A state of inertia.

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We are now entering the pre-Christmas period. Watch out! We still get almost daily calls on our land-line from people who say they are from Telstra. But the accent and associated hints of turmeric wafting through the line makes me think of call centres. Often there is a delay on answering back with a hum of others talking. I used to be polite and explain we are happy with our service. ‘No Sir,’ yesterday’s gentleman assured me, ‘you have very, very big problems with your internet. You have to let us fix it.

I just don’t have it in me anymore to remain considerate and without any further talk put the phone down. Does all this market calling brutalise the recipients? I mean, there is a real person there on the other side trying to make a living. But the frequency of those callers is increasing. I know there are help sides which can overcome most of those cold callers but new ones seem to pop up. Even on my IPhone I get oddly worded messages with codes and strange pass words or numbers and to deposit $100.- or so. I know the main thing is to never open any of unknown e-mails or attachments which I religiously follow. I just try and imagine what it must be for elderly folks totally innocent of all those crooks lying in wait to take advantage of this IT technology. Oh, hang on. I am one of those ‘elderly.’

I know with the recent ABC 4 corners program highlighting the failures of the NBN to deliver adequate speeds to the outlets must have called out whole nests of cold callers offering ‘help’ to the long suffering consumers of data down loads. In our case, apart from e-mails and the ABC news and blogs we don’t generally down load ‘data’, unlike our grandsons who download in one day what takes us more than a month.

I don’t really know what the etiquette of answering those nuisance calls is. I have no mercy with those that are out there to pillage my wallet but what about those calling for donations to help the 500 000 persecuted Muslim Rohingyas fleeing Myanmar? Or calls from Médecins Sans Frontières?  Then there are those looking after animals or depressed whales beaching themselves. There are so many good causes and all deserve help.

Going back to those ‘Telstra’ phone calls. They are all done by massive call centres in India. I watched a program and there they are all lining up calling the world to change ‘service providers’ or do something with their service, any thing really that earns them some money. They wear a nicely pressed ironed shirt and have to do an English test to get this much coveted job. They proudly wear their name- tags from a  chain or clipped on their trousers. The wives at home, stirring the curry and boiling the Basmati, waiting anxiously and ask  ‘did you get many responses today, dear?’  He might well say he had such a rude Australian who had put the phone down and that could have been me. I once just answered in Dutch and pretended not to understand English, just showing the level one can go down on avoiding the call. Just putting the phone down seems so callous. Yet, it seems I might already have reached that level of callousness.

How do people deal with those calls?

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37 Responses to “A state of inertia.”

  1. auntyuta Says:

    I ask myself how do people deal with such a job at the call centre?

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Oh, Aunty. I think they deal with that very well. It’s the mugs that take the call who suffer.
      I have calls to raise money for the Porto Rican’s who according to Trump live in absolute wealth and opulence after the hurricanes.
      My guilt is on automatic and desperately trying to stay above water, but it ain’t easy.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yvonne Says:

    I’d hate to be in a situation where I tried to make a living working in such a place.

    I just say “No, thank you”, and hang up.

    Liked by 3 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Yvonne. That is the best answer.
      The local Australian charity calls are at least understandable but often done very fast in order to maximise their rates of calls. I am too old to keep up and often tell them I am not going on with the conversation. I try and give then an aura of resignation and despondency, which is easy for me.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. lifecameos Says:

    Speaking Dutch seems the best way for self preservation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, and I have a special little hard cover Dutch children’s story book next to the phone.
      It is titled ‘Kleine Beer’. (Little bear.)

      ‘En hier is jouw soup.’ ( And here is your soup)
      Dan is dit bord voor mij. ( Then this plate is for me)
      Nu gaan we lekker eten. ( Now we are going to eat nicely)
      omdat ik jarig ben. (because it is my birthday)

      Most times they put the phone down totally flummoxed.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. jennypellett Says:

    Hi Gerard. I feel your frustration. I wrote a post a couple of years ago on just this subject. https://charactersfromthekitchen.wordpress.com/2013/11/30/playing-them-at-their-own-game/
    We are also able, in the uk, to sign up to the so called “telephone preference service” – it doesn’t always work but does help.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Jenny. We too signed up in order to not get unwanted calls, but it doesn’t seem to work.
      It usually starts around dinner time and they seem to speculate on a time when the husband traditionally returns home from work. Of course, I am retired and always home.
      Of course when going out we don’t take any phone with us.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. urban liaisons Says:

    Hi Gerard, I usually stop such calls very quickly and sometimes also in a more rude manner. More recently somebody called asking if whe drink red or white wine on partys or feasts. I replied no wine at all what is not true. So are you drinking juice, was the next question. At this point a slight aggression came up to mind. Within a few seconds I then interrupted the call without saying good-bye, the only possibility not to get crazy about such. @ Ulli

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, I try not to be rude but instead try and invoke some kind of compassion. A croaky trembling voice in a state of confusion, perhaps suffering from mild aphasia or memory loss is one strategy.

      Another one is to talk about my mother’s plight as an orphan in an Amsterdam orphanage where strict nuns made her scrub the marble steps at 5am each day. She was to have no contact with her sister who was also there. The love of the Christians etc.

      They get totally confused and give up.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. stuartbramhall Says:

    We get these calls here in NZ. After asking them repeatedly to take me off their list, I told them I was hanging up and calling the police. That seemed to work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I have never thought of calling the police. Worth a try, I suppose. Sometimes the police make charity calls for the plight of children. However, most often they are not the police. Crooks will try anything.

      Like

  7. Patti Fogarty Says:

    Hang up! Or better still don’t even pick up!

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, you are on something there, Patti.
      I have a profound hearing loss in both ears and I sometimes use that ploy, even though it is the truth. Yet, I feel I am cheating. Due to Catholic upbringing?

      Like

  8. Big M Says:

    I once was silly enough to chat to the young Indian chap. I heard him talking to his colleagues. ” I am talking to a gentleman, he asked me How I am going!”. I listened to his speil then politely declined the offer of the internet deal that was identical to the one I had, then Hung up. He rang back, speaking to Mrs M hoping that he hadn’t offended me, and what a fine conversation we had enjoyed, we were becoming good friends…. Now I put the phone down and go on a long search for Big M!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Looking for Mr Oosterman might now added to my arsenal of cold callers, Big M. Thanks a lot.
      Yes, some of those callers are very sharp, might even have degrees in psychology. Helvi just puts the phone down but at the beginning she used to say; I’ll get you my husband!

      One could also run a tape of the PM endless ramble on the light-horse battle madness of Beersheba.

      I still think a simple children’s story in Dutch is my favourite.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Big M Says:

    We have a small car, which my son drives, but is registered in Mrs Ms name. Someone reversed into it about eighteen months ago. A Good Samaritan witnessed the accident and gave us the rego number of the offender. Long story short, it ws fixed under the offender’s insurance. Mrs M now has calls twice weekly from a Sydney number, but always heavily accented from a legal firm wanting to obtain proper compensation for her recent injury. Bloody ambulance chasers!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, the solicitor’s brigade are on the look-out for earnings. There are so many of them. Universities pump out law degree graduates for boys and the girls with design degrees. Both offer little hope for real jobs.

      Never mind, as Turnbull was so keen to point out; Australia is now defined by its Light Horseman. Our nationhood is grounded in this tradition, as witnessed a hundred years ago at Beersheba. His eyes were all wet with patriotic fervour and nothing too purple prose that he would not include in his Darryl Lee Light-Horseman rhetoric.

      I can’t wait for him to stride and gallop into his Snowy Mountains hydro scheme, all slouched hatted and akimbo on a nice horse.
      Go on Malcolm, keep defining us.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    I understand how you feel, Gerard!
    I used to just say “No, thanks” and hang up.
    Now, with my cell phone, if I don’t recognize a number I don’t even answer.
    If it’s someone I know the phone is set up to show their number and with some, a photo of them. And if it’s someone I don’t have in my contact list and it’s important, they always leave a voicemail.
    So, I gratefully avoid all the frustrating callers.
    I’ve heard of people who say funny things to them, or try to sell them something, etc. That always made me laugh. 😀
    HUGS!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, but our land-line does not have the option of showing the caller, or, if it does, I wouldn’t know how to set it up.
      It is best to say; ‘no thank you, try next door,’ and put the phone down. The slightest hesitation will be taken advantage of. It is best to be hard, but in the process does it also harden us?
      Hugs too.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Yvonne Says:

    Have you seen the movie “Call Centre”? It made me a liitle more sympathetic, but not soft.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. shoreacres Says:

    Polite? There’s no need to be polite. If I happen to answer and realize it’s a spam call, I just hang up. I wouldn’t accept someone walking into my house without an invitation, and I will not accept someone “breaking into” my life through an unsolicited phone call.

    The truth is, the “your computer is broken” folks, the “we have a special cruise offer” folks, and the “please support the Police Association” folks all are scammers. Like the Nigerian Prince, they get a mark to respond often enough to make it worthwhile, but their only intent is to get money — or information that can be used in identity theft.

    A couple of times a year I’ll get a call from someone claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service, or my bank, or a law office who wants me to understand that if I don’t respond RIGHT NOW I’ll probably go to jail. Pfffffftt. The IRS, the banks, and reputable attorneys never call on official business. I don’t have time for such foolishness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, but think of those people trying to make an income. The call-centres employ people with the right qualifications, especially English.
      I have no hesitation putting the phone down on scammers or Nigerian Prime ministers waiting to send their money overseas into my account.
      But, with Indian based call centres I’ll relent and start reading them my favourite Dutch children’s story about ‘De kleine beer’ ( de small bear.) It can’t do any harm.

      Liked by 2 people

      • shoreacres Says:

        I certainly appreciate the fact that they’re trying to make a living. So are bank robbers.

        If you want to read children’s stories to them, that’s fine. It probably doesn’t do any harm. But it’s not something I’d do. After all, I’m trying to make an income, too, and I don’t appreciate my day being interrupted by such foolishness. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        And then there are people going around with buckets and pink ribbons trying to entice donations. The returned soldiers’ wives in need of ‘legacy’ . All that apart from kids banging on doors wearing grotesque masks asking for food or lollies. ( Mainly lollies)
        It never stops.

        Like

  13. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    Maddening, I agree. Once I have picked up sufficient clues – usually seconds – I say no thank you and put the phone down. If it is a respectable charity. I say that I do not like cold-calling under any circumstances, so could they please take me off their lists.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      While so much of the world is sobbing in grief about the monstrous acts perpetrated on them daily, the respectable charity calls are hard.
      I don’t know that one can unsubscribe from the list. Many lists are for sale and eagerly snapped up by those on the exploitation of all that misery.
      We give a monthly amount to MSF.

      Like

      • hilarycustancegreen Says:

        Re MSF – so do we.

        Like

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        It is about as much as we can afford. Australian Government in its miserly attitude towards pensions, decided, in all its wisdom, to cut out pensions to those who were wise and frugal enough to ferret away some savings.
        We now have little income, but for a small Dutch pension for the times we worked and lived in Holland.
        However, we will maintain our monthly MSF donation.
        How are you, Hillary?

        Like

  14. shoreacres Says:

    You know, something crossed my mind today while I was at work that helps to explain my attitude. I don’t have time to explain right now, but I’ll be back. It’s so obvious I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • shoreacres Says:

      Here’s the thing. These calls never arrive in the morning, or at night when I’m at home. They always come while I’m at work, and for me, being at work means having either sandpaper, a heat gun, or a varnish brush in my hand.

      If I’m varnishing, I don’t like stopping, because it’s impossible to keep a wet edge, and it ruins the work. However: if I’m expecting a call, I will stop, and it’s irritating beyond words to have some young thing on the other end suggesting a Caribbean cruise.

      If I see that it’s friends, family, or a regular customer, I’ll let it go, because I know they’ll leave a message, or I can call them back.
      But if I don’t recognize the number, it’s not necessarily good not to pick up. It could well be a potential customer, and in that case, of course I wouldn’t recognize the number. Just letting it go, and assuming the person will call back, isn’t very smart. Often, people have a list of contractors which they run through until they find someone willing to chat, and perhaps give them a bid. If they can’t talk to me, they’ll talk to the next person.

      There are other circumstances — a customer using a spouse’s phone, for example — where I wouldn’t recognize the number. So all the advice about “just let it go,” or “don’t answer if you don’t recognize the number” is bad advice, business-wise. And I’m certainly not going to sit and chat with the person who’s trying to selll me something. I’m working, and time’s a-wasting! Our situations are different, so it makes sense that our approaches would be, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. gerard oosterman Says:

    Yes, Linda. To filter the good calls from the bad is the art I am forever honing too.
    The local calls, even from far-a-way places are tricky while overseas cold callers usually have a few seconds delay. That is when my Dutch response immediately kicks in and takes over. Even that is tricky because I might get genuine overseas calls.

    During my days as a contract painter-decorator I had an answering service which was a large tape machine, later replaced with the phone itself having a recording facility. This would usually help to follow up business with quotes or estimations which I would do on Saturdays. I can well understand that to keep ‘a wet edge’ is vital during varnish or enamel painting procedures.

    Now, the new phone technology is beyond my coping or caring and I never use all the call-backs or memory server provided hints.

    Hence, my Dutch Story telling during the times I get strange calls. It does no harm.

    Like

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