The Good Salesperson

Phone rings.

I pick up. “hello?”

Silence. I wait.

A little white noise comes on first, then, “Hello, may I speak to Andrew Glasser please.”

(unenthusiastic) “speaking.”

“Hello this is Betty from Providian Bank, M’aam…”

I was home sick, with a sore throat and cough, so my voice may have sounded a little like a raspy voiced female smoker, but I would expect them to get mistaken for men, not the other way around.

“First of all, I’m not a M’aam, have you ever heard of an Andrew that was a M’aam?… (I’m sorry sir….) Secondly I will never do business with Providian because you screwed me over once, and it won’t happen again.”

“I’m sorry sir, is it something I can help you with?”

“No.  Everytime I’ve called about it I got an argument, and it isn’t worth my time. Then years later I got a check in the mail because I was identified as someone who was hurt in a class action suit brought by the state of California, so I was vindicated, but I still won’t do business with you.”

“Sir, it wasn’t me, I just work for Providian…”

“I know…”

“This happened how many years ago?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, a lot has changed.  A lot of us that work for Providian are new.   Partly because of problems in the past, we are completely different, having made customer service our top priority.  The people that made the decisions that hurt you are probably at other companies where you have credit cards now”

“Well, maybe they’ll get a second chance then, but they won’t have any reason to do better unless I send a clear message, and hope that other people send the same message that companies that do right do better.”

“Well, I wish you could see that we are one of those companies now. Is there anything we can do to earn you back?”

“You can give me $100 credit.”

“Unfortunately…. I can’t do that, but what I can do, and this is the best deal I’m allowed to offer, is a 0% interest rate until 2002 on any balance transfers and new purchases. 0% for six months might be able to save you $100.”

“See now, this is exactly how I got burned the last time, with a 0% rate, which couldn’t be paid off early without incurring retroactive interest, and then after the six months you were to match the lowest of my other card’s rates, but when I sent the bill proving my lowest rate I was told you wouldn’t honor it because it wasn’t one of the cards I transferred funds from, OK, which wasn’t the deal, but you wouldn’t give. I’m sure I could have won if I had kept on, but eventually I figured it wasn’t worth my time, so I let you keep the damn $20 or whatever the hell it was and resolved never to do business with you again.”

“Well this is not like that at all, sir, you can pay this back early, no penalty, and when the introductory period is over it will be a low, let me see… yes, I can give you a 9.99% rate.”

I was considering.

“…… see, the thing is, I would have to read through the contract with a fine tooth comb, because I can’t trust you, and I don’t want to have to do that, so I just have to do business with someone I trust.”

“but sir, you should look over the contracts no matter who you deal with. Maybe that was the problem before. Is it bad business to expect customers to honor their contracts?”

“No its bad business to tell people one thing and then send a contract that says something different, hoping that they won’t read it, and then you can say ‘we got ‘em!’. Its not bad business because the contract isn’t legal, but because it will piss customers off.  I know I take a risk by not reading contracts, but I rely on the fact that companies know if they don’t treat me fairly they will lose me, and so that is really my only recourse once I get screwed which is why I can’t do business with you anymore.”

“I see here that you’ve been a customer for a long time.  Why haven’t you ever cancelled if you feel this way.”

“Because I don’t want to waste my time writing a letter. I tell you to cancel every time you call, and you always tell me I need to write a letter. Well, there’s no annual fee, I’m never going to use the card, and if a charge shows up, I’m going to dispute it because it won’t be mine, and because I’ve told you to cancel, whenever you call me, so you must know it’s really me, and so if you want to keep wasting resources sending me blank bills and calling me on the telephone all the time, that’s not my problem.”

“Yeah but we wouldn’t have to send you all those bills.”

“That’s your problem.”

Well, I can’t cancel your account without a letter from the cardholder.”

“See. You haven’t changed that much.”


Me:  “Are we done?”

She:  “I believe so.”

Me:   “Thank you very much for your time.”

She:  “You’re welcome.”

3 thoughts on “The Good Salesperson

    • Sorry for the delay – I didn’t see the comment. I’ve added a link to be able to follow on the left sidebar. I also added a widget related to RSS, but I don’t know exactly how to use RSS, and I don’t know if that works. Let me know if it doesn’t provide what you need, or if you feel inclined to instruct me on what I need to do, I’d appreciate that.




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