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Monday, Aug 18, 2003

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Destressing tips...

Veeresh Malik

It's been a pretty long week and you wish to spend those 48 hours of your weekend peacefully. But don't know how to tackle those telemarketing people. Read on...

Four o'clock in the afternoon on Sundays is when you are most likely to be at home, like most other people who have some semblance of a normal life. You are also most likely to be snoozing, relaxing, or catching up on quality time. Or just reading a long book. Problem is, most of the call centre phone marketing people seem to have figured that out too.

Which is, considering the realities, really stupid of them. For sure, you are not in the market at that time in history and space for credit cards, insurance, language classes, exhibitions, mobile phone connections, alcohol (free and paid), Internet services or potted plants! Even the dumbest of door-to-door salesmen, in the old days, knew that.

Sure, they could rant all they wanted on pavements and platforms, but freedom of speech was not their birthright in my mind-space when all I wanted to think of was blue lagoons and cool mountains.

So, here are some good responses, on how to "de-stress."

  • Give the youngster a patient hearing, ask a few relevant questions, get them interested, and then ask them to hold on.

    Put the telephone instrument down, go about your work, remembering to pick it up every few minutes to say, "Hello, are you still there? Great, just hold on, I am still looking for a pen and paper." A variation of this is to place the mouthpiece next to a radio.

  • Inform the caller that while he/she has the correct number, the person called has moved on. To New Zealand. To jail. To heaven. Wherever, but make it sound convincing. And then offer to share half of what is on offer.

  • Ask the call centre staff to hold on, and then say repeatedly, "Your call is very important to us. Somebody will be attending to you shortly." Press a number key on the dial after every repeat.

  • Place a dog whistle next to the telephone, and do the obvious. If you have a dog, that's even better.

  • Hand the telephone to your baby, if you have a baby. If you don't have one, make baby noises.

  • A bit black in humour, but telling them, seriously, that the person for whom they had called, had expired/passed away/died, would often get you off their databases.

    But the best, of course, is left for the last.

  • Get hold of the residential telephone number of any of the bosses from the companies that hassle you the most. Ask the call centre staff to hold on, and bring the person into a conference call. Sit back, listen to the fun after that.

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