Solo fun on a Saturday morning

This is about being handed a problem. Well, volunteering to solve someone else’s problem. Being a retired male about home, neighbours ocasionally find me handy. This post is about telemarketing ( I hope the title didn’t mislead you …). Telemarketers have a function in society. I don’t think much of that function, but it’s legal.

But it sure can drift off into the dubious pretty quick.

Someone I know has Alzheimer’s. She got telemarketed by SOLO Mobile phones folks out in Edmonton. Presto, a box arrives in the mail with cell phone in it. Who knows if she said she wanted a phone, or just answered positively to some innocuous seeming question like “are you interested?”. She sure can’t remember what she said even one minute ago.

Box arrives in mail, while I am helping said lady in her kitchen. Mailman must see a lot of these, because right off the bat he tells us “there’s a return shipping label in the box if you want to send it back”. Elderly lady asks me what it is.  Open it up. Cell phone. A very tiny one.

She asks, That’s a phone? How can anyone see the buttons to push anything? Where’s the handle (handset)?

I wrap up phone, include nice letter back to SOLO saying phone is not wanted, was not ordered, recipient has Alzheimer’s, etc etc. They must expect to get a lot of these back because they do indeed include a return shipping label.

No response.

Bill comes in the mail. 

Bill #2 comes in the mail. I phone again, and explain.

Sorry, says Solo, the bill is valid, and only the person who ordered it can cancel it (note the word cancel … implies cancellation charges…). I point out the person whose name is misspelled on the bill isn’t competent to cancel the bill as they were not competent to enter into a “contract” in the first place.

Solo refuses to cancel bills. Insist I send them power of attorney.  It’s the usual: they do nothing whilst I have to jump through a dozen hoops. They only need a few minutes with a cheap telemarketer to rope the sucker in, but then they construct a multi-step opaque system to ‘cancel’ it. If they can sell it over the phone, why can’t they cancel it over the phone? … they got the phone back so they know it’s not wanted.

Solo: the bill stands.

Me: please please please take her to small claims court. I’ll call the CBC and the Citizen and the Sun and we can all watch their paralegal try to get payment out of an elderly lady with Alzheimer’s when the phone was already returned, with letter of explanation. When they swear in the victim of this telemarketing scam she may or may not remember her name or where she is. But I will prompt her to ask for costs from judge.

Solo: we cannot cancel the bill unless you  [start jumping through these silly hoops and obstacles we will put in your way in the hopes you will eventually pay the bill, and cancellation charges, to make us go away …].

I wonder what their telemarketers do when they get a kid on the phone? Ask them if they are “interested” in a Winnie the Pooh phone? Maybe with a diaper holster?

I do think Solo Mobile has got a revealing name: they are doing a great job — of damaging their reputation all by themselves.

3 thoughts on “Solo fun on a Saturday morning

  1. My view is often unpopular, but I think telemarketers can perform a valuable function.

    Here’s an example: I’ve recently been delving into various documents that explain bicycle traffic in the city. There’s two public documents that are both local and relevant:
    – the City of Ottawa Origin/Destination study from 2005 (collected by phone survey)
    – reports of census data taken from the mandatory long form

    Given that the latter’s been cancelled to make the results far less valuable, we’re essentially left with the former. Major projects’ planning is directed from this data.

    The problem is that you can’t easily filter the calls; the ones that (perhaps unknowingly) sell to the vulnerable, ask me about my non-existant car loan, try to sell my vegetarian wife a half cow, etc. aren’t seen as the ones that do collect valuable data.

    – A

  2. Eric – I had a problem with WindMobile and ended up just writing the President and entire Board of Directors. I would suggest doing the same with Solo. They suddenly found the ability to solve my problem.

    1. Google search reveals Mr. Blaik Kirby is Senior Vice President – Marketing and Sales at Bell Mobility in Canada. Looks like you could send him a note via LinkedIn if that could expedite things.

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