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Last Updated: Monday, 18 September 2006, 12:55 GMT 13:55 UK
'Stop trying to sell to me'
Sharon Addis
Sharon Addis is trying to hold back the information overload

Last week's Magazine story on councils barring cold callers prompted a wave of e-mails from readers fed up with being interrupted by unwanted salesmen and women... none more so than working mother-of-three Sharon Addis.

It's 7am and the radio alarm clicks in to strains of "Auto-glass repair, Auto-glass replace." I've been awake four seconds and someone's trying to sell me something.

It's 7.05am and the doorbell's ringing, it's a parcel plus various other envelopes.

The parcel turns out to be a book I don't recall ordering - apparently it's a free sample. Yippee. If I don't want it I can spend my time returning it (free of charge) and owe nothing - if I don't, another one will drop on the mat next month and I'll owe someone 14.99.

A letter from my bank is on top of the pile; apparently my account is due for its annual review and I must call them to arrange an appointment. A satellite television offer is next - I can have free broadband subject to 55 lines of small print.

A credit card is knocking too - wanting to offer me a free upgrade to a platinum card. What does that mean? Lots apparently - there's a six-page glossy brochure and another 12 pages of small print.

A supermarket is next with 25 pages of useful vouchers; some are for things we'd actually buy but unfortunately (for us) all the offers are in separate weeks. Hold on - I'll just enter it all in my PDA so we know when to go.

Small print

School is next - a missing food technology assignment needs me to a) chase up my daughter b) make an appointment with the head of year. I like their multiple choice approach.

cold calling zone
Would I like to come in and spend two hours on Saturday morning talking through how they can help me. They're open at 9am... Let me think... er, No.
Sharon Addis

Then the electricity bill - plus a note warning me of price rises - lots of comparative tables; I can save 214 over 18 months if I... fill in the three-page form subject to 68 lines of small print and several explanatory notes.

Not to be outdone, the council also want a bit of my time to review the planning document for the driving range they're building... wait a minute, that's at the bottom of my garden!

The final impressive-looking envelope contains pensions documents - the company's changing again (I thought it did that three months ago?), or is it the legislation that's changing... hmmm, not sure - must be important though, it's got six double pages of A4 covered in text with glossy photos of smiling twenty-somethings. Sure they're smiling - they haven't got home and seen their junk mail pile yet.

I escape to work but on the way my mobile goes off, it's my other bank - apparently my account is due for review with them too - an FSA thing they explain. Would I like to come in and spend two hours on Saturday morning talking through how they can help me? They're open at 9am... Let me think... er, No.

Mum's taxi

I get home 10 hours later. It's 6pm and my daughter needs "Mum's taxi" as only teenagers can. I nearly get to my car when a chap accosts me on the driveway with an impressive clipboard - do I have time to answer a few questions on my shopping habits in return for free entry into a prize draw?

No, I don't. He looks offended - it's a fantastic prize apparently. I zoom off the drive, narrowly missing the lady from the local junior school who's just coming to sell me raffle tickets in aid of something worthy.

I finally get back home at 8:30pm and am making a cuppa in readiness to tackle my heap of paperwork from this morning (plus what came in on the previous three mornings) when the phone rings. Is this Mrs Jenkins? It's Jo from Random Mortgages- have I thought of changing my mortgage to Random Gold?

No, but I'm thinking of changing my phone number. Do I know all the details of my current mortgage, income and outgoings? No? Oh - can I get them all together and she'll call back in an hour? Err...

The doorbell rings - I put down my tea (and the phone) and go to the door. "Hello, I'm Heather, here's my ID badge. I'm collecting on behalf of Outer Mongolia Dolphin Rescue - just 2 a month guarantees fresh tuna for all the underprivileged Dolphins of Outer Mongolia - here's a glossy 20-page brochure to read later, just fill in your bank details here... it's all very simple..."

Sorry Heather, no. It's really not simple at all.


Add your comments on this story, using the form below.

Too right I am sick of being called and having people try and sell me stuff over the phone at the door on the street via the mail! I have now taken to putting cold callers on hold, much easier than trying to get rid of them straight away and annoys them as much as they ahve just annoyed me. Added bonus stops the next one getting through!
Joanne, Liverpool

Spot On! We are bombarded from all angles at all times of the day - this cannot be good for health can it? We have signed up to every Opt Out scheme going and yet somehow junk mail still makes it through. Personally I would prefer to sit under the tree this junk came from and enjoy the peace of being outdoors with no sales pitch for miles around.
Ande, Dover

Thank you. It is refreshing to read about others' awful experiences in the course of an average day of real life too! The best ones are the call centres (that you are forced to contact to clarify mis-information) with the "calls will be monitored and/or recorded" tag. Obviously you can't lose your temper with them despite their incompetence or insistence - naturally a low volume and heavily accented dialect just adds to the whole satisfying experience! It is about time that customers are served not hassled. I have just spent a whole day organising my 17 year old son's car insurance - really, I do sympathise with Sharon Addis's frustrations.
Carole Benton, Hastings, East Sussex

I don't mind them knocking on the door, the bit I object to is that when I say politely "no thank you" they keep trying until I have to be rude to them. I don't like being rude but if they just accepted "no thank you" as meaning no I would be much happier and they probably would too!
Alix, Bedford

Yep, one minute we're told the should be environmentally friendly, next we get so much paper through our doors without even asking for it. My house forever needs tidying because of the piles of junk mail that arrive on our doorstep, I don't want it! Most of it goes straight in the bin within a few seconds of determining if it is something I actually expected or not, but it seems such a waste of all the trees!. I don't need the phone calls either, I seem to have stemmed them a bit, using the services available to "opt out" but why should I have to? is it not my right to privacy at home and not to be bothered, having things rammed down my throat until I buy something? I have a peek hole now, cost me 3 just so I can avoid opening the door when they are quite clearly sales people at the door, trying to make me change my tv, telephone, gas, electricity suppliers, or maybe I have not considered getting nice shiney new windows? I like my windows they are fine, I can see right through them! Leave me in peace, let me decide what I want for myself PLEASE......
Duncan, Milton Keynes

Very funny (and a lot true), but it's really quite easy to get rid of unwanted telephone calls and junk mail (The latter I just chuck in the bin, unopened). Doorstep salesman, by contrast, are more intimidating - Weren't the government promising to let me defend my home as if it were my castle not so long ago? Seems that's one promise they've forgotten all about...
Mark, Fleet, Hampshire

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