For some reason our caller display has given up showing the number of whoever is calling. Instead it shows this less than helpful message: ‘Incoming call’ so I don’t know if it’s my sister wanting to go for a walk or someone wanting to sell me something or offer to fix my computer.
Once I’ve picked up. I’m usually pretty quick at identifying if it’s someone trying a scam or a sales pitch. I adopt my best telephone voice and tell them, very politely, that we don’t take cold calls. One caller last week was too quick for me. Even before I could put the phone down Michelle was telling me she was not a cold caller (I don’t remember ever giving her my number and asking her call me, therefore in my book she’s a cold caller), wasn’t selling anything and, in fact, was able to offer ways to save money on our heating bills – if she could just ask a couple of questions.
‘There’s no point,’ I said. ‘Don’t let’s waste my time and yours – you could be making another, possibly more successful, call.’
‘But, don’t you want to save money?’
‘I already know we are not eligible for any of these schemes.’
‘How do you know?’
‘Because we’ve been through all this before – we’re not eligible for grants for new boilers or windows and our roof faces the wrong way for solar panels.’
‘Well, I don’t know which company told you this. We’ve never called you before. Please, can I just ask a couple of quick questions?’
I sigh. Why hadn’t I put the phone down? Why don’t I just hang up now? It feels rude, somehow. ‘Okay, quick questions,’ I said.
I can almost hear her smile down the line.
‘Are your windows five, ten of fifteen years old?’
‘Five.’ This time I can definitely hear her sigh.
‘Ok, okay. What about your doors – are they five, ten…’
‘One’s about a hundred and seventy years old.’
‘Oh, do you live in a listed building or conservation area?’
‘No.’ but, now I know how to reply to future cold callers – sorry; we live in a listed building.
‘Is it your back door?’
‘Well, we can definitely help with that,’ she says triumphantly. ‘Is your front door made from wood, aluminium or pvc?’
‘It’s about one hundred and seventy years old.’
‘Oh, right, they wouldn’t have pvc doors then.’ She giggles. Nor aluminium, I think, but don’t say. ‘Well, I know we can help on this. You’ll definitely be eligible for help with a new door.’
‘But, I don’t want a new door. I like my front door.’
She’s not listening. ‘I have Kevin here beside me and he can talk you through the options. I’ll just put him on.’
A new voice booms in my ear – so horrendously cheerful and upbeat I know he can’t possibly have heard our conversation. ‘Delighted to speak to you, Mrs Smith. How are you today?’
‘A bit ticked off, actually. I told your colleague we’d be wasting our time pursuing this but she insisted and I wasn’t quick enough to put the phone down politely.’
Kevin sighs, ‘Well, I’m sorry to hear that. I can cut this call immediately.’
‘Oh, thank you, please do.’ He already has. Sensible man, Kevin, knows when it’s a lost cause. I fear he might be having words with Michelle, though, about wasting time.