ABN-Amro, Mobile Spam and Marketing Mistakes

Yesterday, I received a call from a lady called ‘Richa’ (phone number +9111-45092650) who claimed to represent ABM-Amro Bank. She just wanted me to confirm my (non-existent) request for an ABN-Amro Global Master Card. I’m in Airtel’s ‘Do Not Call’ list, and I usually don’t get cold-calls. On inquiring about how they got my number, I was told that they have a database with my name and number on it, and that’s all they know.

I spoke to the ‘Team Leader’ who assured me that he would put me on their ‘Do Not Call’ list, and this was just a mistake. He apologised.
A short while ago, I received a call from a ‘Megha’ (number: +9111-45092639)
offering me (yes, you guessed it!) an ABN-Amro Global Master Card. Why are they bothering me again? Her response: “So what, sir? People get 10 calls in a day. This is just two in two days”


According to yesterdays Financial Express, this and branded tie-ups seem to be means of providing “an instant solution for the present marketing shortfalls.”

Ah, such farsightedness. Think of all that money spent on brand building via TVC’s gone to waste with one stupid call. ABN-Amro did a few things wrong here:

  • They coldcalled. By trying to get a few accounts, they probably pissed off a lot of people, and put off future customers.
  • They generated bad word-of-mouth. Like, here.
  • They coldcalled twice. I’m even more pissed off. More bad word-of-mouth.

This was probably a case of outsourcing sales, and that’s where a risk for any company lies – will the people you hire to contact prospective customers project your company in a manner that you’d like them to? Megha, who called second, was cocky. Is that the way someone would have behaved if I had declined the credit card while at a bank branch? Of course, one has now come to expect telecallers to be dumb and uncouth, but I don’t think it’s excusable.

The risk for the company is greater in services than in products: services are intangible and a bad impression results in uncertainty when one does decide to purchase. One cannot afford pre-purchase dissonance because then, heh, there will be no purchase.
I’m not sure of how successful coldcalling has been in India, but since they’re still at it, I assume it must be working for them.

Just for the record, I’d received another cold-call a couple of weeks ago. How did they get my number? The telecaller explained that he was dialing serial-wise – 98xxxxxxx1, then 98xxxxxxx2 and so on.

I’d also received an automated call from Hutch on my (Airtel) phone, offering me a post-paid connection…which I had spoken to Airtel about earlier in the day, so there’s a leak there somewhere.

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  1. True story: I put my name in Hutch’s ‘do not disturb’ list, which is supposed to stop promotional messages, and there was a ad for the latest bond movie appended at the end of the confirmation message. Argghh!

  2. Here are some things I do to get rid of cold-caller:

    I put them on hold and go make tea, or go to the loo.

    Sometimes I let them say things and then I reply in some other language (works in Britain, I say haaain, kya bole? loudly) which gets them off the line quickly.

    Sometimes when I get their name, I start talking to them about the weather or some film or ask where they live.

    Once I asked one girl why her family lets her work – are they poor or blind or just drunks living off their womenfolk..

    I have found that these tactics have marked me as an uneducated Asian woman in the UK and the inbound cold calls have reduced to zero..

    Try these – they may work better than do-not-call lists.

  3. lol@the other language. Unfortunately, the only other language I know a little is french…and I usually say je ne comprends pas.

    I once asked the HDFC Bank telecaller to give me an account…any account. Preferably, I said, one with money already in it. I haven’t received a call from any HDFC rep since.

    ICICI Bank were, last I remember, relentless. Any form one fills up makes its way to their database, and the cost of acquisition is so low, that they dont usually blacklist people.

    The only way to put an end to this would be, I guess, to send the sales agents on a wild goose chase. I’d rather make the cost of acquisition of a new account through such means, higher.

  4. Well if innovation in telesales bloopers was to be VC-funded, investors would make more money per investment than Sequoia did on Skype!

    Get this:

    A call comes in.

    ‘Hi, I am calling from Blah-Blah-Boring Bank.’


    ‘Can I verify that you are Mr Joe Bloggs?’

    ‘You called me on my mobile, you tell me!’

    ‘Well I am afraid I have to take you through security questions, Mr Bloggs, to go any further. Can you give me your date of birth please?’

    (Hmm. Rudeness must have been my calling sign and she seems to be happy that I indeed *am* Mr Bloggs! But then again…)

    ‘*&%£(*$)&I_{N &YE*%&$^*’

    Customer hangs up. See why?

    I get a call, on my officially provided contact number, from a person who does not check if it is a good time to talk, and where *I* have to verify who I am, by giving my details to a woman whom I am supposed to believe when she says she is calling from Blah-Blah-Boring Bank!

    Security? What Security?

  5. I agree with all of the above. So what are you going to do about it besides quietly laying the issue to rest.

    That’s what is wrong with everything thats wrong in life – we give up too soon. If you’re interested I am ready to join the fun in taking this head on.

    BTW: I belong to the BPO Industry 🙂


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