Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Leave your message after the beep

When we moved to Texas we opted for an internet phone. There are 2 reasons for this. Firstly all tele-communications are a hideous rip off in the USA. Internet connection is very expensive, as is cable TV and phone. The second reason is I simply don’t use the phone. My family get free calls from the UK and I use skype to call those who have it because it is free. We decided to just have the internet and use a Boxee and Netflix for internet TV (Don’t ask - it’s a man thing). We do have a phone line for incoming calls only and it is truly irritating because the number has been sold to every cold caller in the USA. I had one call at the ungodly hour of . I put on my best teacher posh voice and enquired if the caller thought it reasonable to call, unsolicited at such a time. They were speechless. Probably wondering what the Queen of England or Hermione Grainger was doing answering a phone in Houston.
I thought there was a few seconds delay when picking up the phone on cold calls so my next tactic was to put the phone down until I realised the delay happened on all calls and I had been putting the phone down on my mom! Now I just answer and say I am out.
What I hadn’t anticipated was door to door cold calling. I have to commend the company and the salesman for Steakhouse inc. They were not trying to take advantage of desperate housewives. It was pure co-incidence that he called at the point where the kids had just got in from school with demands for food, homework help and attention every 30 seconds. Of course I had to invite him in when, at the point I made eye contact, he ran off to his van and returned with 6 boxes of steaks in his arms. He couldn’t just stand there holding them. That wasn’t the point of no return! Of course it wasn’t. I was under no obligation to buy!
He plonked his wares on the kitchen counter. I was standing just by a black bin bag next to him. I had been gathering up the rubbish around the house. I didn’t remember putting any scoops from the cat litter tray in there but the smell of poo was embarrassing. I can’t use it as an excuse… if I were looking for one, but it made me anxious for the ordeal (sorry – experience) to be over.
He was selling combination packs of frozen vacuum packed steak. MMmmmmmm! He was so helpful. Yes! I could see that it would be so much better to have a year’s supply of steak in the freezer rather than just go and buy steak fresh when I wanted it. I appreciated that it sounded a lot of money (when he finally got round to prices – he was very polite – it would have been vulgar to raise the delicate issue of payment straight away). I really appreciated that as a new customer I could get 40% off. I didn’t know at the time that I could buy it on the internet as a BOGOF – which makes it 50% off! But then he was so nice – it was worth the 10% extra.
He was so genuine. He wrote down his email address and cell phone and said if I didn’t like the steaks he would come straight back and change them. I think he accidentally picked up the leaflet with that information on it when he left. Not to worry – I’m sure I’ll love the steaks… from Illinois! I’m sure the Texas reputation for the best steaks in the states is over-rated. And no… it isn’t just unscrupulous manufacturers that add up to 15% ‘broth’ to cuts of meat. It can add flavour to even the best steak…

I’m sure you’ve done it. Purchased something you know you shouldn’t have. Something in the sale you’ll never wear. Something you can’t afford and didn’t need. Six boxes of different cuts of beef from some random bloke who turns up at the door… You know the feeling. That agitated gnawing in the pit of your stomach when you know you’ve fucked up? Well, I felt it even before I paid. If I’m honest I felt it when I didn’t just shut the door in his face. He caught me unawares. I thought it might be a neighbour welcoming me to the neighbourhood with a pumpkin pie.
He did the credit card slip and pointed out that I was welcome to leave a tip as he had to pay for his own gas. For a moment I found my self and said:
‘You know that is what I truly hate about America – the whole expectation for tips for inappropriate things. You knock on my door asking me to buy your stuff, when I can drive to the supermarket and use my own petrol and buy it cheaper and you expect me to tip you? Well, here’s a tip – keep up with the good work because you’re a great salesman and you’ve got me to buy steaks I don’t want or need. And don’t even think about giving me that coupon you’ve got for my ‘next purchase. Just charge a fair price in the first place’

He said ‘Wow, I really like your attitude, sign here’.

It turned out it wasn’t the black bin bag that had the nasty odour. It left with him, leaving me just a little bit queasy about the steak we would be eating for the next 6 months. Next time the phone or the door bell rings I am NOT in!


  1. LOL, Maybe just feed them to the dog

  2. . Only one thing wrong with that Sean, she would have to go out and buy a dog!!!. I am suprised that you were even presuaded to buy from a cold caller, he really must have caught you unawares.

  3. What I need is a pet lion! I could feed it the steak and any more cold callers!