Today, in office, we were discussing examples of random acts of kindness and one of my colleagues said that we should not be rude to the call centre people who call us at inopportune times. At this, I thought, “Well, that’s too hard to do”. I have been at the receiving end of several phone calls in the month of August and September from every possible call center which caters to selling Car insurance packages. And then, just as they had started, the calls stopped. Did I shout at any of these guys? No! Did they manage to disturb me? Yes! Before you think that I have solved some eternal puzzle by getting these calls to stop, let me tell you that I most certainly have not. I am expecting the same surge of calls next August-September too.
So it all started with a TV commercial where this person in office is trying to buy his car insurance from an agent and suddenly his mom appears, looking very pleased with herself. She starts yelling at him because he didn’t bother comparing other insurance plans before deciding on The One. That was one heck of a commercial for an insurance portal which would help the unlucky, dumb son of that smart woman, to save money and feed into her already bloated smug ego! Since this was an ad which stood out from the clutter, I fell victim to its success in brand recall when it was time to renew my car insurance. I had done my homework the first year when I took a particular insurance package so I was simply planning to renew it but the man of the house decided to beam himself like that mom from the commercial, right next to me when I was going to call my insurance person. He insisted that I use the insurance portal featured in that ad, get competitive rates and then decide. What could have been a peaceful two months ahead were destroyed by my quiet acquiescence of this advice.
So this portal demanded my car model, registration date and then insurance start date and end date etc. before it would reveal any information like a tight-fisted miser would do when asked for some money. It threw up competitive rates which were for a plain vanilla package but on further discussion with my regular person, I agreed that thought it seemed I was paying more, I was paying for features which were not accounted for in the plain vanilla model. So I went ahead and paid and got my insurance policy. But my data was now already residing in that portal and hence with each and every car insurance agency who either paid this portal or anyways accessed this data from them, free of cost. Every single day be it 11am in the morning, 3 pm in the noon or 7 pm in the evening; I would be getting calls from ABC and XYZ company offering me insurance. I am sure that these call centre personnel must have only one field on the screen in front of them — ‘Customer acquired or Not’ and if it was negative, my number must be getting reassigned to another agent who was simply following the motto — Dial Another Day! So at first, I would politely listen to their complete introduction and then inform them that I had already bought the insurance package. After a week of shouting myself hoarse, I became more rude and started cutting them off before they could complete their spiel, ”No! I do not need insurance!”. But that too didn’t deter them. Then I started adding them to True caller and got some relief as the phone would only ring once and then True caller would take over. But they had different numbers to call and so the -cat and mouse game went on till mid-September which was the last day for renewal. And then the calls stopped.
For a person who has undergone such trauma, I thought I would have to really dig deep into my heart for finding kindness while talking to them as per my colleague’s suggestion. But then isn’t that what an act of kindness truly is? It is easy being kind to people you know or who are anyways very nice to you. It is only when you are kind to people who cause you grief, that the true power of kindness is revealed. So today when the phone rang, and it was a random person from a travel club call centre asking for referrals, I let her complete her sentence and politely told her that I didn’t have any referrals and wished her luck! It took away a minute from my life but I could imagine the beginning of a small smile on her face when she kept the phone down!