Telemarketers

When it comes to telemarketers, people employ different tactics. Most just politely say no thank you and hang up. The more sympathetic ones will pretend they are interested for about 5 seconds before showing disinterest. few may engage the telemarketers in conversation, depending on the mood of the day and the angle the sun light is shining in. A friend once asked a telemarketer for her private number which she said she couldn’t give out to strangers. he then said, but you have my number and I didn’t consent to you calling it, so how is it that you have my number and I can’t have yours? a fair enough question that left her flabbergasted.

sometimes I wonder for the number of times a telemarketer gets rejected, what is their success rate? for it must be high enough for them to continue this old school style of sales promotion even though they are treated like insurance agents. if we could walk a huge detour to avoid a telemarketer, with our eyes cast resolutely on the floor, we’d do it.

This is a funny Thai ad about the life of an insurance agent.

so for the past few years since I became a Citibank credit card member, apart from the monthly credit card bill that I receive from them, the other regular thing I get from them is a monthly call from their customer service centre. Every month (or two, I don’t keep track), I get a call from a polite voice enquiring if I wish to enjoy in their fund transfer promotion. every month I politely say no I’m not interested and that’s the end of it. one time, the telemarketer went so far as to venture a why not? and i replied coz I pay my bills in full. he was mildly shocked at such an obscene act of responsibility that he hurriedly thanked me and hung up.

After awhile, I learn to ignore the incoming call whose number is blocked as for every 10 blocked numbers, 9 of them is from Citibank. I figured that there’s no reason to pick up the call and raise a person’s hopes up, only to dash it within 30 seconds flat. I’m not cruel. Usually they give up after 2 tries and i’m left alone for the next 29 days until they come back to me again on their list.

This time however, they must have got it really bad from the upper management. Perhaps the company objective wasn’t met, or the performance for the previous month was dismal, or they had an extra high quota to hit this month, I got 12 calls from a blocked number. the first time it called, I assumed it was Citibank and ignored it. the next few times I missed the call, I was away from my phone and didn’t hear it. the 2 times I did pick up, there was no one on the other side of the hello? the 12th time it called, the voice identified itself as someone from Citibank. Again, I politely thanked her and said I wasn’t interested in fund transfer. she tried a different tactic, how about investments? I politely declined again and said i just bought a house and i have no money. that left her a little dumbfounded as she uh-ed her way out of the conversation and we both hung up.

While I can’t say for sure that all 12 calls were from Citibank, I think it’s a close enough assumption that it could have been them coz DBS/POSB never calls me, and UOB doesn’t bother. the only other bank that is as annoying as Citibank is HSBC, where one time, 3 different telemarketers called me in one week. there was epic shouting from my side of the line coz I was really upset with them and they finally removed my number from their list. even if the issue isn’t about the 12 calls, it is definitely being called once a month for the past year or three that finally got to me. think about it, every time I answer a Citibank telemarketer call, I have to reject the person and it paints me as a horrible monster who wouldn’t even give them a chance. the one time i allowed the telemarketer to rattle on for a good 5 minutes before I said no I’m not interested, it felt like I was stringing her along. what do you think this does to my conscience!

So I wrote a polite cease and desist email.

Hi Citibank Customer Service,

I’m a member of your credit card service. I would like to to have my mobile number removed from your telemarketing service. Every month, I get a call from Citibank trying to promote your fund transfer service, to which I always say I don’t require such services. This call usually registers as a “blocked number” on the phone. This week however, I received 12 calls from blocked number at the various times.

May 9 Monday: 11:01, 14:05, 15:18, 17:20
May 10 Tuesday: 14:39, 17:39
May 11 Wednesday: 15:04, 18:45
May 12 Thursday: 15:07, 19:19
May 13 Friday:15:42, 16:32

 I missed most of the calls but i managed to answer the last call on Friday at 16:32. a voice identified herself as a caller from Citibank and tried to promote fund transfer to me, which I said I wasn’t interested. I think it is safe to assume from past experience of all incoming calls I received that the blocked number is mostly Citibank. Since I receive the fund transfer brochure along with the credit card bill, I wish to be removed from your calling list as I do not wish to be harassed on a monthly basis. I will call you if I require any assistance.

However I was tempted to add something a little more sarcastic:

“Hi Citibank Customer Service 

I’m a member of your credit card service. I would like to lodge a complaint against your telemarketing service regarding the promotion of Citibank Fund Transfer. Every month, a telemarketer from either your company or your outsourced vendor calls me to promote your fund transfer service, to which every month I give the same reason why I don’t require such services, because I pay my bills in full as owing the bank any more money than is required makes me nervous. Despite being told the same reason each time, in the eyes of Citibank, I’m still a valued customer they see might require the fund transfer services in the near future, nevermind the track record I hold for paying my bills fully and on time. I have learnt instead that if the incoming call with a blocked number, I will not pick it up as it is invariably a Citibank officer calling if I want to enjoy the special fund transfer promotion they are having now. As this “blocked number” call comes once a month, I’m assured it is probably nothing important. 

I missed most of the calls but i managed to answer the last call on Friday at 16:32. a voice identified herself as a caller from Citibank and tried to promote fund transfer to me, which I said I wasn’t interested. She tried to promote investments to me but I wasn’t interested either. so we politely thanked each other and put the phone down. While it isn’t definite that all the 11 calls were from Citibank, I think it is safe to assume from past experience of all incoming calls I received that the blocked number is mostly Citibank. While I applaud the persistence your telemarketers have, they are starting to exhibit the tenacity of a loan shark. Does this mean you’re going to start spray painting F U N D T R A N S F E R 4.5% P A on my door if I start ignoring your calls?

I wish to be removed from your calling list as I do not wish to be harassed on a monthly basis. Not unless you’re calling me to tell me that you’re transferring $1 million dollars into my bank account.”


However I was told to be precise and to the point so I’m not allowed to be sarcastic. So now I shall wait 2 business days for their reply. the funniest thing that could happen is that if they decide to call me instead to verify what happened.

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