One phenomenon you notice when you are at home more during the daytime is the proliferation of unsolicited telephone calls you are subjected to. Now I know there are rafts of methods of dealing with this exasperating annoyance, and I have tried very many of them, but I have also become somewhat interested in those hapless captives who man the phones and what has forced them into the undoubtedly desperate position whereby they must telephone people all day who have no wish to speak to them, or indeed to even pick up the phone.
I’m guessing it must be quite wonderful to even find someone at home during daytime hours. As the recipient of so many of such calls I am able to tell instantly whether it is a ‘cold’ call or not. For one thing there is almost always a delay after I’ve uttered my usual, neutral ‘hello?’ This hiatus is usually the time when I replace the receiver, curse a bit and return to whatever absorbing activity I was engaged in before.
If the caller is quick enough to make a start on their pitch it tends to go something like this:
CALLER: Good afternoon ma’am. How are you today? [often heavily accented].
ME: I don’t want to buy anything, thank you.
CALLER: No I am not selling anything ma’am. I just wondered if you-
ME: [firmly] I am not interested. Thank you. Goodbye.
Note how polite I am! This is partly down to habit and also because I can’t imagine many occupations more tedious and soul destroying than theirs. The conversation can vary, of course. Sometimes they will ask for ‘Mrs PreviousSurname’, a surname I had for a previous era, in which case I adopt the haughty strategy of ‘I’m sorry, there is no Mrs PreviousSurname living here’. Sometimes they ask for my son, who has not lived here for many years, and on occasions we are still asked for the previous occupier of this house, a lady who moved on nearly twenty years ago!
This begs the question, where are they getting their information from? –From an ancient archive? –From a museum? The response to my denial of identity, if they think quickly, can be to ask if I am the homeowner. Indeed, this is sometimes an opening gambit. I tell them we have double glazing, a conservatory, cladding, insulation, insurance, that we don’t want a timeshare, didn’t have payment protection insurance, have made wills, our life insurance is all sorted and we are not in debt. These assurances may or may not be true, but the truth, in these circumstances is of no consequence. The fact is, if we were seriously to want any of these items or services we would go out and find them.
Husband’s method of dealing with cold calls can, on occasions be somewhat cruel, like a small boy teasing a fly, as when he demanded a ‘password’ from the caller, eliciting an, at first confused and then an increasingly enraged response.
I suppose, since these days more people are doing without land lines in favour of mobs the irritation might one day go away? In the meantime, what methods do you employ? Answers on a postcard…
Very apt post. I endure similar cold calls. I like your husband’s idea of a password! I too like to challenge the caller and lead them on a bit – maybe it’s a male thing…!
A few ideas: the conservatory proposal – oh, can you really do that for me?! I live on the first floor! Any home improvement proposal – I’m only the tenant, not the landlord. Other proposals where they need personal information – I like to reverse this on them and say that before you can proceed they will also need to answer some security questions and create an account with a password etc…They usually just get frustrated and give up. But I agree that the source of their information about us is a little more concerning. You can always toss in the chestnut of the Data Protection Act 1998 and see how they bluff their way around that!
Well thanks for those ideas! I suppose it all depends on how much time one has + how one is feeling! I’ve taken to saying the less benign ‘GO AWAY!’ lately, which is fairly effective.;)