Discover's Speed-Reading Sales Technique Means You Can Get To "No" Faster

A zealous Discover rep tried to get Richard to sign up for a “protection program” by speeding through the details of the agreement as fast as possible—you know, the fine print part that makes it clear you’re agreeing to a paid service. When Richard made it clear that he wanted to hear the details again and that no, he hadn’t agreed to anything, the rep hung up on him. Discover, maybe you want to have a talk with your reps about their sales techniques.

I received a call from a Discover card rep today offering some information about some new program they’re offering regarding being able to freeze your account, saying that they’d be mailing me an info packet. This rep was speaking so quickly, he was making the disclaimers on car dealer ads on the radio sound drawn out. I had to ask him twice to slow down and repeat what he’d just said.

The second time was after reading what he called a “30-second” spiel about the conditions of the mailing where I heard the words “payment protection” mentioned. Nothing had been said about this previously, so I asked him to repeat the end of his spiel. He said, “We’ll be mailing you the information in three to five business days for your review. This constitutes your approval for enrollment in payment protection. I said, “I absolutely did not approve anything to be done to this account,” and he HUNG UP!

Richard called Discover and made sure they had a clear understanding that he hadn’t agreed to anything, but he shouldn’t have to do that on an unsolicited telemarketing call. And as Richard points out, there will be impatient customers who end the call at the wrong time or with the wrong phrase who will end up being signed up against their will:

What galls me is that I’m positive the fast reading of that statement was designed to disguise the bit about “your approval for enrollment in payment protection,” so that some impatient or less-attentive customer would just say, “Yeah, fine” simply to end the call and end up enrolled in something it wasn’t made clear they were enrolling for.

When you start wishing you could sign up for a program to protect yourself from the credit card company, you know they’ve pushed their sales techniques too far.

(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. SahuaritaSam says:

    That’s really sketchy on Discover’s part. I understand the speed reading on a radio advertisement because there is only a certain amount of time to get the information, but this is different.

    When will companies realize that to have a customer buy into a service, they should be honest about every detail? If they are, I would imagine there would be word-of-mouth (possibly on Consumerist?) of the great service and/or customer treatment. Isn’t that what every company should want?

  2. jdmba says:

    I didn’t even know Discover was still out there! Live and learn.

  3. thewriteguy says:

    There has only been one credit card in my lifetime that I actively decided to cancel (and was willing to take a slight hit on my credit report from doing so): Discover.

  4. These reps have a two-fold motivator to reading fast. The first, noted the account above is that they are less likely to be called out on negative portions of the service, and two they get paid by the subscriber. The faster they go, the more calls they can make.

  5. The same thing happened to me with a Victoria’s Secret phone sales rep. I had called in because they never send me their credit card coupon book every 6 months, so I have to call every six months to get it (that reminds me, I need to call again…) Anyway, the rep totally ignored my question and started speed reading something about a protection plan, some monthly fee so I can use over the limit if I lose my job. I said, No way. Then the guy speed reads his rebuttal! I say no again, and I ask if my coupon book will actually be sent. He mumbles something, thanks me and hangs up. So, I get to call back to see if I was signed up for something against my will and if they are sending the book. I guess this is the product of dictating call times.

  6. castlecraver says:

    I used to get these exact same calls all the time. I threatened to cancel the account, and haven’t had any further sales calls from them.

  7. tamaudio says:

    I used to get these calls. I simply told the rep that I was not interested in the service and didn’t want to be asked about it again, same with those “checks” they send you. I haven’t received either since, almost 2 years.

  8. dragonfire81 says:

    Call centers actually TRAIN their employees to do these kinds of things to max sales. There are training manuals out there that tell reps to purposefully relay certain information in a lower tone of voice (and hope the customer doesn’t hear) or read it as fast as possible.

    Remember, sales people are about money and commissions and will lie, cheat and steal to get them.

  9. Personally, I really enjoy taking my time to read contracts when they’re presented to me and ask questions the sales person can’t answer.

    @SahuaritaSam: I’d say sketchy on the part of the rep, not Discover. It sounds like the rep had a time-per-call quota to meet and decided to cheat.

  10. LosersHaveCreditCardDebt says:

    My name sums up credit cards.

  11. Consumer TIP:

    Never say yes to any telewhore.

    Saying yes can result in all kinds of bad things.

    Use the word “correct”, such as the times they want to verify your address and you want the stuff actually mailed to you.

    This whole conversation sounded like one of those “third-party” outsourced scum bag telewhores that corporations love to hire to sell difficult to market(read waste of money) products. Assuming that it was outsourced I would say the telewhore was trying to scam the customer into an expensive (and totally unncessary) product.

  12. slim150 says:

    @dragonfire: what kind of life is that anyway. why would anyone do that for a living.

  13. balthisar says:

    @LosersHaveCreditCardDebt: No, your name doesn’t sum up credit cards. It sums up credit card debt.

  14. DH405 says:

    This isn’t likely to be a Discover employee. Probably an outsourced call center like the place I worked at VERY briefly as a teenager. When they told me to speed-read to people who “sound old” to get them to agree and get off the phone, I told them to shove it and quit.

  15. DH405 says:

    @AbsoluteIrrelevance: Because you need to buy tons of underwear once you’re unemployed. Seems reasonable to me.

  16. DeadlySinz says:

    makes me wonder sometimes about these reps that call you wanting to sign up for a credit card, its a bonus if they are speed reading with bad english.

    I wonder if they get paid commission per application they do ?

  17. drjayphd says:

    …and that’s why you just hang up on telemarketers. Then you get your parents on the DNC list.

  18. dragonfire81 says:

    @slim150: Call centers have virtually no qualifications needed outside a high school diploma. In my experience, centers are generally happier with people who just do what they’re told (Regardless of how unethical or deceitful it may be) than with people who actually ask questions and don’t always play by the rules.

  19. donTHEd says:


    I worked in one where you didn’t even need a diploma, I did it in high school. The rest of that assessment seems pretty apt.

  20. ldavis480 says:

    In my lifetime, I’ve owned a total of three credit cards and an American Express charge card. One of those credit cards was Discover. In the four years I owned a Discover credit card I learned to hate them with a passion that would give Satan a boner.

    I remember my last payment to them like prom night. To this day I refuse to ever be a Discover customer ever again. Discover needs to die a horrible painful death.

  21. MoreIceCream says:

    Discover has given me about $1,300 over the past five years and they never call.

  22. Something similar happened to me with AT&T’s yellow pages. The rep just decided I’d agreed to renew my listing, which I had not, and I ended up paying about $800 for a contract I never agreed to. Attempts to rectify the situation led to being hung up on, mocked and called names, accusations that I was attempting to defraud them, and even an accusation that I was lying about what state I was in.

    I know I had a good reason for not taking them to small claims (other than the fact that it costs $295 to file), but I can’t remember what it was.

    Suffice to say, “F—–. Will not use again.”

  23. surfphoto says:

    Although this is pretty lousy, I’ve had a Discover card since the mid 90’s and they have consistently provided the best customer service of card I’ve used. As a bonus, I’ve also received cash back awards that total around $1480 which is a nice plus considering I would use the card anyway.

  24. mmstk101 says:

    Discover is the Comcast of credit cards

  25. aikoto says:

    How is this practice not fraud?

  26. Pipes says:

    @dragonfire81: Not ALL sales people will “lie, cheat, and steal” to get commission money. I’m in sales, and yes, I hate the reputation we have because of people like this. Luckily I’ve found an ethical company who does not sell to consumers, in which I had to have a year of (paid!) training to even start selling their thousand/million dollar products. This company actively promotes ethical behavior in their sales force because having a repeat sale and being a trusted vendor is more important than immediate gratification.

    Rule of thumb: will you ever need to renew a sale with that particular person? If yes, chances are very high they’re ethical (they don’t want to lose your future business).

  27. TheDude06 says:

    Speaking as a merchant who accepts credit cards, discover can take a long walk off a short cliff. their fees are at LEAST 30% higher than visa/mastercard to the merchant, and all the “benefits” of that higher rate go to the cardholder.

    People dont take discover, and amex because of their absurdly high fees.

  28. HOP says:

    the speed reading on radios is a lotta crap….the time frame can be anything the advertiser will pay for…far as i’m concerned the speed reading is just stuff they don’t want you to hear….stuff you wont find out about till you fall for the pitch…..i will never buy or sign up for any outfit that uses this system of advertising…..

  29. Daniel-Bham says:

    I just have a blanket policy of refusing any service I didn’t call specifically to arrange. If someone is calling me to sell me something they are barking up the wrong tree because I plan for purchases ahead of time and make decisions on my time.

  30. quagmire0 says:

    They do the same thing when activating a card. I had to interrupt the guy and say ‘I decline this offer’. Tip for when you are activating a card: After you go through the motions with the automatic operator that takes your information, and right before it transfers you to a live operator, hang up. At that point, your card is already activated.

  31. SacraBos says:

    @Corporate-Shill: “Never say ‘Yes’ to a telewhore…” – Words to live by, my friend. But you still need to be careful. I confirmed my address one time to some non-credit card marketer, and the guy transfered me to a supervisor to confirm the payment details. Payment details? I never agreed to any service. He was a little miffed. If a credit card company (which already has your credit card info) talks to you about a program, be very clear you are not agreeing to anything and that sending you any information is not accepting any terms, payments, or anything.

  32. Jesse says:

    I’m sure Citibank will be following in their footsteps shortly.

    They are up there in shady/annoying sales practices.

  33. dotcomrade says:

    @quagmire0: Thank you for that excellent tip! Your method used to work for me, until I discovered that you can skip the activation process altogether by simply using the card at a self-service terminal to see if it works–if it does, you can avoid that phone call from hell and it proves that the warning sticker is just a lie to get you on the phone for marketing purposes.

    FWIW, Chase has stopped printing stickers warning that activation is required-they now ask that you “verify receipt” by calling the 800 number.

    Here is a link to the Consumerist article on this issue:
    “For security purposes, this card is not active is a lie!”


  34. dotcomrade says:

    BTW, Chase Bank’s response to the ABC 15 investigation (watch the YouTube video in my last post) is totally untrue. They send out pre-activated cards that can be used right out of the envelope and their claims that they use a “multi-layer approach to security” and that they have a “team to detect fraud before it occurs” is pure nonsense. Their approach to customer security is clearly reactive and not proactive as it should be.

  35. dotcomrade says:

    OP: To avoid these calls in the future, all you need to do is opt-out of marketing preferences with each credit card that you carry.

    Just go to the website for your card and click on “privacy policy.”

    Unfortunately, Discover does not allow you to opt-out online but their preferences line is automated.

    And if you haven’t already registered at these sites, you may want to start now:




    And last but not least, the ultimate guide to cutting down of junk mail: