Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The Cold Caller

All being well I am now one day off receiving the RFP from the potential new client and then all Hell is likely to break loose. I am not getting too excited yet as it is not unknown for the release of RFPs to be delayed so it would not come as a surprise to not see it until after the weekend.

There is not a huge amount to report on today's activities. After all it is the middle of the working week and after work, walking the dogs and a few other domestic activities I don't really have either energy or inclination to do much else with myself. At the moment I seem to be doing most of my living at the weekend.

In order to fill a little more white space I will recount a ridiculous call I took on Tuesday from British Gas. I won't give a verbatim narrative but it started along the lines of Hello Mr bad man, I notice from our records that you used to be a British Gas Customer …". Basically it was a cold call using old customer data in an attempt to persuade me to return to them as my domestic energy supplier.  I had a few minutes free so didn't go with my normal practice of just putting the 'phone down and walking away; letting the caller talk to thin air. However, the first question didn't sit well with me. British Gas wanted to know who I currently used as my energy supplier and were somewhat surprised when I told them that it was none of their business. The call irritated me further when the Call Centre employee tried to persuade me to release this information by telling me that he was quite prepared to tell me who he bought his energy from. I pointedly replied that that fact was of no interest to me and didn't change the fact that my energy supplier was my business not his.

I let him make a start on his script before I reined him in and pointed out that it was obvious that this was an attempt to persuade me to return to British Gas as my energy provider. For some strange reason he didn't really want to confirm this as the reason for the call and attempted to waffle about wanting to understand my energy requirements and the choices available. I thought I was being helpful when I advised that what drove my selection of Energy Provider was the tariff and if he wanted me to revert to British Gas he simply needed to send me a leaflet that clearly showed that BG's prices were significantly lower than the other UK suppliers. The caller advised that he could only issue electronic communications so I rattled off my email address at a fair rate of knots. The caller didn't ask me to repeat the email address or repeat it back to me for confirmatory purposes so I was fairly confident that my in-box was not going to receive a non-existent tariff comparison email.

The chap from the Call Centre didn't seem convinced that price was the only factor in me deciding my provider so I pointed out that it was the only variable factor. After all, the electricity and gas will come from the same production plants via the same distribution networks irrespective of which Supplier I choose. I did ask whether he was going to try to tell me that British Gas was going to sell me a different type of electricity and at least he had the decency to acknowledge that they were not.

The caller then tried a new tack advising that he wanted to run through a series of Ofgen* approved questions with me. I said that was fair enough but pointed out that a) I only had 5 minutes before my next conference all and b) had a short attention span and low boredom threshold. The first few questions from the Ofgen List were house type, size and age. He then went on to ask how much I spent on energy every year and seemed somewhat surprised when I told him that was none of his business either. His alternative approach was to ask about my energy usage. I pointed out that if he was from British Gas they would have my customer records spinning on a hard disk somewhere at one of their data centres. I added that 2010 was a rather chilly Winter so that should be taken in to account when determining my annual usage. The caller advised that he did not have access to that data and seemed surprised when I advised that that was his problem not mine and that I had neither the time nor the inclination to do his job for him.

The final straw came when he asked when I used electricity. I pointed out that this was a bizarre question as the natural answer was "all the time". After all I have a refrigerator and freezers and they tend to work best when switched on 24 x 7. By this time my patience had long since dissipated and my conference call was only minutes away. I referred the chap back to the point I had made earlier about my short attention span and hung up on him.
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* For readers** not familiar with British Administrivia Ofgen is the UK Energy Regulatory Authority.
** This is probably most relevant to the reader in Telford, Pennsylvania. You visit nearly every day but never say "Hello".

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