Money Grouse: Cool reception for a cold-caller

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The Independent Online
MARIA HARDING twice returned home to find an urgent- sounding message on her telephone answering machine.

A man working for Pearl Assurance asked her to call back regarding insurance.

She did call back - twice. The first time no one appeared to know anything about the man. The second time she realised she had been 'cold-called' and sent him away with a flea in his ear.

She says: 'He asked me if I had a pension, and when I said I had he replied I probably wasn't contributing enough.

'It suddenly dawned on me I had received two phone calls and wasted two of my own to hear an amateur sales pitch.

'I told him it was the most incredible cheek and he should not be allowed to pester innocent householders who are not interested in his product.

'He used my Christian name in the answering machine message, which gave the impression these people knew me. The reality is I have no connection with the company whatsoever.'

A spokesman for Pearl said: 'We do cold-call customers, but it does appear this person was a little aggressive and perhaps over- insistent. If there is an answer machine we should let it go.

'People have them to stay in touch with friends, not to have salesmen taking up the tape. I would feel pretty browned off if I got home and a salesman had left messages on my machine.'

A spokeswoman for Lautro, the life assurance industry regulator, said cold-calling was acceptable as long as the person was identified as a company representative, gave the name of the company and stated the purpose of the call.

But most companies do not do talk to answer machines because it is a waste of money. The recipient realises what the call is about and does not respond.

Write to Money Grouse, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB. Include a daytime telephone number if possible. Please do not send SAEs or original documents as we cannot gurantee to deal with every letter personally.

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