Saturday, June 21, 2003
COLD SELL TELEPHONE CALLS.
Over the last two weeks, I swear, I have half a dozen unsolicited phone calls from 'holiday' companies using the same tragically transparent on-screen script. Now when it comes to other telephone tea time spam, like the 'We are working in the area and have this amazing offer on replacement windows', (the commonest UK unsolicited phone spam intrusion) I have a well rehearsed script." Let me stop you there," I lie, "We have already got double glazing and I'm not interested.
That deters all but the strongest hearts and , in a sympathetic and altruistic way I have in these matters, shows my caring side in allowing them to spot a non-starter immediately, save their breath and move on to the next potential mug in the telephone list they are working through. God if only these people would get together , look at their sales and compile a directory of people who haven't got PVC windows yet. That would save a lot of wasted time on both sides of the commercial divide.
What is totally bizarre is that the registered householder here is partner Angela, A.K.A. Mrs Hanson. Angela divorced Steve (Mr.Hanson yonks ago and he has never actually lived at this address.) But, every cold call that we get starts with the sexist , " Can I speak to Mr Hanson" opening gambit. "Mr Hanson doesn't live here , never has," I tell them, "but if you really want him he's in Basra at the moment and it would be a trifle inconvenient to bother him. If you trying to sell something I never buy from unsolicited phone callers who are working through a directory" I'm never interested. I am Mrs Hanson's significant other, partner," I tell them , "How can I help ? ", I kindly add.
Now working in a call centre is a tragic waste of life and working those cold sell scripts must be mind numbing. You know that back at the call centre there is probably an aggressive young boss, giving pep motivating talks to underpaid people and wanting sales targets met or you are out. I instinctively feel that the owners of such businesses have more in common with the organised criminal fraternity. Good business is about decent ethics that pay off in the long run. These scripted call centre based organisations are short term, 'screw what you can to get rich quick wide boys' and they'll never make it long term.
You also know, as I know from a salesman friend, that 'cold calling' has a high failure rate and only about 30% or less give the result the person needs to stay on target and earn a living.
I am irritated by the double glazing fraternity and abhor the ones that use the discount "but only if you sign up now routine." Kitchen forms do that too, even realtively famous name ones do this agressive unethical pitch thing. Moben is one of them in my personal experience. (Sue me if you dare .) But the holiday scammers are the scum of the earth and I would pass a law to permanently ban their grotty tactics. As I said, I've had six similar calls in the space of just two weeks recently. Each time I hear the script, I just say, "Hold it there. This is a 'bout holidays right? I am just not interested." Three of the cold callers have asked why? I simply said, "I've heard this script from companies over and over again and I am just not interested." They usually then hang up. How gullible do they think people are? The practice has been exposed several times on consumer TV programmes but these aggressive fraudulent firms carry on with their dodgy tactics and don't deserve to succeed in business. They don't deserve to be in business in my view.
The sting, if you are interested, works like this. Once we are over the , "I am not Mr Hanson" hurdle but I am Angela's partner, we suddenly learn, what a surprise!, that caller, Wasim, Michelle, take your pick, ( all people that were probably disaffected at school, didn't get any GCSEs and couldn't get a proper job) is ringing to congratulate me. Have they read my Blog, seen my Fotolog ? No. Their company (Thinly disguised Rip Off holidays, PLC, GBH computer has , surprise, surprise, picked me out as a lucky winner of a free holiday. ( Actually, the caller is working their way through postcodes and, scripted, is working through the individual households, but let's humour them for a tad longer. )
Now at this point I would normally say p**** off or more politely "not interested" whatsoever but lets go on to see what would happen as one of our friends took this to its logical conclusion. The way the scam runs is that , to claim you prize, you have to travel to Birmingham or somewhere to a reception and presentation. This is about tempting the gullible with the promise of something for nothing. Typically if you fall for the scam and arrive at the reception, you are treated gently like royalty, fed and given drinks and asked to sit through presentations, say for a 'condo' on some Spanish resort , a villa , a fitness centre or a time share condo in the Lake District. Now Cath, someone I work with went nearly all the way with this , eyes wide open, and well just going for fun. She is an intelligent, assertive , well, Northern person but told me that, after the drinks, the food and the presentations, when she then declined to sign up, the sales team, I mean the bad boys playing good boys up to now, suddenly got really aggressive and launched into moral blackmail and real hard sell for some two hours. It is appalling that they do this.They really are the whores of the business world. "I bought you a couple of drinks, made you an offer you can't refuse and you have." routine. These are sinister people and you wonder just how many people they have intimidated at these bogus prize winner functions, into signing expensive binding contracts for things they don't actually want. The really sinister side of this fraudulent marketing strategy is that we mostly know it is a scam; there has been lot of publicity about it, but there are still a lot of gullible and vulnerable people out there and the cold callers job is to root them out. It clearly must be worth it to base a business on this sad bunch of bullsit. I have only given in to a cold call just the once.
I was the local St. Anne's Hospice. This is a place that looks after terminally ill people, a regsistred charity and doing wonderful work filling in a void in government provision. They called me because I had visited my good friend Denis Simons whom they looked after for the brief period he successfully fought cancer, before he suddenly broke my heart on died. I gladly went along with a request for a small monthly direct, from the charming and genuine caller, and singed up to the charity. I told the woman how refreshing it was to have a genuine call and to have the opportunity to make a choice rather than someone trying every trick in the book to sell me something I had no use for or interest in.
E mail spam is another story and regularly I am offered, principallfrom the United Sates, loans I don't need, on line drugs , things to increase my sexual potency and the duration of my erection and help me lose weight. I have partial double glazing, make my own holiday arrangements, am solvent, have two off-licences within a minutes walk, am well blessed and have no need for Viagra because I am in love and well, that is somehing we shall pass over in silence. Modesty forbid ! I really hate getting phone calls from these phone spammers.
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