I have had a very busy month. Looking for a job, looking for a new flat, moving to a new flat – all that jazz. Then when most of it has finally finished, a con-man arrives to stir things up.
Me and my girl-friend just arrived to our new flat – I was unpacking while she went for a dinner with her friend. The doorbell rang and I went to open the door.
There stood a man with the British Gas uniform (british Gas being the prime supplier of gas and electricity to British homes) wearing a British Gas ID-tag. He asked me whether I lived in the flat and whether I was the one paying the bills. I said yes. He asked me where the electricity meter was. I told him. Then he went on to take my name, address and phone number. I thought that he simply needed that information for the company billing system – I din’t know which electricity provider we had in the new flat so I wasn’t suspicious. Then he asked for two signatures and I was so out of it – and so naively trusting – that I signed the first document, then I woke up and started reading the second document that I was meant to sign. He started saying something and he got me so confused that I signed without argument. He left with a smile on his face and only then did I have a look at the documents I signed.
What the bastard actually did was to make me believe that he was doing a routine check-up. Instead I signed a contract with British Gas to change from my current provider to British Gas. He consciously mislead me, manipulated me, withheld information from me. He did not actually lie to me but after 3 days of moving all my belongings from flat to flat I was so intelectually drained that I didn’t catch up with any of it. I robotically followed his instructions based on a false belief in his authority, all of it leading to a negative result for me.
I guess that this event shows how much we all trust authority – I was cautious only until I was sure that he was a British Gas employee. It did not occur to me that I could be conned by a man with an uniform, ID tag, and a note-pad.
When I finally realised what has happened I first felt absolute shame, I couldn’t believe my stupidity and gullibility. Then I became angry. Then finally I escaped all negativity and understood the event for the lesson that it was. I have already called British Gas and I will be cancelling the contract (no bad done afterall). I will be finding out the identity of the salesman and I will report the mother-fucker to his company, to the bodies that safeguard face-to-face sales,… Basically I’ll do everything I can to get this man fired from his job and unable to find another sales job for the remainder of his life. I may not succeed but I will make my point.
And I guess that this is the moral of the story. We are all susceptible to manipulation, what matters is how we react to it. If I let the shame and guilt rule the day, British Gas and the salesman would have won over me. If I let the rage consume me I would have done nothing meaningful about it. By creating goals for myself and seeking a solution, I may have made the world a service.
I seem to remmeber Bill Hicks arguing for all marketing and advertisement employees to kill themselves. I would like to use this opportunity to stretch it to sales people as well. People, let’s not be fucking victims anymore.