Several years ago, Crabby Old Lady signed up for the New York State “Do Not Call Registry.” That’s the list that allows anyone, by registering, to remove themselves from receiving telemarketing calls. The local versions were so successful that the Federal Trade Commission launched a national registry a few years ago and Crabby signed up for that too.
It means that, on pain of severe monetary penalty, telemarketers may not call Crabby. The exceptions – you knew there are exceptions – are political organizations, charities, telephone surveys and companies with whom there is an existing business relationship. Keep that in mind as this story unfolds.
It is currently that time of year when the annual donations to some of Crabby’s public interests are due. Because Crabby’s employer last month - in the most recent fit of what has become a series of regularly-scheduled “business realignments” - fired Crabby and some of her colleagues, she had laid aside the appeals for her charitable renewals while she assesses her financial position.
Apparently she set them aside for too long.
Crabby has now learned that there is a short window of opportunity for such donations to be made following which solicitors take full advantage of the exceptions to the Do Not Call Registry. Worse, during the years in which she has enjoyed a respite from the daily onslaught of calls to purchase dubious merchandise of questionable utility, the charity hucksters have acquired the fast-talking skills of their commercial brethren.
Representatives from two of Crabby Old Lady’s charitable donees recently made use of a nasty little tactic that in the past has contributed to the granting of the sobriquet by which Crabby is here known.
Having been interrupted, Crabby was only half listening once the caller identified himself as a stranger who wants money, and she made the mistake of agreeing when asked if the renewal mailing had been received. This acknowledgement turned the staid charitable representative into the scurvy, snake oil salesman he undoubtedly was before the Do Not Call Registry went into effect: “Then I’ll put you down for $50 more than last year.” ("Heh, heh, heh. Aren't I clever" he thought as he twirled his mustache.)
Crabby, whose attention was now fully engaged but hadn’t a clue how much she had given that organization last year, snapped back with the venom the man deserved: “You’ll get what I give you if and when I feel like it.”
A week or so ago, a sales person from the multimegacorp which supplies Crabby’s home and mobile telephone services phoned with the offer of a new and improved calling plan. Crabby politely declined but like all good sleazebag marketers, this was a man who believes “no” is an opportunity. He insisted. Crabby affirmed her refusal. He pushed. Crabby pulled. He pressured. Crabby lost it. “The last time one of you [expletive deleted] sold me a new calling plan, it cost me an additional ten dollars a month. So go [cheney] yourself and leave me alone.”
Crabby sometimes wonders, when driven to such – uh, colorful – language, what the reaction of these solicitor punks would be if they could see the grandmotherly sort who is voicing it.
But the more interesting question is what the multimegacorps believe they gain with such offensive tactics. Can it possibly be that they make more sales this way? Do they not know that Crabby, probably along with millions of other consumers, may not cancel their contracts now, but when the opportunity arises, will have no compunction about going over to a competitor? Or perhaps it doesn’t matter since all the competitors practice the same sales tactics, so their customers will switch too when it is convenient to do so. If that is true, Crabby suspects the trade comes out about even, so it still makes no sense.
Crabby also wonders if these are among the tactics that fool old folks - the ones who may have lost a button or two - into buying a thousand dollars worth of magazines or a million dollars worth of life insurance that will never pay off.
As to the charities, their overbearing representatives have not, so far, prevented Crabby from sending her annual donations. But yesterday one of the tactics they have borrowed from the commercial solicitation world resurfaced in Crabby’s life - another one destined to drive Crabby to a potty-mouthed rejoinder before long.
CALLER: May I speak to Crabby Old Lady please?
CRABBY: Who is calling?
CALLER: Irritating Marketing Person.
CRABBY: And what organization are you with?
CALLER: My name is Irritating Marketing Person.
CRABBY: Yes, you’ve said that. What organization are you with.
CALLER: Let me tell you about our fight against…
CRABBY: Mr. Person, I’ve asked you what organization you are with.
CALLER: (mumbling) The ABCD. (more clearly) Mrs. Lady, we appreciate your recent donation. I’m calling because there is an urgent need right now…
What is the point, Crabby wants to know, in hiding the name of the organization? In this particular case, it was Crabby’s first donation. There is unlikely now to be a second as once again, the world has forced her into the behavior that led to Crabby’s characterization of herself.
NOTE: Exceptions notwithstanding, The Do Not Call Registry is outstandingly successful in reducing the number of telemarketing calls. If you have not registered, you can do so online at https://www.donotcall.gov/.