Thursday, 22 January 2009

Hello everybody,

I just thought I'd share with you an event that brightened up my day considerably last Saturday.

I was sitting down at my desk at the flat with a nice, big hot cup of tea & was watching some videos on You Tube of James Randi. You may have heard of him.

He's a very clever fellow from America who, as a former magician & entertainer, has debunked pseudo science, quackery, psychics & other assorted ignorance for decades. He's the chap who has a $1,000,000 prize available to anybody who can demonstrate & prove the paranormal or the supernatural (arguably one & the same). To date, no has. The only reason I mention this is that it put me in so good a mood I was felling especially devilish & happy with life.

The land line rang. Now, the only folk who tend to call me on the land line are either my dad, or BT asking if I'm still happy with my telephone service. I very rarely give out my land line number, preferring to use my mobile or work number. Admittedly friends will sometimes call my landline to tell me that they can't get me on my mobile (yes, I know, it's either charging or I'm in the shower).

Upon picking up the hand set a well-spoken women asked if she could speak to the house holder. Now, I'm sure she could as I her vocal chords were obviously in working order, but she took my response of "Yes." to launch into how an unspecified 'we' are looking for householders to feature in a magazine. From start to finish the call took about 10 minutes, but the salient points are detailed below;

"So, which company, organisation or body do you work for?" asks I.

"Weatherseal" says the well spoken lady.

"So this is a sales call then?"

"No, we are surveying and we haven't had a lot of contact within your area."

"So it's a marketing call then? I see", says I.

Intrigued I ask her how she got my phone number and post code I am told that she just gets a list handed to her. I tell her I appreciate that, it doesn't really answer the question and then tell her that the post code for the area she has called is a new development that is less than ten years old. I point out to her that given this, the windows are almost certainly all going to be under the manufacturers guarantee. This information is no big secret.

"Ah" comes down the line from the well-spoken lady.

I suspect she has now lost her place on her call flow chart, as we have a brief Q & A into what her company does & why they think I'd be interested in being in a magazine for windows I neither need nor want, or a conservatory I cannot have as I live in a flat. I ask her if she's ever heard of the Telephone Preference Service, which admittedly is an opt-in service provided by the Direct Marketing Association but at least is an attempt to self regulate. She has not.

She says she will get her supervisor.

Now these days most attempts to escalate your grievance about cold-calls are handled by the caller stating firmly "No, I am authorised to handle any & all issue relating to this call". Presumably this frees up the supervisors to listen in to their employees calls, the better to put pressure on perceived soft-touches in the cubicle farm to meet their targets. I class it as empowered obfuscation on the part of these organisations to try to quell dissent from the unexpecting house holder. Not today, however.

I personally deem the caller getting her supervisor on the line as a minor success in the great buearocratic scheme of things. After all, it costs their company money to call me & I feel I am providing a useful social service in that the person who has the next number on the list has a chance to go outside, get some fresh air, miss an unasked for telephone call & not be bothered by these people.

"Hello, my name is ******, how can I help you?" comes a well-spoken chap on the end of the line.

"I'm not sure, you called me after all." comes my reply. I ask him if he's heard of the Telephone Preference Service.

"Ah. Yes. When did you sign up to it, as it can take up to 28 days from registering for the number to be mandatory removed from lists".

I grin ruefully as I tell him "The middle of last year."



They called me, they escalated the call, they hung up. I class that as a minor victory along the road of life. And gave me all the time I needed to finish my nice, hot cup of tea...