We’ve all received these calls.
They usually ring at the weekend, mostly at meal times or when you are feeling stressed (how do they know?), trying to juggle preparing a meal for the kids, finalizing household paperwork and doing the hoovering – and I have never yet stayed on the line long enough to hear what they are actually offering me or what I have supposedly “won”.
Even before you hear the voice you can tell that it’s a recorded message. I’m not sure what it is – a slight buzz of white noise, a breeze of tinny static, the complete absence of real 3D background atmosphere... and then that first formal “hello” pierces the unreal silence. Devoid of all emotion – no warmth, no enthusiasm – all the personality of a 1980’s chess computer.
You just know that the poor sap paid to record the message was forced to do so in a darkened room. Cut off from all human contact, not even a copy of Heat magazine to keep him company and remind him that he was part of the human race, he forgot that he was flesh and blood, that he had a heart. And he was forced to say the words over and over again until he was word perfect. Over and over again until the words lost their meaning and became abstract sounds. A series of yowls and glottal stops. Dark noise.
Which is why I find such calls not just annoying but also deeply insulting.
They can’t even be bothered to pay for a real human being to talk to me – to interact with me. To sit there politely while I tell them to eff off because I don’t want to change my mobile phone or buy some central heating or even install new conservatory windows into my home. Instead they let a faceless, soulless computer that has vampirically absorbed a man’s voice do the talking.
Now I don’t as a rule make a habit out of talking to machines. Well. That’s not strictly true. I do sometimes talk to my computer and very occasionally I’m even polite but, given a choice, if I have to talk to someone or something I wouldn’t choose a machine that is incapable of registering a vocal response.
You see, you can’t even tell these recorded messages to sod off with any degree of satisfaction because the machine is so beyond caring it won’t even shrug, it won’t flush brightly with embarrassment – it won’t feel hurt or ashamed at having to do such a crappy, utterly pointless job – a job that can only provoke loathing and hatred in its target recipients.
All you can do is put the phone down. You don’t even slam it. There’s no point. There’s no one there to feel the heat of your anger. You’re denied that one essential outlet.
How dare they!
At least have the decency to face the music! At least have the courage to take the verbal assault that has been aroused.
I know, I know. There are lists you can join, opt-out databases that will remove your phone number from any possibility of junk / spam infiltration but it’s a fag and why the hell should I?
One last thing: what kind of business man even thinks that cold calling people with a recorded message is going to be a successful marketing campaign anyway? I don’t know of one person that listens for longer than 3 seconds. There’s always that fear in the back of your mind that the call is a scam and you are being charged £150 a second just to listen to some nasally goon bluster his way through a shoddy, independent radio station sales script.
They cannot possibly make a single sale or a single penny.
What is the point?
If such a business man is out there reading this then the old adage definitely holds true:
Don’t call me. I’ll call you...
“Hello. This is a recorded message. You are most definitely being charged for this call.“