The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.
11:21am on Tuesday, 11th January, 2005:
I received a phone call just now from a company offering to reduce my business phone call bills. Given that I've had at least one such call a week for the past two or three months (Christmas week included), it's unlikely I'm going to be swayed by their sales patter. Besides, even if I were swayed, I'd be swayed again next week by some other telephone marketer so they're still wasting their time.
I've noticed that some companies are getting sneaky in their efforts to endear themselves to me. I answer the call, and they say, "Is that Mr Bartle?" or "Can I speak to Mr Bartle please?". This is despite the fact that I just said, "Hello, Richard Bartle" to them. Aha! But it's not despite what I said, it's because of what I said. They hear me say my name, then repeat it back to me and I'm supposed to think they were hoping to get in touch with me personally; presumably, this is so I'm more likely to give them credence. I know, though, that in reality they're sitting at a screen while an automatic dialling system pings 200 companies at a time, and they don't have a clue which company they've got until someone answers and the name flashes up on the screen.
I haven't yet tested my theory by answering "Hello, Richard Smith", but since I have a mildly unusual surname that people consistently confuse with other names I'm fairly confident about it. I've had "Hi, I'd like to speak to Mr Barker" and "Can I speak to Mr Barrel, please" recently. The location of the call centre doesn't seem to make any difference: I get it from international callers just as much as from regular "withheld& number UK-based centres.
The worst call I got was from someone who purported to be from BT but whom I knew wasn't because BT call me Dr Bartle, not Mr Bartle, and they don't withhold their caller IDs. They also employ people with a better command of English. I was told it was a brief, random customer survey, but they were actually pumping me for details for a follow-up call by someone else later. I therefore made up answers to all the questions as I went along, and when I later received the follow-up call predicated on my answers I asked to speak to the call centre supervisor. I didn't get to, though: they hung up. Sounds like other people are getting wise to these dubious activites, too.
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