Nommer asseblief!

Private Property South Africa
Shaun Wewege

I’m not proud of this but I did it anyway. Last week I managed a three-minute conversation by only replying with the occasional “OK” and “Hmmm”. You might think I am incredibly rude but in my defence, when I was phoned by a company that does have permission to have my contact details, I figured that the rules of society can put aside for a minute, or three.

Cold call? More like cold chills

I’ve worked in a call centre and believe me, it’s hell. Particularly in a telesales environment. You are under pressure to make a lot of calls, you have sales targets to meet and the worst part is that very few people are interested in what you have to say. I try not to be rude to call centre agents because I know what it’s like to be caught between a demanding team leader and raging “customers’.

Having said that, there are few organisations that have permission to contact me for marketing reasons. Whenever filling out forms I always tick the box that says, “I don’t want your marketing messages – just leave me the hell alone.” Yet on a weekly basis I receive calls. Loads of them.

Plan B

I decided to change tactics. You see, I have an early warning system for telemarketers – my surname. If the person on the other end greets me with “Good day Mr We … Vi … er… Mr Shaun”, I know they’re telemarketers. Once they start rattling off about a product or service I politely tell them I am not interested and ask to be removed from their database. This is yet to happen, which is why I’ve changed my defence strategy.

Time is on my side

In a demanding work environment where time is everything, agents can ill afford to waste time speaking to people who won’t buy. When an agent called me last week and didn’t bother to ask whether I could spare a few minutes for a chat, I decided to let her rattle off her whole speech, giving minimalist replies the whole time. When she asked if I wanted to sign, I replied, “No thanks, this doesn’t sound like something I would like.” I could hear the disappointment in her voice as she said goodbye.

You can do this to by following four simple steps:

1 – Put your phone on speaker when they contact you.

2 – Carry on with whatever you are doing. Work, making tea, pretending to work, napping at your desk …

3 – Occasionally make some noise so that they know you are still there. I find that a pensive, “Hmmm” shows just enough interest without committing to a purchase.

4 – Politely decline when they offer a product or service.

I don’t want to be that shouty, screamy person, but if polite requests not to call me are going to be ignored, I will do to call centres what they do to me – waste time.

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