Hulk Versus the Telemarketers

For being on the Do Not Call list, it's incredible how they Do.

They've got their loopholes worked out to the loopholiest. So politicians can reach out and touch you...

And not-for-profits can give you a ringy-ding...

And places you only ever once bought something from six years ago can play catch-up...

Not to mention, anyone doing a survey.

"Hi, I'm from the Bielsen Ratings in BigRedTree, California? And we want to know what are the last 27 movies you've watched, in alphabetical order..."

"I don't remember what I had for lunch today. I'm sorry. I have to go."


"Hi, I'm from Gargleblatt University and we're doing a survey and want your opinions."

Swallowing a bite of the dinner that was interrupted, I'm usually full of opinions. But probably not about the topics they'd like.

Or even:

"Hi, this is a courtesy call from Bomflast about your cable. Did you know that if you combine your cable with your internet, telephone, water bill, gas bill, electricity and the tip you'd normally pay your garbage man at Christmas time--- you could get one big-giant-mondo bill from us instead? Making accepting all your hard-earned cash so much easier on our accounting department?"

"Was this that information you mailed me yesterday? And also the three messages you left on my answering machine? Oh, and also the people who stopped by personally at my door at 8pm last night?"

"Um, yeah."

"Okay, probably not interested. Thank you."

Worse is, I am becoming Not Nice about it. I mean, I usually try to treat people in these sorts of jobs with respect. After all, they're only trying to make a buck. They don't make the rules.

But I went all Hulk on a student from my alma mater last night who was just trying to get donations. Normally, I'd politely chitchat and then say I'm not interested.

But this was the second call I'd gotten that evening in a string of such calls over the week. And I'm afraid my patience was worn to "Hulk Smash" before I picked up the receiver.

She began with talking to someone else in the background, until she was sure she wasn't wasting her valuable time on dialing me. And then broke into-- "Hi!! Mr. Thorson! Er, Mrs.... Mrs. Thorson.--"

I contemplated identifying myself as the whole hoard of them, just so she'd get to the point. "Ms."

"Mrs. Thorson," she persisted, "How are you doing today?"

She waited for me to tell her how I was doing.

I waited for her to identify herself.

But she was still concerned about my welfare and wasn't about to move on because the script said, "Caller says they are fine."

I didn't. I waited some more.

She waited some more.

"What do you want?" I finally growled.

This threw off her whole spiel. I am probably now marked down in the fundraising annals of my alma mater as the meanest alumna ever.

The kind of person who'd kick the school mascot and egg passing freshman.

The conversation ended with me telling her I didn't want any, and her backing slowly away without a fight, because... well, she had to wipe the egg off before it dried, and attend to the mascot's bruised paw.

Now I know, I don't actually have to answer the phone.

But the thing is:
  1. Sometimes people I actually need to talk to call, and
  2. If the telemarketers do not get you for their courtesy calls, they will courteously call you every half hour for several hours each evening until they do

Until your eyes go red... Your skin turns green.... And eventually, you're back at "Hulk Smash" from the sheer courteousness of it all.




Venom said...

I loathe telemarketing, in all it's guises.
In a previous life I was a banker (please, save your applause), I decided to retire when banks began cold calling innocent people.
Not only did corporate exepct us to upsell current clients but they straight up told us we were to stay 1/2 hour after our shifts (unpaid) and make these cold calls. And they wanted to see sales, or else.
I retired that same day; my golden parachute didn't go very far. That's all I have to say about that.

Unknown said...

Venom- I would think a LOT of folks in your field would have been resistant to that--

I mean, certain personality types choose certain occupations because it suits them. And then tacking on tasks so out of character for the job type-- and making them high-pressure, well... there's going to be some push back.

I don't blame you.

Da Old Man said...

Ms. Jenn, never, ever, ever buy a time share. I will guarantee you dozens of phone calls offering to a) sell your time share
b) buy your time share
c) rent your time for this year
d) sell you time for this year
e) sell you additional time shares
f) be surveyed about time shares

It will take up most of your night.
You've been warned.

Unknown said...

DaOldMan- Thank you for the warning-- I will definitely take it to heart.

I cannot spend my life as the Hulk full-time. It would play havoc with my wardrobe, continually ripping through trousers like that.

Anonymous said...

I recently received calls three nights in a row from my credit card company wanting to sell some sort of credit insurance. I asked the third caller what he was willing to offer me that the previous two weren't, and he sheepishly said he'd see to it my name was removed from their calling list.

Anonymous said...

I got two calls in one week from our alma mater, too... And apparently not from the same department of said alma mater: one was from the graduate program and one was from either H-and-best-guess or the alumni association.

One of my grad students works in fundraising, and informed me there's an acronym for all the people whose finances suddenly can't include charitable donations: "LYBUNT", which standes for "Last Year But Unfortunately Not This"....

Unknown said...

The Human- I suspect that's what mine's been calling about, leaving partial messages each day on my answering machine. Hopefully they really WILL remove you, and you won't get another call about the previous call. :)

Rhet- Oh, geez-- well, they're hurting for money, I think, because they invested some with that fellow who scammed Pitt, and a number of big-time Hollywood celebs...

So, you know, you and I can pay for that.

Anonymous said...

Telemarketer = I want to pass the pain of my boring life on to you = I'm extremely annoying and don't care that I'm interrupting your life = I don't even know what I'm selling because I'm only doing this to piss you off

The Mother said...

I was rude to a cold caller once.

Well, actually, it's a pretty common occurrence.

But this one time, the jerk called me BACK, TWICE, to chew me out for being rude to him.

Unknown said...

FreeTheUnicorns- Well, usually, they're just young'uns and other out-of-work folks promised big money for certain quotas... They're not the ones writing the scripts and coming up with the ideas. It's a field with a lot of turnover-- and I can understand why. I'm sure I was only one of many people to be curt when the telemarketer was only following the script.

The Mother- WOW-- that's just... WOW. I somehow imagine he didn't work there very long after that. :) Y'know, having to explain why he called repeatedly the same people. "Oh, I was chewing them out." :)

BNS said...

My unfunny, curmudgeonly solution: Caller ID and voice mail. I never answer a call from someone I don't recognize. If it turns out someone I would want to talk to is calling from other than their usual number, they'll leave a voice mail and I return the call immediately.

Works for me. ;-}

HumorSmith said...

I just cut them off mid greeting with, "Not interested, thanks. " Click and you're done.

Then if they persist, I put out a contract on them. The downside to that is I am really afraid to not take the hitman's calls.

The Hussy Housewife said...

I feel your pain. I will share my trick with you..what I do.

When they ask for me..I calmly she is not here..she just died recently.

They usually apologize..and take me off the list..and never call again!

Unknown said...

BNS- Heh, well, yes... if you want it to be all intelligent and simple. :)

HumorSmith- Here's a safety tip-- anyone named Rocco, One-Eye, Butch or Dirty Ezzio, you take their call.

Hussy- Do you think I can manage to get myself listed as deceased in the alumni magazine? :)

Anonymous said...

By any chance did you go to Rollins College? They're insane about donations. They won't let you hang up until they get at least $5 out of you, even if you tell them you live in a tent under the railroad tracks. Then they put you in the magazine that comes out every few months in the $5 category so all your former classmates know you're cheap. I just don't answer the phone anymore. I know they're probably just some poor work study students who got roped into the phone-a-thon (I had to do something similar for the admission's office once), but they act like future bill collectors.

Anonymous said...

Oh gosh ... I am just the same!

I try so hard to be polite to everyone, in the flesh (as it were) or on the phone, but cold callers just get me all riled up. INSTANTLY. In fact, I can feel my blood pressure rising just thinking about them.

I know they're broke and just doing a job. I bear in mind that Johnny Depp was a telemarketer once (yes, he was, selling pens, God help him). But the bottom line is that these calls are intrusive and unwanted.

There are one or two tricks. For instance, if you don't hear a voice within a second or two of picking up, it's probable that your call was automatically dialled and it's a cold caller. Just. Don't. Speak. And when the voice appears, if it's a foreign accent, just put the phone down. It's probably a call centre, and if it isn't and they really need to speak to you, they'll ring back. Call centres never ring back.

Also, bear in mind that they ALL work to a script and you can throw them off by giving unscripted answers. It's fun, actually, if you have the kind of twisted sense of humour that I have. You'll find they repeat the question, and if you refuse to play properly, they'll just put the phone down.

If you feel really mean, just keep asking them to repeat their name, and how you spell it, and what their surname is, and how to spell that. Ask for their phone number and say 'well, after all, you have mine!'

One of my favourite gambits is to growl 'Is this a cold call?' Which usually disconcerts. Also, remember to request firmly that they take you off their list. Here in the UK at least, they must comply, by law.

Unknown said...

Staci- No, not Rollins. But wow-- sounds like they have quite a racket going there.

Jay- When they call, I will try to keep the image of a very young Johnny Depp in mind, trying to sell me pens. ... Though he'd probably still be marking me down as mean.

Can you believe I had TWO more different calls just last night?...My credit card people wanted to get me some special copy of my credit report (which I could get myself), and some anti-narcotics group wanted me to donate this AMAZINGLY high amount of cash for their latest event.

The economy is so bad, they're just getting more and more persistent and annoying.

Meg said...

You could say what I say when they ask for the Mrs, Mr or Ms: I'm sorry he/she passed away last week.

I think we're both racking up the bad karma.

Unknown said...

Meg- You and me... and a LOT of other folks. :) At least we're in good company.

ReformingGeek said...

Besides the car service follow-up calls, the most annoying beggars down here are "Policeman's Ball" and "_____ Foundation" wanting clothing donations. These are followed closely by our alma mater.

I can usually just ignore the phone ringing when I don't recognize the caller id but Hubby will sometimes answer and he gets really mad. Sheesh!

Unknown said...

Reforming Geek- I've tried the not picking up the phone thing, and then just had them call back... and call back... and back and back... Until the ringing phone drives me nuts.

So I talk to them, and like your hubby, then get mad. :) No winning.

Maybe I need to start meditating or something. :)

Anonymous said...

Love this. Last fall, I got a phone number from the cable company which had previously belonged to a deadbeat named Josh. The last six months have been full of calls from his bill collectors and such.

Last night, I had a car insurance guy call for Josh and I launched into the by-now-automatic counter-spiel: "This once was Josh's phone number before Bomflast gave it to me. He does not live here. He NEVER lived at this location. I don't know the guy. I can't get messages to him. But if you DO track him down, please tell him to call this number so I can give him a piece of my mind for being such a slacker."

And this lemons-to-lemonade telephone jokester chuckles and launches into his "How You Doin" telemarketer phone spiel for ME.

Hulk just laugh at him and hang up.

Anonymous said...

I had someone ask if Mrs..... was home. I told them in all honesty that no she was at work. This was before I was married of course but it sounded good at the time. I also have a youngster voice so I've had these people ask if my mom is home and I'll tell them no and I don't know what time she will. Honestly if you aren't smart enough to ask the right question don't be surprised if you get an honest answer. ;)

At work when we get telemarketers we either send them to voicemail or leave them on hold. They give up eventually. I figure if they can't say something besides gibberish to the guy next to them then why should I keep professionally answering the phone.

Anonymous said...

Greg- Agh- you made me tired just thinking you have to recite that every time someone calls for Josh. You poor fellow. But you've clearly proven that telemarketers aren't always discriminate. Anyone who will listen to them will do.

Chyna- Yes, like you, I've been my own non-daughter sometimes. It's fun, isn't it? :)

Frogs in my formula said...

The calls that throw me off are the local police unions looking for money. I worry if I don't donate, they're going to make a mark next to my name and bam, suddenly I'm getting pulled over for "speeding." Course, I could be paranoid.

Tina said...

I like to take the surveys and act completely confused about the questions. I'm too easily amused and have too much time on my hands.

Anonymous said...

Frogs- See, I don't know if that's paranoia or just the vibes you're getting from a shakedown. :) I've gotten those calls too, and they've asked things like, "Don't you care about the safety of your home?" And I end up thinking-- er, so will it be burgled tomorrow?

Tina- That's definitely turning lemons into lemonade. I should really take that spirit. I AM easily amused (as we all know) I just don't want to give them my time when I could fritter it away on other things myself.

Skye said...

The best one I ever got was while living in town (as I am now), and the telemarketer was doing a survey on what I thought was the best crop pesticide. She was what I refer to as a "Bubble Gum Blonde", you know the type, smacks her gum while talking and twists her hair around her finger.

The conversation went something like this: "Hi ma'am (pops a bubble), I was just wondering if, like, you'd be interested in participating in, um, like, our survey about crop pesticides."

I answer, "Well, (pretend to chew gum) not really, you see, um, like, I live in town, and um, like, I don't have any fields that um, I have any use for pesticides for, ya know!?!"

She says, "Fu*&'n B*(*&!" and slams down the reciever.

Somehow I don't think she had a job for long after that. The call was being monitored for quality control, after all :)

By the way, Jenn, I have something for you over at my blog. I've finally figured out to whom I'm passing on the "When Life Hands You Lemons" Award! I'd appreciate it if you come by and claim it when you have a moment to spare :)

Minka said...

When it's a young person doing a survey, ometimes siply answer the questions because it's probably a student trying to make some money on their own instead of asking their parents, right? If only they sound human enough and not too pushy. Like:

The voice: We're doing a survey on... could you spare two minutes?

Me:How long would the two minutes be?

Thje voine: Eerrr, about ten minutes....?

Me: (Laughing), okay then, I'm not too busy or anything...

On other occasions, I just say thank you twice and wish them a nice day and end the conversation.

John J Savo, the Authoring Auctioneer said...

When I was in high school, those bastards use to call and ask for the Lady of the House.

I would respond in my deepest voice, "This is she."


Jenn Thorson said...

Skye- Perhaps they needed to sharpen their lists a bit with a teensy more info before calling folks. :) PS- Thank you for the award, I've added it to the Awards page at top. Lemonadey goodness!

Minka- Ah, you sound like a very nice person. Love the how long will the two minute survey be-- and it's ten minutes. :)

John Savo- Oh, that's hysterical. I would have loved to see the look on their faces when they got that answer!

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

My alma mater keeps calling my mom. My mom refuses to give them my number so she brushes them off with "She's still paying her college loans so no, I don't think she'll give you a donation."

So, my mommy takes care of them for me. :-) I told her to send them my way, but...well...she does such a good job. It's like having my personal hit woman or something. Haaa!