Friday, November 30, 2012

dear Amnesty International.... (rant)

Note: I debated posting this for some time, but finally decided to go ahead. You may want skip it and come back in a week or two. Be warned that it's a rant I felt I needed to get off my chest. It's not likely to be of much interest to anyone else. It's neither funny nor insightful. I promise my next post will be more in line with the usual stuff I write (which, now that I think about it, may not be funny or insightful either, but that's a different issue).


Dear AI:

I've got a suggestion I'd like to pass along: As a general rule, it's a bad approach to make your donors, especially your regular donors, feel like c@#%.

Disclaimer - I've been sick, so am not feeling my best. Also, I was pretty busy when you called. And we don't have caller ID on our land line.

And just to be clear, my complaint isn't really with the man who called. He was was reasonably pleasant (though rather insistent).

When you called last night I answered because I thought it might be my wife and if it had been, I could have asked her about preparations for dinner. It wasn't. It was a man calling from AI.

He started by introducing himself and then launched into what has become the standard for organizations calling to ask for money: "First of all, I'd like to thank you for all your support…." which is a red flag telling me that I'm about to be asked for more support. It might not touch a hot button if, perhaps, you occasionally called simply to say "thank you" without asking for anything more, not that I need or even want such a call, but when you regularly link any "thank you" with a new request, I'm starting to feel a bit used.

But I knew he was only doing his job, and because I appreciate the work you do and support your efforts (which is why we make a monthly donation), I let him go through his spiel  And yeah, I know there is a world-wide problem with treatment of women. I abhor the fact that anyone, anywhere, would use rape as a tool of warfare. It makes me sick to think that young girls are kidnapped and used as sex slaves, and that others are married off at ages not too far from those of my two daughters (both of whom are upstairs and wanting my attention ss I listen to your caller) so this issue does touch me. Once he's done explaining what you want to do if you had the funds, he makes his pitch for an additional donation of $100.

And I've been expecting it and I tell him that 1) we never (I mean never) commit to any money over the phone, and 2) we're tapped out at the moment.

And he tells me he understands, which is the indicator that he's going to thank me and hang up.

Note: In this less-than-perfect world, where callers of organizations I support cannot know that I'm sick, busy and cranky, this is where things ought to have stopped.

But he doesn't and they don't.

Instead he launches into a second routine about working within the US on the same issue, and asks if I'd make a donation of $50. Which is an indicator that either he wasn't really listening to me, or that he's got a script he is required to run through.

So at this point, I've already spent more time on the phone than I would like, and it appears that he needs to ask for the smaller amount if the larger one isn't going to fly. Which means, even if he really had heard me say that I wasn't going to commit to an amount over the phone (and I'm not sure he did), he goes ahead and asks me a second time for money.

And here's the thing. I really and truly do support the work AI does, and I really and truly believe there are some horrible things happening in the world related to treatment of women. I'm helping to raise two young women that I hope grow up in a world where rape and sex slavery and child marriage are fading, declining events. But I am needed upstairs, and I need to get started on dinner, and to be honest, my head aches like it has all day and I really need to blow my nose again.

So I tell the man again that I don't commit to any money over the phone, and this time I tell him that I NEVER commit to money over the phone.

And he starts again to tell me that he undertands, but he also starts to launch into something else about sending the card and needing to …. But I interrupt him to say "Never" again and that if he wants to send the card he can and we'll look at it and decide. And he says that if we're not going to send any money, they don't need to send the card. And I'm really ready now to be off the phone because I'm feeling bad for being rude to someone who I know is just doing his job, and worse, being rude to someone who is doing his job for an organization I support.

After fending off his inquiry about whether I want to be part of the text alert system (I'm already subscribed to email alerts and to be honest, I've had enough of AI for the evening, so he could have asked if I'd like a free AI Hat and I would have said no), I hang up while he's either saying his thanks again or starting to pitch something else, and I feel awful.

Which is the point of my suggestion to you. It strikes me as bad business to make your donors feel awful.

Yeah, I know you're doing good work, and as I've already said a couple of times, I support that work. But if doing so means I'm going to feel sh@%#y, I may decide it's not worth it and shift the money I send to you each month to one of the other rights organizations I support. The ACLU for example.

Hindsight: I wish I'd asked him to put me on their "no call" list, since I already donate monthly, and they're not  in the business of calling to simply say "thank you" (and honestly, I don't want any organization I support to spend any of their resources doing that sort of thing!).

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