Last week I was spending quality time with my children when the telephone rang. The caller was from the Royal Bank, and she began by informing that this was merely a courtesy call. I asked what courtesy, exactly, she was displaying by disturbing me in the middle of my day, but she didn’t quite catch my meaning. She proceeded to describe how this was a customer service call to make sure I was happy with the bank.
“So the Royal Bank wants me to be happy, and the way they’re doing that is by bothering me at home?”, I asked. Silence on the other end. Then, as she tried to regain the upper hand and stick to her script, she launched into: “We just want to know if your interactions with the bank staff have been positive. Have you been in a branch lately?” “Yes,” I replied. “But I’m not going back unless you promise me that the bank won’t call me again.” At first she feigned impotence in this area, but I finally got her to agree. Conversation over.
I, like every other Canadian who owns a legacy of Alexander Graham Bell, am sick to death of telemarketers. It so happens I love the Royal Bank. I receive great service, and have never entertained the thought of switching my accounts. But head office seems determined to plant such devious notions into my head by phoning me at home. Now there’s a smart marketing strategy.
It used to be that your home was your castle. It was impenetrable. It was your refuge. Now we have junk mail in our mailboxes, spam in our inboxes, and telemarketers pestering us.
Recently I was enjoying a bubble bath with a good book and chocolate truffles at the end of a long day when the phone rang. Assuming it was my husband to report when he’d be home, I splashed out, grabbed a towel, and answered. I was not impressed to be asked if I had looked at my hydro bill lately. I asked if he had looked at any etiquette books lately. Then I hung up my wet phone, plodded back to my now cold bathroom, and picked up my damp book.
Maybe I shouldn’t have answered at all. Let’s say you’re enjoying an all-too-expensive meal out with your family. How would you react if some stranger sidled up to you and started talking? You’d be livid. And yet so often we stop the important conversations we are having with actual people to answer a telemarketer’s call. The phone does not have to take precedence over real life, whether it’s baths, football, or conversations. That’s what answering machines are for!
The CRTC has been considering the Do Not Call Registry for some time, and maybe it will get going eventually. But even if it does, companies that you already have a relationship with, like my hydro company and the Royal Bank, will still be allowed to call you. It won’t stop the practice altogether. The only thing that will is punishing the companies who do it.
Right now, though, some people, somewhere, must actually order things from businesses that use peskiness as their main selling feature. These customers wreck the lives and baths of every other Canadian who wants to shop normally: in a crazy mall with harried moms and rude clerks. It’s the Canadian way.
We deserve better than to be bothered constantly by phone calls from banks and utilities and emails about growing bigger, having better endurance, and curing baldness. So I hereby pledge to never buy anything from junk mail or spam or telemarketers. In fact, I’ll go even further than that. If anyone pesters me like that, I will never in the future use their product. And I’ll tell them so. If we all were to take that pledge, the tactics would stop.
If I ever want to subscribe to a newspaper, join a timeshare, or enhance various features of my body, I know where to go. Nobody has to tell me. So back off. I’m in my castle, and you are seriously bothering me.
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