After a couple of weeks confined to the office sorting out all sorts of material for inclusion in our new walking pages, which are being updated throughout the winter, I have got used to the fact that many of the operatives who work in Indian based call centres call themselves by an English name when quite clearly they are not English.
I am also reliably informed that in order to help them better communicate with the people they are supposed to be selling to, call centre workers are shown English television programmes such as Eastenders. Not only do they watch, but they are encouraged to adopt the christian names of characters. Very often, if seems, a group of workers will be formed into a team, and everyone in that team will adopt the name of a character from the same television programme.
Clearly this may cause them more problems than they might think. If a guy calling himself "Alfie" rings you from Mumbai to try to persuade you to change power supplier he is hardly likely to inspire confidence, especially if a day earlier a woman called "Kat" also rang from the same company.
This week we have had three calls into our office from the same telesales team in India trying to persuade us to change our mobile phone contract. Nothing wrong in that, I suppose, and the people who rang were perfectly nice, hard working individuals. But I cannot help but feel that they may stand a better chance of success if they just introduced themselves by their own name. There is, after all, absolutely nothing wrong with being called Amir or Mallika, so why hide their own name in favour of John or Jenny. I for one would be far more likely to respond to someone calling themselves by their own name, or at least one that sounds like it could be their own name, rather than something that I am fairly certain has been adopted for the purpose of trying to gain my confidence, but which is quite clearly false.
The three calls to our office this week, all selling the same product, are a good case in point. On Monday we were called by John, on Wednesday it was Virgil, and today we were called by a chap calling himself Parker. I could not resist engaging him in conversation with regard to his name and after a short while did indeed ascertain that he and the other members of his team have adopted names used by characters in "Thunderbirds". Which means that in all probability there is a guy ringing people up to sell them a new mobile phone contract who is quite happy to tell you that his name is Brains and he can save you money on your mobile phone calls.
Any women on the team may also be in for a hard time when they introduce themselves. Penelope may well get away with it, but I for one cannot wait for the day when the person on the other end of the phone announces, "hello there, my name is Grandma."