Grandma Marketing

Posted by James Hahn on

Our home phone rarely rings these days.

When it does ring it is either:
a) my parents or my wife's parents
b) a credit card company
c) a non-profit organization, or
d) during election season, some idiot on a recorded message or some idiot asking me to please hold for a recorded message.

Looking at the list above, which folks would I most likely hang-up on?  Yes, like you, I would hang-up on those folks that only think I'm the greatest person to ever walk the earth from late September until the 2nd day of November.  Yes, like some of you, I would hang up on the non-profit organization.  I do this especially if I've given to them before and then they turn around and mail me a nickel telling me how much a nickel can provide.  Does that make any sense?  They are mailing out thousands of nickels hoping people will give them more money?  Really?

Oh yes, like all of you, I too find a little joy in hanging up on those folks who call from the credit card companies.  They usually call offering to tack on some awesome service that I most likely would never use.  My wife is really good at hanging up on them.  If a human voice doesn't answer back in that split second of time directly after she says, "hello", it's over.  She says, "hello", there is .034 milliseconds of silence, a slight click, a hint of human breath being taken in, and then the receiver is dropped.  She has it down to an art form.

I, on the other hand, give them a chance to give their spiel and then hang up.  Somehow, I feel like I'm letting them do their job.  They still get paid, right?  Most often, though, I do hang up if they pronounce my name incorrectly.  It's really not that difficult - Hahn - Jessica Hahn, Goldie Hawn, Hon Furniture.  It rhymes with fawn, dawn, ron, pawn, and on and on.

So yes, I am a "hanger-upper".  Or, at least I was until today.  I think it's a new trick by the credit card companies.  Remember the list up top?  There was only one group that I would not hang-up on, my parents or her parents.  I'd even go so far as to say any of my relatives, including my brother-in-law!  But, alas, I think that the credit card companies have a new angle.

I answered the phone this morning and on the other end was the voice of what sounded like the sweetest little old lady to ever don blue hair.  She told me of how the company wanted to offer me some peace of mind in these "tough economic times."  I wanted to reply, "and you know about tough times cause you lived through the Great Depression and two World Wars."  Her soft, grandmotherly voice told me of how the company would take care of my payments if I were to lose my job or get injured.  And I heard myself thinking, "and how did you make the mortgage payments when grandpa was off to war."  She went on and on and I imagined her to be my grandmother telling me about the tough times she went through and how this company would help me stay afloat.

And there I was, on the phone with my grandmother.  She was telling me about how for only 89 cents a month I could be protected, saved, and confident that all would be okay.  What was I supposed to do?  I was stuck.  I certainly couldn't hang up on her.  The thought did cross my mind but then I imagined her calling me back wondering why we got disconnected.  Or worse, she'd call my dad and tell him what I'd done.  No, I couldn't just hang up.  I thought of telling her I just wasn't interested.  But then I thought of all the times she bought junk from me when I was kid, like she actually needed a subscription to Golf Digest.  No, I couldn't turn her down.

So there I was on the phone with my grandmother and she was growing impatient.  She needed an answer.  She wasn't getting any younger you know!  My mind raced.  What to do?  What to do?  I did the only thing I knew to do, I signed up.  I figured, with any luck, I could go online and cancel the service and Nana would never know.  Thankfully, she was never really into computers.


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