Mmmm… Rude-osity

You know, there are many things I don’t like about solicitors, but one of the really big ones is that they’re trained not to listen to you when you deviate from your script. For example, the jackhole who just solicited me on the phone from some veterans’ organization or another. Charitable organizations have finally figured out to ask for Krissy first instead of me, but when this guy got me and I told him to call back when Krissy is home, he ignored me and tried to solicit me anyway.

So, of course, I hung up on the fellow while he was still barfing up his talking points. Clearly this solicitor was counting on the bit of psychology that says it’s rude to hang up on someone while they’re still talking, but you know what? I’m just sociopathic that way. Also, if you’ve already proven that you’re not going to listen to me, I don’t especially feel obliged to listen either. I really have no problem being rude with people who are rude to me first, and not actually listening to what I’m saying to you sure counts as rude. Especially when you’re calling to ask me to give you some of my money.

What makes it worse is that I’m reasonably sure the fellow talking to me is a reasonably socialized human being — like most people, if you caught him out in the wild I suspect he would actually listen to what I was saying and respond accordingly. But telemarketers don’t have that sort of latitude; they’re required to do pretty much anything to keep you from hanging up before they say whatever the hell it is that they’re supposed to say. Basically, these telemarketers have be rude or they get fired. I’m not entirely sure how this developed as a winning strategy, other than to note that it does piggyback on the idea that most people are more civil than the telemarketers and will avoid being rude even if it means waiting another 30 seconds while the telemarketer talks, just to say “no.”

Thing is, in addition to hanging up on the fellow, I’ve made a note of his particular charitable organization. Guess what? They’re not getting any of our money, ever. It’s a shame, too, because we contribute to a number of veterans’ organizations, because it’s a good way to say thanks to the folks who have served our country. But the simple fact of the matter is that I’m not going to contribute money to people who are under the impression that the best way to get that money is not to listen to me when, for example, I say they really need to call back later and talk to my wife, who is the one who handles our charitable contributions. She’s the one who decides who gets our donations in a given year, but I certainly can say who doesn’t, and this fellow’s organization doesn’t. So much for sticking to the telemarketing script.

57 thoughts on “Mmmm… Rude-osity

  1. I hate telemarketers. I went through a phase for a while where I asked them to please hold, then I put the phone down and just walked away. My brother asks if he can call them back when they’re eating dinner.

    Between the telemarketers and the political phone calls, they’ve beaten me, though. (That governor of Pennsylvania must really, really like me! He keeps leaving me personal messages!) Now I check the caller ID, and I simply pick up the phone then immediately hang up if I see “Unknown Number.”

    Maybe things will improve after election day.

    Nah. Who am I kidding?

  2. Very understandable – I’ve tried several variations over the years, including puting them on hold for an hour or so while I “go get something off the stove” or whatever. Charities get a cursory listen but, somewhat like you, I prefer to make donation decisions based on what I think about about a charity, not what someone tells me about it. Telemarketers always get short shrift around here: no mercy for salesmen is just a fact of life. Sorry if that offends any salespeople but I’m a big boy now and can do my own shopping.

  3. We’re on a no call list so the only thing we get is charitable calls, which is why we tolerate them at all.

  4. I will normally start asking the telemarketer what they’re wearing and breathing heavy. Eventually they will hang up.

    It’s a lot more fun when it’s a man, however, and they’ll hang up a whole lot quicker.

  5. ANYTHING which greets me with a recorded message when I pick up the phone gets hung up on as soon as the third word of the thing tells me that there’s no actual human being on the other end. Period. No questions asked. I don’t even want to know what they want.

    Election solicitations asking me which party I am going to vote for will henceforth get the reply, “The Monkees”.

    Anyone who continues talking after I’ve said no thank you gets hung up on. Period. No questions asked.

    My particular horror story comes from back in the days when I was doign freelance stuff, and any message which left a name and a phone number might have been a client – so I returned this particular phone message I got and the first surprise was that the person who picked up the phone identified the place as being some sort of cardiac research facility – but that was fine, they might have needed literature too so I asked for the name from the message, got talking to her, identified myself and said I was returning her call, and how could I help her? Oh, she said, when she called (to solicit contributions) I wasn’t home… so she *LEFT A MESSAGE*. A cold call to ask for money, and the mark wasn’t home, and she actually had the gall to leave a message for ME to call THEM back.

    I was almost too angry to be polite when I told her that I would pick my own charities, thank you very much, and that hers would not be one of them.

  6. My favorite gambit is to yell at the ones who call our house on Saturday for disturbing the Sabbath. Although my other big tactic–to go on the offensive with solicitors who ask for my wife by first name alone and demand to know what makes them think they have the right to be so familiar with Mrs. Hogan.

  7. Personally, I love telemarketers from telephone companies trying to get you to switch to their telco. I let them finish their speech, and then say, “I’m sorry, I don’t have a phone.” You usually get a good fifteen seconds or so of nothing but crickets before they come up with anything to say.

    The worst of them here (I work in the construction industry) are sawblade salesmen. They will say anything at all to try and get through. Many act like customers, or the boss’s friend or what not. One even came up with a story about kids playing with fireworks on their grounds, and one of them blew his hand off. Even though it wasn’t their fault in any way, they were donating all the sales from that day to the kid for his medical bills. If by some strange coincidence, that kid is real and reading this, sorry for hanging up on her like that, but it sounded like BS to me, and she had already called three times that week.

    The most fun I ever had with them was telling one of them he needed to talk to Barney about that. He didn’t even seem to notice I was referring to Barney as ‘she’ when I told him she was in the warehouse and couldn’t talk right now. He continued to call every few days for about six months straight, even after I said she was at the vet one day, and he feigned concern, asking if she had a sick pet, and I told him no, we were getting her spayed. After about six months of it, I gave in and told him that Barney was the shop cat. Never heard back from him again.

  8. One of my old writing chums sent me this one: you might want to investigate it and pass it on. Can’t be any worse than playing chopsticks five billion times and it might be fun. Certianly challenging.

    “November is National Novel Writing Month. So, if you’ve ever thought about writing a novel, this might be a chance to write a first draft in one month (at least 50,000 words), along with thousands other people across the country and around the world. I’ve decided to take the plunge this year. Here’s the link: http://www.nanowrimo.org/index.php

  9. The Dove Foundation (the ones who rate movies as “family friendly” or not) have decided they REALLY need me to take a poll. They need my opinion so badly that they’ve been calling me at least once a week for the last 6 weeks or so, even though I told the first guy that I wasn’t interested. Then I told the second guy I wasn’t interested and please stop calling me.

    The third time (and each time since), as soon as I realized who was on the phone, I screamed like I had just set my hair on fire and banged the phone against the table while disconnecting the call.

    They still call the next week to try again, but have they ever called back immediately to ask if I’m o.k.? Noooooooo!

  10. I’m boring when it comes to this. Once I realize it’s a telemarketer, I just tell them that I’m not interested, I’m not going to talk to them any further and to put my name on their Do Not Call list. If they call me a second time, I tell them that I should be on their Do Not Call list and that if I hear from them again, it could be considered harassment and I’ll sue them. Works every time.

    Oddly enough, I tend not to get calls from charities.

    I’ll be on the other end of that phone line next week, however, when I start doing phone banking for various candidates and a state proposition. Considering that I hate phone banking almost as much as I hate precinct walking, it’s going to be a fun ol’ time.

  11. I got a call from a machine a couple of weeks ago. When I asked the “person” why they were calling the voice said “Okay” and didn’t answer my question. I still tried to communicate because I really wanted to know who was calling. Eventually the machine hung up on me. Victory!

  12. I have a bad habit of flirting shamelessly whenever the telemarketer is female. That really gets ‘em off script, and leads to some entertaining conversations.

    The best excuse ever was when the telemarketer said she couldn’t go out with me because she was a convicted felon and couldn’t leave the state of Iowa.

    On the other hand, she was working for the Republicans, so it might have been entirely true.

  13. Over here a solicitor is a lawyer. Just about equates, I suppose.

    I’ve given up being civil, after Cathie chewed my ear for the nth time.

    I don’t buy anything from anyone on the phone. I’m old enough to know what I want and where I can find it.

    And if anyone from the subcontinent comes on calling themselves ‘Jimmy’ or ‘Rachel’, they get a whistle before I hang up. Some 8000 of my colleagues have lost their jobs to Indian call centres over the last four years and I will be damned to hell and back if I will give them a penny.

  14. Steve, it’s not Amway anymore, it’s called Quixtar, and it’s all about I-Commerce. Can I interest you in some XS energy drink? 0 Carbs, 0 Sugar and 4900% of your RDA of Vitamin B12.

  15. I liked to time my dad when they would call. His best time was about 3 seconds. “Nothankyouhaveaniceday!”

    I learned to use that one and boy is it spiffy.

    Now we have caller ID on the phone AND the TV thanks to our friends at Time Warner. So Lil’ Changette will holler “No Name No Number!” and I’ll smile. Another generation tuaght to ignore unidentified callers.

  16. Most of the telemarketer calls I receive are computer dialed, and if the machine detects a pick-up it automatically transfers to an operator. The half a second of dead silence after I say, “hello?” is usually enough for me to hang up before the “representative” comes on the line. To date, I have not ever hung up on someone who wasn’t a telemarketer…that I know about.

  17. Does Caller-ID actually work reliably now? Back when I had it “Unavailable” might mean “long distance call” instead of “Telemarketer”.

    I’ve still haven’t got a cell phone. Can you whitelist on them? By that I mean that only approved phone numbers ring, all other go straight to voice mail.

    With telemarketers I do even less than most here. As soon as I am confident that they are not someone I know or someone calling on why I consider legitimate business, I hang up without saying anything. Then I go back to whatever it was I was doing before. Except that if that was “sleeping”, this often proves impossible.

    Telemarketers are inherently rude and deserve no courtesy. Telemarketing is bad because it steals your attention and wastes your time. So I act to minimize both losses.

    Yes, this means I won’t show up on any phone surveys. Blame the telemarketers who are doing their best to destroy phone service and basic civility in the same way that spammers are trying to destroy email.

    Don’t forget that when you answer the phone and no one is there, it is probably a telemarketer doing it.

    But they keep trying. When I got a new Discover Card recently they claimed that activating would take a while and started telemarketing all sorts of different stuff, even after I told them to stop it. It took three calls and yelling at the poor woman to get the card activated.

  18. I used to work in telephone market research which I guess is only slightly less bad than telemarketing. (It was the worst job I ever did, ranking below even the stint I did of washing out restroom bins.) We were officially under instructions not to deviate from the script under any circumstances, not even if the “interview partner” spoke not one word of English. And while the clever people who coded the surveys had radio buttons for many possible responses, they somehow neglected to provide the most common response: “Interview partner swore and hung up.”

  19. Captain Button:

    “Does Caller-ID actually work reliably now? Back when I had it “Unavailable” might mean “long distance call” instead of “Telemarketer”.”

    From what I see, it’s pretty reliable. We have a couple of people (decorators we work with mostly) who come up unknown on our caller ID still, but other than them, it’s telemarketers. But that’s just in this area. In other areas, I don’t know.

    “I’ve still haven’t got a cell phone. Can you whitelist on them? By that I mean that only approved phone numbers ring, all other go straight to voice mail.”

    Last I checked, no, I could never find that option on mine. But they may have implemented no call lists for mobiles since I checked, or different mobile providers than Sprint may offer something like that.

    “Telemarketing is bad because it steals your attention and wastes your time.”

    That’s why I do my best to waste their time in return. Try selling them a 1976 Dodge Apollo RV with only 376,000 miles on it! When they say they’re not interested, ask to speak to a supervisor to see if he’s interested.

  20. You’re NOT sociopathic because you hang up on telemarketers. A lot of normal, nice people do. I do!

    (Maybe one has to BE a sociopath to survive in the telemarketing business, though…)

  21. In college, I also did market research, but I always went off script- “Sir, no kidding, this will take ten minutes to finish.” Initially, I got yelled at, until they realized that I was turning in 4 or 5 completed surveys to my co-workers’ 1. It was still sucky and I only did if for a few months.

    If I don’t recognized the ID, I answer in Spanish. Frequently, they hang up and someone calls back in Spanish. Then, I answer in Russian. Then they never call back.

    I have a friend who, if he thinks its a solicitor, answers in a very convincing child’s voice. After the “can you get your mommy or daddy,” he fumbles the phone, then starts screaming at the person, “Who is this and what were you saying to my child? Why is he touching himself in an inappropriate mannner? I demand to speak to your supervisor right now!”

    I’m going to try the “I don’t have a phone” one!

  22. I realize it’s boring and not any fun, but, at least in the US, if you tell the telemarketer, “Put me on your Do Not Call list,” they are legally required to comply. This applies even to charities and political organizations and businesses with whom you have an existing business relationship, which are exempt from the national and state Do Not Call lists. They have up to six weeks after your first request to get it effectively done, so that they stop calling you, but if you do it consistently for any organization you don’t want calling you, you can, surprisingly quickly, drastically cut down on the number of telemarketing calls you get.

  23. I’ve found the do not call list works just fine… except for the “charitable” organizations. One of our phone numbers, which we’ve had for six years, apparently used to be the number of a very generous fellow in the neighborhood, because not a week goes by that we don’t get a call for Mr. Bass. I always ask the caller how long it’s been since they’ve spoken with him (usually, they say a matter of weeks), and then I tell them just how long this hasn’t been his phone number, and to politely f&*k off.

    Of course, there is the joy of the computer callers. That Dove Foundation call was annoying, especially when it came on both lines. I dug out their phone number, called them back, and left a message on their machine (actually, I held the phone to the speaker while Twist Radio was on [it's a weekly gay/lesbian/transgender culture/music program]). I thought it was appropriate.

  24. “I’ve still haven’t got a cell phone. Can you whitelist on them? By that I mean that only approved phone numbers ring, all other go straight to voice mail.”

    Last I checked, no, I could never find that option on mine. But they may have implemented no call lists for mobiles since I checked, or different mobile providers than Sprint may offer something like that.

    Fortunately, right now and for the foreseeable future, telemarketers can’t get your cell number unless you give it to them. So the main thing, watch out for stuff that asks for information not necessary to the transaction you’re engaged–like those “personal interest surveys” often included in product warrantee registration cards.

  25. Y’know,that caused a huge double-take when I read it …

    Because on this side of the pond, what we call a solicitor is what you call an attorney.

  26. The one I’ve had lately is the republicans calling to tell me they are having an abentee ballot sent to me. No, hello, would you care to receive one? But just we’re sending you one because we believe you are so incompetent and lazy that you won’t walk up the block on election to vote. Yeah, that’s the way to get me vote your way. Infantilize me. Good strategizing.

    At least this year I know my vote will count. Battleground state of Montana.

  27. I simply never answer the phone. Period. The Internet answering service takes all calls. Thus, I never speak to telemarketers, phone researchers, Customer Service Representatives, or anyone else unless I personally initiate the call (or if I see they’re calling and decide to pick it up).

    I’m not sure when we decided that the phone’s existence implies that answering an incoming call takes precedence over everything, no matter what time the call comes in or from whom it’s coming, but we turned off the ringer years ago and have never looked back.

    (But yes, “Put me on your ‘do-not-call’ list” is an effective thing to say. It’s also worth pointing out that government-sponsored Do Not Call lists lose effectiveness over time, since businesses with whom you have a “pre-existing business relationship” are still allowed to call, and that’s a pretty loose term. Many times, the paperwork you sign in making a major purchase will include a clause saying “Purchaser consents to allow ‘Customer Service’ calls, and the Number One rule nowadays is that a Customer Service interaction is always also a Sales interaction.)

  28. No, correction, actually I was the anonymous right before Charlie Stross. Obviously, I don’t type fast enough.:)

  29. “businesses with whom you have an existing business relationship”

    Ugh, we got our kitchen cabinets/counters redone, and the contractor was great. But the company we went through to get them had like 9 different regional offices, and every single one of them called us to see if we were satisfied and to try to sell us windows. On the second call I asked them not to call us again. On the third call the next day, they told me that because we had done business with them, they didn’t have to take us off their list. (!) A week later, we were sitting down having family home evening–it was about 9 o’clock on a Monday night–and there’s a knock at the door. Guess who it was? For some reason, they were very surprised that we thought it was rude for them to make a “courtesy call” at that time of night.

  30. I am a sociopathic hanger-upper, too. If I don’t know you and it doesn’t immediately become apparent that I NEED to talk to you, you get the double-click-hangup of DOOM.

  31. Perhaps it’s because I spent a week cold calling for Clean Water Action (then I decided I’d rather starve). But I really don’t see the point in playing games with the telemarketer. I just hang up once I realize it’s a telemarketer. If I manage to say goodbye them in a convenient break in the monologue before I hang up, even Miss Manners says that it isn’t rude.

    If I remember, I will asked to be placed on the “Do Not Call” list before hanging up. They get to move on to someone who actually wants the phone call. I don’t get bothered by them anymore. Everyone wins.

  32. I prefer to think of it as “demonstrating absolute ownership of my phone” rather than “being rude by hanging up on someone who is still talking.” I’d greet a physical intruder with a 9mm bullet — so a telephonic intruder should be grateful for that little click.

  33. I had a beautiful moment a couple of months ago when I got an UNKNOWN CALLER who proved to be calling from our friends at the Nielsen Ratings.

    Them: “About how many hours do you think you spend watching TV in a given day?”
    Me: “I don’t have a TV. Haven’t had one in five years.”
    Them: *beat* *pause* *long pause* “Oh. Well. That’s… uncommon. Thank you, sir.”

    Otherwise, if I don’t know the number they’re perfectly welcome to pitch to my voicemail.

  34. Once upon a time, I had a telemarketing job. I was told when someone hangs up on you, they’re doing you a favor.

    So whenever one calls, I do them a favor before they even get two words out.

    Unfortunately, SprintPCS seems to believe part of my calling plan is to make telemarketing calls to my cell during business hours. My coworkers find my reaction entertaining. Next one has me on Verizon.

  35. I do the same as Dr. Phil (above):

    “I never buy or support anything solicited over the phone.”

    Sometimes they say “thank you sir” and hang up. Sometimes they keep trying. “But sir, I want to talk to you about–” CLICK.

  36. My husband also uses the request a name and credit-card number tactic. When the boggled response comes back, he tells them he’s a sales consultant, and he’d be happy to evaluate their pitch, $1 a minute, can I have a credit card # please?

    Nobody’s taken him up on it yet.

  37. I gave in to solicitations for one of the Disabled Firefighters funds, only I told them to send me something in the mail. Then I went on-line to research that particular group, and found out they were a fraudulent charity: maybe 2% of their take went to firefighter support groups. Needless to say, when the mailing arrived, I tossed it.

    I basically just hang up on everyone soliciting. I can’t know off-hand whether they’re a real charity, and I prefer to donate to groups I already know are the real thing.

  38. CaseyL, from my experience, that’s not uncommon.

    John, in that vein, you may want to re-consider the donation-ban for this particular charity, at least until you talk to them or do some digging. It’s quite likely that this charity was just the convenient fig leaf for a bunch of scammers.

  39. Since I got on the do not call list, I have reported 3 telemarketers to the FCC via their complaints file. I advise the same to anyone who gets any unwanted telemarketers. As for “charities,” anyone who can claim to be any kind of non-profit can get around the law. At least half of them are scams of some sort. So I figure that anyone who calls me to get money out of me deserves verbal abuse, and that is what they get. Strangely enough, nobody ever calls twice.

  40. I cut them off and tell them that we don’t donate to anyone who calls us on the phone. The script anticipates this, and they tell me that they’re not asking me to donate over the phone (i.e., they want me to pledge money, and they’ll send me something through the mail to get my check). I say, “No, no, you don’t understand. It’s not just that I don’t donate over the phone. It’s just that I do not EVER give money under ANY circumstances to organizations that call me up, because I hate getting solicited over the phone. If an organization I support starts calling me up, I stop giving them money.”

    The ones that persist after that point are nearly always the really vile ones where 98% of the money is actually going to the fundraising organization that’s paying the salary of the telemarketer.

    (I do allow my college to call me and ask for money. No one else. And my college would quit if I told them I didn’t want to be solicited by phone — they have an excellent database that will exclude you from individual mailings if, for instance, you tell them that you don’t ever want the magazine, or the report on giving, or whatever.)

    Surveys are harder. Sometimes I’ll take surveys, and then I regret it the next week when my number goes out on the international survey-takers’ grapevine and I get six more calls in two days wanting to know which radio stations I listen to. This past week, I got called by the Minnesota Department of Health, investigating a salmonella outbreak. They were randomly calling people in my area who hadn’t been sick, to try to nail down what might have caused a small salmonella outbreak earlier in the month. He said it would take twenty minutes. He lied: I was on the phone with him for an hour, answering questions about which restaurants I might have eaten at during a particular week, which brands of milk and eggs I might have consumed, how I cooked my eggs, what varieties of fresh produce I’d eaten, etc., etc., etc. That felt like a public service, though, so I didn’t mind too much.

  41. I too have been developing that protective rudeness, as I am solicited every day for money, by street people and by charitable organisations. Although I hesitate to call it rude. After all, Ms. Manners would be the first to say that it is ruder to ignore somebody’s stated preference in addressing another person.

    Just a few months ago, I was accosted while I was out running errands by a Vigilante Do-Gooder™. This Do-Gooder™ hailed me, asked for a few minutes of my time, and made an appeal to emotion, in this case, guilt, although that wasn’t apparent right at first. Even though I already had my next charitable project all picked out (the NOLA zoo! I adopted a giraffe) I figured, sure I can spare a minute or two.

    At first I was kinda open to what he had to say. He wanted me to adopt some orphans in far-off locales, and for a moment, I thought about seeing what Tanzania or Cambodia had to offer. He opened up a flip chart, showing off various orphans, and pie charts showing how much money went to said orphans, etc. etc. But when I asked him about the website, so that I could look up his organisation, see what affiliations it had, see if it was religion sponsered, if it had any ties to any other charities, what other people had made donations, he got unaccountably elusive. He said that the website couldn’t answer any questions that he couldn’t. I said that I’d prefer to look this over in my own time and that I like to see who I’m donating too, etc. He said all he wanted was information from potential contributors. I countered and said that surely he could understand my desire for submitting my information anonymously. He said he couldn’t understand that. We played verbal ping-pong with him continously making references to world tragedies like the tsunami, and when I mentioned that I had other charities also in mind, he started explaining how I could better help the animals by contributing to his charity. When I said one more time that I had business to be attending to, and that I would really prefer looking at the website, he said, “Well, most Americans aren’t big givers, and you really need to get them face to face.” So I told him that I had plans for my afternoon, and I had tried to find out a way to interact with his charity and a better time to go over the information, but I didn’t appreciate the hard sell. At which point he got all pissy at me and flounced off in a huff.

    I was annoyed by that, for several reasons. One, because I felt lacking somehow, like he was trying to denigrate the charities I do give to, which admittedly are things like zoos, and Child’s Play, and literacy or anti-censorship programs. I give to these because they are things that I enjoy too, and I feel most excited about sharing them with the world. (I do also donate to March of Dimes, the Human Rights org, and various political campaigns. I don’t technically regard the political campaigns as charities, but I do regard them as a way of trying to put your money where your mouth is.)

    Also, because he wouldn’t refer me directly to the site, nor would he give me any information pamphlets, in return for my information, I felt uncomfortable. If you want people to help you, you don’t make them feel uncomfortable. If they want to look at a webpage, for god’s sake, let them look at a webpage.

    Also, maybe it’s because I was fresh off of reading Anansi Boys on the train, but I was thinking about how Mrs. Dunwiddy said, “Whatever you give away, get something of equal value back.” And I don’t want to just give my name and number and vital stats to some guy just because he flashed some pie charts at me, because of momentary whims. I WANT to really research my charities and see where the money goes. Is that so wrong?

    Anyway, I was wavering between feeling growly at the Vigilante Do-Gooder™ and paradoxically, kinda proud for telling him bluntly at the end that I didn’t appreciate his approach. Normally, I’d slink off tail between legs, but no, that day I managed to piss somebody off.

    I hate having people use my charitable inclinations as a handle.

    ….

    My dad sues telemarketers. He keeps a notebook by his phone, and then asks for the information about the call center, the caller, the client, etc. and then says he doesn’t want to be called again. (And if they do call more than three times, he takes ‘em to court. He’s gotten a couple of settlements that way, ranging from a few hundred, to a few thousand.)

  42. Pixelfish

    The guy who solicited you sounds like he was running a scam. Having nothing concrete to give you AND wanting personal info sounds awful stinky.

  43. Slightly tangentially, but my phone (a Treo 650 “Smart phone” or whatever) runs the Palm OS and I have found software that will let me whitelist.

    I can make some pretty cool and complex rules about what happens, including immediately picking up the phone and hanging up if you REALLY don’t want to get any voicemail from the person.

  44. All of my numbers are on the National No-Call list.

    It works for me! Register once, and ta-da! No calls! At first, a coupld got through; my way of stopping it was acting interested at first, getting their name and company (they usually don’t tell you those things up front) then very nicely saying, “OK, _name_, thank you so much for your time and effort but now I need you to do me a favor and remove my number from your call list, because my number IS registered with the National do-not-call registry, and it’s actually against the law for you to call me for the next five or so years. Thanks a bunch!” *click*

    If anyone wants to take part in this amusing exercise, just go to donotcall.gov and enter your home phone number. I’ve entered the home number, the cell phone numbers, the fax number, Mom’s number…everyone’s number. I especially recommend you entering your elderly parents’ numbers, so they don’t get calls by smarmy bastards who want a chunk of Grandma’s Social Security earnings.

  45. Do keep in mind, too, if you (or your elderly parents, or whoever) live in Missouri — we have a spectacular state-run Do Not Call list in addition to the Federal list, and we also have an Attorney General (Jay Nixon — he’s one of the Good Guys) who REALLY HATES telemarketers who ignore the list. Call his office with a complaint, and he will LAY THE SMACK DOWN on them.

  46. I’m consistently inconsistent — I hang up on them or impatiently listen to part of their spiel depending on mood.

    What fries me the most, especially with veterans groups and law enforcement charity programs, is that the telemarketing company takes such a huge portion of the funds raised. In some cases, only 20%-30% of the money actually goes to the worthwhile cause. Better to simply send your money directly to the organization.

  47. Get on the National Do Not Call List (or whatever they call it these days). It works. My telemarketing calls have dropped significantly.

    Get an unlisted number. Then you have a right to be rude: “Listen, I pay the phone company for an unlisted number so I don’t have to be bothered with these calls. Can I speak to your supervisor, please? Take my number out of your database! What number are you calling from”, etc.

    Works wonders.

    You don’t have to be a registered Democrat or Republican to vote…and in many states, you no longer have to be a party member to vote in a primary. Another way of cutting down calls!

    If your caller ID does not give a name or number you recognize, ignore the call.

    And you’ll see your stress levels a-droppin!

  48. Fred Kiesche:

    “If your caller ID does not give a name or number you recognize, ignore the call.”

    Can’t do this, alas — my editor’s work phone number comes up as “unknown.” Don’t want to miss his call, though.

  49. My sister works for a small business where she handles the accounts and sometimes answers phones. One day she got a call from a charity that, apperently, the company had donated to before. He DEMANDED that she pay him right away. Since she didn’t know who they were, she declined. He contined to call and harrass the business until she was hesitant to pick up the phone.

    Apperently they had promised the company money, but after that, decided not to. I don’t understand how someone could be that clueless, even if they were not being paid. Crazy people out there.

  50. I’m on the national no-call list, but stuff still gets through (and reported).

    My favorite calls are for “Mrs. C.” My partner is Mr. C. and I am Mr. D. When they ask for Mrs. C., I say “Speaking.” Long pause. Then click. Or sometimes, and this is my favorite, I get “I’m sorry. I was looking for the lady of the house.” and then I get to say. “My sex change is not until the end of the year. Do you want to call back then?” Then I get either the click or a really annoyed response that I hang up on while laughing.

    It’s bad enough they call. But assuming everyone they call fits their pre-conceived idea of couple ticks me off.

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