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Five red flags

We have an enquiry form on our web site .... and over the years we've learnt that not all requests for information are a genuine interest in our courses. There's a number of "flags" that point to these requests made for other purposes - and I thought I spotted five such flags in a single request yesterday

* The request didn't state what subject the enquirer is interested in
* The request asked for information that is readily available on our web site
* The request asked us to fax information to a premium rate UK number (35p or 63c per minute)
* The request was submitted from a far East IP address
* No email address, no postal address, no "regular" phone number given

Do you know the amazing thing - I sent a short but polite fax saying "hey - this is a bit naughty" and actually got an answer. It seems that the guy concerned feels he's got a genuine reason ("I have this number to filter the crap that comes from cold calling") for having his own premium rate number, and is currently travelling in Japan .... and I'm now wondering whether or not I want to follow up and encourage business from a client who's quite prepared to waste his potential supplier's money in having them contact him back at their greater-than-normal expense.

Did I mention he let slip in his answer that he's asked four other training companies to fax him their schedules on his "I get paid some of what you pay for this" line ... and he implied that they have done. No wonder we're able to keep our costs down better :-)
(written 2004-10-21, updated 2006-06-05)

Commentatorsays ...
gje:Just a quick addition - I guess I was alert to the cost issue of this having returned a call a few weeks ago to a guy who said he was trying to match up course providers and potential trainees ... except that the number I had to call was a high cost one and, boy, could he talk!

It would have been SO much more fun if he had wanted to talk about something other than training.
(comment added 2004-10-21 17:04:06)
Custard:Sounds a bit cheeky to me, and a licence to print money.

Do these guys make a living by making lots of 'suppliers' ring them up on their premium rate lines I wonder?

Perhaps that's the scam..
(comment added 2004-10-21 20:42:21)
gje:I suspect that was a rhetoric question, but - yes - the guy who had me calling on the high cost number to talk training was quite open when I challenged him about it - went on (for quite a time) of course.

I actually don't mind people inviting me to phone them back on expensive numbers - it happens all the time on the TV and in adverts but in the case of an advert they have to declare the cost in the advert. It just seems like a loophole that people making individual approaches (and not advertising) don't have the same requirement on them. If I knew the rate ahead of time, I could choose whether it is worthwhile.

I guess whatever the "norm" is for your industry / mode of work ... try something that's a little different and you'll get people objecting. We keep our training prices low, publish them and don't do discounts. I spent a lot of yesterday answering a reseller, time and again, who felt that he should get about 50% off and that we should run a private PHP course for 2 persons for a total of 400 pounds a day. Wasn't interested in the public course that's coming up on the timescale he needs; he tells me that his client insists on a private course but, really, I think it's the reseller out to make money. He hasn't put me in touch with the client so that I can work out what they really ned, of course!

Sorry - rant over. There seem to be those who make a good living by providing a service, and those who make a living off others.
(comment added 2004-10-22 05:19:51)
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