Thursday, 2 December 2010

Cold Calls for a Warmer Britain

We have a new front-runner in the All-Comers Cold Call Completion World Championship (ACCCWC)!

This caller successfully established that the number he had phoned corresponded to the address on his list, despite the non-residence of the elusive 'Mrs Taylor'. Where he fell down was in speaking far too quickly and unclearly to be understood by someone with limited patience who had only just got up:

Caller: That was to establish that I have the right number and the right address, but the wrong name. So what is your name please, madam?

Me: I'm afraid I'm not willing to give that information over the phone.

Caller: Don't worry madam, I'm calling on behalf of the UK government.

Me: Oh yes? [Gah! Council tax? Student loan? Office for the Prevention of Plant Cruelty? (the basil in the window is looking decidedly peaky)]

Caller: So I'm not selling anything. [Aha, so someone will be making money from this somehow...]

Me: Can I ask which part of the UK government, exactly?

Caller: I'm from the rabarber rabarber insulation rabarber.

Me: [Insulation again?] I'm sorry, could you repeat that please?

Caller: a little louder From the National Utility rabarber rabarber.

Me: Sorry, I still didn't understand the name of the...

Caller: shouting, but just as quickly THE RABARBER RABARBER RABARBER RABARBER!

Me: I don't need you to shout, just to say the part of the government slowly so I can understand it.

Caller: very annoyed The point is you don't need to worry madam, it's on behalf of the UK government and...

Me: I don't understand who it is I'm talking to so I'm ending this call.

Dialing 1471 failed to produce a number to call back. Typing 'national', 'utilities' and 'insulation' into Google turned up a few government schemes but nothing with those words in that order in its name. I suspect that this is the same list of phone numbers that the angry (by the end of the call, anyway) Northern Irish man from British Gas was using a few weeks ago. I also suspect I'll be having similar conversations all winter. While I fully support the plan to make sure everyone has the best kind of insulation, in an affordable way, cold-calling on a week-day morning isn't going to turn up many home owners with time to listen. And I'm still not giving out my details or my landlady's over the phone.

A few people who read my previous post admitted to deliberately winding cold-callers up to waste their time. This is me trying to be helpful and they still end up confused, angry and empty-handed. The point? Unless it's a scam, calling landlines out of the blue is not the best way to get what you need.

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