Daily Archives: August 13, 2009

Pressure sales

Today I’ve been solicited for my signature on the dotted line, not once but twice!

First, it was someone at the door, who told me he was investigating why I was paying too much for my gas and electricity, and offering me a better tariff.  Or so his sales patter said: unfortunately he refused to back it up with any literature I could verify against my existing documentation. Since I refused to proceed without being able to view the brochure in my own time, we reached an impasse, and he put me down as happy to pay too much 😛

It was mildly amusing to see the high-pressure-sales training showing through: there were the shallow blind-the-sucker-with-jargon buzzwords, but he was also rather good at busking it when I departed from his script.  And when I (unintentionally) fed him a cue line, he jumped on it with vigour.  But I still have no idea why he insisted my current tariffs (which he didn’t know) were “foreign” while his were “british”: I wonder if their demographics tell them there’s a lot of xenophobia here?

He was wielding a Scottish Power badge, and (perhaps noting my beard and sandals) explained “we’re the ones operating all the wind farms“.  I happen to know that the UK power supplier with by far the biggest commitment to wind farms is Scottish and Southern Energy, so I took that with the pinch of salt it deserves.  I checked afterwards, and Wikipedia[1] tells me Scottish Power has indeed a very modest amount of wind and other renewable energy.

The second encounter was while walking along the street I met two ladies coming the other way.  One of them stopped me, and was collecting on behalf of the RSPCA.  Or rather, getting people to sign up for regular payments.  Now that’s a cause with which I have a lot more sympathy: a legitimate charity, and she was being more honest, less of a spinmaster.  And yes I can afford £6/month.  But coming fresh from the other encounter, I wasn’t feeling inclined to give someone I met on the street my bank details, no matter how good her cause.  I’m also concerned that, while I think she was genuine, a good charity is also a good mask for a fraudster looking for my details.

I think these two encounters are part of the Zeitgeist of contemporary .UK.  The doorstep salesman no longer a peddlar with the gift of the gab, but more a highly-trained shyster.  The charity mugger.  And the fact that either of them could have been not what he/she seemed, but a fraudster working for organised crime.

[1] OK, not 100% reliable, but it’s usually good, and there’s no crap to wade through to get to the information as on a corporate site.