In the comments of my last blog, Rant and I did briefly discuss the pleasures of the automated answering system which I then extended to paying for the pleasure of listening to the sodding thing by being forced to use the 0845 number that the company puts on the bill and correspondence. You know the sort of thing:
"Thank you for phoning Faceless Insurance PLC. Please listen to the following 97 options to choose the correct one. It is important that you listen to every option as we will not make it possible for you to select the option you require until we have read v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y through every possible option and permutation of possible options from which you may, or may not, want to select. Do not worry, you are only going to be paying 25p per second for this call and it will not last more than 2 hours. Oh, and if you want to talk to a real person, then that really is tough shit. Your call is very important to us." Select option and wait 3 weeks for a response; all the time, of course, paying for the privilege.
These get up my nose for so many reasons. I am not a kid, I have been brought up talking to people and aware that communication can be done direct with real people and talking unlike the majority of teenagers and the like that consider Microsoft messenger adorned with those bloody silly little faces and non words (lol) as conversation. Apart from that, at their conception, 0845 numbers weren't such a bad thing. Telephone call charging was dependant on whereabouts in the country you were calling, there was no such thing as a plan that included all your calls and 0845 was, I believe, charged at a flat local rate. No more. No, they will charge what they like and they can't be included in your phone any landline plan on a conventional or mobile that I am aware of. However, there is some respite. Public service that I am, if you are faced with an 0845, 0870 etc number, there is often a normal geographical number for it as well. You could do worse than looking here. You probably won't find your favourite purvy call line on there though.
One money making scheme I find even more irritating, however, are the people who stop you on the street to ask for money. I don't mean real beggars I mean the plethora of charities and utilities companies that harangue you as you walk down the street and try to persuade you to sign up. You can change your mind within 28 days, if you wish to do so, here is an 0845 number to ring to inform us. Possibly one of the benefits of no longer working in Cheltenham is that I don't run the gauntlet at lunch time if I walk into town. Cheltenham High Street must be the worst place in the world for these people. You start of politely "No thank you" or "Sorry, don't have time". After an hour of this and about 50 people approaching you, it gradually deteriorates into "Fuck off before I rip your arms off and shove your sodding clipboard where it will never be seen again". Have you ever been chased by one? I have. Inside Regent Arcade, someone selling gas and electric:
"Excuse me sir"
"Sorry not interested" - I carry on walking, salesman follows.
"How do you know, you haven't heard what I am offering"
Still walking - "Nor do I care"
"But I could save you money on your bills". I have increased my walking pace, the chap is almost jogging.
"Don't care, happy with my current supplier" Still walking, he is still at my heels.
"Even if I could save you 10%?"
Stop. "I'd rather pay an extra 100% than buy my sodding electric off a company that employs people like you"
But still, my all time favourite. Animal lovers look away. The anti-vivisectionists were out on force, armed with clipboards for petitions and shaky collection tins:
"Excuse me sir, could you sign our petition against animal testing and would you consider a small donation to help"
"Are you aware of the suffering animals are put through in the sake of research?"
"Yes, pretty much. And if a few rats or whatever suffer and die so we can find a cure for life-threatening illnesses in humans I'm all for it"
"But even if you agree with that, innocent animals are suffering for the sake of beauty products"
"Yes and better some rabbits eyes sting than mine or my daughter's when we wash our hair."
They do give up on you eventually. Tina now bans me from talking to any chuggers and the like now.
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