Guessing why they call

I hurried to answer the phone in the study. The caller said, ‘We’re doing a survey on behalf of Bunnings Warehouse. Do you shop there?’

‘Yes’, I replied, thinking of the way our little white van often found its way to the massive store on the corner of the highway!

‘Wonderful’, he said. ‘Would you be happy to answer a few questions?’ Before I responded, he added, ‘Is it ok if my supervisor listens in on our conversation?’

‘Of course’, I said. I’ve become used to that question when dealing with business calls.

Before continuing with his queries, he explained that two $500 gift vouchers were on offer in association with this call. Then he asked about home renovations and wanted to know if we were spending more or less money on them than we had a year ago. I told him our outlay was much less since we finished the alterations on our house. He didn’t seem to understand what I meant (!), but hurried on with his spiel. He was very focussed on those questions!

At first they were mostly in connection with Bunnings and whether members of my household had an ‘enjoyable experience’ at the store! He wanted to know how often we shopped there and gave me a few multiple-choice questions on that sort of thing. Maybe he’s from their opposition?’ I wondered. He followed up with, ‘How many other hardware stores do you visit?’  I knew I didn’t go to any others, but Maurie does. However, my husband was sick in bed, so couldn’t come to the phone.

Before the man went on, I added, ‘The shopping we do there isn’t just for ourselves. My husband looks after the garden at our church, so he often needs to buy things for them as well’. That threw him a little, but after a few moments hesitation, he said, ‘That’s alright’. Of course it was!

I can’t remember all his questions, but the conversation soon turned to topics such as, ‘what do you think of the economy at the moment?’ ‘Is your family afraid about losing their jobs?’ ‘And ‘if you needed to make a large purchase, would you be able to find the money for it? ‘

I could see it wasn’t about Bunnings at all. To me it sounded like a new slant on one of the electioneering calls we’ve been receiving since the State Government announced the poll date. So I wound up the call when he wanted to know my name – ‘so he could put it into the draw for the vouchers’ – as he said. I told him I wasn’t interested and added, before I hung up, ‘I hope you’re being honest’. He said he hoped so too!!

I’ve since ascertained from a family member who works for Bunnings, that they never deal with the public that way. I didn’t like the sneaky manner these people adopted to intrude into my home via the telephone, and, without the knowledge of the company they were ‘using’, implicating them in their methods. If the caller had been upfront and made me aware he was from a political party, I would have given him the answer I give to them all: ‘I’m not interested, thank you’, and replaced the handset on the charger!

Maybe I should have asked if I could put a few questions to him. Of course, I’d have to include the bit about the Supervisor listening in! God always turns his ear to a conversation about himself! And when his children tell people about his love, he’s immediately ready to give it to them… for free!

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