I am still getting the hard sell from cold-callers touting securities. I am told this is because we small business owners are just behind dentists and doctors in terms of our capacity to make bonehead investments.
Before I proceed with this story, there are two things you need to know about me:
- I answer my own phone at the office
- I have never, ever listened to a sales pitch for an investment or security. If I am in a good mood, I interrupt and say, "sorry, not iterested" before they can even name the stock. If I am in a bad mood, I just hang up.
So the other day, I accidentally let one of them go further than I usually allow. He said he was from Olympia Asset Management. (There is an Olympia Asset Management web page, but I don't know if it is the same company and the web page has not been updated for several years.) I let him run for a bit because a friend of mine runs a very well-respected financial planning firm with a different name but also with Olympia in the title, and for a moment I thought it might have been one of his folks.
Anyway, he proceeds to try to convince me that we have talked before and discussed a certain security. "Remember me, we talked six months ago about ____". Of course, I had never heard of the guy. At this point I usually hang up, because I have heard this crap before -- it is a common pitch. The best I can figure is that they are trying to give themselves more credibility by either:
- Trying to imply that we have some kind of relationship we actually don't have. Or worse...
- Trying to convince me that he touted stock A six months ago, so now he can tell me stock A has gone up in price. Many reputable brokers built their reputation by cold calling people and saying: Watch these 3 stocks and see how they do and I will call you back in 6 months. That way, you can evaluate their stock picking without risk. The modern sleazy approach is to pick a stock that has gone up a lot in the last 6 months, and then call some harried business person and pretend you called them with that pick 6 months ago, hoping that they will give you the benefit of the doubt.
For some reason, maybe because I was bored, I decided to chat with him, and I had to admit that he was trained pretty well never to give up. I interrupted him after the "do you remember" opening and said that we could not possible have spoken about a stock, because I always hang up on people within 5 seconds of knowing it is a stock pitch. He said he had sent me a packet of information. I said that he had not. He insisted that we had talked, and that I had promised to write down the name of the stock on my calendar. I told him I don't have a calendar (which is actually true - I manage myself through a dysfunctional combination of memory and post-it notes). Sensing weakness, I turned on him and said "gee, I was out of town a lot 6 months ago and am surprised you got hold of me. What date did you call." Then he starts getting all vague on me. Anyway, I finally tired of the game and hung up but he never relented in his assertion that he and I had had a nice chat about some security.
Please, please. Avoid these guys on the phone like the plague. Several years ago I had a guy call me with some oil drilling "opportunity." In that case, I also made an exception to my rule and listened to see just how bad this thing was going to be. Finally I broke in and said "that's ridiculous, no one in their right mind would send you money for that." He too was relentless, until I finally said "Look, I know Tony Soprano is standing behind you in the boiler room there and putting pressure on you, but I am not interested." Then, without a pause, he starts telling me how he once threw a Molotov cocktail into the car of someone he didn't like. I don't know if he was just having fun with me, but he was either wildly unprofessional or very creepy. Beware, Beware, Beware.