Monday, February 27, 2012

Do Not Call

My friend Janiece has a post up on her blog about telemarketers. You can go to Hot Chicks Dig Smart Men and look it up, as I have never quite managed to figure out how to make links here on Blogger. It’s the one entitled, “If you call here again, I’m going to track you down and cut you.”

Haven’t we all felt that way, once in a while?

I certainly have.

We’re on every Do Not Call list that has been put out by any governmental unit known to modern man, and we still get annoying sales calls from people with no apparent ability to control their own actions and no clear sense that laws apply to them. It’s like they’re all running for office in the Republican primary or something.

I used to get angry at those people, but eventually it occurred to me that this was having no effect on them – they’re used to it, and from better practitioners of the art than me. They probably have manuals just for how to deal with such things. It wasn’t making them miserable, and therefore the whole thing was pointless.

Eventually I figured out a couple of things, each of which leads to a strategy.

First, they are on a time limit. They have to get so many calls per hour, and the more of their time I took the worse it looked for them. And when you look at it this way, the solution is obvious.

So now whenever they call and I bother to pick up the phone (because mostly I don’t have the time to play either), I always tell them that I’m not the person in the household who makes those decisions. Could I get that person? Certainly.

Please hold.

It usually takes about fifteen minutes, but eventually the phone starts beeping to let me know that they’ve hung up, and I can end the call and get back to my life.

Sometimes, though, I’m feeling more ornery. So I borrow a tactic I learned from my dad, whose basic position has always been that parasites do not merit honesty.

Telemarketers need an answer – any answer – to put in their forms. It doesn’t matter what that answer is, really. They just need something to prove to their superiors that they did in fact call me and I did in fact give them answers to their questions. So I would give them some.

All of my answers were lies, but there you go.

So when they would call me up to sell me cable, I told them I don’t own a television. This was actually true for about a decade of my life, but I see no reason why they should know the situation has changed. Don’t own one. Thank you for your time.

They want to sell me windows? My house doesn’t have any. No, it doesn’t – sad, really, my electricity bill is outrageous but on the other hand the place was a bargain.

Political poll? I don’t vote. Ever. Don’t even follow politics. Don’t even hold with politics – there shouldn’t be any government at all. We should all just go back to the land, shoot any trespassers and let anyone who gets into trouble die. “I’ll just put you down as a Ron Paul supporter, then,” the voice on the other end says. So you can take those polls for what they’re worth.

My personal favorite example of this tactic came a few years ago, when some enterprising young man called to sell me long distance telephone service.

“I don’t own a phone,” I told him.

“You don’t own a phone?”

“Nope. Sorry.”

“But I’m talking to you now!”

“No you’re not. This is all in your head.”

“Yes, I am talking to you on the phone!”

“No, you are not.”

“Then what am I doing?”

“I don’t know. That’s your problem. You’re not talking to me on the phone, because I don’t own one.”

“Yes you do!”

“Are you calling me a liar, son?”


“Thank you for your time.”

And don’t you know that fifteen minutes later the guy’s supervisor called me back?

“Did you just speak to one of my workers?”

“No. I don’t own a phone.”

“Okay, then.”

They never bothered me after that.


vince said...

Your "I don't own a phone" routine was awesome!

I no longer have a land line, but my cell occasionally gets ad calls, or ad texts (which really annoys me, as I don't text and thus don't have a text plan.

David said...

Thanks, Vince!

I cannot tell you how happy I was when I found the setting on my phone that blocked all incoming texts except those sent to me by my cell phone provider - and since I have no desire to hear from them in that format, I know I can ignore those too.

Nathan said...


If you'd like a tutorial on how to create links (both in blogger or as an easily pasted bit of code for elsewhere), let me know and I'll email you.

David said...

Hi Nathan -

I think Janiece gave me one once but I have no idea what I did with the email, so if you would do that for me I'd be grateful.

Tom said...

"Nope, I don't have a phone!" Love that! I would comment more, but I don't have a computer!

Mike said...

Once I would order a pizza from any unrequested caller. Later i got bored of this but I was probably on some list of numbers that they want to call all the time, so I went over to ect and got myself a really primitive heavy metal song as a ringback tone that they would have to listen to over and over. They haven't been calling me much since then. I had to warn my mother about that, though.

David said...

I've never gotten the hang of what exactly a "ringback tone" is - my ability to absorb technology petered out in the late 90s, I think, late enough for web pages and blogs but too early for mp3s or anything related to cell phones other than making calls on them - but I do like that idea.

When my brother was in college his number was one off from the local gym. He and his roommate could never convince people they had misdialed, and eventually they began booking appointments. "6:30? Sure!"