Please don't give me a 'courtesy call'

Esther Armstrong's picture

Last week I was hard at work when I got a phone call from a number I didn't recognise. Usually I ignore these types of calls, but I am looking for a new flat to rent so thought it might be an estate agent getting back to me about a query I had made.

I was wrong. "Hello Miss Armstrong it is Johnny calling from Vodafone, how are you today?" said the voice at the end of the phone. I replied that I was fine, thank you, and mentally readied myself for whatever he was about to say.

Johnny informed me he was calling to see how I was getting on with my new handset, which, incidentally, I have had for months. Much as I didn't want to get dragged into a long conversation about the merits (or lack of merits) of my Samsung touchscreen phone, I have been having a few problems with it and thought this was as good a time as any to air them.

Unfortunately, Johnny wasn't actually interested in my issues and told me there was a manual online, where I would find the answers to all my woes. The only problem was, I had already looked at the online manual and found it largely lacking the in-depth advice I required.

Johnny continued: "Miss Armstrong, as a loyal and worthy customer of Vodafone we would like to offer something back." 

Ooh, I thought, here we go, something to brighten my day at last. Vodafone was offering me free phone insurance, covering anything from damage to unauthorised phone calls up to £1,000 and theft.

Again, that sounded great, particularly since I don't currently have phone insurance - I have always thought it to be a waste of money. But there was a snag.

Before even taking a breath Johnny rushed on to say the paperwork would arrive at the address Vodafone had on its system for me, which I had already said was incorrect at the start of the call.

"Hang on," I said, finally giving the call my full attention, "You've only said it's free for the first month. What about after that?"

After the first month I would be charged £6.99 per month he admitted, exactly the type of charge I have always tried to avoid.

Johnny tried to lessen this blow with the fact that there was no contract and when the papers coming through the door, I could call and cancel the policy at any time.

"What is the point in that?" I exclaimed. 

As far as I'm concerned, this is just another example of companies hoping that in your distracted state you will sign up to something and then forget to cancel it. 

In this instance Vodafone already had my card details so wouldn't even have to prompt my awareness by asking for them.

Needless to say I ended the call promptly, probably something I should have done right at the start. Was I very naive in thinking a company was calling me purely to check that I was a satisfied customer? Should we expect nothing less? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts, or about any similar experiences you've had.



Your Comments

Terminate the call at once, you didn't ask for them to call you -- so why should they take up your valuable time?

These kind of calls happen frequently, and are most annoying.Although they seem to be courteous enough on the phone, you can sense their frustration when you say no,then they try to get you to take something else.What a way to try to earn a living. They are proably on commission so are desperate to make a sale. Personally it tends to put me off getting anything fom the company in the future and go elsewhere if I can.

No surprises with your experience, you should treat all phone calls from any company that offering "free" services as merely a marketing opportunity .
Best one recently was a phone call from someone representing a well known security alarm company, on offer installation only £99, free maintenance contract for one year for an all singing fully monitored alarm system.
Great I thought then the rub, must sign up for a 5 year maintenance contract after first year at a monthly fee of £30, I calculated that's £360 a year x 5 total commitment £1800. Some deal left him in no doubts about this sharp practice selling.

I am quite SEVERELY Disabled as regards mobility so have been 'Signed Up' for many years with the Telephone [& Mail] Preference Services.

This does NOT stop British Gas and several other companies including Everest Double Glazing [Supposedly 'Reputable' companies] from pestering me.]

I have now reached the stage of being 'Rude' to the salespeople.

Maybe they will somehow get the message I will NEVER put business with such 'Nuisances' whose behaviour amounts to Harassment and is 'counter productive' in sales terms.


I am a Relationship Manager within the Private Banking Sector of Finance, and I do give courtesy calls to clients without the purpose of selling. I like to make sure everything is okay, and if they are any issues I will get them resolved promptly. My elderly clients really appreciate my calls, as I am happy to have a chat about non banking issues. Some younger clients even phone me just to say where they are going on holidays.

I am passionate about customer service, and yes service does still exist. It's a shame that you think all courtesy calls are intended to lead into something else. Mines are not.

In relation to sales. I don't need to work hard at my sales targets, I know exactly what all my clients likes and dislikes are, and any sales I do is purely to make my clients better off !! For example if they can get an interest rate on account.

However, the bulk of my calls I make are just service. I work extremely hard to make all these calls.

Having return from 2 weeks holiday I had 9 messages on my home phone all from pre recorded voicemail messages from finance companies and the like. I was annoyed this happened as a genuine message might not have been able to be left as the space used leaving messages could have used all the time on my answer machine

I sympathise with your problem but the person is just doing their job. Many are kids making their own way in the world for the first time and landing any job is better than no job at all. But to help you, may I offer the following advice? Signing up for the MPS is a good start but you need to play the system at its own game in order to stop these calls. The calls are to generate income and to generate income they must have a level of expenditure. For these sort of calls the expenditure is generally as follows. 1. They either have your number or they have bought it. 2. They have to pay for the training of the person making the call and 3. The wages of that person and 4. The wages of the supervisor and 5. The costs of the buiilding and 6. The cost of the phone call itself. You can see that this is a costly business, much of which is passed on to the customer who 'signs up', so they also look for ways to keep costs down. This is where you take advantage of their system. You thank them for their call and ask them to hold. You then place the receiver near a radio, or turn the television up a little, as it is important the caller knows you have not hug up. The caller is on a timed job. They are expected to make a certain number of calls per hour to earn their keep. You need to put the person in a position to realise that you are deliberately costing their employer money and dropping the quota they have to achieve. Their supervisor will be listening in at some point and they do not want to be caught, trapped, listening to Radio 2 so they will soon end the call. Back to their costs. Once this is flagged on their screen you are in with a good chance that your number will be deleted but it may have to happen twice. If, to off-set costs, they also sell on numbers to third parties, selling a list with positive numbers is a better seller. All the more likely that you will have your number deleted from any such list. This is not a 'quick-fix' but it is a very effective one. You must then be proactive in guarding your number. To this end I suggest an email address that you use exclusively for buying online, entering competitions etc. In this way it is easier to track any company who is using your number. It also keeps the rubbish out of your main inbox. Best wishes Whizz

When I receive these calls I allow the person to speak and then politely ask them if they have checked the TPS today (telephone preference system). All callers recently have sat up and immediately apologised for calling and ended the call themselves. Does anyone know if these Companies could be fined for not checking the TPS before calling someone who is registered on it?