I am blessed in my current school by a front office team who screen sales calls for me. If I don’t want to speak to them, often because I’m too busy, the front office will give the caller the brush off for me. This is a stark contrast from my last school where the receptionist’s objective was to get rid of callers as quickly as possible, usually by transferring anyone who called straight through to IT, and often even when they actually wanted another department.

This screening is in practice in enough organisations that the more unscrupulous suppliers out there have taken to employing ‘dishonest turns of phrase’, otherwise known as ‘lies’, in order to trick their way past the front office. The two most common examples are:

  • “I’m calling on behalf of BigNameCompany,” which means “I’m a generic reseller who wants to sell you some BigNameCompany products”. A variation of this is “I’m calling from the BigNameCompany partner program”. The most egregious one I’ve ever heard was “I’m calling from Google” from someone trying to sell SEO products. This coincided with a moment of boredom in the office, a moment quickly relieved by me pointing out that the company obviously had no connection to Google whatsoever, and telling the quite argumentative salesman that he was an utter liar.
  • “…just a quick follow-up call,” which usually means “I have never spoken to you before”.

Here’s a quick hint if you’re one of these companies: my front office relay to me exactly what you said to them. If when you speak to me, I think you’ve lied to get past them, it will be a very short conversation, and will never end with you getting a sale. You may therefore take your deceptive sales practices, and shove them where the sun does not shine.

About The Angry Technician

The Angry Technician is an experienced IT professional in the UK education sector. Normally found in various states of annoyance on his blog. All views are those of his imaginary pet dog, Howard.

4 responses to “Gatekeeper”

  1. tmcd35 says :

    Unfortunately it’s that time of year. Somehow far too meny have got my DD number and the majority seem to think “no, we’re not in the market to make any purchases this side of the next millenium” to mean “Please call me back and harass me next week”.

    I’m thinking of giving my front office staff an ‘approved supplier’ list. Right now I can only think of two names to put on it. They both have my DD number and neither of them phone me unless I’ve got in contact with them first.

  2. Andy says :

    Ahh yes I’ve had a few like that. The best one I had recently was someone claiming they hadn’t heard from us in a while – after a short argument I asked what we had purchased before and the rep mentioned laptops, printers, desktops etc. When I further argued we had no dealings with them he said it was my predecessor .. I’ve been there 18 years, 15 years longer than their company had been alive.

    There are several well known companies who do this, some of which can be very rude and threatening!

  3. TheCrust says :

    Our favourite passtime is playing with them – as AT said, when those annoying calls co-incide with quiet moments it can be quite entertaining.

    The usual trick is to feed them conflicting and false information but one incident recently sticks in my mind – purely because I thought my colleague who instigated it was going to have an embolysm he was trying so hard not to laugh.

    Picture the scene – overseas call centre with very marginal english ringing to “update our details” (Translation: find out what you use, so we can resell your details to suppliers who will annoy you further).

    Caller: “What do you use for storage?”
    My colleague: “Cupboards”
    (he swallowed it)

    Caller: “Do you use HP?”
    My colleague: “Occasionally. But we often use Daddies as it’s nicer, or even Tesco’s own as you can get two-for-one deals”
    (he swallowed it, no pun intended)

    Caller: “Can I have your email address?”
    Colleague (on prompting from me) : “Yes, it’s P.I.Stayker@…..”
    By this time he was on speaker phone and when he read it back as a word, we thought we would die in the attempt to supress laughter – especially when he didn’t pick it up.

    Yes, I understand it’s not nice to be mean to the chap at the other end of the phone who’s only doing a job after all – but to my mind, resellers should appreciate that not everyone wants to be bothered, and act appropriately if they get the brush-off early on.

    If they are going to push on regardless, they should take everything they get back with good humour.

    • Sam says :

      How your colleague kept a straight face I don’t know I was laughing just reading it.

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