The phone rang with that strange caller ID that usually means it's a sales call from another country. I picked it up. 'Hello, this is Mark calling you from Windows...' Now, from his accent, 'Mark' was clearly not Mark - and unless Windows is a suburb of Mumbai, probably not calling from Windows. I hadn't had breakfast yet and couldn't be bothered. 'Sorry,' I said, very loudly. 'I can't understand you. It's a very bad line!' And hung up.
To give 'Mark' his due, he had perseverance. Five minutes later the phone rang again. 'Hello, this is Mark calling from Windows.' I tried the 'Bad line, can't hear you,' approach for a bit, but this got boring. 'What do you mean?' I suddenly said. 'How can you be from Windows?'
'Windows,' he said, 'the operating system you are running on your PC at home.'
Ok, now I knew this was a scam. There's a well known one going around where they claim your PC has a problem, it has contacted them, and all you have to do is pay £s on your credit card and they'll sort it out. I went into aggressive mode. 'You can't be from Windows,' I said. 'Windows isn't a company. This is a fraud and I will call the police if I hear from you again.' And put the phone down. Strangely, he didn't ring back.
But afterwards. Ah, afterwards. I started to think of what I could have done. This wasn't just some poor call centre worker doing a sales call, this was an out-and-out attempt at fraud. He was fair game for anything. I could have:
- Said 'Hang on a moment,' the put the handset down and left him on the line. All morning.
- Suddenly started talking in a nonsense language.
- Or, my favourite, when he said 'the operating system you are running on you PC at home' I should have said 'Oh, you want to talk to Windows. Just a moment.' [Clicking noises off] Then in a robotic voice: 'Good morning, this is the Windows Operating System voice recognition package. How many I help you?' and conducted a conversation as long as he would let me, playing the part of a computer.