Friday, 1 May 2009

Where there's blame, theres an unsolicited phone call

I've not written a blog entry for some time, and today I've done two. But I've had a couple of phone calls today that've really got my goat.

The background. Our car insurance renews imminently, so I've been on to shop around, as you do. I always, always take care to make sure that the box that says "Don't call me, don't pass my details on, don't waste your phone call on me because I'm not bothered," is marked as "No don't ring me thanks". And I have an interest in doing this; I work for an insurance company and have done my time on the outbound phones, so I have first-hand experience of dealing with people who don't want a call.

Yet there's always one that gets through the net. Normally the call goes "Hi Mr/Mrs Beetwaste, I see you had a quote, do you want it," that sort of thing. I can cope with this. Usually it's "No thankyou," and I'll be polite. But the call wasn't about that.

At 11.30 this morning, the phone rang. I ignored it and dialled 1471, got a Manchester number, and rang it back. It was a company wanting to discuss our car insurance claim. Now, the only claim we've made recently is for a new windscreen, so my initial reaction, naturally, was for the safety of Mrs. Beetwaste, who is in the car today. Then I calmed down, typed the phone number into Google, and discovered that, as I suspected, it was just some idiot wanting to sell us something. Clearly, the money-supermoron websites are now selling on the details of all the claims we've made. So the call was actually to discuss a no-win-no-fee case, for a claim that involved no-one else and is irrelevant to these companies. They have their details totally wrong, and in the process have caused me some concern.

Personally I think this is disgraceful. It's beyond a simple marketing call, because if the wrong person answered then I believe someone could get seriously worried about this. More importantly, the only companies who should have any interest in this, are the insurance companies themselves, when they are calculating my premium. If I want to make a claim, I have ample opportunity to call the ambulance chasers myself. Sadly, these calls clearly work, because if they didn't then there's no way they bother making them. I know that for a fact, because my outbound telesales department shut, because it wasn't working anymore.

Anyway, a lady rang back this evening. I tried not to be rude, but firstly, the automatic dialling system that made the call took 7 seconds to find an agent available to speak to me, which riles me anyway. She then asked for Mrs Beetwaste, but pronounced her name wrong - our real name has 3 letters in it. It's not hard to get right! Finally, she wouldn't tell me what the call was about - no doubt this will be for data protection purposes which I fully appreciate and understand, but the car insurance is in both names, ergo she can speak to either of us. Luckily I'd already done some research and knew exactly what the call was for, so politely suggested she doesn't waste another call.

Hopefully she got the hint, and now I'm going to complain to the relevant consumer groups, like the grumpy old man that I am nowadays.

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