Tag: sales

A New Age of Telemarketing: Do these things really sell stuff?

Have you ever picked up your phone and been asked by a real person to complete a survey? Maybe to earn the chance at a gift card at WalMart or something?

The other day I was minding my own business, typing along on my current novel-in-progress. The phone rang and I answered.

Answering the phone without recognizing the number on the caller ID screen isn’t the best idea.

A really sweet-sounding girl told me I was qualified to win on of five gift cards in a drawing that very night. All I had to do was complete the automated survey to be entered into the contest.

Well, shoot. It’s an election year. I might get to give my opinion on the stellar options in the race for president. Who wouldn’t want to do that?

So she clicks me through.

A litany of recording begins.

It starts innocently enough. Asking if I’m on medicare. If anyone in my household is diabetic. Press one for yes and two for no. All my no answers generate another question.

Then the tone changes.

“If you’ve been involved in a car accident, you might be entitled to compensation. Press one now to speak to an agent or press two for the next offer.”

Of course I press two. But when did my survey questions morph into infomercials for Allstate Motor Club or medical insurance?

I decided to see the “survey” through to the end. For curiosity’s sake.

Several of the “offers” were repeated more than once. It took about six minutes for the machine to wend its way through the pre-programming.

Suddenly a different recorded voice-male-congratulated me for reaching the end of the survey. All I had to do to be entered into the drawing was hold so someone could verify my email address.

My email address? They called me on the phone. Why would they need my email address?

Another young lady came on the phone and said I was entitled to a gift card worth twice what I was offered at the beginning of the “survey.” Could she transfer me now so I could claim the offer?

This sounded suspiciously like one of the offers that had been repeated twice during the automated “survey.”


She sounded surprised. “I’ll transfer you so you can claim your $100. Okay?”


After a brief pause when I thought I heard her gasp. Do people actually fall for this ploy? You know they are going to try to get me to buy something in order to claim my prize.

I’m waiting for her to ask me for my email. I intend to ask her why she needs it. They’ve got my phone number. The guy who ended the survey told me that winners would receive a phone call.

Instead, she surprises me. “You don’t qualify for the prize drawing at this time. Thank you for your time.” Click.

I’m stunned. I stare at the phone in my hand. Did a telemarketer just spurn me?

And what about the promise of a chance to win a gift card in a drawing later that night? All false advertising I guess. A ruse to get me to listen to the spiels marketed under the guise of a survey.

If you get this call, hang up. Unless you think you’re one of the people entitled to money from the obscure class action suits mentioned at the beginning of the “survey.”

Do they really sell things this way? Do people click through for the 75 percent off two five-day vacations? Are there people who still believe in getting something for nothing?

I don’t know, but this is a friendly warning. If you answer the phone to the chipper young woman promising you a gift card if you take the automated survey, say no thank you and hang up.

It will save you ten minutes. And maybe get you removed from the call list. If you’re lucky.

Do these calls really sell stuff? Have you bought something from a call like this? Share your experience with the rest of us.

No price tag? Haggle your way to ownership

Sombrero Sale

Growing up in a world where businesses clearly mark their products with a price tag makes the idea of bickering over price something of a foreign language. In Mexico, if there is no price, make an offer. Prepare to haggle.

Sure, I’ve been on the purchasing end of a car enough times to realize the sticker price is what the dealer hopes you’re willing to pay. Do people actually pay it? I never have.

Still, there’s a recommended starting point. The salesman asks what you’re willing to pay, what monthly amount fits your budget. And the dance begins.

Walking into a shop stuffed with fired pottery, woven blankets and straw handbags is a different world. Not a single price point in sight.

The smiling salesperson helps you find the perfect pattern. He describes the five-step process required in crafting, painting and finishing the microwave, oven and dishwasher-safe serving dishes you’re admiring.

“How much?”


I’m not willing to spend that much on myself. It’s Christmastime, however, and I have no problem shoveling it out to purchase a gift.

Which is the wrong thing to do in Mexico. Never say “yes” to their first offer. But I’m a tourist, so I reach for my wallet.

Problem number one: I don’t have enough cash.

Problem number two: it will be 16 percent more if I use a credit card (because that is the amount of tax the government collects on every sale. Cash can exchange hands without El Presidente’s fingers getting in the pie).

Problem solved: We pool our money – after the suave salesman offers us a “deal” which includes another item my future daughter has been admiring.

Later, in a shop elsewhere on the plaza, I’ll find a similar set of pottery (not the pretty pattern I love) clearly marked with a $40 price tag. This is a larger store. They don’t want to haggle; they want to sell the products lining their shelves.

And yes, they add the tax. So $40 plus 16 percent in tax equals $46.40. Someone got a good deal today – and it wasn’t me.

I should have bartered, haggled, played “Let’s Make a Deal” Mexican style.

But instead, I played stupid tourist and some little shop owner had a profitable day. Even if mine was his only sale (which I doubt).

What about you? Do you like to haggle for a better price? Or does the simplicity of what you see is what you pay appeal to you?

The Author behind those pages is an Actual flesh-and-blood Human being

Until I started my own author website, I hadn’t considered following the blogs of authors whose books I enjoy. If I’m reading, I want to curl up with a book. What could those writers say that interested me? They’re only human – like me.

In the crunch to build an author platform, I realize that if I had a list of people following my blog (I think I do. I’ll have to check with my computer guy), it could become a mailing list. You know, for when my book is finally released.

If I followed the blogs of those flesh-and-blood people who imagine those stories that enthrall me, I could get news about upcoming releases directly from them. Rather than seeing it on Amazon first (yes, and I pre-ordered book five in the Heroes of Olympus series when I saw it).

What else could I learn about these people who write fabulous stories in the same genre I do? Are they hoping to gain followers to build a mailing list? Am I just another sale to them?

I don’t want my readers to become nothing more than a sale. You mean too much to me. Some of you have been with me for two years or more. You’ve invested in me, and I hope the stories I deliver will feel like a profitable return on your dedication.

If this is the case, what should be the purpose of my blog? I know that my website will be a place to offer all my titles for sale when that day arrives. It will be a place to keep everyone in the loop about upcoming titles and events. What about the blog?

What sort of things do you hope to learn about your favorite author when you read their blogs? Do you really want to hear about their writing struggles? I know I don’t really want that. I want to laugh.

If they have a quirky tale about how they got a story or character idea, I want to read about that. I don’t know if I care about their vacation, their new car or their woes in the real estate market. This is a big uh-oh in my mind because I’ve written about all of these topics on my blog in the past year.

Please chime in. Do you follow blogs written by authors you love to read? What sort of things do you hope to learn about your favorite author when you read their blogs?

Black Friday

People set their alarms for 3 am on this day after Thanksgiving. I didn’t even turn mine on.

People line up outside of retailers, shivering and soaking, to find the best deal on the newest gadgets. Maybe they just want to stock up on socks.

It’s the biggest shopping day of the year. Supposedly, people are spending all this money on Christmas gifts.

Why do they call it “Black Friday” anyway? This name holds a portent of evil for me. Any day called “Black” must be bad.

I think the name might be from the point of the retailers. They are going to “be in the black” after they sell out their stock. Too bad those shoppers won’t be able to say the same thing.

Maybe they call it “Black Friday” because the sales all start when it’s still black outside.

I know for certain I won’t be darkening the doors for any of these sales. I believe I went to one store about 15 years ago (for the socks) and since I went at a reasonable hour (10 am), most of the stock was depleted.

That was enough for me. It proved to be a total waste of time.

Mr. Wonderful went out several times when he was hoping to purchase a game system for our kids or some new release games and movies for an ultra-low price.

Most of the time, he struck out too. He didn’t line up outside the store. He pulled up at 6 am when the doors opened. By the time he got inside, the crowd-drawing items were sold out.

He even stood in line for over an hour one time to purchase two games. Crazy, isn’t it?

Now, he’s all about Cyber Monday. I’m happy to let him do the shopping. I do the wrapping once everything arrives on our doorstep.

My idea of holiday shopping: filling my online shopping cart with gift cards from Amazon. It’s a gift that would delight me. It’s even on the list I received from my niece, and I know my nephew happily spent the one I gave him last year.

When it’s black outside, I’m asleep.

My plans for Black Friday are the same every year. Clean the house and put out the Christmas decorations. Eat Thanksgiving leftovers (usually with my in-laws).

In this way, I can answer the Capital One query: “What’s in your wallet?” The same amount of cash as the day before, thank you very much.