Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 11.30.05
Stanstead, Quebec


Will the real jerk please hang up

I was already kind of cranky when the phone rang at suppertime. I was in the mood to mess with someone.

"Hello?" I answered. Then there was that tell-tale pause that occurs just before someone at a call centre says "Good evening, could I speak to Mr. Murray, please?"


"Mr. Murray?"


"Hello, Mr. Murray. How are you this evening?"

"I'm just dandy. How are you?"

"I'm fine, sir. I'm calling today to make you an offer that I think you will find very interesting from the MBNA Card that gives you 0 percent…"

"M what?"

"MBNA Card. Now this card gives you 0 percent interest for the first…"


"Yes, sir."

"What does that stand for?"

"It's the name of the company that provides the card. It is a respected Canadian financial institution."

"But what do the letters stand for? Like the 'M' - what's the 'M' for?

"Uh, can you wait, sir? I'll go check with my supervisor."

And then he put me on hold. A telemarketer had put me on hold! "He put me on hold," I said to my family, who looked at me like I was crazy. Actually it was more of a scowl from Deb.

"Sir? Are you still there?"

"I'm here."

"I checked with my supervisor and it doesn't stand for anything. It's just the name of the company, like Fido or Telus."

"Yeah, but those aren't acronyms. You can pronounce those words."

"I'm sorry?"

"You can say 'Fido' and 'Telus' but you can't really say MBNA. Unless it's "Mibina."

"Yes, I guess you're right, sir."


"Now, as I was telling you, this card offers 0 percent interest for the first four months and then 9 percent interest on all purchases thereafter…"


"And your current credit card debt can be transferred to the MBNA Card…"

"If it was an MNBA card it would be 'Miniba'…"

"…upon credit check and approval by Mastercard Canada…"

"Wait, this is Mastercard?"

"Yes sir."

"A Mibina Mastercard."

"Yes sir. And upon approval you will receive your MBNA Card in the mail for activation with no obligation on your part."

"You mean, you'll send me all the information and I don't have to commit over the phone?"

"That's right, sir."

"And I can tear it up when it arrives?"

"Yes, but I'm so sure you will be so impressed by the offer that you will want to take advantage of it."

"Tell me, do you get a commission if I say yes?"

"Well, uh, that doesn't really matter but yes."

"And you're telling me that I'm under no obligation. It's not like negative billing or a trial magazine subscription where I have to go through the rigmarole of cancelling. I can just say 'no thanks.'"

"That's right."

"Because I'll track you down."

"There's no obligation, sir."

"And you promise you people will never call me again?"

"I'm afraid I can't make that promise, sir."

"All right, I'll say yes. But I'm doing it for you."

"Very well. Now I need some information…"


And then we went through a series of questions, some of them quite prying that I refused to answer and that he said didn't matter anyway, which made me wonder why he asked them in the first place. He told me I sounded much younger than I am (Deb later said he probably meant "more immature") and called my spouse "your lovely wife." We had become great chums. But what was important was that I'd made life difficult for a telemarketer for once. I'd really turned the table.

Of course, he did make the sale and I'm probably on a phone list now and MBNA did call me the next two evenings at suppertime to confirm my address and I realize there will be some catch when the cards arrive in the mail…

"You deserve it," Deb says.

Maybe. But it's fun to say "Mibina."