I have been thinking for a while of an ongoing topic that would actually prompt me to blog regularly. I don't enjoy blogging and find it quite a chore, and I believe part of that is because I don't know what to blog about in the first place. I am not far enough along in my career to feel comfortable writing an advice blog (like J A Konrath for example) and I am loathe to use my blog only to shout about my own work and beg people to buy my books. I think if anybody is going to check my blog out regularly - and if I am going to update it regularly - then it needs to be something fun and irreverent. So what have I decided?
Well, I have decided to spend an hour every Friday (right before I do the housework) to blog about the things that really piss me off. One of the things I am really good at is having a good ol' rant. As a writer I am a miserable, anti-social sod by nature, and complaining comes very easily to me. I am a fantasist and see the world how it should be, so when it isn't...
A quick caveat to say that this is purely a stream of consciousness rant about nothing and everything in particular. If I touch upon something that offends you, just remind yourself: "To Chill the Feck Out!" My opinion is mine alone and I present myself as no sort of authority, so if you disagree with me, you may just be right and I may just be wrong, but show some candor and just be smug in private. I don't want to see nasty comments or people haranguing me on Facebook (I get enough of that off my dad!).
So, without further ado, this is what has chafed my nut sack this previous week:
Ring Ring....Ring Ring...Ring.... "Hello, is this Mr i-an Wright (Indian Call centres never pronounce my name correctly.)
Now the thing that annoys me about sales calls is not that a business is trying to make money - I get that - but the fact that the person on the end of the phone tries to convince me that they are doing me a favour. Treating me like an idiot really pisses me off.
Example 1: My mobile phone network called me during dinner to talk to me and I told them now wasn't a good time (thinking this would get rid of them, right?) Well the next day I had three missed calls from them. Same again the next day and the next. One thing was clear - THEY WERE COMING FOR ME! They called me twice as often as a debt collector would, all so I wouldn't miss out on this fantastic offer they had for me.
Now, when I finally answered the call. The person on the other end of the phone told me that because I have a phone and an ipad (biggest waste of money ever btw) that I qualified for a very special deal (which funnily enough was available on their website to absolutely everybody). When I told them that I had no need for a "second phone contract" (I barely use the one I have) they continued to ask if I had any family members I could buy it for. They didn't want me to miss out, you see? (On this deal that is available to anybody anytime from their website.) After allowing them to waste ten minutes of my time I decided to tell them that they were not trying to do me a favour but were in fact operating only in their own interests I made it very clear to them that if I want to buy something I will call them, not the other way around. Thankfully they listened and I haven't heard off them since. But seriously, how stupid do they think I am.
Example 2: I have a Littlewoods catalogue. It has a credit limit of £7,000 but a balance of zero. It must really drive them crazy to think I have the option of going £7,000 into debt but have not taking a single penny. To be honest, I will be cancelling the catlogue when I get around to it. They offer interest free credit, but they do so on items that are price inflated by about 20%, so you're being ripped off every time. Now I don't blame them for that business model (as misleading as it is), because their high prices are the consequence someone accepts for buying big-ticket items at low weekly premiums. When I was a student the catogue had a use for me. Now that I am approaching 30 and financially secure, it's a rip-off. At this point in my life, if I cannot afford to buy something, then I do not buy it. Simples!
Now, Littlewoods hate the fact that I don't buy anything, so they call me up. They inform me that I have a platinum reward amount of £25 that I am going to lose if I do not purchase something in the next 60 days. OH NO! She doesn't want this bad fate to befall me so she has called to save the day. Now, this woman makes it sound as though I have left £25 of my own real money at their head office and the janitor has gotten a hold of it between grubby forefingers and thumbs and is ready to rip it to shreds in sixty days exactly unless I make a purchase.
But let's look at the logic of this. Let's see if, really, this big favour she is trying to do me, is in my own interests or Littlewoods. Now, as I said, catalogues mark up their items by about 20% (on top of the usual retail markup), so if I spend £500, a hundred of it is just their over-inflated markup (on top of the usual RRP mark-up of 15% or so). So even with my £25 reward voucher, I am still paying £75 more than I would if I brought the item on Amazon for example. I would be losing out on the deal while Littlewoods would be making £75 profit, plus whatever the typical profit margin on the item would be (so perhaps a £100 in total). This is a great business model for them and I don't blame them for using it, but what irritates me is the fact that they called me up and spoke to me like I was an idiot that does not understand all of the calculations above. Why call up and pretend you are doing me a favour? It's insulting. Nothing in this world is fee, and any company that tries to convince you otherwise is a crook (like those no win no fee solicitors that offer a free ipad to "keep in touch with their clients". They don't mention that this £300 item is just a business deduction from the thousands they hope to make on your case - it's not a gift from the goodness of their heart, although they would certainly like to make you believe so.)
Which leads me to Example 3: PPI Claims. I am so sick of my phone going every day because some company wishes to inform me that I am due back thousands on a fraudulent PPI policy I was forced to take with my personal loan. This is always a surprise to me as I have not taken any loans. It seems their powers of clairvoyance have failed them. What pisses me off about these parasites is the fact when I answer the phone and ask them to remove me from their list (which I shouldn't bloody be on anyway) they are consistently rude to me. One person said, "No!" and put down the phone on me. Most of them say they will take me off their lists and then call me the following week again anyway. They are just absolute pests, and the reason for it is, I am afraid to say, an American influence. These NO WIN NO FEE Solicitors advertising on television and harassing us in the town centres are actively trying to PERSUADE us to sue each other. Now, if I have an accident that I genuinely feel is due to someone else's negligence then I will bloody well call a lawyer. But they don't need to call me just in case I may have had an accident! By offering NO WIN NO FEE they are essentially allowing people to "give it a go". These horrible, world-owes-me-a-living, claimants are suing people just because they have nothing to lose. If they win they get a bunch of money. If they lose then no harm is done. This is not the way the court systems should work. Frivolous lawsuits should not be allowed, but right now they are endemic, and this is due to these parasite solicitors on TV whispering in my ear that I can get a load of money for that one time an apple fell on my foot at the supermarket. The should not be allowed to advertise. If someone needs a lawyer they will call one. Anything else is a criminal attempt at convincing greedy people to sue innocent parties.
NEXT WEEK: I'm gonna go after the banks! I. REALLY. HATE. BANKS.