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Not a sales call

Su Lum

A few weeks ago I got a very strange telephone survey call from a “marketing firm” representing some new clean air system – not a sales call but just gathering information about the potential market. The survey was short, sweet and made no sense at all. “You’re representing WHAT?” I asked when asked what my favorite credit card was. “My favorite CREDIT CARD? They all suck!” The caller made another stab at it, essentially asking which card I thought sucked the least, but I was having none of that.The survey was weird enough for me to mention it to several co-workers and to remember them well when they called back to inform me that I had been selected to receive a free two-night, three-day vacation at the resort of my choice AND a set of steak knives for having been so kind as to participate in their survey.Long silence from me. Clearly this was a telemarketing call, and I waited like a black widow spider in her web to see where it would go. “This is not a sales call, we just want to present you with these gifts – may I confirm your address?” They wanted to present the gifts in person – that very day, in fact, within two hours. They were just a marketing company assessing the market – no one was going to try to sell me anything, all they wanted to do was DISCUSS this new product and get honest feedback from me.”Right. You’re not selling anything.” “We don’t have anything TO sell – you couldn’t buy it if you wanted to,” said the lady who was working on commission to convince me to let someone in my door, having already ascertained from the innocent survey that I was a little old lady who owned her own home in Aspen, Colo., and apparently had several credit cards even if I thought they all sucked. One wonders if they already knew I was on oxygen.I of course did not care squat about steak knives or a couple of nights at a Holiday Inn, but I wanted to see what their game was and, sure enough, their personable sales person arrived at my door hauling what looked like a complete drum set containing a big black air purifier and a big black vacuum cleaner and acted properly horrified that I had been misled to think he wasn’t selling anything – of COURSE he was selling them, had just sold a set down the street. But certainly I wasn’t obliged to BUY anything.In the spirit of fairness, I informed him that I had no interest in the product, had only agreed to this visit to see what they were up to and worked for the newspaper and might write about it. But he gets paid for his sales call and commission if he sells the product, so after phoning in (On my dime? No cell phone?) he plunged right into his pitch, leafing through a notebook (no PC?) showing dust mites the size of elephants and scaring the puppies when he turned on the vacuum.I was not interacting and he never even mentioned the price – he did his thing and I got my answer plus four steak knives made in China and a certificate from World Wide Travel that was so full of caveats you’d wonder who would ever take them up on it. The “vacation” is for two adults, at least one gainfully employed, if married must be traveling together and, if cohabitating, showing ID from the same address, must have credit (not debit) card. How dare they apply such restrictions? If this doesn’t sound like a come-on for timeshare candidates, I’ll eat it.Su Lum is a longtime local who couldn’t find “Quality Aire Systems” on the Net, was not left a business card or brochure, and saw this as a “hit ’em once, hit ’em hard, get their favorite credit card number and get out” operation. E-mail su@aspentimes.com if you bought it. Let me know what happens when you need to buy additional air filters or the machines break. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.


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