Yesterday, I got a call on the new home phone line from American Express, offering me, an excellent customer and small business owner, a pre-approved Small Business Owners American Express Card.
First, I have no idea how they got the phone number. I added it to the Do Not Call registry less than five minutes after I was given the number. Our parents don’t even have the number yet. But somehow, American Express has it.
The fellow on the phone rambled on for several minutes about all of the benefits the card would accrue to me. ("With all of your business expenses, you will certainly require a solid line of credit to pay for them," etc.) Finally, he said, "So if I can verify your information, we can have your card out to you in seven-to-ten days."
I said, "Well, I can correct at least one piece of information. I am not a small-business owner."
This seemed to stun him. He fumbled for a minute and then asked, "Have you ever been a small business owner?"
"Do you own rental property that you make money from?"
"Do you have hobbies that you make money from?"
"No." Okay, this was a little white lie, but I had my reasons.
Finally, in desperation: "Do you plan on opening a small business in the future?"
To this I laughed. "Not with a full-time job, and various household responsibilities to uphold, like, say, raising a family."
That more or less ended the call.
So why did I let it linger so long in the first place? I have found that these hard-sell sales people don’t take no for an answer and I get worked up when I say no and someone keeps pushing. Instead, I have found that a reductio ad absurdum approach works best; that is, find a flaw in the logic of their presentation, and exploit it. In this case, the fact that I am not a small business owner.
I wondered why I might have been considered a SBO in the first place. I think it’s my writing. I’ve earned money as a professional science fiction writer and that must count. Clearly, the criteria for being an SBO are tenuous at best. Thus the "little white lie" I referred to above. Still, I don’t consider myself a SBO, and even if I did, I don’t need an American Express card. The problem is if you tell the sales guys that, they just don’t listen. Only when all of their avenues of possibilities have been eliminated will they finally leave you alone.
If there are any American Express Small Business Marketing people who have come upon this blog entry in vanity Google searches, please take this as a lesson. Don’t push! The quickest way to lose me as a customer (and this includes my regular American Express card) is to continue to push me after I’ve already said no.