Going back in time
What happens when you take a call from a leading bank asking if you want a loan?
Like many of my fellow Hongkongers, I get calls almost every day from banks asking if I need more money to cover my credit card payments or simply just to splurge on premier wines and whisky.
The answer has always been a yes if I can get the money for free, but unfortunately banks haven’t been quite that charitable with me.
Thankfully, slaving for 30 years as an investment banker has, at the very least, provided a roof over my head and bread on my table. So I always politely but firmly tell them 'no'. Or, in most cases, just hang up. (The trick is to say you only speak English, in which case the Cantonese-speaking sales rep sometimes even hangs up before you do.)
But pushy sales reps appear to have a few more tricks up their sleeves, although not very effective ones.
Tai Tai, who is a Cantonese speaker but likes playing the same ‘I only speak English’ trick, recently got a loans call from Hong Kong’s biggest bank.
After she said 'no thank you' in English and was ready to hang up, the sales rep quickly switched to English too and asked a question that neither Tai Tai – nor I, frankly – ever expected to hear two decades into the 21st century, and certainly not in an international city like Hong Kong.
The rep asked: “What is your husband’s number, and can I call him?”
Now, my beloved Tai Tai has always been financially independent and is more than capable of making her own decisions, as well as for our family. So the question left her at a loss for words and she just laughed.
I’m all for addressing gender equality and championing women, but this did make me think the sales rep had missed something important — he obviously doesn’t still quite know who really wears the trousers in most families these days.