One of the minor annoyances I didn’t expect during my time out of work is telephone related. My land line phone number is ex-directory, meaning it’s not listed in the phonebook. I only ever hand out my mobile number because when people call me their best chance of catching me is on that phone (I move around a lot). In fact the only people who know my land line number are people like the utility companies that you have to hand it out to (and of course our phone service provider). Oh, and my girlfriend’s friends and family. So when the land line rings I know for a fact that it’s 99% most likely to not be for me. So when it rings during the day I just know it’s not for me.
To my dismay I discovered that sales people phone and try to sell you medical insurance, get you to change your gas and electricity suppliers, sell you house insurance and a whole host of other things I’m not even vaguely interested in. I didn’t know this. It started when one of these guys from some call centre in India (I could tell it was in India because I’d read reports of how the people can’t understand you and vice-versa, and this was exactly the case). He wanted to send me a quote to change my utility suppliers. Naturally I couldn’t care less if it would save me some miniscule amount each year so I told him I wasn’t interested. He continued to press while I just told him that he was wasting his time. He just wouldn’t give up, he must have said “what’s holding you back Mr. Conners?” about 7 times. Finally he gave up and slammed the phone down – no manners! (If it had been on my mobile phone I could have terminated the call myself but you can’t do that on a land line – caller’s privilege).
Anyway, I’m a bit paranoid over the phone and am keen to neither be scammed nor tricked into buying something I don’t want. So here are my top tips to avoid getting caught out:
- Never give out your address to someone who calls you that you don’t know.
As far as I’m concerned, if they’ve phoned me they should know who I am. Plus, if you give away personal information like this it wouldn’t be hard for someone to steal your identity and apply for credit cards, etc.
- Never give out your credit card or bank details to someone who calls you that you don’t know.
See point 1. I don’t care if you believe they’re genuine or not – don’t tell them, they could be anyone!
- Don’t agree to anything.
These people know that the best time to get someone is when they’re not prepared for it, hence why cold-calling catches you off-guard and makes you agree without due consideration. And they’ll press you.
- Don’t give specific reasons for why you’re not interested.
They hate that. They’re ready to counter most reasons you can give but if you just say you’re not interested and don’t give them a reason, then they find themselves a bit stuck.
- Be polite but firm – don’t waver.
Any hesitation or weakness from you and they’ll pounce on it. Keep your game face on (or is that game voice?).
- Remember, they’re only human.
So there’s no need to be horrible to them. They’re just doing a job.
- Don’t feel guilty, you’re not going to make them bankrupt.
Just console yourself by remembering that some other person will be sucked in and they’ll make their commission even if they don’t with you. Hey, a sucker is born every day.
- If all else fails, lie.
If you really can’t get rid of them, just come up with a convincing and amusing lie and run with it. Maybe you can say “I’m sorry, the line’s breaking up, I can’t hear you” and hang up. Or you can put on a deep German accent and start talking rubbish. When they ask you what’s going on you can pretend it’s a cross line and get them to hang up. Or you could just say there’s someone at the door and that you have to go right now. Alternatively you can simply repeat everything they say to you back to them. It’s a bit immature and it’ll drive them nuts – but they’ll hang up pretty quick (remember, calls may be recorded for training purposes).
You know maybe I should just stop answering the phone. I know it’s not for me. If it’s important they’ll leave a message. And if they’re a sales[wo]man they won’t leave one and I’ll know I did the right thing.