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No Credit is Due: Bad Telemarketing


Just a few minutes ago I was debating what to write about this week -- something interesting, perhaps, or maybe it was about time to give some credit to snails, I thought. Then, by some random stroke of luck, fate or writer's lightning (a term I created just now), I received a phone call from a credit card company...

"We are all ready to complete your application," the woman told me. "We just need to ask you a couple more questions."

In theory this makes a lot of sense. I mean, hey -- when someone applies for a credit card, it's only logical that questions would follow. It's like that snail I was going to compliment earlier, whereas I must give credit when -- and only when -- credit is due. But this theory should not apply to me, as I have not applied for a credit card within the past couple of years, not even to get a free mug or basketball with my favorite baseball team imprinted on it...

"I didn't apply for a credit card," I told the woman.

And this was true, of course, because who I am to lie to a person on the other end of the phone without being a politician?

"Well, you were recommended to us," she told me.

Now, this is a nice gesture as well. I am normally honored when people recommend me for something, even when I am recommended to give up my place in line, or to give up my seat on the bus. But in this case I needed more information?

"Who recommended me?" I asked.

It was a question so succinctly worded that it could only produce an accurate and succinct answer...

"Ummm," she said. "Well, we thought you would be a good fit."

I can understand being a good fit for a college, a job or even a sweatshirt. But what exactly does it mean to be a good fit for a credit card? The fact that I have the desire to buy things and often must act upon those desires in order to live? I bring up this whole debacle in the column not only out of lack of other subjects to address, sans the snails, but more so because I think credit card companies need to learn from the phone call I just discussed, in the following three ways:

1. Never tell someone he or she is a good fit unless the person tries on the credit card beforehand, at which point the card is probably so stretched out that it no longer works. But then again, neither does this whole telemarketing plan regardless.

2. If you tell a person he or she was recommended by someone, make up a name of a person who served as the recommendation-giver. In times of creative lapses, use the name "Jason A. Creditcard." This may seem incredibly fake, but the level of fakeness will never be surpassed by the false level of sincerity involved in this phone call.

3. Rather than telling a person that he or she has applied for a card but apparently didn't realize it, use a snappy line such as "We're trying to give you credit, dude!" This takes away from the professionalism of the phone call, but on the flip side, everyone likes to be called "dude." And some of us even like credit.

Following these tips will probably destroy the purpose of marketing ploys, but then again, I guess that could be the point...

But I digress.

Greg Gagliardi is a teacher and writer. His stream-of-consciousness weekly humor column, "Progressive Revelations," has been ongoing since 1998. (http://www.ProgressiveRevelations.com)


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