21/11/2014

Well, the aged FIL has finally left Paris. He’d decided he still wasn’t going to eat, so they put him on a drip. LSS will be going to Orleans tomorrow.

I spent the day typing commands like “sudo apt-get samba”. The new server is now up and running, but I struggled to find a suitable backup program which a) runs on Debian Linux and b) can talk to a Lacie NAS. I finally found one called FreeFileSync. It’s now backing up gigabytes of data.

Today’s subject: Dealing with unsolicited telephone calls (cold callers). Ever since our telephone was installed, we’ve been getting cold calls. These normally take the format of: “Hello, I’m calling on behalf of EDF/Orange (select one or the other)…” and then they try and sell me something. Of course EDF (or Orange) has simply sold them a list of telephone numbers; they’re not calling on EDF’s behalf at all.
Unfortunately my French isn’t good enough to tell them where to go, so normally I just let the phone ring until the answering machine responds. We have caller display so I can see if it’s someone in our phone list. Of course they never leave a message.

If they call several times in a row, I sometimes add their telephone number to the “Call Barred” list, which means the next time they ring they get the “number unobtainable” sound. Occasionally I answer, if I’m in the right mood. If I do answer the phone, I have two choices. I can let them explain their reasons for calling me and how fortunate I am that they have a special offer on at this specific moment in time, and then say in English “I’m afraid I didn’t quite understand all that. I don’t suppose you speak English, do you?” Generally they say “Er, non.” and hang up. Once they asked (in French) “Oh, but is there nobody there that speaks French?” To which I of course said no.

On one occasion though, the chap replied “Yes, I spik good English.” “Oh good!” I exclaimed. “So what is it you want?”
“I am calling with the name of ze Ur-Dee-Ef, and we is having, um, er….” <click>
I guess his English wasn’t quite as good as he thought.

My second choice is to give answers which don’t quite fit their script. For example: “We have been checking electricity consumption in your area, and noticed you have been using a lot of electricity recently.” (Which is a lie).
Ah, bon?” I say. (“Oh, really?”)
“We have a special deal on at the moment and can help you save lots of money on your energy usage through solar panels! To take advantage of this offer, I first need to conduct a brief survey. Is that all right?”
Oui.
“Great! So, firstly, what method of heating your home do you use: Gas, Electricity, or Fuel?”
Du bois et panneaux solaires.” (“Wood and solar.”) Quite true, actually.
“Oh. Um. Er….” <click>

Lately I’m using another method. As soon as I know that it IS a cold call, I gently put the phone down on the desk, letting them read through their script until they realise nobody’s listening, and disconnect. Then I replace the handset.

2 thoughts on “21/11/2014”

  1. Hi Rob,
    Have you explored the French ‘net for the equivalent of the British TPS (Telephone Preference Service)? Even though it’s free here, it does work funnily enough, but you have to be a bit cute after registering not to give out your ‘phone number to anyone. I just had a quick look for a French equivalent, but as it was all in French (!) I didn’t get very far!!!!!
    Just a thought.
    All the best to you both,
    Roj.

    1. Thanks for that Roj, much appreciated. Yes, I did have a look a while ago but gave up when I read that it was a monthly subscription. I’ll have another hunt around though, as it may have changed since then.

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