The Saga of William Tuttle - A Telemarketer Story (long)

I’ve read many rants directed at telemarketers in my years of lurking. Please indulge me while I tell my telemarketer story.

I’ve spent several years working in a computer integration lab. There were usually two or three other engineers working in the lab. It was a very casual, friendly environment. Despite the lack of management supervision and cubicles, we got a lot of good work done. One hardware engineer, who I’ll call John, made the mistake of filling out a survey card at a trade show and found himself on the calling list of an industry trade newsletter. They would call periodically and offer to send the free newsletter if he would just answer a few simple survey questions.

Over time, John got fed up with the company and moved on to greener pastures. The powers-that-be were in no hurry to replace him, so I did what I could to fill the void left by his parting while I did my own work. After about a year, I started getting phone calls for John. The conversations would go like this:

TM: “May I please speak to John Doe?”

ME: “John doesn’t work for us anymore. He’s been gone for over a year.”

TM: “Can I please speak to his replacement?”

ME: “Well, we really didn’t replace him.”

This apparently threw them off of the script and they didn’t know how to respond.

TM: “Okay, thank you.”

Hangup. Repeat next week.

After about another year, the company finally hired someone to replace John. I’ll call him Jim. One day, feeling a little devilish, when the call came for John and the TM got to the “Can I please speak to his replacement?”, I called Jim to the home. “Jim, it’s for you.”

Jim may the fatal mistake of giving the TM his name before his realized who it was. Sure enough, about once a week, we would get a call for Jim Jones. Jim kept trying to tell them that the mail room would not deliver their newsletter; they throw such stuff in the trash. He would ask them, politely, to please quit calling.

Another year passed. Jim transferred to another project, once again leaving me to attempt to fill that role. Sure enough, every 7-10 days:

TM: “Can I please speak to Jim Jones?”

ME: “He doesn’t work in this lab anymore.”

TM: “Can I please speak to his replacement?”

ME: “We haven’t replaced him.’

Hangup. Repeat next week.

After a few months of this, I decided it was time to elevate this to the next level. Remember the episode of MAS*H where Hawkeye and BJ invented Capt. Tuttle, complete with personnel file, pay vouchers, and biography? The next time I heard, “Can I please speak to his replacement?”, I replied, “That would be Mr. Tuttle.”

TM: “Could you spell that for me please?”

ME: “T,U,T,T,L,E, first name William. But he’s not here right now.”

TM: “Can I please speak to his secretary or assistant?”

ME: “He doesn’t have an assistant.”

TM: “Okay, thank you.”

Sure enough, about a week later:

TM: “Could I please speak to William Tuttle.”

ME: “He’s not here right now, can I take a message?”

TM: “Can I speak to his secretary or assistant?”

ME: “He doesn’t have one.”

TM: “Okay, thank you.”

Hangup. Repeat next week.

After a few months of this, the newsletter outsourced to a call center in India. Apparently, William Tuttle is a difficult name to pronounce when one is learning English.

TM: “May I please speak to William [pause] Tut… [pause] Tutt… [pause] Tut-tle?”

HM: “He’s not here right now. Can I take a message?”

You know the rest by now. One of the beautiful things about the fictional name was, if I was busy or not in the mood, I could just hang up.

After a few iterations of this. I decided it was time for Mr. Tuttle to get a promotion. When the call came, I said Mr. Tuttle had been promoted to Vice-President of Purchasing. A telemarketers dream. One day, I looked the number of a telemarketing company in town and posted it on a sticky note next to the phone. When the next call came for Mr. Tuttle, I gave them this number as Mr. Tuttle’s new number. Can you imagine that call? However, that didn’t deter them for long.

At one point, someone apparently sold the calling list. I got a phone call for Mr. Tuttle from someone who spoke with an American accent who, when I told her Mr. Tuttle was not there, asked for the person in charge of our lighting supplies. That particular day, I was busy and not in a good mood. I told her, “Lady, you’re an idiot. William Tuttle a fictional character that I made up just to waste the time of people like you. Don’t call again.”

She replied, snarkyly, “We’ll if you’ll give me your name, I’ll remove you from out list.”

“Lady, you must think I’m an idiot, too. That’s how this got started. I’m not about to give you my name.” And I hung up.

One day I wasn’t quite so busy when the young lady from India called, so I decided Mr. Tuttle was in. Mr. Tuttle was asked if he could answer a few questions for a survey. Of course, I realized it was just a cheesy way to collect more marketing information so they could sell some “target demographic” information. It turns out Mr. Tuttle, being Vice-President in charge of purchasing, was in charge of over 30,000 employees of a company that makes telecom hardware. He was also in charge of a multi-million dollar budget. The questions became yes/no questions. If the young lady recognized that I was alternating the answers, she didn’t let on. I suspect she was caught up in the excitement of having someone answer her questions. It took about 15 minutes to finish the survey.

Believe it or not, after filling out the survey, the calls stopped for about six months.

But, the calls did start again. One Monday morning, it went like this:

“May I please speak to Mr. Tuttle?”

In a solemn voice, “I’m sorry, I guess you haven’t heard. Mr. Tuttle died this weekend. His funeral will be Thursday.”

“So, I can call back Thursday?”

“That will be fine.”

The calls continued for about another six months. The regular lab rats would just them Mr. Tuttle wasn’t in. Then, for reasons unknown, the calls stopped.

And that’s the story of William Tuttle.

That’s great! It is psychologically healing to mess with the telemarketing industry.

Everyone knows it was Jonathon Tuttle, at least be accurate, sheesh :slight_smile:

Jonathan was William’s great uncle.

Thanks. It’s bugged me for years that I was not able to remember that. That’s why I just made up ‘William’ on the fly.

And Henry’s grandfather.

Excellent story!

I don’t want to steal your thunder, but my story is not nearly as good, so I’ll just drop it here for whatever amusement it offers. The members of the games club at our university are mostly grad students, staff, and townies. The undergraduate members are few and extremely flakey. Problem is, we’re chartered as an undergraduate club, so we officially need to have an undergraduate president and treasurer. This is a pain in the neck, especially when the duly elected president flakes out and important paperwork doesn’t get signed on time because nobody can find him. We can usually find one reliable undergrad to “elect” as president (by pointing at him in May and announcing, “You! You will be president in the fall!”) who then ropes one of his friends into being a puppet treasurer. (Our bank acount has thirty seven dollars in it, and the balance hasn’t changed for about eight years. We aren’t even sure where the bank statements are going, because we lost our official mailbox in the student union when, you guessed it, the presiding president didn’t sign the renewal form.)

One day we realized that one of our members works for the Dean of Humanities and Sciences, and one works for drumroll the Bursar. They’re both computer people. shock amazement So we started toying around with the idea of creating a fake student to be the president. His name, naturally enough, would be “Abrahamo Lincolni.” The Dean’s Office worker would be sure that Abrahamo’s “coursework” stayed up to snuff, and the Bursar worker would be sure that his “tuition” was “paid.” They figured that Abrahamo could string out his undergraduate experience for eight, maybe ten years.

The fatal flaw in the plan turned out to be that we didn’t have any members working in the Office of Admissions. :smack:

I’m the receptionist for a very busy firm and I will borrow Mr. Tuttle. Thank you!

That is the best line in recorded history.

What? You didn’t tell them that Mr. Murdock was Tuttle’s replacement?

Indeed. It is the very definition of clueless. excellent story!

I just say
But it isn’t stamped.

We did wonder if we were only one or two forms away from getting Mr. Tuttle an employee ID and a paycheck. If we had been able to do so, he could have collected a paycheck for years before anyone figured it out.

And donated his backpay to a local charity, right? :smiley:

So typical; so Tuttle. :stuck_out_tongue:

Oh, of course. The local Druid church orphanage.

Now wouldn’t it be funny if one of the telemarketers was named Margaret?