Tuesday, August 19, 2008

On Telemarketers

For those of you who work in offices with heavy telephone traffic, you'll know what I'm talking about. For those of you who don't (and for the lady I just talked to), see if you can appreciate the situation and give an office manager a break.

There's a new type of call the last few years that generally comes from companies trying to renew your car warranty before it runs out, move your information up to the front pages of Google, offer you free installation of your home's new satellite television system, or tell you that you've won a trip to Cancun just for existing. It's always a very chatty (computer) voice. It gives you time to say your spiel, in my case, "Good Afternoon, Dr. Williams' office, this is Natalie." and then there's an inappropriately long pause (just in case your spiel is long, I guess) and the chatty voice says, "Hi. (pause) Did you know that..." whatever they're selling. Have you gotten these calls? The kind that make you so mad because you fall for it about half of the time even though you should know better? I get them day in and day out. One of the worst offenders is American Express. We don't, for our own reasons, accept American Express cards. It's just policy. And they HATE that apparently because they are constantly ringing our phones with both live and computer operators. I have been asked if we would like to add American Express to our system so many times that I've become... let's use the word cavalier... about ending these phones calls as quickly as possible.

So today...

The phone rang. I picked it up.

"Good Afternoon. Dr. Williams' office, this is Natalie."


"Hi. (pause) Do you accept American Express?"

Naturally, I responded: "No, and we're not interested, thank you." Click.

Done. Minimum of wasted time, AND I didn't even spend energy on getting indignant. Just politely let them know where we stand and...

The phone rings.

"Good afternoon. Dr. Williams' office, this is Natalie."

"Natalie, do you mean to tell me that, as a new patient with an American Express card, you're not interested in my business and you would hang up on me every time I call?"


"I'm sorry, ma'am, of course not. That's not how I generally address patients. I just get many calls from American Express telemarketers and I mistook you for one. Unfortunately we do not accept American Express, but we do accept Visa and Mastercard."

"Well, I'll have to think about it." And she hung up on me.

Can you blame me, though? How about identifying yourself as a human with teeth who's interested in our dental services?

I feel kinda bad. But then she didn't have much of a sense of humor about the situation, either. Maybe we don't want her anyway.

Something tells me we won't get a chance to find out.


senor fuerte said...

I'm going to make a wild accusation here: that WAS American Express trying to intimidate you into picking them up. You didn't bite. Good for you.

Krissy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Krissy said...

You know that I have at least to numbers I call regularly that the rule is when I call, I have to identify myself first. And I'm related to these people.

When some on calls another number, especially someone they don't know, the first words out of their mouth should be "Hi, I'm ______."


Anne-Marie said...

Im terrible on the phone. We have people calling everyday trying to sell us land and property and I am not nice to them anymore, they are too pushy and cagey about certain details.

Oh, and people have stopped calling me about car insurance since I told them I dont have a car!

Rebecca said...

hunh. that was weird. we usually don't even answer our home phone anymore because it's just radom, annoying telemarketers calling.