I called to activate my new credit card today and ended up speaking to Sadguna Pohatkar, a helpful young woman from Mumbai. She was, she told me, very pleased that I had chosen to open an account with her company. Her voice conveyed her absolute pleasure in the rightness of my decision.
She confirmed my information and then had one very, very important piece of information to share with me about purchasing account protection in case of my involuntary release from work, serious illness, accident or dismemberment.
Normally I don't listen to sales pitches, instead politely declining right at the beginning. But she was so enthusiastic and so cheerful that it made me pause just long enough, and then she was off and running and unstoppable.
She read her script with such conviction and caring that for a moment, I almost believed that paying 79 cents a month for every hundred dollars I charged would solve all my life's problems and make me, for once, truly happy. She either really believed this stuff, or she was a brilliant actress.
She spoke for a long time, maybe 3 minutes, explaining all the legalities of the buyer protection plan. I was lulled into a dreamy, passive state by her sweet, lilting voice. She spoke perfect English, but with just enough of an accent to seem exotic and mysterious.
At the end of the pitch, I felt a little bad saying "No, thank you."
Ah, Miss Pohatkar thought I might say that, and she was very disappointed in me. I could tell from her voice, which changed to the tone of a caring teacher who had worked hard to help a slow, lazy student, but the student refused to learn.
But she still had faith in me. As soon as I truly understood all the wonderful benefits bestowed by the buyer protection, the perfect peace of mind, the safety that would be afforded to me and my loved ones, she was sure I would change my mind.
"Knowing all that, would you like to now purchase this protection plan with all it has to offer?"
"No, thank you."
Oooh. Now I had really, really done wrong. The love between us was lost.
"And may I ask what is the reason you have chosen to decline such a comprehensive and beneficial plan?" Miss Pohatkar had an edge of ice in her voice.
I knew that this was a crucial juncture. If I cracked now, I would give Miss Pohatkar an opening to use one of the dozen persuasive arguments in her database designed to cover every possible objection.
"Um...no. I just wanted to activate my card."
Oooh. That did it. Her voice turned flat.
"Well, Miss Davis, that certainly has been done and we do appreciate your business very much and I wish you a very good day."
"Thank you, Miss Poh---"
She hung up on me.