Equator Gringos

August 20, 2007

Marketing in Quito

Filed under: Ecuador — lstollin @ 7:29 am

A few things distinguish certain marketing efforts here in Quito. First, like most houses here, you can’t get anywhere near our front door because there is a gate at the street. This poses an additional challenge for door-to-door salespeople. They buzz the intercom connected to the front gate and when you pick up the handset, you get a barrage of Spanish. The most memorable so far was our first Sunday here. Read it very fast for full effect:

A very good day to you. Excuse the imposition; we are the people who juggle fire on the street corners. Sunday is a very slow day for us, so we are asking for a small collaboration, as little as 25 cents.”

Second, there is no “do not call” list.  Like in the states, telemarketers talk very fast and barely let you get a word in edgewise. The difference is that they talk in Spanish, so fast-talking, phone-talking, nearly unintelligible Spanish-speaking marketers are somehow easier (for me at least), to hang up on without feeling responsible for what I imagine to be that blow to their self-esteem, that death by a thousand cuts that made me leave my only telemarketing job after just one day.

So it was that we got a call at 9:00 AM yesterday morning (telemarketers on Sunday morning? – how rude!) from a woman saying something about $40,000 (actual U.S. dollars, since that has been the official currency here since, I think, 2002). I interrupted in Spanish, “We are not interested,” and hung up. Amazingly, she called back within seconds – wow, talk about tenacious! Her next words and insinuating tone got my attention: “Why then did you put an ad in the paper?” After going back and forth a bit, it turned out that someone placed an ad about a loan for $40,000 and someone got the telephone number wrong.

All day we were fielding these $40,000 calls, and after just a few we got pretty good at it. I even wrote a script for Joy, “I’m sorry, there was an equivocation in the announcement in the press” (she changed equivocacion to error for ease of pronunciation, but I stuck doggedly to the bigger word. No surprise there). After a while curiosity got the better of me and I asked a caller to tell me more about the ad in the paper. This person couldn’t be sure, from the way it was worded, whether the ad’s intent was to loan you forty grand or to borrow it from you.  Sounded like one screwed-up classified, in more ways than one.

Finally at 8:30 PM, our perpetrator finally called, admitted it was his ad, blamed his secretary for switching two digits around, and asked if we could please give any callers the correct number. I also asked for his name. “Dr. Osvaldo Loza Andrade; I am a lawyer, at your service.” Hmmm. On the one hand, he probably owes me several “billable hours” for us answering his ad all day long. On the other hand, lets just say our first experience with the good doctor didn’t inspire confidence in him and his staff.


1 Comment »

  1. Luke and Joy
    What a “royal pain” although sounds like you guys made the most of it – Dr Andrade INDEED!

    sounds like an ecuadorian scam!
    Have a great week with the rock climber entourage.

    Comment by Bettye Halperin — August 20, 2007 @ 10:25 am

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