Monday, 2 March 2009

Moan of the Day

Two things about the day-to-day process of my job drive irritate me. One is the spam in my inbox each morning – offering to enlarge anatomical features I don’t have, warning me that my account with a bank I’ve never heard of has been compromised, and asking to use said bank account to transfer large sums of money in exchange for a small percentage. At present I am getting huge rafts of email returned undeliverable, which is particularly perplexing because I know for a fact I haven’t sent all those emails in the first place.

The second thing that irritates me is salespeople. Particularly advertising salespeople. I can spot them from the first breath by their contrived sociable approach. The conversation, once my identity has been established, invariably goes something like this.
“And how are you this fine day?”
“Good, good, that’s what I like to hear.”

Someone, somewhere, has told salespeople to be friendly. That someone should be shot. Friendliness with strangers doesn’t come easily to us Brits, it sounds false and it’s extremely annoying when it comes from the fifth person that day to say exactly the same thing.

The caller will then introduce himself, and then say something like “I know you really want to increase business, and what you do there is something we really want to support”.

At this point I love to annoy them and generally say “We don’t want to increase business” (why would we want more lawyers to be stressed or alcoholic?) or, if I’m feeling really cruel, “What is it that we do here?” One I might try someday is “If you really want to support us, why not give us a free advert?”

The funniest are possibly the salespeople from legal journals which are doing a special charity legacies and bequests section. LawCare is a charity, you see, and if we have advertised in the periodical before, their system will flag us up as someone to call about being in the probate special. But picture the scene. Elderly Mrs P. has come to see her solicitor about making a will. After factoring in her family and friends she finds she has a sum remaining to leave to charity. Her solicitor picks up his Charity supplement and invites her to select a worthy cause for her bequest. So, what’s it to be? Humanitarian support for victims of natural disasters? Children with cancer? Abused and abandoned animals? The local hospice? Or overworked solicitors who drink a bit too much?

Obviously I do believe that LawCare is a worthy cause, but we are under no illusions, and we know that any donations we receive are going to come from those LawCare is here to benefit – the lawyers themselves. And obviously we want more of those lawyers to know where they can find the help they need, so we do need to advertise. But please, if you really must try to sell me advertising, don’t pretend to be my best friend, don’t act as if you know about LawCare’s work when you don’t, and just get straight to the bottom line. How much will it cost, and how many lawyers will it reach.

In the time it’s taken me to write this, 24 spam emails have arrived in my inbox – one of them in French. But I’m lucky that my irritations are only minor. We know from our helpline that many people are working in extremely difficult, stressful and intolerable conditions, so perhaps I can put up with a cheery salesperson or three and an unsolicited offer to sell me blue pills.

LawCare’s free and confidential helpline is available 9-7.30 Monday-Friday, 10-4 weekends, on:
0800 279 6888 (Solicitors, Law Students and Legal Executives in England and Wales)
0800 279 6869 (Solicitors, Advocates and Law Students in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man)
0800 018 4299 (Barristers, Clerks and Judges in England and Wales)
1800 991801 (Solicitors in the Republic of Ireland)

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