Brewer's Droop #283

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February 2021


Last month I had a little rant about the ubiquitous growth of computer platforms and the fact that every man and his dog appear to be developing new ones. So this time I thought I might have a go at contact etiquette and I’ve picked a few which really annoy me.


The first thing: when I answer my phone do not say ‘How are you?’ I have no clue who you are and you don’t have the politeness to ask me if it’s convenient to talk. Click.

The second one are those calls which immediately launch into an automated sales pitch. Click.

The third one is the proliferation of people who make a habit of talking into speaker phones. The sound is muffled and, in any case, I want to know who, and how many people I’m talking to. Call me back person-to-person or, preferably, don’t call me back. The correct thing to do, following the polite introductions, is to tell me I’m on a speaker phone and who else is listening.

I may forgive you if you’re speaking from your car phone – but only if I’m calling you, not the other way round. Call me when you’re stationary or back in your office – or even a pub is okay.

Sometimes they say, rather accusingly, ‘you’re breaking up.’ Well, it’s not my phone. It’s probably because you’re using a car or home speaker phone. Try again.

Click – and I don’t always answer even if they do try again.


Then there are those insufferable spammers who send me emails.

Look, this is my business. I know what I’m talking about. If you want to market yourself or your product, via a direct route (like social media or emails or whatever) here are a few basic rules.

First of all, identify your target market and then try to be as relevant and polite as possible.

Don’t send multiple messages every single bloody day – it just annoys potential customers and that’s not a good idea.

Try to personalise the messages if you can. It works infinitely better.

There are those who, no matter how hard I try, I cannot unsubscribe or successfully mark them as spam. Here are just a few I get daily:

Snatcher Online
Eclipse Promotions
Ujena Swimwear
Toshiba Sales
The Auctioneer
Africa Regional Media
Sabre Products
Watches Tell Time
American Swiss
Ned bank (note the space)

And there are more I can’t be bothered to remember at this minute. But they all have one thing in common; I will never, NEVER buy anything from them.

They should remember that and stop their sloppy, lazy and pathetic mailings.

And then I get calls from people who want to know if they’re calling me. Sigh. Yes you are. Then they ask for my ID number.

‘No, I won’t tell you.’

‘But I need that to continue.’ Click.


‘Hello, is that Christopher Brewer?’

‘I’m not buying anything.’

‘Oh but this isn’t a sales call, I’d like to set up a meeting between you and our investment manager.’


And on it goes. I’m going to stop this rant now. But if you have a few pet hates of your own I’d like to hear about them. Don’t be afraid to name names.


Before I go I’d like to mention that I’m becoming increasingly interested in words and their etymology. I found something interesting recently about the word ‘hello’. Apparently it’s a fairly new word and was developed as a greeting when telephones became common. People felt they had to say something when they answered, without divulging their name. It derived from the old Middle English hunting cry of ‘hallow’ and the Old French ‘haloer’.

By the way, at around the same time, the American Government had to introduce Income Tax because they’d lost so much income on alcohol sales (Prohibition). Something our governments should remember. But I suppose the nature of most governments is that they forget so quickly.

The last point on etymology is this: when Dr. Johnson published his dictionary (Fleet Street in 1765) he had many messages from pious ladies who congratulated him for leaving out all the swear words etc., to which he replied ‘I thank those good ladies for persevering with continually looking them up.’

Well, I find it interesting anyway.

My kindest regards,

Chris (Please feel free to forward this link to anyone you think may be interested).

Filed as:


  1. If you are interested in words and etymology, I would like to suggest a podcast by Helen Zaltzman call The Allusionist.

    • Also “Mother Tongue” by Bill Bryson

      • Yeah, read it. Excellent.

    • Will look out for it!

  2. Eloquent as ever old pal.

    • Thanks mate.

  3. So agree with this rant! The bugger is that occasionally they are genuine calls (like where would you like your new card delivered, or I’m your courier and can’t find your house, or — at 8 at night — did you authorise PayPal to deduct R45 000 from your business account (NO!)). The absolute rudest is to answer and get a bloody marketing recording. Block number. But it doesn’t stop them. My worst is Vodacom which gouges enough already for crap service. My general rule of thumb now is ignore the call and if it’s legit business, they will leave a message. But the fraud fear lingers … It’s just sad that these vultures make things so hard for the genuine callers.

    • True.

      Wish I still had a shotgun!

  4. Chris thank you for voicing all my unsolicited marketing pet hates. I identify with each and every example. One additional one i have is the terribly intrusive repetitive ads when one is trying to read news online….they go straight on to my list of products black list.

    • I HATE those too.

  5. I keep getting adverts for funeral policies on Facebook so I took about 30 years off my age there. Do not know how to change age to prevent funeral policy SMS ‘s

    • I doubt that will help. Just reply and say ‘sorry that person is dead’.

  6. Hi Chris
    I think you might get a deluge back.

    Do the NED BANK e-mails you get also end in Pathetic – if you going to phish, as least try and look legit.

    bhgtre juhgrfd and hdhsh nsdnh are the recent specials from SPRINGLEAF LOANS.

    Another persistent spammer is DIRECT AXIS … unsubscribe doesn’t work. I tried to report them (can’t remember where) but the site said they weren’t members.

    VODACOM is the worst with ad calls, no matter how many numbers one blocks. The problem is ABSA has now started sending recorded calls, with legitimate info that customers need.

    Enough for today, my blood is starting to boil.

    • Have a glass of wine.

      • Just got another one from the same blocked e-mail address:
        Ned bank <
        Isn't that a bit dim if it's a real name?

  7. Two things: Ginny above – The Direct Axis thing is not actually Direct Axis, it’s totally fraudulent. I spoke to them (the real them) when I was getting a few from them.

    The other thing is the “how are you?” which used to irritate me very much. Someone explained that it’s very much a Black-person-good-manners thing and that changed my perspective. It is GOOD MANNERS to find out how the person is before you find out how they are. In other words, they don’t need to know how important (or not) you are before finding out about your good health.

    • I don’t care about culture. You don’t begin a conversation with “how are you?’ without introducing yourself first.

    • Thanks Megan
      Yup I figured it was spam. But my point is the real Direct Axis wasn’t listed as a member (which I could remember the site), which just seems rather unprofessional.
      Yes, I’ve also heard the “how are you” greeting is culturally good manners – another clash with traditional business culture.

  8. I had classic many years ago when it was safe and done to identify yourself when answering the phone. The caller from a prominent media house said “where am I now” bang not click. But you are so right and one hopes that this form of marketing will self destruct – eventually

    • I’m sure it will

  9. I support every single rant! I have become extremely adept at blocking numbers! You can now add Cell C to the list, which has started phoning to sell some sort of insurance for your phone. Two calls yesterday! Inept does not cover it. What would be the point of insurance when by the time you may or may not need it, you coud have paid for a new phone with all the premiums.
    Suggestion: When the person asks how you are without telling you their name, maybe respond with: “I’m broke, my head aches, my feet are cold and my arse itches.” Maybe that might get them to do the click!

    • I did say to one lady last week when she asked how I was and clearly wasn’t go to wait for an answer, I interrupted her and said “not a good time for me – they’re wheeling me into surgery now.” So far she hasn’t called back again.

  10. As entertaining as always Chris …… thank you ! I loved reading all the comments too.

    • Thanks Anne

  11. When will they learn?!?
    Great written piece as always.

    • While there are still idiots in the marketing business I think it’s safe to assume they never will learn.

  12. Yes, Chris, a pet hate. I cannot stand all this intrusive advertising via the media and cell phones.
    What amazes me is that you can have all this stopped if you “PAY” your cell phone provider or media platform to do so !!!! – DISGUSTING is all I can say.
    How about paying me to listen to all the advertising garbage ???

    • Ha! Good point Fred.

  13. A great rant! My particular peeve is the automated marketing recorded voices. They use a different number each time so you can’t block the call and my phone actually took a message of one the other day. By the way, am I being charged for these calls?

    • I don’t know about charges but those calls make me MAD. They should be immediately shot.


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