Picture this. You're having a
blissful afternoon siesta when suddenly the insistent ringing of the telephone
gets you out of bed.
You just manage to sleepily mumble a 'hello' when a practiced voice on the other
end goes, "Good afternoon Madam / Sir. I'm calling from _ bank / insurance
company. Would you like to get yourself a credit card? We have a wonderful
scheme going on."
Your reaction: Would somebody please tell these people that it definitely was a
good afternoon till they called and ruined your sleep. And that even if you did
want a credit card, it would not be at three in the afternoon!
The 'telemarketing' plan seems to have worked out for several business
organisations, but it sure has become a pain for common people. What is most
surprising is that these calls are somehow always received in the afternoon when
people are trying to get some rest.
A majority of the city's population consists of retired people. Says Brig SR
Sharma, "An afternoon nap is part of my routine. Invariably I receive a phone
call between 3-4 pm thrice a week asking me if I'm interested in a credit card
or some dud insurance policy."
These calls don't stop even if someone says they are not interested. "I have
requested these people not to call as I don't want to buy whatever it is that
they are selling. But they just don't seem to get the message. You refuse one
day and they call up the next day as if they've never spoken to you before,"
tells an exasperated Pushpinder Randhawa.
Some of the people have even come to recognise these voices on the phone. "There
is this boy with a very flat kind of voice and this over-enthusiastic girl who
always call. Sarcasm just seems to bounce off them like water off a duck's back.
It's infuriating," complains Sunil Ahuja.
So why do banks and insurance agencies have their staff call prospective
customers in the afternoon? "We usually hire smaller agencies to do our
telemarketing. So it is actually up to them whatever time they choose to call
someone," explains a senior bank official. Rahul and Seema, who work for one
such agency in Mohali, have their own reasons. "We start with our list every
morning and continue work till the evening. So there are naturally people who
will have to answer their phones in the afternoon. It isn't as if we do it on
purpose. It's our job," they say.
So how does the problem come to an end? "The only thing we can do is to instruct
the agency not to make these calls in the afternoon as it is harming our brand
name rather than selling it," says the bank official. Well here's hoping that
this plan definitely works!