The View from Landmark

Trends and issues in personal computing from Bud Stolker, a long-time PC consultant. The View from Landmark features tips and techniques to make time spent with your computer more productive and rewarding, commentary on new personal computer policies and trends, plain-English explanations of new hardware, software, and network designs and their relevance to you, and answers to common questions. There may be personal material interspersed if Bud believes it is of general interest.

Monday, March 28, 2005

India Calling (II)

I have now received recordings of the phone calls I mentioned in India Calling (I).

It’s a bit frightening that sales calls can be recorded without disclosure, but we’re living in the 21st Century and that’s the way it is. (My brother, a strong privacy advocate, might point out that that’s not the way it HAS to be.)

Now that Effective Teleservices Inc. has kindly forwarded me the calls, you can judge for yourself whether Dunn & Bradstreet’s latest sales push works for them.

Note: These transcripts have been condensed. Caller identities were confirmed by the call center manager, who apologized profusely. He fired Mrigank and suspended Mrigank's buddy Dharam. There’s much more on the recordings.

.wav fileCall number 1: March 22, 2005
(785K wave file | length 12:33. Note: mild profanity!)

(phone rings)

Bud: Landmark Labs, Bud Stolker.

Mrigank (heavy Indian accent): This was in regard to your business credit file with Dun & Bradstreet.

How do I know you're with Dun & Bradstreet?

There has been some activity over your business credit file, so I need to discuss credit options regarding that.

Now how do I know you're with Dun & Bradstreet?

I am having a snapshot of your company.

Can you give me some particular information about my company, so I know you're looking at that?

Well, what I can say is that you started your business in 1982 (actually my D-U-N-S® report shows the year as 1981), and right now you are having an inquiry over your business.

So again, how do I know you're with Dun & Bradstreet? What assurance do I have? Surely you have a way of proving this. If you can't answer this question, I can't talk with you.

Okay, I can give you your D-U-N-S® Number, which no one else can give you.

But isn't that public information?

No, this is your unique identification number.

But if someone does a D-U-N-S® on me, they'll get my ID number, right?


(more discussion)

I would feel much more comfortable if we conducted this conversation by email or by regular mail.

Let me tell you, I don't need any information. I was here to provide you with something. I was here to tell you something about your company -- about what is happening in your business credit file. If you are not comfortable over the phone, I can send you this information via email.

Okay, that's fine.

Your email address, please?

Don't you have it there?

No. I don't have your email address.

You should. I do have an email address that Dun & Bradstreet has on file.

Bud, I am having a snapshot of your company. I don't an email ID because email IDs keep on changing.

So I still have no assurance that you are from Dun & Bradstreet.
What is it that you need?

My concern of calling you is that we have identified businesses like you who are having an inquiry over that. What it shows is that somebody has requested information about your business credit. They are looking into your business credit files with Dun & Bradstreet, and moreover, we have noticed that you are not checking your business credit files frequently. Am I right?

So you're selling me a service, is that it?


No, I don't want the service. This is not really a legitimate inquiry. All of this is a sales call, is that right?

Well, it's a consultation call with Dun & Bradstreet. If you sign up for the service, I will be happy to do that for you.

You're really a piece of work. Take me off the list for calls like this from Dun & Bradstreet or whoever you are.

(arguing ensues, interspersed with sales pitch)

Before we go any further -- I would like to talk to your supervisor, please.

(Note: What follows is Bud's explanation to supervisor “Kevin” – actually Dharam, a wise-mouthed smart-alec impersonating the supervisor, according to the apologetic call center manager when he explained the situation. Dharam has been suspended for this incident. Listen to the recording!)

(more arguing ensues)

Before you get off the line, what I want from you is an assurance that I'll be taken off the Dun & Bradstreet calling list for calls like this. It's very important to me that you do that.

And furthermore, I want a confirmation by US mail that I've been taken off the list.

"Kevin" (actually Dharam): Well, I can put you off this system, but someone might . . .

(more argument)

You won't be able to do that? For all its power, Dun & Bradstreet cannot drop a note in the mail that says you're off our calling list for sales calls?

No, we won't be able to put you off the calling list.

Okay, I'm gonna get off the phone. This is absolutely pointless. I don't believe for a minute that you're Dun & Bradstreet. If you are, you're doing a terrible job of representing them -- a terrible job. That's it. Goodbye.

Anything else, Bud?


.wav fileCall number 2: March 25, 2005
(256K wave file | length 4:05)

(phone rings)

Bud: Landmark Labs, Bud Stolker.

"Bob” (heavy Indian accent): Bud, my name is Bob – Bob Simpson. I’m calling from Dun & Bradstreet. The reason for my call is to tell you that there has been an inquiry on your company’s credit report. Are you aware of that inquiry?

Bud: Bob. How do I know you're from Dun & Bradstreet?

You can call me at 1-866-353-7667.

And how do I know that's Dun & Bradstreet?

You can go on our Web site. Now you dial this number and I'll pick up the phone. Or somebody else will pick up the phone and they will call me.

That's very strange. That doesn't sound like Dun & Bradstreet.

Then, how do I make sure that I am talking with Bud Stolker?

You dialed my number! You wanted to reach me!

(argument ensues)

Let me talk to your supervisor.

There is no supervisor here.

There is no supervisor! And you're Dun & Bradstreet and you're just sitting in an office in India calling me and asking me to give you company information. That's just great. You must be very proud.

Let me ask you one thing, sir. Do you have any problems if I call you, like, I'm an Indian. Do you have any problems if I call you?


What! Do you have any problems with Indians?

No. I have problems with Dun & Bradstreet -- supposedly Dun & Bradstreet -- calling me and milking me for company information.

But we are giving you this call to . . . we are not here to earn money.

This is a sales call, Bob, is it not?

It is a sales call, sir.

Take me off the calling list for all of Dun & Bradsteet -- for all sales calls. Now surely you can do that.

I can do that, sir, but let me tell you one thing. It is ME who can do that -- not other persons.

I'll tell you what I'd like from you, and surely you can give this to me. Give me a number or an address of someone at Dun & Bradstreet that can verify that this is a legitimate call. Not calling you back -- calling someone at Dun & Bradstreet who can say "Yes, we have a call center in India that is doing sales calls and they are authorized to call you".

Why should I give you the information?

Because if you don't, I'm going to climb through the phone line and I'm gonna strangle you, Bob! Do you understand that?

Goodbye, sir.


.wav fileCall number 3: March 25, 2005
(30K wave file | length 0:29)

(phone rings)

Bud: Landmark Labs, Bud Stolker.

Dharam (heavy Indian accent): May I be connected to Bud?

This is Bud.

Hi, Bud. How are you?

Who is this?

Well, Bud, okay. Now, if I tell you, you would be angry.
Yes, who is this?
(long pause)

How can I help you?

Yes, who's this, Bud?

(Bud hangs up)

.wav fileCall number 4: March 25, 2005
(236K wave file | length 3:46)

(phone rings)

Bud: Landmark Labs, Bud Stolker.

Dharam: This is Kevin and I'm calling from Dun & Bradstreet.

Oh, sure you are.

I am the supervisor on the floor. How may I help you?


Did our agent try to harass you? To abuse you?


Okay. Now let me tell you. Do you know that Dun & Bradstreet is in 120 countries?

I am going to call Dun & Bradstreet Business Solutions and ask them if they have any affiliations with Indian call centers. I need to verify that you're legitimate.

And so, please tell me, after you have called someone and if you feel that we are legitimate, will you call us back?

Probably not. Why should I?

Okay, Bud, before you end this conversation, the only reason -- I would like to tell you is, first of all -- this is not a sales call. -- and Bud -- I would need to know -- are you recently using any services from Dun & Bradstreet?

This is a sales call!

I'm just asking you, Bud!

I cannot believe that D&B hires people as obnoxious as you. I am going to call and see if in fact they are. And if they are, I'm going to suggest that they terminate the service, because I've spoken with three, maybe four people from your organization, and you're just as obnoxious and as pressing and as unhelpful as you can possibly be.