Even though I’ve registered with the Telephone Preference Service I get numerous unsolicited sales and marketing phonecalls, often, so it would appear from the poor reception quality, from abroad. They’re intrusive, and increasingly clever.
The most recent one was from someone claiming to be phoning about our computer problems. That’s clever, because just about everyone has some sort of problem with their computer. I also had one from someone claiming to be from a government-office-sounding place about our unused grant for insulation. It was obviously a scam, because no real government office would ever be so helpful as to phone you about such a thing.
I had another one from ‘James’ from XXXX. Of course, you’re never able to make out the exact name of the company when they tell you. I asked him what his full name was, and he said ‘Just James’, so I replied “I don’t talk to anyone called Just James”.
The other day, I had two lads at the front door wanting to know if I was interested in changing my power supplier. They were dressed as if they were there to read the meter, and had a little gizmo in their hand, like the meter readers have.
I am completely and utterly confident that I don’t want ANY service or product sold by ANYONE who phones me or knocks on my door, so it’s easy to politely turn them all down, even when they say “Can I just ask you who your present supplier is? Is it Scottish Gas?”
“Could be”, I respond.
“Can I ask you why you want to pay more than you nneed to, given that our company is 15% cheaper?”
“You could, but I may not answer.”
We once went to a timeshare sales pitch, held by a company in Gaborone. The tempting offer was a free holiday, free coffee and biscuits, and some videos to watch. The main reason we went was because we had almost no money at the time for anything at all let alone entertainment, and no television or video recorder, and it looked like a good way to entertain our boys (Jamie aged 4 and Shaun aged 2) for an hour or two.
When we got to the hotel, the boys saw the videos and sat glued to them for more than an hour. The salesman started his pitch.
“If you could go anywhere in the world for your next holiday, where would you go?”
This is quite a good question, because it gets you thinking about exotic locations, and whichever country you say, the salesperson can almost certainly say that there are timeshare swapping possibilities at that location. Not with us, though. My response was Bhutan. There just aren’t any timeshares in Bhutan.
The salesperson’s next question was “How much did you spend on your last family holiday?”
Again, this is a good question, because the salesperson’s likely response is along the lines of “If you multiply that cost by 20 times, that’s what you’re likely to spend on holidays in the next 20 years. Yet a timeshare could be much cheaper than that.”
Not with us, though. Our previous holiday at that time had been a camping one in Matopos, Zimbabwe. Because of the exchange rate, costs had been incredibly low in Zimbabwe, and we’d taken a lot of our food with us anyway. I’d used one tank of petrol to get there and back. The holiday had really cost almost nothing. The salesperson had very little to multiply by 20.
He was a nice chap, and he soon realised that he wasn’t going to sell us anything. Jamie & Shaun had a pleasant afternoon watching videos, and we had some coffee and biscuits. We couldn’t afford to travel to the place where the free holiday was offered.
Jamie & Shaun could be really useful in pressurised sales situations. We once wanted to buy two carpets in a local shop in Mahdia, Tunisia. Usually, when haggling a price, it’s the tourists who are impatent and wanting to get away, and the carpet salespeople who have all the time in the world to wait you out. Not with us. After offering a price I just sat back and enjoyed my mint tea, the coolness of the shop, and ignored Jamie & Shaun who increasingly, as they got more and more bored, were running amok in the carpet shop, spilling and unravelling rolls of carpet everywhere, with the carpet seller’s wife and daughter running after them. After an hour of this the carpet seller said “Please! Just take the rugs and leave. Your price!”