I know it's normally the other way around but I suppose I was being a bit of a smartarse. Let me say firstly that I am sympathetic to telemarketers, I had a business once that relied heavily upon converting telephone calls to sales, so I know it's not an easy job. But this bloke rubbed me the wrong way.
I often get pestered by people who call the office and bluff my staff into putting them through to me. This usually happens if they actually ask for me by name and that's not hard to find given it's plastered all over our website. I'm not sure where this bloke got my name from but he was put through and then started to give me the spiel.
You know the one. It often begins by mentioning a charity and in this case it was the Australian Red Cross. Maybe if that organisation has media monitors they'll check out this blog and perhaps learn a bit of a lesson. This bloke wanted to put in a lolly machine and a portion of the funds raised through this vending machine would go to the Red Cross.
"What portion?" I asked.
"What do you mean?" he said.
"Well, you just said a portion, how much of the portion goes to the Red Cross and who gets the other bit?"
"It's a partnership between the Red Cross and ....vending machine company," he explained.
"OK," I said, "how much of the money collected goes to the Red Cross and how much to the vending machine company?"
"I don't have those figures but the man who installs the machine can tell you when he comes out."
"Not much good sending someone out here to install a machine that I don't want, if you can't tell me what percentage of the money raised goes to the Red Cross - is it 80%, 50%, 5% - how much?"
"We've raised over $150,000 for the Red Cross with these machines"
"That's admirable," I replied, "but you may actually have collected $20million and only given them a very small percentage."
That was when he hung up on me.
So a word of warning to telemarketers, make sure you anticipate all the questions and have all of the facts at your finger tips. If you can't do that, at least have the courtesy to offer some excuse about having to find out the answer and offer to get back to the person asking. You can then hang up gracefully and mark the number never to be called again.
And a word of advice to the Red Cross - if you're going to allow people to use your name like this at least tell them to be upfront with all of the facts.
Now if you think I may have been a bit harsh on the poor bloke then have a listen to this one.