Dear Finance Company Idiots,
I’m unemployed at the moment, which means that I’m practically housebound. And if that spirit-crushing state of affairs wasn’t miserable enough, I now also get to experience the daily goings on at my flat. You know, the things I’d normally miss out on due to my being at work earning a crust.
For instance, I’ve since learnt that if I happen to oversleep on a Monday morning and find myself having a slightly stressful dream about Nicholas Witchell stealing my parking space, I’ll usually be woken from my troubled slumber by the gardeners performing some kind of synchronised strimming routine (a blessing in many respects). Being at home also means that I have the undiluted pleasure of listening to the two cleaners – young, yet seemingly hearing impaired – having a loud conversation in the stairwell on Tuesday mornings, while one of them hoovers my front door.
Unfortunately, being at home all day also means that I get to experience between one and four automated marketing calls per day from so-called ‘finance companies’. In fact, it’s become extremely rare for a day to pass without a robocall penetrating the quiet of my home. (I swear to god, as I typed the full-stop at the end of that last sentence I received a robocall with the message: “Hello, from our records we see that you’ve previously taken out a loan.” It’s relentless.)
If I’m going to be robo-called, I’d much rather pick up the phone and hear a monotone voice enquire: “Is that Sarah Connor?” At least that would be interesting. It would make a nice change from feeling suicidal every time I pick up the phone and hear the gut-wrenchingly perky ‘Susan Royle’, who sounds like she’s practically lactating with wholesome goodness and timely financial advice.
If the call-centre ‘advisors’ that you employ are capable of reading the scripted patter you provide them with – to ensnare anyone stupid enough to believe that you’re the answer to their financial difficulties – then I’m assuming that they can also read The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003. I’ll allow you some time to read and absorb the document yourselves. However, to paraphrase Regulation 19: you don’t have my consent to fucking call me!!
As you might imagine, these calls are supremely irritating. But as your headset-wearing employees sit in your soulless, strip-lighted, open-plan centres of torment, with half-eaten sandwiches, target sheets and cans of Red Bull littering their booths, it might be difficult for them to comprehend just how annoying these automated calls actually are. I shall, therefore, attempt to illustrate the level of this annoyance – in ways you might be able to comprehend – so that you can better understand why I’m so pissed off. For instance…
Imagine if your phone rang one night just as you’d managed to get to sleep. You don’t want to ignore it because the incoming call is occurring at the kind of hour when you expect to be solemnly informed that a fully-loaded C-130 Hercules (carrying hardware and munitions to Afghanistan) has plunged into your family home, miraculously leaving the rest of your mum and dad’s cul-de-sac unscathed. You half-heartedly dismiss this thought as an unlikely scenario, but suffer a brief clash of emotions: a twinge of apprehension that your entire family might be dead, yet slightly irked that you’ve been woken. So in hushed, slightly phlegmy, tones you answer the phone…
However, much to your annoyance, as your fleeting anxiety subsides, you realise that it’s helium-filled comedy eunuch, Joe Pasquale, on the other end of the line…and he’s murdering Pie Jesu. That’d be quite irritating, wouldn’t it? I imagine that if that happened every single night I’d probably find you sitting in the God’s at the Birmingham Hippodrome – twitchy and slightly dishevelled – with a plan to draw a Pasquale-led performance of Sleeping Beauty to a close with a .50 calibre sniper rifle.
Several of those calls a day from Joe Pasquale would indeed be very annoying. But I assure you, it’s nowhere near as annoying as your automated calls selling me financial help that I neither requested nor require.
Or why not try this one on for size…
Imagine if you ordered a top quality porno off the Internet because you really wanted to spice things up between you and your partner. One night, after knocking back a few oyster, celery, pine nut and dark chocolate smoothies, you both retreat to the bedroom, giddy and moist with expectation. You rip the cellophane wrap from the DVD’s case, remove the disc (taking care not to let it fall into your sweaty palms, rendering it unplayable), hurriedly insert it into the player, and hit ‘play’.
The porno starts sweetly enough. Four busty young cheerleaders are putting in some extra-curricular practice to ensure that their pom-pom work is nothing short of outstanding. And as the four nubile girls warm up with a scantily clad ‘thigh stand’ move, you slink beneath the covers with your partner. You’re both so horny, it’s like watching two parishioners convulsing and frothing at the mouth during an evangelical sermon.
However, just as the cheerleading porno (and your own bedroom antics) look to be hitting another level, the film suddenly changes. Much to your horror, you slowly realise that your 42-inch plasma screen has been filled with the final scenes of a sex tape starring Hi-de-Hi’s Paul Shane. Like rubberneckers driving slowly past the mangled wreckage of a motorway pile-up, you and your partner simply can’t look away (even though you can feel the sexual atmosphere melting away all around you). Then, like a decisive headshot in the field of battle, the mood is finally killed when Paul Shane gruffly shouts “ba-by BA-BEH!” at the moment of orgasm, as his sweat-drenched Rockabilly quiff quivers as limply as your now flaccid penis.
How annoying would that be? Imagine how much more annoying it would get when you realised that the Paul Shane sex tape had scarred your mind. From that point on, every time you and your partner tried to have sex you’d end up sweating, hallucinating and curled up on the floor in the foetal position, like Tim Robbins in Jacob’s Ladder. This ultimately brings the curtain down on your once burgeoning and highly sexed relationship.
A Paul Shane sex tape destroying your sex life would undoubtedly be annoying and somewhat inconvenient (maybe even devastating and life-changing). However, it’s still nowhere near as annoying as being caught up in your dragnet of misery, where I’m subjected to constant calls from recorded voices (often the same voices/messages used for different companies).
Let me just stress for the record: I do not require financial help. Furthermore, I don’t have a credit card, I’ve never applied for a credit card, and I’m not thinking of getting a credit card. Admittedly, I am saddled with a modest amount of debt from my days at university, when I took out several student loans with carefree abandon. However, as I’m currently eligible to defer repayments on those loans – and arrange such deferments with The Student Loans Company directly – you don’t need to get involved. The upshot of all this, then, is that your services aren’t required. I don’t need you. So really, I shouldn’t ever have to listen to your automated bullshit ever again.
But do you know what’s got me riled more than anything? In the last couple of days I’ve had two living, breathing ‘claims advisors’ hang up on me. The first time this happened was after I’d asked the perfectly valid question: “What company is this?” For some reason, this was met with the thud of the phone being hung up. (A lot of people have reported hang-ups after asking this question or a flat refusal from the call-centre minions to divulge the identity of their company.)
When I received another call the following day, I politely asked the ‘advisor’: “Can you please take me off your call list.” Surprisingly, he hung up as well (even though my tone was deliberately calm and non-confrontational). There wasn’t so much as an apology or even a pledge to honour my request – I just got the dial tone.
So let me just clarify the situation for you here: you people call my home, I ask who’s calling (or ask for the calls to stop) and some of the moronic shit-munchers you employ subsequently take that as their cue to swiftly hang up! Just how many training courses and away-days do your call-centre teams have to attend in order to hone such a deplorable lack of common decency and politeness? Un-fucking-believable.
Anyway, these are just some of the companies who’ve made repeated calls to my home:
Free Debt Helpline
Hanover Stirling Financial Solutions
Financial Help Network
SHN (or some other acronym…maybe FHN?)
I don’t really want to add any more companies to this list, so I think I’m going to go down the TPS (Telephone Preference Service) route to see if that remedies the problem. Maybe that will prevent you tossbags from phoning me every two minutes. But if TPS registration doesn’t work either, then I may as well just waste your time and have some fun.
To borrow words from the great Alan Partridge, I think you’re “sub-human scum”. However, I’m hopeful that the day is approaching when I’ll be able to pick up the phone…and you won’t be there.