phone calls

this was something discussed at a dinner with friends a few nights ago. u know how u receive strange phone calls, retarded ones, or just bad telemarketing calls from companies. that was one session where we actually shared the strange tales of various script reading toons on the phone or just random calls from random people.

on my part though... i worked as a telemarkter before. the first part of the job interview was often from you calling them and they do various screenings then. after that u undergo trainings based on the job ur in. some jobs just need u to know the legalities behind the calls and the scripts. others needs you to have a wider knowledge than that. i was in the insurance line then, so i had to take general insurance knowledge kind of exams before i am qualified to sell insurance, much less over the phone.

but thats not the point of this post.

as you know, sometimes, the telemarketers sound bored, tired, repetitive or just in general fake, or having a bad day.

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the discussion that i had with my friends brought back many memories of telemarketing calls back in singapore, with me on both ends of the phone.

firstly with me as a consumer, i still remember times when i wasn't even of age to apply for my own banking account or something. i was only 11. i had companies calling up, calling for me by my name and asking if i was interested in their holiday clubs, golf clubs and so on. and i was like, "do you realised i am only 11? i just started working, earning about 900 a month during the holidays, you sure u want me as a member?" that often resulted in instant.. hangups.

one phone call got weird. this guy called up trying to sell some products over the phone, which i never could remember later on what it was. but we ended up talking about life, school, tuition, ambitions. it was hilarious. for 20 whole minutes we were utter strangers just gabbing at each other over the phone, the time being paid by his company o.o

subconsciously, because i knew how it was like being a sales person, i knew they dont have a good time. perhaps out of 10 calls only like 2 make it as proper sales. but i never really thought much about it till i became, horror of horrors, a telemarketer.

it wasn't commission based, thank god, or i would have gone broke from just travelling to work. but rewards were obviously biased towards the highest sales, nevermind quality sales (not that i am confident of quality sales anyways...). the company was great in my opinion in the sense that come traditional big holidays, they give us extra bonuses, even "red packets" for chinese new year, vouchers for christmas shopping, etc. we even have xmas luncheons. for a long time, we were a tight bunch. but of course, cliques do happen and stuff fell apart.

anyways. everyweek, at the most, i had make 2 sales. yes, you heard right, TWO pathetic sales. i do try and make sales everyday. but half the calls i get are often, not available, busy, no longer this number etc. we were tied in with a bank, and their data were so badly upkeep-ed that sometimes it's embarassing to make a call.

one of the most memorable one that shocked me to death was this particular client. i called. his wife picked up.

w: who's this looking for him?
me: oh i am calling from xxx bank, because he holds our credit card (we were told to fake it from the bank since technically speaking records are meant to be private and confidential) we have a special offer we thought of letting him know...
w: erm. well. i don't know if u guys realised. my husband has been dead of cancer for 4 years by now.

needless to say, after profuse apologies and so on, i ended that call, furious that i might have hurt someone without intending to.

and then there are the funny ones, or who thinks they are funny. after going thru my script, they had let me finish... then pause.. then goes "u know... uhm, i'm sorry i was in the traffic, can you repeat what u said?" and that was a 2 page reading i had just done. and they dont do it once, they do it 3 times. by the 3rd repetition or so, i had be so miffed i would be like, "uh it's ok ma'am/sir, i would call you back when ur free" and list the number as uncontactable.

when u have a multiracial community like singapore though, you're bound to have colleagues who can't pronounce names for nuts, or just names that's beyond any comprehension. one particular colleague i remember, called Thai (not he's not from thailand, but its just the way his name was spelt) always have a string of mispronounced names. the only saving grace he had in the company was since he was so comical and "innocent" while making all these mistakes, people just love him, especially the higher ups.

for example, we had a client with a name similar to zhao khai zheng or something like that. infact, it's probably quite far from the obscene words, or offensive words he read it out as. somehow though... he called up the customer..

thai: hi, may i speak to mr chao kar cheng (smelly arse) please?
mr zhao (who is obviously using his own mobile phone since thai called the mobile): wtf? who's this? you think it's funny? blah blah blah~

mispronouncing the name can really fuck things up especially if the guy calls back and realises thai called from xxx bank. it's pretty unproffessional and really misrepresents the bank heaps. really offended people might start taking business away.

i mean thai really tries. he would ask people how to pronounce if he really thinks he cant. but sometimes his intelligence and confidence gets the better of him. one time, a very simple name, he just went overboard for another customer, who was female this time. the name was something ooi ooi.

thai: good morning, may i speak to miss oink oink pls?

miss ooi: wtf... (slam)

yer. that didn't go quite too well.

but what amuses us, although upsetting at times, were how some of the people's friends, spouses, family just went on talking to us. a few of them had continue talking to us despite them being... unqualified for the offers.

me: (start script on insurance)
them:oh thats interesting blah blah blah...

10 mins later:
them: so how can i sign up? must i be a cardholder?
me: yes but it would be good if ur husband/wife/son/dad etc did the signing up first and he can cover you too!
them: oh but he passed away 6 mths ago...


the first case of passing ages ago, i felt miffed. this one just baffles me. i called u regarding so and so, and instead of correcting me on the spot, you only decide to tell me after 10mins that they have passed away? wth?

and then there are the wrong number calls i get.

i dont usually have caller id on any of my phones. back in singapore once, i received a really weird phone call 3 times in a row asking for the same person. by the third time, i got kinda pissed. i told him straight "look there's no sam here, i have told you that 3 times. why don't you ask your friend again when you next see him?"

that guy "that's abit hard, i have only met him once in <> and i only managed to get his number thru a friend coz i was interested in him"

me:" unless ur suggesting my dad is gh3y, there are only 3 other people here in this house and they are all female. please go find his number again or something and stop jamming up my phone line, i need to use the net (was on 56k then)"

him:"you sure there's no sam around ur house?"

me:" er... this is my family home?"

him" oh come on, please? i really like him?"

me:"er.. would u prefer a police officer called sam?"

in the next couple of weeks i had still get random calls from him, even my dad got mad and stared yelling at him. being a traditional chinese though, he was abit of a homophobic as well as ah... well just rude about them. and he made that pretty well heard that night.

a few weeks ago, i got a similar random call. i picked up the phone, and this guy was like "may i speak to so and so please?" and obviously i had no such person here and was ready to put down the phone. then he went on with a dejected voice..

"there's no such person isn't it?"

"uh huh"

"aww man, that's so bad. i am calling from new zealand you see, the phone bills is so expensive, especially for international calls. i can't believe i called the wrong number. i mean wow, of all chances..... yada yada yada..."

wow. look at it. u know its expensive but you just fucken talked for so long? wouldn't that cost more money? weirdo.

honestly though, the people i get to meet everyday, are sure weird.

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