Yesterday I got a phone call from a nice man named David. He asked me if I remembered entering a competition to win a Ford Fiesta. I said I had no recollection of doing so, but seeing I enter loads of competitions, it was possible.
My name had been put into the draw for the grand prize, he said. That was nice, I said. I was guaranteed to win the Ford Fiesta, a week away for two or some other awesome-sounding prize, he said. That was also nice I said.
I must come in with my ID book and be at the draw, he said. When? Wednesday (national election day here in South Africa). Where? Central Office Park, Midrand. What time? 2pm.
Then he said, "bring lots of friends."
"Why?" I asked.
"Because they might win spot prizes," he said.
"Uh huh," said I, unconvinced.
He then asked for my surname, my occupation and the names of the friends I would be bringing. I waited for him to give himself away by asking for my bank details or similar. Surprisingly, he didn't. But...
"Can you spell the name of your company for me - I didn't catch it," I said.
"And can I have a phone number to call, in case I get lost?" I asked.
"073 126 3448."
"You don't have a land line?"
David then told me that someone else would call me with directions to Central Office Park, Midrand and ended the conversation.
So I Googled Talk-a-line. This is what I found.
A few minutes later, one of David's colleagues (who obviously had access to the same database) called me.
"Good afternoon... my name is so-and-so from Talk-a-line... Do you remember entering a competition to win a Ford Fiesta a few months ago?... blah blah blah..."
"Hello so-and-so. Your friend David just called me, actually. *pause, for effect* He told me I must be at Central Office Park in Midrand with my reference number J526 on Wednesday to collect my prize."
"That's correct, ma'am."
*longer pause (more effect?)*
"Uh huh. So I Googled you guys and I see that you're going to try to sell me timeshare for Quality Vacation Club. So I won't be there."
"Thank you. Bye."
Score: Tamara one, telemarketers zero.
For all of you who haven't heard of the Quality Vacation Club (QVC) consider that customer service site hellopeter.com lists 51 postive comments versus 118 negative complaints about the company. Consider also that SA blogger Donn Edwards was sued for almost half a million rand for defamation by QVC after posting about the win a car competition, which he called a "scam". The case was eventually settled out of court.
Some bloggers pointed out that the whole court saga actually caused more bad media coverage for QVC than any blog post about the company could have on its own. Others speculated that perhaps QVC would learn from the public's reaction and stop using their "deceptive" marketing tactics to lure people to sales presentations. But this seems not to be the case... They are still calling and telling gullible South Africans they've won a prize.
I know I'm very behind the times with this whole issue (the Donn Edwards case caused a media ruckus late last year), but it's the first time I've had the call and there are always people out there who need to be made aware. So, if you are willing to sit through timeshare presentations and know that you won't win a car but will get a weekend away at one of QVCs destinations (terms and conditions apply, of course), feel free. But if like me you'd rather save yourself the time and trouble, tell a telemarketer where to get off today.