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Monday, August 14, 2006

Interview with the Vampire Telemarketer

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With some apologies to Anne Rice.

Image from - hosting by PhotobucketIn this modern day, there are very few creatures feared as much as the telemarketing phone-beast. Well, fear is probably not really an accurate description of the emotion Walski feels when he gets one of these calls - more like extreme annoyance. And just like a fly that inadvertently gets trapped in your car, they're not very easy to get rid of.

The following is based on a real phone conversation. Certain names and details have been altered to protect the insolent.

(And oh yes, remind Walski to call all his credit card companies to stop disclosing his phone numbers for telemarketing purposes...)

One day, a particular sales executive, whom we shall call Ms. X, was having lunch with a colleague. While waiting for dessert, her mobile phone rang. Ms. X had just sold her condo to a Japanese buyer and is awaiting the paperwork to get done.

Ms. X (X): Hello

TeleMarketer (TM): Good afternoon, my name Joe, [garbled speech] Gold card holder from TCBank we are offering...

X: Is this about the condo?

TM: No, no, I'm calling from BIG Insurance, as a [more garbled speech] TCBank Gold Card...

X: But I'm already a TCBank Gold card holder

TM: No, no, no, no... we're not offering you a card. As a TCBank Gold card holder we would like to offer you Insurance for Snatch Thieves..

X: Huh? Thank you but I'm not interested.

TM: Wait, wait, wait. We are also offering you insurance for Snatch Thieves, Mugging at ATM Macine, Kidnapping...

X: Kidnapping? What is the coverage?
(more annoyance and rants in the full post)

TM: If you get kidnapped, your family gets RM 20,000

X: Is that all? No, I don't think I fit the category of someone who would be kidnapped. I'm not interested

TM: But as a Gold card member we are offering

X: I said, I'm not interested. How did you get my number anyway?

TM: Oh, I'm calling from BIG Insurance and we are working in conjunction with TCBank...

X: So you got my number from TCBank? I don't remember ever authorizing TCBank to release my personal information to..

TM: No, no, no, no... we don't have any of your personal information...

X: My mobile phone is not personal information? Do you know that overseas, you people need to have my prior consent before their phone number can be released? How come TCBank released my number?

TM: No, no, no, no, we are offering this promotion from BIG Insurance to...

X: Yes, I know. Anyway, I don't even know you - how am I supposed to trust you that your calling...

TM: No, no, no, no... don't worry Miss, we are authorized by TCBank to call you about...

X: My mobile phone number IS private information

TM: No, no, no, no - don't worry, we don't have any private details about you, only your mobile phone and IC number...

X: WHAT??!? IC number? I don't even know you, or whether you're really calling on behalf of TCBank, and now you're telling me you have my IC number also? No, no - I'm not interested.

TM: How can you are not interested? These days, arr, very dangerous with snatch thieves, kidnapping, ...

X: For the last time, I said that I'm not interested

TM: But as a Gold...

X: CLICK [hangs up the phone]

Persistant f*ckers these vampires telemarketeers. And damn annoying, too. Walski gets calls from them at the most inopportune times: during meetings, while driving, while taking a whizz, etc. As a consumer, Walski would really like to know what right does a credit card issuer have to solicit their clients' information, like mobile phone and IC number, to their business partners, for telemarketing purposes.

Would you trust someone you don't know to buy insurance from? Most Malaysians (being gullible and all that) would probably say, "yes" if they were told that the caller was from a certain insurance company, working in conjunction with their credit card issuer.

Without any way of verifying whether or not the caller is telling the truth. Scary, ain't it?

Seriously, Walski has all the intention to call up all the credit card issuers of cards currently in his possession, and insist that they remove Walski from their "OK to call" list.

Provided they actually have and "OK to call" list, and don't subject all their customers to constant harassment... consumer rights in Malaysia sure has got a long, long way to go yet...