Thursday, March 14, 2013

Wrong number

My phone rang at 2 yesterday afternoon. I'm too cheap to pay $60 a year for caller ID so I answered, in case it was my wife or someone was ringing to tell me I'd won the football pools.

It was neither, it was somebody who wanted Simon Hopkins. I'm not, and never have been, Simon Hopkins, so I told him it was a wrong number.

Usually at this point the caller hangs up (sometimes they apologise first, but really it's no great matter). But not this one. Oh no. He ploughed straight into his script to sell me a credit card loan.

As I said, I've never been Simon Hopkins, and nor do I harbour a secret desire to become Simon Hopkins. I was nonplussed by this man's determination to change my identity. Before I could persuade him of this, he was asking if I was Singaporean or not.

I told him I wasn't, and hoped it would stop there, but no, that was just a segue into asking what my monthly income was. I'm not in the habit of telling random callers how much Simon Hopkins earns, so I told him to hang on a moment and then put the phone away in my desk drawer.

One would assume a few minutes of phone purgatory would dissuade this gentleman of any hope of closing a sale, but apparently not. When I pulled the phone back out, he was still asking me how much I was paid. Well, I had to reward his dogged persistence somehow.

"$48,000" I said. "Per month."

Then I had to put the phone on mute while I stuffed my fist in my mouth for a minute. The prattling continued and I passed my phone to my manager, who now took on Simon Atkins' identity.

"Yes, this is Simon Atkins" he bellowed when asked. Either my phone is terrible (well, it is a Blackberry, after all) or it doesn't matter if your name changes half way through a phone call. Or your voice.

He told us we qualified for a loan of up to 4 times $48,000, which would be $196,000. At a rate of interest of a measly 5.6%.

"5.6% interest?" my manager asked. "That's not very good. I'd expect no more than 4.2."

The man rambled on about pointless financial products for a while. We put him on hold. I tried to understand how 4 times 48 had stopped being 192 and become 196. We took the man off hold. We put him back in my drawer. He kept asking if Simon Hopkins/Atkins/Upton was interested.

After thirteen minutes, he gave up and the line went dead. Or rather, I thought he'd given up. He called Simon Haddockfins seven more times before I deigned to answer again (I had been in a budget meeting and unable to negotiate a loan far in excess of my total earnings) and explain that no, I really didn't want his loan. Not even at a special rate of 6%.

Which was pretty special, as it had started at 5.6% a phone call and an eternity away. Perhaps it is time for me to start screening my calls.


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