they're only doing their job. I've been in an occupation which needed to collate opinions from people so I'm in no position to criticise the process nor bat it away.
They usually ask me to confirm my name – always happy to do that and clearly, they've got my number from somewhere because they've called me, but then I generally wrong-foot them when they check my address. 'I'm sorry I'm not prepared to confirm that,' I say very politely, '…but happy to help with your survey.' They generally try a few more times to get me to admit where I live but no, I won't budge. They either rudely disconnect the call, or they soldier on with what must be a flawed set of answers from someone who doesn't officially exist anywhere. I politely answer most of the questions but never anything financially related – that's my choice.
They're a tad optimistic with some of the queries such as how old is your washing machine? I struggle to accurately calculate my grown-up children's ages these days, so the washing machine's got no chance. There's usually an entertaining mix of questions about Broadband and motoring, then, 'Would you like to win a holiday to Florida?' Well, no I wouldn't because I'd probably have to reveal all sorts of other stuff to enter. Have I got a conservatory? No I haven't. Now I'm expecting a succession of calls to try and sell me one.
I'm not naïve, I know what this is for. The call centre sells my name and number to various manufacturers who pay for this thankless service to start calling to sell me stuff. Guess what – I don't confirm my address when they call and one of two things happens. (I refer you to the above text!).
Every now and again I feel a little mischievous. You know that bit when they tell you, 'This is being recorded for training purposes' Given my long association with radio, I have been known to reply, '…and I'm recording this for broadcast purposes.' This isn't in their known responses, so either they choose to ignore it or hesitate and pass me on to a supervisor who asks me what the problem is. 'No problem and could you please speak up a bit I'm recording this!' If pushed, I've tended to say I'm gathering research for a documentary on cold calling. That can prompt a rude hang-up. Genuinely I would have crafted some radio feature around this modern phenomenon, so I wasn't fibbing – honest.
Mind you, better on the phone than in person. Years ago, I was the fool who fell for a chap who cold-called in person by knocking on the door and said something like, 'Sorry to bother you mate, we're carpet fitters and have just finished a major contract job up the road and we've got some really good off-cuts on the van easily big enough for a room. You interested? Then added, conspiratorially, '…for cash?' I trotted out to their van, rather liked the pattern and paid £35 for a taped-up roll of carpet just right for our new dining room. I patted myself on the back at getting such a bargain. I called a carpet fitter friend to lay it for me. He queried my sanity, unrolled the carpet to find a major flaw in the middle of the pattern!
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