Cold callers

One of the bugbears of any householder is the cold caller. When one also runs a business from home like we do, the number of sales pitches increases by more than a hundred fold. We get telephone calls as well as numerous emails – normally at least 200 a day. The telephone calls are the worst because the callers will insist on selling their services or items irregardless of whether we want them or not. Emails, one the other hand, are a nuisance, but at least one can delete them; and Hubby takes great delight in doing so.

I have to admit that I have fallen hard before to cold callers. The problem is that I am too naive at times: when times are slow, I want to believe the pitch, and then I fall helplessly, cross with myself and determined never to be so gullible again. I have to remember that the cold caller’s ace card is my vulnerability.

Seven years ago, I tried pay-per-click Google advertisements without success. We must have spent at least £3000 advertising our guest house, Blenheim Lodge, during this period, but got no return on it. After that, I never used pay-per-click again.

Then, in March, I received a telephone call from a very smooth-talking salesman. He was selling pay-per-click ad-words, but his firm would manage the campaign for us. We would choose the phrases and keywords together, but as we were to have a fixed budget set for the month, we would not need to manage the individual amounts to be spent on each keyword or phrase. It all sounded very easy indeed.

It was all too good to be true, of course. At the time of booking us in for the campaign, I had asked that the company should not retain my debit card details. (It was the only way we could pay as the company would not accept cheques.) I was also told that we were only going to be charged for a month’s trial. If we were unhappy with the results, we would then be able to cancel at the end of the trial.

As it turned out, I found to my horror that after having used my card to pay the company, that my card details would be retained. This was so blatantly against what I had specifically asked them not to do, that I could hardly believe my ears. Oh, I was reassured that the details would be kept securely; nonetheless, I remain unhappy about the situation.

Secondly, as soon as the money left my account, I received an email confirmation that the initial payment was just that – an initial payment, with further future payments to come in the succeeding months. At this point, I quoted the salesman’s pitch about not having to commit myself to further purchases beyond the initial month’s agreement. Thankfully, I was told that if I put in a cancellation right away (which the salesman had slyly left out of his pitch), I would not be liable for any further payments unless I were to expressly tell them that I wished to continue advertising through their company.

Thirdly, I found to my chagrin that the salesman had kept a most important factor regarding Google’s pay-per-click advertisements from me. The manager assigned to my ad-word campaign told me in no uncertain terms that our advertisement would only show up on Google if someone typed in the exact keywords in their exact order when making searches. Thus, instead of a broad search, our visibility was being narrowed down to our ability to read any potential searchers’ minds regarding searches for a place to stay in Bowness-on-Windermere. For example, if my keywords or key phrases were ‘Lake District Guest House’ and someone typed in ‘Lake District guesthouse’, then Blenheim Lodge would not show up on the searches.

Needless to say, my unfortunate response to this cold caller lost us money. Thankfully I had cancelled our advertisements for the following months already! Then, what do you know? A fortnight later, the telephone rang, and a familiar voice said, ‘This is just a courtesy call regarding your advertisement on Google.’ (One trick of the cold caller is to make you think that you already have an advertisement whether you do have one or not.) The voice continued with its spiel, until I told him that he had called before and ‘no, I was not going to advertise with them because we had just finished our ad-word campaign with them a couple of weeks ago and we got nothing out of it’. Suddenly, the telephone went silent. ‘Goodbye,’ I said; and the telephone went dead.

Lake Windermere with boat

A panoramic view of Lake Windermere amid lush greenery as seen from our many of our rooms at Blenheim Lodge. See the ferry cruising the Lake? Why not take a cruise yourself? We have an exclusive deal with Windermere Lake Cruises, where only guests staying at Blenheim Lodge are able to take advantage of a 10% discount voucher we can give you.

Blenheim Lodge . . . panoramic Lake views, peace and tranquillity, nestled against acres of beautiful fields and woodlands, in the heart of the English Lake District National Park.’

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