Telephone sales people your calling is leaving me cold

Hot rage about cold callers

I should start with a disclaimer: I once had a job selling over the phone. While I was a student I had to persuade people to get the Press and Journal delivered and as a reward they would get a free pen or clock. Not the toughest sell, but I still wasn’t very good at it.

Anyhow, my experiences in phoning people in places like Boat of Garten and trying to make myself understood have left me sympathetic to those who dial for a living. Since those days in Aberdeen I have had a rule that I won’t be rude to someone who is just trying to do their job, after all I know what it feels like to be hung up on and sworn at. 

However, lately I have begun to reconsider my rule. 

I joined the Telephone Preference Service  to reduce the number of times I would have to politely let someone down, but it isn’t working at the moment. 

I know that working from home means you’re more likely to be in to answer the phone, but I’m getting at least three calls every day. If I recognise the echoy pause that precedes those from faraway call centres I hang up before someone speaks, so they don’t really count. 

Let’s look at today’s offering for example. 

The first was from a company conducting a survey and wanting to know who my gas and electricity supplier is and how much we pay. This rankles because it’s none of their business. 

I find that callers seem to ask increasingly personal questions without batting the proverbial “is it your house?”, “are you married?”, “how much do you earn?”, and so on. 

When I explained to the electricity survey lady that I didn’t want sales calls and I would rather like to know what the survey was for and who commissioned it before I answered the questions, she said she didn’t know. I’m still waiting for her supervisor to call me back. 

The next was from a company who reminded me that my Dyson needed a service. Does it? I know it needs emptied, but I don’t think a vacuum cleaner requires such things. Happy day – their engineers are in the area and can for £17.50 strip my Dyson back to its motor and rebuild it as if it was new. Hmmm. I tell the lady “thanks, but no thanks”, she sounds bewildered. 

Later Dyson inform me that they never call like this and that it’s a scam. Working on the basis that one in three homes has a Dyson, callers entice owners into having a cut-price service that turns out to be nothing of the sort. 

Then I get a call from a charity. It’s a charity I registered with 20 years ago because I’d be happy to be a bone marrow donor. First, I’m interested because I think that perhaps, after all this time, someone needs my marrow. They don’t. I am alerted to a fund-raising call by the words: “First let me thank you for your support.”

Hmm. The caller begins the lengthy process of gaining my trust and reminding me about all the wonderful things the organisation does. 

I think charity calls are probably the worst – it’s much, much harder to say no to a charity, especially one that you demonstrably support. Yet, these calls – the bone marrow people aren’t alone, they’re all at it – come from large call centres staffed by people working on commission. Getting your donation is a job to them. 

It’s not that I don’t like giving to charity, I do as much as I can afford already. So when someone comes on my phone to mess with my conscience, I’m either going to end up feeling wretched and guilty for saying now or feeling skint and manipulated for saying yes. 

So, having got that off my chest, where does it leave me? I’m still not planning to be rude to callers or even hang up. But I really, really would like to know how to stop this menace. 

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  1. says

    This is one of the reasons we are ex-directory so we don't get very many sales calls.

    I have a rule that I'm not rude to the few callers I get despite us keeping our number private – unless they are rude to me first. Rudeness includes asking the sort of intrusive questions you suggest and not taking “I'm not telling you” for an answer.

    My lovely niece has a telesales job at the moment and she would never be rude to people. I am quite sure she is very persuasive, though. When she tells me about companies who have been rude to her, they go on a boycott list.

  2. says

    One of the charities I have supported for many years with monthly donations rang me this week – and really bugged me.
    A very polite chap asked if I had read a letter from some senior bod at the charity on the benefit to them if I left something in my will.
    Having reviewed my will recently I had no intention of discussing it further with the caller.
    It was an unsettling kind of call because if I feel like – or don't – leaving something in my will to charity, this type of campaigning won't work, at all.
    I'll continue to support the charity for the moment but I am disquieted by its actions. Think I'll write to it, too.

  3. says

    This is actually one of my pet hates. I'm afraid I have no sympathy for cold callers – they know what they're doing when they take the job and they know that people will be riled on the other end of the phone. There are other jobs out there they could apply for, maybe not in abundance granted, but they could still make the effort.

    I support 3 charities, one of them with a regular monthly donation. This charity have phoned me at least 6 times in the past 12 months asking me to increase my donation from £10pm to between £20-30 pm. The first time they rang I apologised and said I couldn't afford to. Subsequent times after that I asked them not to ring me again. The last time they rang was only a couple of weeks ago and I did actually threaten to withdraw my donation if they called again, before I slammed the phone down. Enough is enough.

    I also spent a couple of years supporting a charity which sold items such as toilet rolls. The last batch we received were appalling quality that I wouldn't even wipe my dogs bottoms on. I complained about them because we were paying the same as what you would pay for Andrex. They rang me one day and asked me to buy some more which were better quality, but I would have to pay an extra £10 – “but they are worth it”, they said! I told them not to ring back. They rang back at least 4 times in the next few months with “how are you today. Thank you for your continuous support, we have raised blah blah blah…” and I once again told them not to ring me. The last time they rang I put the phone down on them.

    We get on average 3 calls a day doing useless surveys, giving discounts on phone lines, discounts on energy bills, discounts on just about anything really when we all know you will never get a discount on anything unless you sign up to a binding contract that will most likely leave you potless. These people think the general public are quite literally thick. Whether it's part of the course they go on beforehand I don't know, but like I said, I'm afraid I have no sympathy for them. And we're registered with the TPS, too. It's made not one jot of difference. Ours is a business line.

    CJ xx

  4. says

    Fashion for Aliens, Thanks – phone chugging, it's a good way of putting it.

    Caron, I've thought about ex directory, but I like people to be able to find me for work.

    Mike, recently reviewed or otherwise, your will is a very private thing.

    CJ, I agree. It's infuriating. I suppose they think people who already make a donation are an easy touch.

  5. says

    This really frustrates me too. Like you I work from home and always answer the phone in case it's school or pre-school. It frustrates me that these people make it hard for you to say 'no' to. Whether it's out of guilt (because it's a charity) or through sales tactics pretending they're not trying to sell something. Recently I've hung up on a few callers which goes against my personal ideas of politeness but I felt they left me with no choice. Like you I'm also signed up with the TPS. There are a couple of charities I've supported with monthly donations for over 10 years now and they still ring up to ask me to pay me more. When I add up what I've already donated it makes me want to stop altogether! Grrr…

  6. says

    My TPS is failing me at the moment too – as is my blocking of withheld numbers and being ex-directory. I'm called almost daily regarding my PPI claim (I don't have one nor do I even qualify for one) but my favourite is the PC Security ppl who have a red alert on my IP address and need me to immediately reboot my machine and follow their instructions – them I have told to go feck themselves with a clear conscience – they're crooks.

  7. says

    I totally agree with all you wrote here! In the US its exactly the same as you talk about…just so intrusive.

    I have a rather young sounding voice and very often the callers will keep insisting that they talk to the “woman of the house” – all while i am left to swear up and down that I AM HER- and I'm still not interested! :)

    PS. I'm your newest follower- glad to have found you:)

  8. says

    Emily, I think it's the charities that upset me the most. They ask questions like: “Would you like to stop children living in poverty?”

    Nikkii, I've never had the pleasure of the PC security mob.

    Shannon, Hi and welcome. I love the expression to swear up and down – I may borrow it.

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