Good old fashion chutzpah.

Looks like Israeli Santa brought me a present this Chanukah, in the form of some tradional and terrible Israeli marketing tactics – one minor and one major. Allow me to share them with you: 

Learn how to communicate with your potential customers

This morning, I wake up to the buzzing of my phone, a call at 8:50 am from an 02 number I don’t recognize. I let it go, cursing out whoever calls me before 9 am on a Friday. Ten minutes later, the phone rings again, and my husband picks up. He tells me, ”It’s Batya.” I mouth back, “Who’s Batya?”

I pick up and the woman named Batya starts speaking and I realize this is a telemarketing call. My first thought is, poor thing has to do this work on a Friday morning, and my second thought is, are you freaking serious?

She gave me her shpiel and mentioned somewhere in there that a friend of mine had offered my number because she signed up for a membership and thought I’d be interested. Before I answered anything else, I asked, “Which friend?” She didn’t seem to understand the question, so I repeated: “Which friend gave you my number?” Of course, she said she didn’t have the name on her. She started giving me another shpiel and I blurted out, “Not a good time. I’m pregnant.” I could sense her brain freezing at what kind of comment to offer in return so I said goodbye and hung up.

Now I wish I had asked: What possesses a company’s marketing department to make these kinds of calls at this very time? Do you not realize, as a gym, that people who are not already at the gym early on a Friday morning are probably not gym-going types of people who don’t want to be woken up… by gyms?

The funniest thing about the whole story is that I  never heard the name of the gym, so I can’t even do a little ‘viral marketing’ for them and repeat it here.

UPDATE: Turns out, it was a woman from a gym I had actually given my number to a few days earlier. I take back the angst, but I think calling after 9 still would have been nice since I’m not a member (yet?). 

Learn how to communicate with your outgoing customers

Our stone, third-floor apartment in Tzur Hadassah is consistently colder than it is outside. Last night we went to turn on the gas heating and found that the thing would just shut off after three seconds. My husband thought it might have been broken, but I had just used it the night before. We realized maybe the gas had been shut off… but why? Downstairs, we checked that the gas stove top wasn’t working either and then we knew for sure.

After checking with the neighbors, we understood it wasn’t just us or them – it was our entire block. Here’s some background: To switch to a new gas company, you have to get a whole block to petition for it and then you can disconnect from one and join a new one, collectively. My block had decided to switch from פזגז ירושלים (PazGaz), one of the leading Israeli gas companies, to גז יגל (Gaz Yegel), a smaller company, because we were paying about double what others pay. The switch was set for Sunday: PazGas would come and disconnect, and then Gaz Yegel would come and connect on the same day. 

Last night, PazGas decided to end their terms just a little bit earlier – on a Thursday, in fact, so the weekend had started and there would be nothing we can do until Sunday anyway. They came and shut off the gas, silently leaving letters scattered by our doors addressed from the Manager of Customer Service, עליזה אוחיון. The letter fascinated me, with it’s overly sweet apologies for the ending of our relationship, with the law being kept in mind by the company the whole way. And somewhere that translates into screwing us by shutting off the gas early.

However – a Chanukah miracle! We woke up this morning to find that our gas had been returned to us. Turns out Gaz Yegel had actually come by late last night and connected us when they were contacted by neighbors about what PazGaz did. For what it’s worth, they said this is not the first time this company has been screwed by PazGaz into rescuing switched-over companies because they shut off the gas early.

Yesterday and the day before have been (or at least felt like) the coldest days so far. This is a residential area with babies and kids everywhere. How could a gas company do that? What kind of message does that send? That you’re a sore loser when participating in a free, open market? That you can’t take undercutting by the competition in a mature and business-smart way? 

Gaz Yegel advised us it wasn’t worth a lawsuit. I wasn’t really even thinking lawsuit, I was thinking bad publicity. I think the customer service in this country is so terrible because consumers don’t complain after the fact; there’s no feedback. Lawsuits are becoming more popular, but that’s not the best way – or only way – to make a point. Sure, Israelis will complain during the bad times, and they’ll work at finding a solution as quickly as possible… But once it’s gone down, where’s the feedback? I could sit back and be happy the new company came to the rescue, but how will everyone else find out about why this all started in the first place?

Well, all I can really ask is that all  my friends out there doing Israeli MBAs this year keep these kinds of stories in mind, and go off and become Marketing Directors or consultants, and help these companies work on strategies and tactics that are not based on the wonderful Jewish tradition of chutzpah.






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