British Telecon

There’s some sort of scam going on out there in the telesales world. This may not be the most blinding revelation that anyone has ever experienced, but allow me to express my disgust (and extreme bewilderment).

Now, as someone who answers the phone all day, every day, I’ve obviously heard every sales tactic in the book. You’ve got the phone people from India or somewhere, you know, where there’s a time delay of about 4 seconds between you saying hello and the distant click that precedes them replying “Uhhh… ‘ello? Am I speaking vith thee pairson who pays thee tillyphone beels?”. I have learned to hang up before the click, so that technically I’m not hanging up on them, because as far as I’m aware there’s actually no one on the other end of the line.  Crafty, eh?

Then there’s Mr./Ms. Enthusiastic, usually with an extremely grating Geordie or Manchunian accent, who nearly bursts your eardrums in their extreme excitement about what inevitably turns out to be toner or a Sage upgrade, in the hope that their joy will be infectious. Also worthy of a mention is Bored Salesperson, who is not as disinterested as you might assume. He/she will come on the line and talk for five solid minutes without once taking a breath, asking you a question, or changing their tone of voice. The idea is that by the time they eventually pause, you’ll have lost the will to live, and will be so desperate to get rid of them that you’ll agree to buy 80 rolls of toilet roll and several hundred bin liners from them just to shut them up. It’s extremely difficult to make your first words “Sorry, I’m not interested” when, quite clearly, neither are they.

However, this latest one is incredible, and stands apart from the rest by its sheer audacity and outright deceit. They get a couple of different people to call you, right? The first is another Mr./Ms. Enthusiastic, who knows you by name and sees you as a close personal friend.

“Hello, Hayley?” “Yes.” “Hayley, HI!! It’s Claire, here, you know, from Company X, we spoke last month – remember?” “Uh…” “HI! Gosh, it’s great to speak to you again, how’ve you been doing, alright?” “Uh…”  “You guys are probably still really busy there, aren’t you?” “Uh…”  “Yeah, I won’t keep you long, it’s mental here, too. Plus I’ve got the mother of all headaches, one of the guys here left this week and we had a MAD party for him last night, I think I went a bit overboard on the old vodka, you know how it is, HAHAHAHAHA, anyway, I owe you an apology – I am sooooooooo sorry Hayley, but you know how you agreed to do that ad in Fake Publication Y, and I promised I’d send out the copy and all the details, with the invoice, well, I’m honestly so, so sorry but I totally forgot all about it! I went away on holiday the next day, and when I came back it just totally slipped my mind, and I’ve just come across my own memo and I can’t believe it! I’m so sorry! My boss will kill me if he finds out. But, look, I swear I’ll get it off to you today in the post, will that be OK?” “Uh… OK…” “…I promise I’ll get it sent right now, I’m so sorry for the delay, it’s totally my fault. Thanks for being so good about it, I’ll get my colleague to give you a follow-up call to confirm all your details and so on, is that OK?” “Uh… yeah…” “…and we’ll get it moving ASAP. Thanks ever so much, Hayley, you’re a star!! Sorry again. Talk to you soon! Bye!” “Uh…. bye.”

Dazed and confused, I try to continue with my work as the sneaking suspicion that I’ve somehow been ‘had’ creeps into my frazzled mind. Kate and Zed throw me occasional concerned glances, but evidently decide to let me work things out in my own head. The phone rings.

“Hi, Hayley? Paul here from Company X. You were just talking to my colleague, Claire, about your order?” “Uh… yes…” “Won’t keep you a moment, just ringing to confirm your details…”

He goes off on a very efficient-sounding checklist of company details, and I helplessly confirm them, because everything he’s saying is in fact true. And yet, somewhere in the midst of it all, there is the vague, unspoken and ominous understanding that I have Agreed To Something. But now it’s too late for me to say “What are you talking about?” without sounding like a complete and utter nitwit.

Honestly. You hang up and your head is spinning, as you wonder what on earth has just taken place. “Did I agree to something ages ago?” you find yourself wondering, even though you know perfectly well that there’s no way you would’ve. Doubting yourself. Doubting your own memory. Doubting reality.

So you see, they have found the perfect scam for me. Confusion: it’s the way forward in sales tactics.

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4 thoughts on “British Telecon

  1. My boss was away climbing Mont Blanc and this incredibly dopey salesman came in. I thought he was a total dork. Somehow he managed to sign me up to a five year contract with a postal franking company. So who’s the dork now?

    Yet another cunning tactic. Have the victim think you’re a head-the-ball.

  2. I think it should be illegal. Cold-calling, I mean, not being a dork. It is like rolling peer pressure, emotional blackmail and bullying all into one, giving it a title and paying people to do it.

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