Saturday, January 21, 2006

Telemarketing rules of etiquette

My husband had to go to work early today (he has a job on campus that follows a weird schedule), so I thought it was him calling when my phone rang around 8:20. I dashed out of bed to grab it before the machine kicked in and instead of being him, I hear a thick Southern voice, too thick to be his mother:

"Hello, is Shallow Man home?"

"No, he's at work. May I take a message?"

"Oh. Then is Elliespen home?"

"Yes, this is she."

"Well this is (our bank)," (for a moment I'm filled with dread, thinking someone had stolen our identities and run up a kazillion dollar debt on our account -- after all, why else would our bank be calling this early on a Saturday morning? It must be something urgent), "calling to let you know that we are offering free 60-day supplemental auto coverage..."

I nearly snapped. You woke me up to tell me you want to sell us insurance? "We already have auto insurance, thank you."

"Yes, but I want to stress that this is SUPPLEMENTAL..."

"No, we already have coverage, THANK YOU."

"Alright, if you have any questions our toll-free number is...."

Now, I don't have a problem saying NO to telemarketers. I used to meekly cower on the phone and listen to their whole spiel, waiting for them to pause for breath before I told them I wasn't interested. Then I'd have to listen to the secondary spiel, rinse wash and repeat. Eventually I would get them off the phone, but not before they had wasted a full five to seven minutes of my time.

My reasons for this were that, even though it was annoying to me, I had done phone work before (surveys, not sales, at least) and knew how horrible it was and how hard it was to have people be rude to you. So I was trying to make their day a little less horrible. That's before I realized that phone calls don't bother other people as much as they did me. I also gradually realized that they were putting their job before my personal comfort and convenience, so I didn't really need to do the same. Someone had to look out for MY interests, for goodness' sake!

So now I have honed my interruption skills to a fine point. I listen just long enough to hear what they're offering and then tell them that I already have it, I'm not interested, or that my current long distance company beats the pants off of THAT offer. Then I firmly repeat this as soon as they begin the secondary spiel. I can get them off the phone now in a minute to a minute and a half, depending on how persistant they are. If they break that 90-second rule, I just hang up. This makes telemarketers much easier to deal with, so they don't bother me quite so much anymore.

Until they break the sanctity of my Saturday morning, that is. The one day I really have to sleep in. The one day ANYBODY really has to sleep in (unless you have small children, I know. But we don't yet). I will never call anybody before 10:00 on Saturdays just in case they wanted to be lazy in bed for awhile, unless they have given me specific directions to call them earlier. It's just common courtesy. I thought everyone knew that.

In a pinch, I can even condone people calling as early as 9:15 or so. It's cutting it closer but is still within the realms of human acceptability. But in that case I would only call a close friend or a business. In the first case, they'll forgive me, and in the second there's no danger of waking someone up.

So where on earth do the telemarketers get the gall to start calling me before 8:30 on Saturday morning? That's just plain bad business. How many people are really going to say yes to something after you've dragged them out of bed? That's like calling in the middle of dinner, but worse. Especially if they already use your services -- you want to keep them happy, not antagonize them. For the first thirty minutes or so after the call, I was considering switching banks. Maybe I can find one who, even if they ARE more interested in my money than in me, at least has the decency not to show it.

Or maybe I'll just post a rant on my blog in protest.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Appomattox and Shoes

Side note before beginning the real story here: I asked my husband how to spell "Appomattox" to make sure I had gotten it right and his response was "I have no idea." This wouldn't be a big deal except for the fact that he is from the South and makes a big point of being a "suth'n boy." He dreams about fried okra, has nightmares about chitlins, and gets passionate and excited and all patriotic-like when the subject of Robert E. Lee comes up. He doesn't get teary-eyed over old Bobby, although I think this is due more to the fact that I have only known him to cry a total of three or four times since I've known him than to any lack of respect. The movie line he laughs hardest at is from "One, Two, Three" (taking place in divided Berlin; great comic movie with James Cagney) when Mac gets mad at Scarlett (a suth'n girl) for blowing up balloons that say "Yankee Go Home":

Mac: You were making anti-American propaganda?!
Scarlett: It's not anti-American, it's anti-Yankee. And where I come from, everybody's against the Yankees.

So with all that Southernness going on, you'd think he'd know Appomattox. Was he faking his suth'n-ness all along? Or is this one of those "The South Will Rise Again" denial-type issues? I'll have to look into it. In the meantime, on with the show.

Today, in a dramatic ceremony (at which no photographers were present, thank goodness), The Cold surrendered its family heirloom sword to me. Actually, it had been hiding behind some rocks, trying to evade the deluge of orange juice, and came out waving a white tissue on its swordpoint. I have won! Of course there are a few straggling regiments that I have to go take care of who haven't realized that they've lost yet, but my trusty Kleenex box can more than handle them. It'll all be over in a day or so.

I was so excited about this that I went out and bought some new shoes. Actually, I'd been needing to buy shoes for a while but hadn't been able to because of said cold, but still. I love shoes. Especially black shoes. A girl cannot have too many pairs of black shoes. My college roommate Margo (one of the world's most amazing people ever) can attest to this. She was always impressed at my collection of black shoes and my ability to walk into a shoe store at random, usually on a trip to help her find shoes, and come out with something adorable for myself, while she had been unable to find anything she liked. I think at the high-water mark I had nineteen pairs of black shoes, not counting a few other pairs of non-blacks. Since I've been married, though, my shoe collection has dwindled severely and I generally only get new shoes when there is a special occassion or when old ones wear out.

Today was triple-point shoe day. Two of my favorite pairs (one of them being my tri-continent shoes) had worn out and there is also a special occassion coming up, as my brother is getting married on Thursday. So I got a nice pair of black work shoes, some cute flats and some uber-fun, very high-heeled Mary Jane types. Life is good.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


So I was going to resolve to be a bit more consistent about posting on my blog, once all the crazy Christmas rush was done. (Christmas in retail, oh joy!) And I really was going to do it.

Only once all the crazy Christmas rush was done, it started catching up to me.

By the time Resolutions Day rolled around I was battling the cold of the century (my immune system apparently having made its own resolution to cut back on the hard work and spend more time with the fam'), and it's still anybody's guess as to who's going to win this one. The Cold is gaining ground as I am rapidly running out of tissues. But I am valiantly beating it back by drowning it in orange juice, so it may all turn out okay in the end. Until I run out of oj, that is...

At any rate, since I missed the holiday season, I'd just like to wish you all a belated happy Christmahannakwanzaadanstice, as my sisters would say. (We really overlook the Druids this time of year. I'm sure they wouldn't mind it if we wished them a Happy Winter Solstice now and again.)

Freaking Druids. They're everywhere...