No good deed goes unpunished • 5 May 2010 • The SnowBlog
No good deed goes unpunished
I suppose books are sort of the ultimate soft-sell. We print them and then we just, you know, put them on a shelf. They don't bleep or flash. We don't hand out samples of them on street corners. We wait for the reader to get a bus into town and hunt through the racks until they find one they like. Compare that with, say, cold-calling. You interrupt someone during their dinner and try not to let them get a word in edgeways while you reel off your pitch at them. Popups and their Flash equivalents are a little bit the same too: they cover the webpage you're trying to read as a way of holding your attention hostage while they try to sell you something. What I don't really understand is, who goes for that sort of marketing? It must work or it would have died out by now. But isn't everyone as turned off by it as me?
Anyway, I've made it my policy not to take up any offer pitched to me, unsolicited, over the phone because I don't want to help sustain those tactics with my custom. I've also signed up for the Telephone Preference Service, which does help cut the number of cold-calls I get - except that I got tricked recently into triggering a fresh deluge of cold-calls. What happened was this: a 'market survey' company called me and they happened to catch me in a good mood. They wanted to ask me some questions that would 'take no more than five minutes' (untrue). Now it seemed to me that market surveys are a good thing. If I'm going to complain when companies misread their customers' wishes, maybe I should be prepared to contribute some feedback. So I answered some questions along the lines of 'would you consider switching energy provider if you found a cheaper alternative?' and 'would you consider using a comparison service if you were trying to find cheap double-glazing?'. Only afterwards did I realise that any time I said 'yes' I had apparently 'expressed interest' in having various companies contact me to offer their products. Sneaky. But of course I'm more determined than ever not to have these firms profit from their trickery. So who is it that ensures the high-pressure deceptive marketing pays off?