Update on the War with the Red Cross

On Friday I spent about 20 minutes on the phone with Tracy at the Red Cross headquarters for the local area. I think she understands my complaints, though it’s not clear to me what actions will be taken to resolve them. I did come away with a few insights into some of the things they do, though I think they need to review some of their reasoning.
From what Tracy told me, the way the Red Cross appointment system is supposed to work is that people with appointments get first priority, walk-ins who are enrolled in the “Champions for Life” program (a means of recognizing frequent donors) get next priority, and finally the general walk ins.
That’s the way it’s supposed to work. In my experience, the reality has always been that they take you in the order of arrival. Which makes me wonder why I should ever bother making an appointment. (It’s possible the second sign-in sheet I saw was for the “Champions for Life” program, but that wasn’t clear.)
The problems I’ve had with phone calls from the Red Cross seem to be the result of a corporate decision to shoot themselves in the foot.
First, Kudos to Tracy on one big point. She’s the only person I’ve ever spoken to at the Red Cross who has confirmed that yes, they do use auto-dialers. She even identified the brand. Everyone else I’ve spoken to, including the people who actually make the recruiting calls, have denied they use them.
I’m not sure whether the regulation is externally or internally generated, but the Red Cross keeps logs of all the recruiting calls they make. While I was on the phone with her, Tracy looked up the calling records for my cell phone and couldn’t find any record of times when they’d called me multiple times in single day. This suggests to me that they have problems with their record-keeping systems. I most definitely had days with multiple calls, sometimes multiple calls within a few minutes of each other.
The multiple calls with no message left on voice mail turns out to be intentional. My blood type is in high demand, so as a matter of policy they don’t leave messages when they’re trying to recruit donors. That way they hope to avoid pestering people. That’s a great intention, but when you have caller-ID, you know how many times you’ve been called. And when none of those calls have a voice mail message, that’s also annoying.
Likewise, the decision to use block Caller ID on recruiting calls is also intentional. According to a study the Red Cross did, people are more likely to ignore calls that they know are coming from a charity. (Presumably because people don’t want to be asked for money.) But Tracy agreed that, like me, she’s also unlikely to answer the phone when there’s no number associated with it. If they’d at least show the 800-GIVE-LIFE number, I could figure out who it was and decide whether to call them back. The current status quo just breeds ill will.
So far, nobody has tried to defend the behavior of the donor center staff when I attempted to give blood. I’m supposed to be getting a phone call (this one, with my permission) from the person who oversees the donor centers. We’ll see what happens.