Sunday, May 24, 2009

I should have never answered that phone

Three weeks ago, as I was spending my Sunday sans activities, I received a phone call from a caller ID titled UNKNOWN.

I should have never answered that phone [to be read in a thrilling, Hollywood baritone].

It was a tele-marketing from Packtrue - an international calling service with affordable rates. As the agent Pooja spelt out the fantastic offer of 4cents/90sec, I had no clue whether that was a good or a bad rate. Having finished Predictably Irrational recently, I thought I shouldn't turn down the offer without assessing its value. A normal person would have grunted and ended the phone call. Instead I chose to continue the conversation.

'So how is this rate compared to the competitors?'
When they didn't have a decent answer, I, being in the business of marketing, thought that it was my added responsibility, apart from those of a rational consumer, to educate them about having effective claims for value and differentiated services.

Hence Pooja politely heard everything I had to say about their business and how their managers should review their strategy. In turn, I voluntarily gave my email address and promised to follow up on registration from the website.

From the website banner
Well to their credit I did check out their website. It had too many rate lists and too little direction - a montage of forgettable people posing with cellphones and flashing banners giving the layout the flavour of a 30 year old web designer who didn't learn any new skills since 2001. I cannot give you more details about their service because I never gathered the will to learn more. I know if I search hard enough on the website, I'll find what I need. A rational consumer is supposed to evaluate cost and utility to be derived from goods and then prioritize his options. This model never took into account consumer lethargy, and a predisposition to review stuff instead of actually doing stuff.

As the retail adage is 'Location, Location, Location', a similar one for call centers would be 'Persistence, Persistence, Persistence'. We received repeated calls (unanswered) on our landline through the week. Being at home on the weekend, I picked up the phone, forgetting to check the Caller ID.

I should have never answered that phone, again.[to be read in a thrilling, Hollywood baritone].

Her voice sounded disgruntled, like a friend who got stood up at the movies.
"Hi Sir, this is Pooja from Packtrue."
...
"Sir you never pick up my calls. I tried so many times."
"Sorry Pooja. I wasn't at home."
...
"So when will you register on the site?"
"I'll try during this weekend."
"So when do I call you again?"
"Amm...."

It is quite a challenge to balance objectives of being rational, truthful and pragmatic. Another week passed by. Another set of missed phone calls and a poorly perused website.
This banner almost convinced me
"Hi Sir this is Pooja from Packtrue."
...
"Yes Pooja. I still haven't seen the website in detail. I might go for a $25 or $50 package."
...
"Sir, go for $50....just for me...." [Note: Flirtation FAIL]
...
"Sir, so when will you register on the site?"
"I'll try during this weekend. You don't need to call back. If I don't register, then please assume that I didn't like the offer."
"Ok Sir. So you'll register now?
"No, give me time. Like I said, I don't need help on registration right now."
"Ok Sir. So when do I call you again?"
"Amm...."

Out of fears of confronting Pooja, I have begun avoiding all UNKNOWN phone calls. I do not have the courage to explain to her why I've been missing her calls. Or justifying why I haven't registered yet for their service. If I do sign up, what does that make me - A sucker for frequent, flirtatious, annoying agent pitches? And if I don't sign up, can I bear being an irrational consumer who doesn't switch brands at all? And how do I objectively dissuade a ram-headed call center agent?

Life's tough for rational fools.
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If you liked this, you might also like to read:
The Right Price
[Agent's name changed for anonymity. I am still being the nice guy!]

5 comments:

  1. "...just for me"!!....haha...reminds me of the time when an air-hostess tried to convince me to have veg on the flight (as they had obviously falling short of non-veg thanks to their screwed up forecast) saying those very lines....of course I would have none of it...bullied them to give me the business class menu eventually

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  2. Come on dude, this is easy. Ask her to buy some of your products in return :)

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  3. As a pure samaritan of the society, who hasn't been spared by the same lady's incessant phone calling looking for "Mr. Arvind", I believe it becomes my duty to enlighten folks reading this blog of the sheer anguish I have to go through seeing this moron not just receiving that 117th call from the same folks -- knowing all along who is calling -- And then worse still, cribbing about it all day long, with multiple people, at multiple times and in multiple ways. To the extent, he could not help his burning desire of writing a full fledged blog on it. Hats off Iyer! Tum rone ki misaal ho :)

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  4. I must share this... I faced same with one of other agents from packtrue, but the day I have taken the service and started facing numerous issues... Its me calling, but customer service is of no use... and they dont call any more...

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