Forgive my Jim Royle impression but having heard the pitch: “Would you like unlimited calls for FREE? Just press the number two and we can tell you about how to get them. Call anytime for free!” I couldn’t resist and pressed number two…
This morning, in the MSE towers meeting room the phone rang – no one has that particular direct dial, so I knew it was an auto-ringer, yet fancying a bit of fun after I heard this telecom sales pitch, I pressed the button. Here’s (to the best of my memory) how it went…
Me: “Hi, I believe you’re going to give me totally free calls – how exciting!”
Cold Call Woman: “Yes absolutely, but first I just want to take a few details.”
Me: “Actually, I’d prefer you just told me about the free calls first before I gave you any.”
Cold Call Woman: “Ok, well, what I really need to know is whether you have a BT line?”
Me: “Yes I do.”
Cold Call Woman: “And when do you make most of your calls? Evenings or weekends?”
Me: “I make them mostly during the day.” (I deliberately picked peak time)
Cold Call Woman: “Well that’s great. We can offer you free unlimited daytime and weekend calls. You will still pay BT for line rental though, but also you normally pay 24.9p a minute to call mobiles and with us you can do it for half that.”
Me: “How do you know what I pay for mobiles? You asked did I have a BT line, not who my call provider was. I pay a lot less than 25p.”
Cold Call Woman: “Oh ok, but still it’s free calls, and there are no hidden charges.”
Me: “That sounds fantastic. Just let me clarify, I can call landlines free at any time for no other charges and no monthly fee?”
Cold Call Woman: “Oh, there is a monthly fee, it’s £9.79 a month.”
Me: “But BT’s unlimited calls package is half that. It’s £4.99 a month. So you’re charging me twice as much. You said it was free, that’s not free, and there are other even cheaper providers.” (see cheap home phones)
Cold Call Woman: “It is free, you don’t pay anything for the calls.”
Me: “Yes I do, I pay a tenner a month on top of line rental – double the charge of BT. What’s your company name?”
Cold Call Woman: “We’re called Connect.”
Me: “I know this isn’t your fault, you’re reading a script, but this is a complete con. I certainly won’t be signing up, but I am a consumer journalist and, as I’d hoped, at least responding to this call has given me a good blog.”
Then I politely said goodbye and hung up.
It was a good example of exactly the type of devious, ill-informing sales pitches these companies have. The sad thing is it must work or they wouldn’t do them.
While of course its important to ensure every number is registered to the telephone preference service (see stop spam calls guide), that won’t stop all auto-diallers – and the worry is it’s mainly those who are most savvy who do that, leaving some of the most vulnerable people as easy prey.