Charity begins in the home (and in the shopping mall)

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 9th November 2010.

They say that charity begins in the home. In my case, that would be at around seven on a weekday evening just as I am about to sit down for dinner. The phone rings and it’s an annoying charity telemarketer. I’ve developed a tactic to avoid these calls. Usually there is a delay between the moment you pick up the phone and the salesperson at the other end speaking. That is because a computer randomly picks you and your number from a marketing list or the phone book, calls you and when you answer, it then connects you to a salesperson.

My unproven theory is that by hanging up during the delay, you get to avoid a long sales pitch but the computer still records you as a successful call connection with the telemarketer. So far, this tactic has worked well for me, with the exception of a few times when my mum was a little slow off the mark and I hung up on her. If a call does manage to get through, the promised two minute sales pitch is inevitably a twenty five minute one. I have taken great delight in allowing the telemarketer to give me his or her full length spiel about children in Africa with Bieber fever before calmly telling them that I wasn’t interested. For those short of time, dismissing them at the very beginning of the call works too. However, if the telemarketer gets to start their speech, it is pretty hard to cut in as I’m certain that their script is deliberately written to have no gaps. In that case, try snoring sounds or faking the engaged tone.

Those charity people in shopping centres annoy me too. I really don’t mind someone collecting money for a good cause, but these bubbly and friendly kids don’t want your cash, they want your bank details. They’re not working for the charity as volunteers either. For the life of your monthly payments, someone must be getting a commission. I’d rather my charity dollar go directly to a needy cause. Supporting backpackers is not a needy cause.

If you get a chance, watch the area where the charity folk are spruiking from afar. It is amazing how far shoppers will go out of their way to avoid them. Whether it is pretending to check out that really interesting walking frame in that window over there, or simply taking the scenic route, just as Darwin predicted, we’ve all naturally evolved to evade predators.

Have you noticed how they try to draw you in by saying something quirky to you as you pass, usually about your clothes? Last week I got, “Hello, Mr red shoes, baggy pants, fancy jacket and messy hair.” I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Perhaps Bozo the Clown was walking behind me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big supporter of charities and the work that they do. I just strongly feel that I should approach them to assist and not the other way around. Once I’ve shown interest in a charity, then sure, bombard me with information and requests for money but at least the initial contact wasn’t unsolicited.

If my call is going to be used for training purposes, then I trust that your trainer will use this recording to teach you the importance of not interrupting me when I’m trying to enjoy a meal with my family or friends.

Published in: on November 9, 2010 at 07:38  Leave a Comment  
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