April 4th, 2006


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jimbojones
01:57 pm - On corporate endeavor (and not coincidentally, how much it ticks me off)
My PHONE COMPANY actually sold my number to a "partner" that telemarkets. Lovely. "Aegis Communications." They call me about four times a day, generally when I'm busy and can't possibly deal with the phone, until I finally manage to field one of their damn calls, at which point the telemarketer NGs (No Good) me on the list... which gives me a week's respite before they pound the same list again.

The last guy REALLY fucking pissed me off. My #1 pet peeve about telemarketers is when they inquire after your health... and WAIT for you to tell them. About your health. Motherfucker do I SOUND like I'm 90 years old and will be more likely to do business with you if you waste my time talking about my health before you even say what you want? I do not know you. We have not even been socially INTRODUCED. Our relationship has not progressed to the point where I will respond favorably to you attempting to ascertain more about my health than is readily observable by my voice or appearance.

Anyway, so the phone rings. It's a local number I don't recognize, and it's on my business line, so you know I pretty much have to answer it. I do. Dead silence. Great. It's a telemarketer. But you know what? You HAVE to fucking wait through the dead silence to speak with the rep, or the goddamn machine just CALLS YOU RIGHT BACK AGAIN, frequently within an hour. Whereas if you tell an actual rep you're not interested, it buys you a week's reprieve. Wonderful. So I wait approximately nine seconds worth of saying "hello? HELLO?" into the line, waiting for the connection to get patched into a TSR (Telephone Sales Representative).

Finally one arrives. "Hello?" he says tentatively, as though someone might not actually be there, thus wasting his time... in spite of the fact that he patched in DURING me saying "Hello?" (I know because I could hear both the click of the patch and his breathing.) Already he's annoying me. "Hello," I say again. "May I speak to Jim?" "You are." "Hi Jim I'm with Aegis Communications, we're a partner of BellSouth. How are you today?" Wait. Continued wait. We've hit like two seconds worth of wait now, me expecting him to go on, him expecting me to inform him as to my present condition - which viewed in one way is, after all, only two seconds; but viewed in another way, is plenty to make it clear that this jackass is actually going to WAIT FOR ME TO WASTE BOTH OF OUR TIME telling him how I am. So I ask - politely, I might add, if in a bit of a tired tone of voice - "can we please just get to the point?"

Without saying a word, he hung up on me.

Now I have to be honest here. I could tell you "and now I can tell you that I will NEVER buy a goddamn thing from Aegis Communications, whoever the hell they are, whatever they hell it is they sell," but to be honest they crossed that line simply by telemarketing me at all. (I *know* how much it costs to run a TSR farm. Which already tells me a lot about how much margin is built into every sale a firm makes, and - worse yet - tells me that they think bothering the fuck out of people is a good way to spend a large portion of their profits.) So, you know, why should they care? And why should this TSR "waste his time on me" any further, given the tremendous unlikelihood that someone who politely but tiredly requests that the TSR get on with his pitch will actually buy whatever it is that's being sold - and the equal unlikelihood that I ever would even if he'd ended the conversation more politely?

Still, though. It's a sign of the times, and a shitty one at that. The great thing about modern communications and management structures is that they make truly *fantastic* projects not only possible but commonplace, requiring organization at a level that would literally be unthinkable, much less unmatchable, to previous generations. The *bad* thing about it, though, is it means that more and more of the world's resources are, ultimately, controlled by people who will never, EVER, have to face - on an intimate you-are-a-person, I-am-a-person, and-we-have-to-communicate-as-persons level - any of the people they depend upon leveraging their profits from.

I was struck this morning by what I thought was a pretty picturesque example of the contrast between corporate and local management - the little desk at my bank where you fill out your deposit slips. Corporate management chained a crappy little pen, worth PERHAPS one fifth of a cent or so, to the table to make sure nobody stole it - while just next to it, the local manager had provided a $20 calculator for the convenience of the customers, and trusted - rightly - that they wouldn't steal it.

I don't know what we do about this. We really do need big corporations. But goddamn it, there has GOT to be a way to force their managers and directors to remember that the customer is not a potentially lucrative but annoying resource, but an actual human being - a fucking customer - and needs and deserves to be treated as such.

 
Current Mood: exasperated

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Comments:



 
[User Picture] From: wanton_bliss
Date: April 4th, 2006 - 06:04 pm
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Without saying a word, he hung up on me.

I would end up trying to call him back in a rage.


 
[User Picture] From: jimbojones
Date: April 4th, 2006 - 06:12 pm
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They're shielded from that. You get an automated system that tells you Aegis Communications is a partner of BellSouth, and if you do not wish to be further contacted by Aegis Communications, you may hold for an answering machine where you state your full name and telephone number including area code, and they will remove you from their list within one month. Please be aware that you may be contacted again by Aegis Communications during this removal period.

Worse yet - and what most people don't understand - is that your name will be on a NEW list they purchase and import into their dialer at the end of that month. Yes, they really will remove your name from their list - but no, it won't actually MATTER because your name will be RE-entered into their list when they buy the next month's updates. The net impact? They lose some of their contact history on you, but you still get called (at least as) frequently.

If you notice, the philosophy here is "control communication with the customer." It's like aikido for sales. You don't allow the customer to contact you at their convenience, you only initiate communication when *you* want something from the customer, and at any other time you deflect any attempt made to contact *you* - after all, enraged assholes yelling at people is detrimental to profit margins. It increases TSR turnover as well as directly incurring the cost of hiring personnel to listen to the angered bitching.

This is also why you *can not* speak to *anyone* at a telco who understands the technology or can actually troubleshoot, repair, or often enough even understand any problem you might have. Engineers are *expensive*. It's not in corporate interests to let customers actually speak to an engineer when instead you can have them speak to someone who makes an order of magnitude less - and is an order of magnitude more replaceable as well. Better YET, of course, is to deflect the customer smoothly behind an *automated* system, which is cheaper yet.


 
[User Picture] From: wanton_bliss
Date: April 4th, 2006 - 07:22 pm
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Wow, that was a very in depth response.


 
[User Picture] From: jimbojones
Date: April 4th, 2006 - 07:25 pm
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Given your icon, I suspect I've just been told I'm full of shit...


 
[User Picture] From: wanton_bliss
Date: April 4th, 2006 - 07:33 pm
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You, sir, are the angriest man in the universe today.


 
[User Picture] From: jimbojones
Date: April 4th, 2006 - 07:51 pm
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Though it might not be from most, from you, sir, that is praise of a high order indeed.


 
[User Picture] From: wanton_bliss
Date: April 4th, 2006 - 08:19 pm
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I was careful to qualify it with "today"...

Just you wait, I'll be back.


 
[User Picture] From: jimbojones
Date: April 4th, 2006 - 08:21 pm
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[User Picture] From: perich
Date: April 4th, 2006 - 06:30 pm
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When I worked in outside sales and made cold calls (also for telecom, funny ol' world), I was a particular reprobate.

If someone lost all manner of civility, screaming and frothing into the phone that "Unknown Telecom calls us EVERY FUCKING WEEK and we DO NOT want to hear from them!", I'd drop their card in the "Call Back in Six Months" file. We didn't have a Do Not Call file. Why should we? That person who screamed at us might be gone in two weeks.

In my experience (which may not match Aegis'), there was only one response guaranteed to get someone off the list: telling the telesales rep that you were already a customer. But Aegis seems to manage their leads a lot better than Unknown did; all we had were business cards.


 
[User Picture] From: jimbojones
Date: April 4th, 2006 - 06:34 pm
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I am unaware of any serious telemarketing operation that actually HAS a permanent way to get off their list. If you can manage to get DC'ed, which normally takes something along the lines of an act of God, that keeps you off the list for approximately six months until the DC list is purged.

Telling someone you're a customer won't do shit, because, again, your number will just get re-imported with the next purchased list at the beginning of the next month. Your only hope is that 1. your number is actually IN the system ON the "already a customer" side, AND 2. that the company doing the telemarketing actually screens their marketing database against their customer database. Most don't, because most are using wildly different applications between the customer side and the marketing side, each specialized to that particular niche, and aren't even going to CONSIDER paying someone enough to find a way to let the one read from the other.


 
[User Picture] From: perich
Date: April 4th, 2006 - 06:39 pm
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I'm sorry; I misspoke. Telling someone you're a customer only works for grossly amateurish telemarketers. Pros won't fall for it.

This and other stories of cold calling in Ninety Days on the Edge (link is to Part 5, but there are links within the entry for Parts 1 through 4).


 
[User Picture] From: lindapendant
Date: April 4th, 2006 - 11:45 pm
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Regarding that pen ? It's not so much a matter of someone stealing a nickel, it's the hassle of having a customer not being able to fill out those deposit slips until they get to a teller and waste her time, because someone mistakenly pocketed the one at the desk. Happens all the time, I see it at stores when you have to sign the credit card receipts too. Unless that cashier is on the ball, chances are the pen is a goner.

I don't get why people are reluctant to use ATM's in the first place. 'Oh, I'll never deposit in a machine. Everyone knows that the staff steals the cash. They'll stiff you on cheques too and call you a liar'. I only step foot in a bank because I have to get a money order. I can't wait until I can do that transaction on-line too someday, and print one out right at my desk.

Anyway, that was completely off track. I don't think there's such a thing as good customer service anymore, for the most part. I make it a point in going to the little mom and pop stores where they appreciate your business, recognize you're a regular, and remember you enough to pick up a conversation. I'm completely shocked when I have to deal with a corporate giant and I get someone on the phone who's helpful, caring, competent, and makes me feel like a human being. There's not nearly enough of those types around though.


 
From: eldritch_crank
Date: April 4th, 2006 - 11:49 pm
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[User Picture] From: clme
Date: April 10th, 2006 - 04:00 am
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This guy on Jimbo's line didn't wait long enough to be told he would have to do the extra work of checking a box on the screen. :)

What I like is that a lot of telemarketers are told they cannot hang up, and generally it takes about 3 or 4 minutes of dead air on your side before they'll do so and end up having to explain it to someone later (assuming they're doing it at an old-fashioned call center and not from home or just some assholes empty cubicle).

I've been told before the bullshit about "You'll be removed from our list within one month." I always ask "But I wouldn't get called about this again if I bought your product today, would I?" and I end up with a lot of stumbling speech and someone completely lost for words.

In Wisconsin it is currently illegal to cold call someone on the no-call list, and completely illegal to do so on a cell phone number. Another nice thing about Wisconsin is if I tell someone not to call me again, they better damn well not call me again starting that very minute and the state has been known to prosecute companies that put you back on their lists within a month. That rule was in effect even before the no-call frenzy a few years ago.

Telemarkers can even be fined for failing to register as a telemarketer in the state.

http://www.doj.state.wi.us/news/nr100504%5Fcp.asp


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