Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Market Research, Do Not Call

Almost every day I am called by off-shore telemarketing companies, mostly Telcos, trying to push their product on me. I actually don’t mind responding to surveys because I value my opinion and want it counted, but I’m never going to buy something being hawked over the phone line at dinner time.

The callers are invariably Indian-accented women with a very un-Indian name like “Cindy” or “Katie”. The phone calls started the day we had the phone line connected. When I tried to explain I’d only just set up the phone line and wasn’t interested in changing my service, the caller actually got angry at me.

Some days there isn’t even a person on the other end of the line but a recorded voice with an American accent. “[long delay]Hi there[long delay]my name’s Tracy …” and then I hang up.

I noticed they always ask to speak to “Mr Smith”. This is either the previous owner of my phone number or a generic name for anglo-Australians.

I have explained that I am not Mr or Mrs Smith but this did not deter them. “Perhaps you are interested in our …” beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.

I’ve taken to saying “No sorry, you have the wrong number” and hanging up immediately. It hasn’t stopped the calls, but it prevents unwanted chit-chat.

I’m thrilled, therefore, at the prospect of the new “do not call” register that may soon be introduced in Australia (SMH, June 21 2006). It will be illegal for any telemarketing agency to call a person who has added their name to the list.

The US and the UK have had similar registers for many years. Why Australian hasn’t implemented this yet is anyone’s guess. I have heard other people complain they get these calls every day, but I didn’t believe it until it happened to me.

But, as I mentioned these annoying daily calls come from offshore companies. Will the laws stop call centres in India or recorded messages from Tracy?

Apparently the debate continues. What debate? What is there to argue about on this issue?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Real estate or petroleum?

Wow. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, June 19, 2006, Australian oil expenditure was $500,000,000 more than it was in April. This amount is threatening to blow out our trade deficit. Can anyone believe that we can spend that much in 1 month on fuel?

Apparently this is influencing rental prices, which are going up because people are abandoning their mortgages in favour of paying for their petrol. This implies we are wiping our hands on our pants and walking away from the great Australian dream of owning our own house.

This strikes me as being slightly insane. Did we think this through before we traded stability, comfort and a sense of our personal identity for a full tank of oil?

I use the term “we” fairly loosely because I, personally, rarely drive. Lately I’ve been walking a lot. It’s the first time in my life that I’ve taken to my feet over hopping in the car. It could be that my car is parked inconveniently and I’d rather leave it collecting gum leaves and bird droppings than fight for a parking space around my inner-city apartment, but with the glorious, highly under-rated warm, blue skies of a Sydney winter (an observation after two years of the dismal, overcast, stuffy, cloudy, humidity of Osaka), I’m actually enjoying the walking.

I am not giving up my dream of buying a house in favour of oil. If I don’t buy property, who will end up owning it?

I think that’s something worth seriously considering!