The new telemarketing wrinkle

So I get this call during supper…

ring ring


“Yes, I’m Dick Wadley, senior account auditor at Pacific Bell…”

(Holy crap! senior account auditor!)

“Uh… is there anything wrong?”

“Oh, NO sir! We just audited your account and found you can save 32% on your phone bill if we upgrade you to a superscam account.”

“What are the details of this account?”

“Well, you only have to pay 7 cents a minute for long distance, any time you call.”

“How much am I paying now?”

“Well, sir, that’s on your phone bill.”

“I don’t have it on me. How much am I paying now?”

(pull a few teeth, get a few answers… after much effort, I find out my current rate.)

“You’re paying 10 cents a minute for long distance, sir.”

“Oh, sounds good. Send me an information packet and I’ll think about it.”

“Well, I can’t send you an information packet.”

“How do you expect me to sign up for this account if you don’t give me any information on what I’m signing up for?”

“Well, sir, the account has blah blah blah blah”

“I’m eating supper. Send me a packet and I’ll look into it.”

“Well now, sir, I can’t send you a packet.”

“Why not?”

“Because I’m not a salesman or a telemarketer or anything…

(At this point I should have revealed to Dick that I’m really Napoleon II…)

“… and since I’m not a telemarketer, I’m only an account auditor, I can’t send you any information. I can only sign you up for the new account.”

“Forget it. I’m not signing up unless I know what I’m signing.”

“Well, it’s a good account, sir. It’s got blah blah blah…”

“I’m trying to eat supper.”

“blah blah blah”

“Look, I have a cold, and I feel physically ill right now.”

“Well, sir, if you’ll wait a minute, the superscam account has blah blah blah blah…”

“Wait a minute- could you repeat that? Did you say that all calls, long distance AND local, are 7 cents a minute?”

“Oh, yes sir.”

“How much am I paying per minute for local calls now?”

“Why, I wouldn’t know that, sir.”

(Didn’t you just say you were an account auditor?)

“Look, I’m not interested.”

“But the superscam account has blah blah blah jibberjabberjibberjabberjabbajabbajabbajaaaaaaaws-”

(Dick, you are the weakest link…)

“I am not interested. Goodbye.”

"But wait! Blah blah blah"click.

In a way, telemarketers remind me of Clarice Sterling and Hannibal Lecter, in those scenes where she was questioning him in his cell. He wanted to hurt her, but he couldn’t touch her. All he could do is talk to her, and his only hold on her was the fact that she wanted something from him. I wonder how many people tell the telemarketers that they’ll seriously consider buying the product- but only if the telemarketer reveals bits of deeply painful personal information.


What the hell was so new about that telemarketing thing? Or your response? I guarantee you every evil thought in the universe has been thought about telemarketers, so your response to the telemarketer probably isn’t original either.

But I’ll clue you into something REALLY new and horrifying: Opt-out marketing. This is also known as “advance permission marketing.” The marketers send you junk mail and bill you for goods if you don’t acknowledge their mail with a refusal. Read about it here:

Now you have to open ALL your junk mail unless you want people to send you crap you didn’t explicitly order.

Does anyone know the UK law on unwanted goods?

but, it was so funny when it did!

I have a 7month old son at home. And I ALWAYS answer the phone, even if the caller ID says “UNKNOWN CALLER”.

So, the other night…


Hi, is this Rich?

<grumble> yesssss…

I’m Stacy from Whatchamacallit construction, and we’ve been getting calls from homeowners in your area about water in their basements. Would you say that you have a little or a lot of water in your basement after it rains?

Stacy, your call has woken my seven month old son.

Oh sorry, but do you have a small leak or a larg/<I cut her off here>

Stacy, my son has to get back to sleep. I’ll need for you to help me sing him to sleep.


Sing with me Stacy. He loves the ABC song.
…and, get this, she DOES IT! We sing the ABC song through about 8-9 times, until GrizzSon is snoozing peacefully.
<whispered> thanks Stacy, he’s back to sleep again.

Oh good, now about your basem/<I cut her off again>

<whispered> can’t talk now, my son’s asleep.
and I hung up.

Normally, the telemarketer hangs up when I start backing them up about my son having been woken up by the phone. But this time, IT WORKED!!!
Man, that felt SOOOO good!

The new wrinkle is that the telemarketer/salesperson pretends to be a non-telemarketer/non-salesperson, no?

Lots of telecom type companies do this – call you up and offer you something else, posing as customer service or account auditing or somesuch crap. The company I work for will provide this service, but only if you, the customer, call in and ask for it. It’s called Rate Plan Analysis or something, and the CSR looks at your past bills and tells you if there’s a rate plan that could save you money, then switches you if you agree. In theory, it is to save the customer money and generate brand loyalty, but not being in our call center, there’s no way for me to say that’s how it actually works out. And presumably, if they call you to get you to switch, it’s to increase, not decrease, revenue.

Telemarketeers suck syphilitic ass. But, you have to remember it’s a crap job and they probably hate calling as much as you hate answering. People only telemarket when they’re desperate, but not quite to the point of prostitution. Or when one more drug charge will get them sent up the river.

My first question when someone calls asking for “Firstname Lastname?” is “Are you selling something?” A few get flustered enough to say yes immediately, but the better ones take a few lines of conversation. A “No, thank you, I’m not interested” before hanging up is, IMO, best for both parties.

GrizzRich, that’s great.

I can’t top it, but my brother-in-law pulled a pretty good prank on a telemarketer when he was a kid.

He answered the phone, and the telemarketer asked if his mom was home. “No, <sigh>, she’s dead.” Telemarketer says she’s terribly sorry, and asks if his dad is home. “No, <sigh>, he’s dead too.” Telemarketer asks if anyone is there with this obviously depressed kid. “No… They’re all dead.” And he hung up.

They got a visit from a social worker a few days later.

Funny, I respect prostitutes more than I do telemarketers. At least prostitutes offer a service that people actually want.

Are you sure about this. I seem to remember scams likethis in the 80’s. It even prompted public service annoucements to the efect that if you receive something that you did not order, that it was yours to keep. No charge.

Well, yeah, but how often do you see those 1 hour documentaries on cable about telemarketers being murdered by psychopaths while on the job? I mean, you want to kill them, but it just doesn’t happen.

We had a thread in GQ a little while ago that addressed unsolicited mailed items. Someone posted that unless you specifically requested/ordered something, you were under no obligation to pay for it. Can’t find the thread, though.

I know everyone hates telemarketers, but I have to say something here [pulls on teflon long undies]; GrizzRich, what you did was mean. You made someone who probably hates their job and would do just about anything to get out of it hate their job even more; she may have even cried after she hung up with you (I know I cried on the job often enough when I was a young punk doing the worst jobs around). Taking hundreds of rejections per shift should be enough punishment for you telemarketer-haters to dish out; do you have to humiliate them as human beings as well? Were you lucky enough to never have to work a crappy, humiliating job to pay your rent? If you did have one, have you forgotten how mean people can be to people that have to take all that shit with a smile and ask for more? If you did have a crappy job, and you do remember how awful it was, why would you go out of your way to make someone else feel terrible when it’s just as easy to say a quick “no thank you” and hang up?
[falls off soapbox, limps away clutching skinned knee]

What’s so humiliating about singing the ABC song over the telephone to put a young kid to sleep?

I would think it would have been ruder to slam down the phone in disgust or to unleash a torrent of obscenities. But singing to a toddler?

I dunno, guess we have different perspectives. :slight_smile:

Junk mail that includes a postage paid return envelope- mail it back, after wiping your ass with it. (only did it once, and I wiped my cat’s ass with it/ legal? I don’t know)

Someone mails you something and says you have to return it in so many days or pay for it- Return it, postage due and duct tape a brick to it. (my local postmistress looked at me kind of funny with this one.)

Telemarketers- Start screaming loudly about how you are always losing your hearing aid and ask them to talk a little louder, keep doing this until they are screaming as well. (I can imagine them sitting in their telemarketer boilerroom screaming at the top of their lungs while their co-workers wonder what the hell is going on.)

Telemarketers- Start flirting with them, especially if it is someone of the same sex. Tell them about a party on Friday and would they like to join you?

I love this stuff and could go on and on…

featherlou, you described the typical telemarketer as

I’m sorry, but I cannot accept that. In times of high unemployment and monstrous job competition, maybe. But right now, it is a fairly easy matter for someone who is articulate and trainable to get a different job at a living wage that does not require telemarketing.

IOW–if it’s so damned awful to be a telemarketer, she can quit.

Obligatory link.

Ah, dan, ma man, I suspect you have never been on the receiving end of that kind of treatment. When I read what GrizzRich had done to the telemarketer, I cringed. I’ve had enough customer service jobs to know how it feels to stand there with a plastic grin on my face while people do whatever they please, talk to me however they please, waste my time however they please, and I could do nothing but return every insult with a pleasant smile and a “Have a nice day.” And making a telemarketer sing to your child is insulting (in my admittedly slanted perspective, of course).

(ps A torrent of obscenities would have been bad, also.:slight_smile:

But what if she’s not articulate and trainable? From what I can see, telemarketers are not always articulate (at least they have not always been so to me), and I’m not sure how trainable they are, either. I realize that’s a generalization, so I’ll limit my assessment to the telemarketers I’ve had experience with. My understanding was that the telemarketers basically read off a piece of paper that contained their shpiel and what to say when the customer says certain things. Doesn’t take much to train someone to read a piece of paper! :slight_smile:

What I’m saying is that if the telemarketer’s abilities are limited from the get-go, he or she might not have options other than telemarketing. But your point is taken. If nothing else, the telemarketer knows the downside of the job before getting into it. He or she simply has to know that some customers are not going to be particularly gregarious. And if one already knows the downside of a job before starting it, he or she can deal with potential problems.

Instead of having a plastic grin, I’d hang up, if it bothered me as much as it bothered you. :slight_smile: Yes, I know, it would be my job to sell the customer whatever. But if he’s being insulting, in my eyes, then why would I stay on? “Aha,” you say. “But you have to stay on! Your boss would kill you if you hung up!” “Aha,” I reply, brazenly. “That’s my point. I know people can and will be insulting, and it’s my job to sell what I’m selling. Therefore I will put up with the insults if I want to make the sale and if I want to keep my job.”


Whoa, hold it there. What, she had a gun pointed at her head? She’d lose her job if she hung up? She was commanded from On High to sing to a kid?

Nope, here’s how it should have gone:


Hi, is this Rich?

<grumble> yesssss…

I’m Stacy from Whatchamacallit construction, and we’ve been getting calls from homeowners in your area about water in their basements. Would you say that you have a little or a lot of water in your basement after it rains?

Stacy, your call has woken my seven month old son.

I’m terribly sorry, sir, and I won’t disturb you any further. Have a good night.

How tough is that?
dantheman, you’re right. Being able to work as a telemarketer is no indication of intelligence, personality, or ability to learn.

:shrug: I guess it’s a trade off. Of the three options in a job, you can have at most two of three: easy, enjoyable, and well-paying. Telemarketing is easy and well-paying, but it’s shit work. NT systems administration pays well and is enjoyable, but difficult. I think there are very few jobs that are all three, if any at all.

If Ms. Telemarketer can’t stand the heat, it’ll cost. More enjoyability in her job will require harder work or less pay.

I work for my dad’s small company from time to time, and when I’m there, I answer all the phones, and thus get all the telemarketers. The other day there was one that I just couldn’t get rid of, and finally had to transfer to someone with a slightly more authorative title, who politely got rid of her. Well, the company has two names, with consecutive phone numbers. We were the next call on her list too. And so, when I answered, I told her that thank you, we weren’t interested in her directory service, and hung up. SHE CALLED BACK. I got rid of her, eventually, the second time, but if I wasn’t interested, and knew what she was selling, why oh why would she think I wanted her product???