First-thing harassment

This morning, I got a phone call. I don’t get many, on account of not being on cold-call lists. It’s rare these days to get a land-line call. My final days of land-line in Britain, I realised people just call because they want something. I get probably 10 harassment for stuff calls and 1 business enquiry. Here, it’s the same. Except instead of getting that in a week, I get it in a month.

However, in France, it’s the done thing not to say where you’re calling from or who you are, and to speak very quickly. In England, you usually get….

“Hello?” (me)

Pause whilst it goes from auto-dial, allowing me to realise I won’t want whatever it is.

“Hello, this is Ryan (patently an Indian really called something terribly Indian calling from India) from ‘blah-blah-blah’ company. We’re the world leaders in such-and-such. I’m calling today because I’ve got a great offer for you … ”

You get a name, a company, a bit of pre-amble and a reason for calling. You can’t get a word in edgeways, and it’s all scripted, so it’s read in a slow monotone. Whilst this frustrated me in England, I long for it here. Here, you get launched straight in to it.


Full-on-fast-French waffle. No name. No company. Just ‘Are you Madame telle-et-telle?’ and then a full-on French assault.

Today, it was 9:02 and I got a call from a shouty woman. She gave me no preamble, just started waffling about my ‘chiffres’ (figures) for my pages jaunes account. I’m assuming it was someone connected to pages jaunes – the Yellow Pages. She said, quite rightly, that my pages jaunes page has had 40 hits this month. Quite respectable. She then said that because it says ‘cours de langues’, it’s not specific enough. True, also. She wanted to add a line of information. This would be fine.

“C’est combien?” I asked. Always important to know how much.

“Cent quatre vingt euros, hors taxe.” 180 euros not including tax. Bloody hell. Just for some info probably nobody will use.

I like free advertising. Free websites, free listings and so on. A guy in England once said for £500 he could get my website to the top of Google. I pointed out that I already was – directories are often free in England, and run off advertising profits – and what was the point of spending £500 to get my own website up there, when I could very well just have my webpage link to it. Yellow Pages here is free. In England, people use it a bit – though I still think people use the internet and do a direct search rather than going to the yellow pages and do a search. In England, I was on because it was one of the first sites to come up if you searched for ‘English tuition’ – here, pages jaunes don’t come in the top ten. In fact, if you look up ‘cours d’Anglais’, mostly you get ‘free’ rubbish grammar sites. So I’ve more chance getting recognised on my own merits than on using the pages jaunes. Being in the pages jaunes is just standard behaviour. In England, I got a lot of business through, more than anywhere else, and not a jot from Thomson Local (who I paid £600.00 for a bigger ad and got not one single enquiry as a result!) and to be honest, the pages jaunes seem more like Thomson Local – not high on web searches, unless you directly look for them – and then you’re looking more for someone local and specific, and you’ll probably call them anyway, especially if there’s only one, as there is for me in the pages jaunes.

So… to recap… I’m not at all interested in paying cash to directories for bigger ads or better directory positioning. The best directories are free. I get quite a bit of business from Le Bon Coin, the local version of ebay (and none from ebay! French people here seem to prefer their own, very simple sites rather than big American franchises. Le Bon Coin is ridiculously simple. Yet most of my clients come via Le Bon Coin.

And I’m definitely not interested in paying 180 euros for the privilege.

So I did the usual:

“But I don’t have this money at the moment. It’s very expensive.” No hurt feelings.

But she took it really personally.

“It isn’t really expensive!”

“Yes it is. And anyway, that’s not the point. I don’t have that money at the moment. I’ve just paid Taxe Habitation and Taxe Fonciere in October and November, so I don’t have two pennies to rub together. Plus, it’s almost Christmas. I’ve got lots of presents to buy. Can’t you call me back in March?”

I hope, here, they forget about it and don’t call back. Or I can avoid the number. Or have 4 months to think of other reasons I don’t want to pay that.

“No. Maintenant.”

Wow. It’s a special one-time offer. Wow.

“Well, no, then. I’ll have to pass.”

“But why?”

“Because it’s very expensive and I don’t have the money right now. And if I did, it’s still expensive.”

“But it’s a good offer. Don’t you want more business?”

“Yes, but I don’t have the money right now!”

“But if you advertise, you’ll get more business…” (not strictly true!)

“Yes, but I still don’t have the money right now! I’ve just paid my bills…”

“But everyone pays bills…”

“And it’s Christmas.”

“Everyone has Christmas.”


She was not getting off the line. Like as if she got mad at me and cross and spoke more rapidly, I’m going to sign up and find 180 euros to make her go away. Now I’m determined not to sign up.

She grudgingly agreed to ring back in January (she can’t email or post information… always another suspect sign. They know if they catch you on the hop, you’ll sign up to something and regret it afterwards. Classic cold-call technique. You can’t sell it by its merits, so you have to rely on catching people out. ) by which time I will have posted the number on the wall and added ‘do not answer’. And if I accidentally do, I’ll do the usual, “Emma n’est pas ici maintenant…” each time she calls until she gives up. I did this with Yellow Pages in England who were insistent I buy a bigger add. Not a chance you’ll outlast me. I’ll even move to another country to get away from you!


One thought on “First-thing harassment

  1. Good for you for sticking to your guns!

    We get lots of solicitation calls at the bookstore…I am very good at saying “No” without hurting the person’s feelings, unless they don’t take me seriously after I’ve said “No” three times, at which point, I hang up after telling them I’m going to…


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