Thursday, 10 January 2008

The number you have called….


A couple of days ago I received a telephone call at home from one of those companies that ask a variety of questions obviously for quite a disparate groups of clients.

The call was from a lovely chap called Gary who spoke with a pretty thick French accent, not exactly what one normally associates Garys with.

‘ello iz zat Mr. xxxxxxxx.
‘Eh yes, Good afternoon to you’
Bon jou….. oh pardon Good afternoon Mr xxxxx, my nom iz Gariey.

I assume this must be a bit of a ploy run in the call centres for non- Brit employees or folks from overseas to use ‘English’ names so not as to scare the locals. Two recent callers from Bombay (or thereabouts) have introduced themselves as Simon and Jack and again did not have accents one would normally associate with the names. I’m not sure of course whether Anglo styled names are genuinely used in the Sub continent considering our relatively recent involvement over there, but it was a surprise nevertheless.

I normally get out of these calls pretty quickly but feeling unusually generous I let Gary proceed to run through the normal list of questions about mortgages, personal loans, insurance and corrective eye surgery. He then moved onto the obligatory question about mobile phones,

‘So which iz your current mobile phone network?’
‘I don’t own one’
‘Zorry? Ze question was whose mobile phone service do you use?
‘I don’t own a mobile phone,’
‘You don’t own a mobile phone?’
‘No, I don’t

There followed a silence, into which you felt was being poured scorn, disbelief and the chance to open a side show ‘Roll up and zee le freak’.

‘Wouldn’t you like a mobile phone, our partners are offering a really competitive package at the moment….’

‘Gary, old chum, don’t you think that if I wanted one of these accursed objects I might have procured one by now?’

‘I suppose so, (still a little shocked but now sounding strangely deflated) thanks for your time’.

As you may have guessed by now I’m not a great fan of mobile phones. I’m not a complete technophobe but there is something about the idea of them I don’t like.

I think this boils down to the idea of ‘being available’ for people to communicate with you at almost any time. I know one can turn them off but because it’s a mobile there still seems to be an expectation that you will check you missed calls / texts and respond as soon as you are able to. I guess it’s part of the 24 hours a day information age. Which in parts is probably a blessing but I feel is also in some ways a curse. I have seen on many occasions normally rational people getting a bit irate if the text they have just sent doesn’t get a reply within a few moments or if a voice message doesn’t generate a quick return call.

Me, I don’t want to be thought of as available every hour of every day. I want to be available on my own terms and in my own time. Indeed I had to be bounced into having a landline many years ago only because Mrs. G (whom I had only just met at the time) was going abroad for a few months.

I’m not one for throwing my clogs into the looms though.

I like e-mails, I like the interweb stuff (as may be obvious by the fact you are reading this), I love consol gaming as many virtual panzer divisions and Luftwaffe Squadrons have found to their cost.

Don’t quite get the digital music thing though, vinyl records in Gatefold covers are the future, but that’s a different post for a different day.

But the phone thing, why would you do that to yourself?

I must admit my head has ever so imperceptibly been turned by the I-Phone thing, only on a technological level you must understand. Checking out blogs and websites on the hoof does have an appeal.

But when was has a family to feed, bills and taxes to pay one must keep priorities in pretty sharp focus

So I’m afraid that I will be one referral that poor Gary won’t be able to make to the commissioners of his services.

9 comments:

Mrs Smallprint said...

I do have a mobile but I solve the instant contact problem by not giving anyone the number (except the nearest and dearest of course). I love the web but won't have anything to do with music downloads, I'd rather go and sing with the choir.

Anonymous said...

Call me after your next car accident...

Womble On Tour said...

You're on the same wavelength as Mrs Womble On Tour after we were both woken by my "text message" ring tone at ten to one the other morning, alerting me to a problem at work that I couldn't have possibly done anything about.

Amused ? She wasn't. Actually, I wasn't thrilled, either...

nuttycow said...

As much as I want to agree with you I just can't... I know I shouldn't be available 24 hours a day but I like the safety net having a mobile provides. Oh, and if I have my phone on silent/leave it at home I like to think I'm popular if I have lots of missed calls.

Alice said...

Apparently, on average, people replace (they call it "upgrade") their mobile phone every 18 months.

I've had mine for about seven years, and the fact that it's a little unreliable sometimes really encourages people not to rely on it too much.

If you leave a message or a "missed call" on my mobile then I might get it, or I might not get it for a long time, or I might not get it at all. Everyone knows this, and knows that if it's really important then they should try again later or knock on my door.

Oddly, I never have any trouble at all making outgoing calls...

Chervil said...

Nice post, I loved the way you dealt with the fellow from the call centre. I got my mobile through a friendly person at freecycle - it's an ancient model but works fine. I only use it for emergencies on a pre-paid account, having to make sure that I get my 30 dollars worth out of it over the 365-day period that the "account" is active. Just like mrs smallprint said, nobody has my number apart from dh, of course. No point ringing me on the mobile anyway, as half the time the thing is either mislaid or not turned on.

Phil A said...

Grendel. Re: “Two recent callers from Bombay (or thereabouts) have introduced themselves as Simon and Jack and again did not have accents one would normally associate with the names. I’m not sure of course whether Anglo styled names are genuinely used in the Sub continent considering our relatively recent involvement over there, but it was a surprise nevertheless.”

In fact Anglo-Indians, effectively a distinct cast do often use (sometimes old fashioned sounding) British first names, that often run in the family and often have British Surnames too.

They are of mixed British and Indian ancestry, who normally speak English at home. The British ancestry was usually derived paternally, but can be generations back. They would probably speak it with what you would recognise as an Indian accent.

They might, being fluent and often Anglo-centric possibly gravitate towards call centre work, as this is relatively well paid.

The Indian Constitution defines an Anglo-Indian as "a person whose father, or any of whose other male progenitors in the male line is or was of European descent but who is domiciled within the territory of India and is or was born within such territory of parents habitually resident therein and not established there for temporary purposes only".

Liz said...

A Frenchman phoned me to invite me to a porcelain sale. Lunch was even provided. I've also received invites to test drive a Jaguar. I can't help wondering what source these people are using that makes them think I have the money they think I have.

Mobile phones. Husband insisted on buying me one for the Christmas before last because I drive a Beetle and I kept breaking down. I haven't broken down since. And I still don't know how to make a call.

Liz said...

Oh and I meant to say: no-one phones me at home so they're not likely to phone me when I'm out. And I wouldn't want them to.