Friday, 3 September 2010

This Is Your Alarm Call

I Don't Believe It!

We are registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), which probably reduces cold calling, but has never quite seemed to stop it. Normally I just ask callers to repeat their identification details, then inform them of our TPS status, and the sizes of the fines involved, before bidding them good evening.

But last night's call was a classic of its kind. As always, Caller ID showed the calling number "Withheld", but I answered anyway. A woman's voice began, "Hello Mr Kerr, I'm calling from the Home Research Group. We have been given four free home alarm systems, courtesy of [company name], and you have been selected to receive one. Can you confirm your address for us? Would you be interested in a free home alarm system?" And as I asked for her to repeat the names of the parties involved, she continued to ask, "Do you have a home alarm system?"

I said, "I'd prefer not to discuss my home security provisions with you, if that's all right."

"Oh, I see. Is it something that you might be interested in?"

Aha! Suddenly it transformed into a sales call after all. At this point, I was on the verge of asking the caller for her own home address and phone number, and whether or not she had installed a house alarm. Instead I just repeated, "Actually I'd rather not discuss my home security arrangements with you."

"Oh, okay then. So I'll just pass it on?"

"Good idea. You do that. Bye."

Some days I think I'm indistinguishable from my dad.

Update, 9 Oct: they phoned again, this time a guy... so, as soon as he'd confirmed my residential details and asked if I had a home alarm system, I demanded to know his full name and home address, type of property, and whether or not he currently has a home alarm system.

- "Why would you want to know that, sir?"
- "Well exactly, why on Earth would I want to give out that kind of information to a complete stranger?"
- "But I have identified myself to you, sir."
- "Then why is your telephone number withheld?"

Today I finally did report them to TPS; they should expect a five-figure fine. And just in case you think that's harsh treatment of someone just trying to make a living out of a boiler room telemarketing job, please note that this is the company I'm talking about.

Picture taken at Vendsyssel Historiske Museum in Hjørring, Denmark © 2004 by Tomasz Sienicki

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