Monday, November 17, 2008

Please hold.

I had a great-aunt, Aunt Iris, who was not exactly senile, but, let's just say not all of her neurons were firing in good order upstairs. She was one of the kindest people I have ever known. She was also funny and sharp, even in her most confused moments. In later years, she had this awful habit of calling, and then the moment you picked up the phone, asking you to hold on so that she could please use the ladies room. I would hold for about 10 minutes, then she'd come back to the phone and chat for about 5 minutes, and then say goodbye and hang up.

She did this to everyone in the family. It became sort of a family joke. Because Iris was the sweet, kind soul that she was, we all put up with it, even though it became somewhat of a nuisance at work, even after I got speakerphone. During one of these phone calls, I gently suggested to Aunt Iris that perhaps she should use the facilities before she called me. She said that that was chutzpadick for me to point it out like that, and she hardly ever did that, why this was the first time really, and that she was an older woman and needed to use the bathroom more often than she used to, and I would see when I got to her age, etc. I apologized.

What I will put up with from dear Aunt Iris, I will not put up with from anyone else. The other day the phone rang. Caller ID identified it as "Share Group Inc." Interesting. I picked up. A robotic recorded voice told me "Please hold. This is not a sales call. Someone will be with you shortly."

Are you kidding me? You called me and you are putting me on hold? Oh this was not acceptable.

My first instinct was to hang up immediately (which, by the way, I highly recommend in these instances). But I actually wanted to see which bozo was employing this obnoxious technique to solicit something from me, mostly to write down his name and information and report him the Do Not Call Registry police (er, whatever), since I am long-time no-call list member. What I forgot was that non-profit 501(c)(3)s were exempt from the no-call list restrictions. After about three long minutes, some poor guy named Craig came on the phone, and started to solicit me for a local Jewish charity.

Poor Craig.

"Let me ask you something, Craig. Do you think it is the smartest idea, when you are cold calling people to ask them for money, to call and then put them on hold immediately? Without even identifying yourself? Do you think that will endear you to them, so that the minute you get on the phone, I will want to whip out my credit card and fork over a few thou? Do you think that's a winning strategy, Craig?"

"I-I just work for this call center, I don't know..."

"So what you're telling me, Craig, is that you aren't even a volunteer for this charity and you probably don't even care about it? You're just a hired hand bothering people in the middle of their only free time in the evening, asking them for money, right after you made them stay on hold for five minutes? Is that working well for you? Did you make a lot of money so far?"
Craig hung up on me.

Oh well.

This is really something else. Calling people and then putting them on hold when they answer is beyond rude. If you're not Aunt Iris.


Jacob Da Jew said...

Hopefully, Craig will be so flustered that he'll quit his job.

Anonymous said...

thank you for the blog post. I will never donate a penny through sharegroup. Their robot calls our house every day, several times a day, for years now. If this isn't harrassment then what is, 501(c)(3) or not? All these robot driven call centers are guilty of the same, profit driven vice, making more calls than their staff can handle, just to insure that none of their precious seconds are spent with a dead phone in their ear. As obnoxious as the please hold message is, its probably slightly preferable to the simple hangups of most such calls.

Meanwhile, may God bless us all with an aunt Iris. Something about her biology brought her bladder to her attention only upon hearing the voice of a loved one. As water symbolizes life, perhaps your voice worked like the sound of running water.