Following my experiences at the hands of the South African call centre, I took a call from my web hosting company this afternoon, trying to sell me an upgraded email package.
“There’s no obligation,” said the telemarketing chap when I told him I didn’t want to invest. “You just get a free one-month trial, and Outlook 2010 – “
“Well, what happens if I take Outlook 2010 and then cancel? Does the software stop working?”
“No, but – we give you that free.”
Gift horses and mouths, but I remained unconvinced. “I have no need of it, to be honest. And I’d have no intention of taking up the offer long-term; we can’t afford it.”
“It’s in your interests to take this,” he insisted. “A lot of our customers are saying how great it is.”
“Yeah, I understand that it’s a good offer. But after the thirty-day trial is over I’d want to use it for two mailboxes and that’s about £12 a month, which averages out at almost £150 a year, which is money that I don’t have. So what’s the point of me signing up for something I know I’m not going to be able to afford long term?”
“Well, it’s a free trial, Jim.”
“Yeah, still not interested, thanks.”
Jim? Jim? JIM?!?!?
I know bugger all about sales. But even I know that you don’t abbreviate a potential customer’s name like that. Jesus wept. Any potential interest I might have had instantly evaporated. I am the proverbial grumpy old man when it comes to stuff like this, I know, but I’m also old school when it comes to manners, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
Afterwards, I wondered if perhaps I might have over-reacted, and that’s when I thought of this:
Second Interviewer: Good evening. One of the most prolific film directors of this age, or indeed of any age, is Sir Edward Ross:, back in his native country for the first time for five years to open a season of his works at the National Film Theatre, and we are very fortunate to have him with us in this studio this evening.
Ross: Good evening.
Second Interviewer: Edward… you don’t mind if I call you Edward?
Ross: No, not at all.
Second Interviewer: Only it does worry some people – I don’t know why…but they are a little sensitive so I take the precaution of asking on these occasions.
Ross: No, no, no that’s fine.
Second Interviewer: So Edward’s all right. Splendid. Splendid. I’m sorry to have brought it up, only eh…
Ross: No, no, please. Edward it is.
Second Interviewer: Well thank you very much for being so helpful…only it’s more than my job’s worth to…er…
Ross: Quite, yes.
Second Interviewer: Makes it rather difficult to establish a rapport … to put the other person at his ease…
Second Interviewer: Yes, silly little point but it does seem to matter. Still – less said the better. Uh…Ted…when you first started in…you don’t mind if I call you Ted?
Ross: No, no, no everyone calls me Ted.
Second Interviewer: Well it’s shorter, isn’t it.
Ross: Yes it is.
Second Interviewer: Yes, and much less formal!
Ross: Yes, Ted, Edward, anything!
Second Interviewer: Splendid, splendid. Incidentally, do call me Tom, I don’t want you playing around with any of this ‘Thomas’ nonsense! Ha ha ha ha! Now where were we? Ah yes. Eddie-baby, when you first started in the…
Ross: I’m sorry, I’m sorry, but I don’t like being called ‘Eddie-baby’.
Second Interviewer: I’m sorry?
Ross: I don’t like being called ‘Eddie-baby’.
Second Interviewer: Did I call you ‘Eddie-baby’?
Ross: Yes, you did! Now get on with it.
Second Interviewer: I don’t think I did call you Eddie-baby.
Ross: You did call me Eddie-baby.
Second Interviewer: (looking off-screen) Did I call him Eddie-baby?
Voices: Yes. No. Yes.
Second Interviewer: I didn’t really call you Eddie-baby, did I, sweetie?
Ross: Don’t call me sweetie!!
Second Interviewer: Can I call you sugar plum?
Second Interviewer: Pussy cat?
Second Interviewer: Angel-drawers?
Ross: No you may not! Now get on with it!
Second Interviewer: Can I call you ‘Frank’?
Ross: Why Frank?
Second Interviewer: It’s a nice name. Robin Day’s got a hedgehog called Frank.