Thursday, August 10, 2006

"Hi, is Mr. (butcher last name) available?....Oh, he passed on last year....well...are you his wife?"

That was my opening line when I was a telemarketer in the summer of 2001. I have had many, many different jobs, and telemarketing is in the top five of "never again" jobs. I worked for a company called Security Financial, we sold living trusts, which is why "oh he passed on?" was frequently part of my pitch.

I hated it, I was terrible at cold calling and always felt I was annoying people and it wore on me. Fortunately my boss really liked me, and gave me a position calling people who had filled out cards asking for more information. This was a great relief because it meant that people weren't entirely shocked when I called, I felt justified in calling them because they had requested information, and I got a little office all to myself. They also paid well, $11/hr plus bonuses for hitting quotas, which I always hit once I was on the cards.

Then in the summer of 2003 I found myself telemarketing again, this time for Zoots, the delivery dry cleaning service. This job really ate away at my soul, because the people I was calling were people that had stopped using Zoots. They had usually stopped with Zoots because they were not happy with the service, and sometimes it was because Zoots had seriously fucked them over. And here I was, representing the company they were displeased with- what a perfect opportunity to vent you anger! Ugh, that job also involved door-to-door sales- I won't even get into that!

Since then I have earned my B.A. and have slept soundly every night knowing that my days of telemarketing were behind me. So why do I find myself calling people whose names I don't know how to pronounce and being treated like shit by the people who answer? Why? Because people don't respond to their e-mails thus forcing me to call them!

Here's the voicemail I leave, since almost no one actually answers:

"Hi, my name is Melanie LaFav, I'm calling from the Department of Public Health, Christine identified (insert Community Health Center name) as an appropriate CHC to be sent some perinatal depression awareness materials we have developed. At this point I am working on the distribution plan and need to find out how many of these materials and what languages we should send to your CHC. If you could call me back at 617 555 5907 or if you'd like to e-mail me at Melanie- M-E-L-A-N-I-E dot LaFav L-A-F like Frank- A-V like Victor at... that would be great, thanks."

Sometimes I get a secretary and they frequently treat me badly and question me a lot because they assume that I am a telemarketer. And then sometimes the person I am trying to contact actually answers. Now, they are usually quite nice to me and are excited about the materials, but this morning I basically got a lecture about how they serve mainly Chinese patients (the materials are in 6 languages but Chinese is not one of them). Did she listen to my pitch? Didn't she hear me say Christine identified her CHC? I don't know anything about your CHC or the population you serve, if I did I would use my knowledge to just send you the materials without having to listen to you bitch me out on the phone!

Ugh, then the very next person I called was a woman I had talked to the week before. We had spoken on the phone and she was happy to receive the materials, I sent her the e-mail (it explains more and then she is supposed to give me the numbers- which the people I have gotten in contact with have been doing) and crickets- so I was calling to follow-up. I got her bitchy secretary who tried telling me that if Dr. Mullen did not reply then they do not need the materials. At this point something started to snap- "No", I explained, "she told me she was interested, she just hasn't responded and I am trying to follow-up. " She came back, "Well the best I can do is give you her voicemail, I can't give you the numbers." When did I ask you for the numbers? That's when it snapped, with a very biting tone I responded, "Yeah, that's all I wanted in the first place."

So clearly I am not making any friends in this process and I am maintaining the highest professionalism. But, seriously, these are free materials to raise awareness amongst your patients who you are supposed to care about. We as a team, and I personally have put a lot of time into developing and testing and re-working these materials and all I want from you is a number- how many do you want? The languages? Don't worry- I can use one of our databases to figure that out....just tell me how many you want! They're free, they're pretty, I promise they won't bite!

That was a very boring post, but I am frustrated and needed to vent.


leilani said...

Oh yes...I remember the days of telemarketing! Remember whenwe went to Lind's house that summer?

OasisDwlr said...

I remember that. You totally had me fooled when you called me from Security Financial too. I worked there for a week the following summer before they laid all the callers off and I worked at Party City instead with Fawn. I think that was the low point of my professional career....