Thursday, 1 October 2009

Telemarketing french-style

When we first arrived here, I used to be seized with panic every time the phone rang. As it was rarely for me, I used to hand it over quickly to David, no matter who it was. He'd often get off the phone quickly telling me it was just a telemarketer. After a while, I was able to understand enough to realize it was a telemarketer and could play up the foreigner aspect enough to get them off the phone quickly.

These days, I'll listen to them just for the practice as I still find the phone hard. The other day I got sucked in by someone selling frozen foods. I agreed they could send me their catalogue. They miraculously rang me seconds after I walked in the door with the catalogue when I was getting lunch for the kids and I fobbed them off, promising to have a good look at it over the weekend and agreeing they would call me Monday. Well, over the weekend I did look at the catalogue and there were some tempting things there, but given the size of our freezer I decided it was just as easy to keep shopping at Monop.

So Monday rolled around and she called me back. This was our third call and in hindsight I realized it was probably the same person. Which made it all the worse, when I launched into my spiel of thank you very much but I've changed my mind and don't want anything. Stunned silence followed. Then in a shocked voice she asked me why, like I'd just announced I was leaving her after 30 years of marriage. I gave my reasons, thanked her for the catalogue and for her calls, wished her a nice day and said goodbye. When she didn't say goodbye in the two second silence that followed I hung up!

Now all this is a perfectly reasonable way to treat a telemarketer in Australia. In fact, in australian terms, I had been incredibly polite as most telemarketers are well used to receiving gratuitous verbal abuse. But after I hung up, I was immediately wracked with guilt. Had I been rude in hanging up? Should I have waited for her to say goodbye, all the while giving her the opportunity to talk me around. In fact, was it my fault, had I strung her along with my initial enthusiasm? How do french people treat telemarketers? Does the everyday politeness that pervades life here extend to unsolicited calls? Anyone know?


Leesa said...

I usually just tell them ... No thanks and I say it in English.. hehehe!!! My husband isn't interested in them at all so I don't need to bother telling them to call back later to talk to him... : )

Rosebank Magic said...

Hmmmm..... I'm not sure about telemarketers. I always remind myself that they are trying to earn a living and raise a family just like everyone else so I find it very hard to get rid of them without succumbing to their spiel. If you just treat them with the same respect that you would anyone else who was selling something ie. a shop assistant, then you can't go far wrong.
I'll be very interested to hear if there is a french method for dealing with unsolicited marketing.

sylvchezplum said...

I'd say you were perfectly fine, maybe she was trying to reach monthly goals and you were her last hope on the list ! :-P
Don't worry about it too much.. Maybe if you want to get rid of them next time, tell them "hang on, I don't need your product but would love to chat as it's good practise for my french" ;-)

Penny said...

OK Sylvie, if you say its ok, I wont lose any sleep over it!