Midnight calls, free 'gifts': 6 high-pressure sales tactics UAE residents should watch out for

Some tips on how to withstand the annoyance of high-pressure salespeople


Mazhar Farooqui

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Published: Sun 19 Mar 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 19 Mar 2023, 9:13 PM

Have you ever been harassed by pushy salespeople? The kind of people who won't take no for an answer? Did a telemarketing agent ever call you right in the middle of an important meeting and an abrupt end to the call by you did not put a stop to their cold calling? Such people, it seems, will not stop at anything.

At times, you may find them extremely annoying but do not know how to deal with them. Here are a few tips to help you tackle high-pressure salespeople.

1. Real estate

Buying a house can be a daunting experience. Unfortunately, some real estate agents can exacerbate this feeling. Ask anyone who has been to a property open-house and they will tell you how they have received an onslaught of requests from numerous agents, bombarding them with invitations to attend launches and view buildings.

While some buyers may welcome the extra attention, others find the constant phone calls and emails annoying and intrusive.

A potential homebuyer recounted how a real estate agent recently messaged him past midnight to enquire about his interest in a particular property. “He made it seem like an opportunity of a lifetime that couldn’t wait until the morning,” said the man.

“Real estate agents should remember that their primary duty is to provide guidance and support to their clients, not pressurise them into making a decision they are not comfortable with,” said Bradley Norris, managing director of Dubai-based Sycamore Real Estate

Top tip: Remember, pushy real estate agents persuade you to buy a house that’s way beyond your budget because they are focused on their commission cheque rather than on your needs. The higher the price, the higher the commission.

2. Time share packages

Unexpected phone calls promising gift hampers are all too common in Dubai, but residents have found out the hard way that many of these calls are just a ploy to lure them into a high-pressure sales pitch for a time share package. In order to claim the prize, you are required to visit a hotel with your family and attend a short presentation.

Unfortunately, these presentations drag for hours and invariably include mis-selling resulting in many residents falling prey to the companies’ promises. They include lifetime memberships that promise to grant access to top resorts and hotels worldwide, free gym memberships, and concert tickets, among other perks.

However, these promises invariably fall flat, leaving residents with nothing but regret.

Instances also abound where sales agents have opened lines of credit without the client’s knowledge or consent or made them sign the contract under duress.

Top tip :Be wary of calls informing you that you have won a gift hamper, and are required to visit a hotel with your family to claim it.

3. Banking products

Outsourced bank agents are often like eager beavers constantly searching for new customers to sign up for credit cards and bank loans. Since they are technically not on the bank’s pay roll, they may not care as much about the bank's reputation or customer satisfaction. Their main goal is to sell as many credit cards and loans as possible to earn a commission.

These agents may cold-call people and persistently pitch their products, even if the potential customer is not interested. Some may not take no for an answer and may continue to call people with balance transfer requests or ask for referrals, putting pressure on you to share names and contact information for family and friends who might be interested in the bank’s products.

Top tip: As a consumer, you have the right to decline offers and say no to any requests for referrals. Always remember that you have control over your financial decisions and should feel empowered to make choices that work best for you. Don’t feel pressured to make a decision on the spot – take the time you need to evaluate the offer and make a choice that aligns with your financial goals.

4. EdTech telemarketing

Next on our list are EdTech telemarketers who use predatory tactics to force parents into enrolling their children in online courses. Sales executives of these companies are under immense pressure from their bosses to close deals at any cost, even if it means resorting to misselling and deception.

A parent in Dubai recounted her experience with a leading EdTech company whose representative would call incessantly to enroll her 12-year-old son in a course. "Every time he called, I told them I was not interested, but the calls never stopped. Eventually, I had to block the number. But that wasn't the end of it, as he started calling from another number," she said.

In addition to their unethical tactics, EdTech telemarketers often use FOMO (fear of missing out) to lure parents into enrolling their children in online courses. They create a false sense of urgency that if they did not sign up immediately, they could lose on an opportunity that could potentially change their child’s life.

Agents have also been accused of hard-selling products to parents who cannot afford them and refusing to cancel subscriptions even after repeated requests. Many of these courses present themselves as free trials or trial packages but in reality, they require parents to sign up for recurring Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) mandates or activate the auto-debit feature without their knowledge.

Top tip: Exercise caution when sharing your credit card details to online education providers, and always read the fine print before signing up.

5. Investment schemes

Who hasn’t got a call promising a windfall if you in invest in stock, forex or cryptocurrency? Saying no to these sales agents isn’t easy as many residents would agree. Tell them you’re busy and they will ask when they could call back. If you tell them you’re simply not interested, they question your wisdom with a cold call script laced with overly technical jargon. One sales agent might say, “Sir, you are missing on the recent market volatility in the wake of US bank collapses. Another might mention terms like ‘dividends’, ‘derivatives or crypto wallets, leaving potential investors feeling overwhelmed.But that is not where it ends. Some of these sales agents may insist on meeting you in person to share their company’s investment projections, which are often inflated or misleading. They may even send their company presentations, promising to help you make money, but in reality, they are only interested in closing a deal to earn their commission or bonus. Once you‘ve engaged with these sales agents, they hound you with follow up call, pressurising you to invest.

Top tip: Investing should be a well-researched decision, not a quick fix for a potential windfall. Fraudulent companies may lull you into believing that they are regulated when, in fact, they are not. So, do your due diligence and don’t let a pushy sales agent dictate your financial future.

6. Perfumery

We have all encountered those perfume sellers who lurk around malls, ready to pounce on unsuspecting shoppers with their sprays and scent strips. And don’t get us started on their persuasive sales tactics. No matter the time of the year, they always seem to have some kind of one-time special offer -- three or four fragrance bottles for the price of just one. And just when you think you’ve resisted their siren song, they throw in an air freshener and car perfume to sweeten the deal. It’s like they know exactly how to push our buttons. Let’s give credit where it’s due. These people are like the Jedi masters of persuasion. It’s not easy to walk away from them without feeling a bit tempted.

Top tip: Buy the fragrances if you like them and not simply because you fear missing out on a limited time deal. Keep in mind that the offer will still be available if you decide to visit the place later in the year, or even the following year.

Disclaimer: The list of salespeople mentioned in this article is not meant to ridicule any profession or to suggest that all individuals working in these fields engage in aggressive sales tactics. We acknowledge that many salespeople carry out their work with professionalism and integrity, and we respect their efforts to provide valuable products and services. However, the purpose of this article is to highlight some of the practices that are deemed aggressive by some consumers and to encourage a more ethical approach to sales. We encourage readers to be vigilant when dealing with such salespeople and to carefully evaluate any offers or propositions they receive.

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