Spend Some Quality Time With Your Telemarketer

Mike Quinn posted the following to the TELECOM Digest, and has graciously permitted reproduction here:
Date: Mon, 18 Mar 96 09:37:00 PST
From: Quinn Michael <QUINNM@bah.com>
Newsgroups: comp.dcom.telecom
Subject: Spend Some Quality Time With Your Telemarketer
Organization: TELECOM Digest
X-Submissions-To: ptownson@massis.lcs.mit.edu
X-Administrivia-To: ptownson@massis.lcs.mit.edu
X-Telecom-Digest: Volume 16, Issue 130, Message 3 of 6

The recent series of postings on telemarketing should evoke a number of imaginative responses to these calls. Since they are apparently unavoidable for the present (at least until Paul Begley et al can eliminate them) why not have a little fun at their expense? Responses which I have used with varying degrees of success and amusement include:
a. Advise that you are eating dinner (generally the case) and request a number where you can call them back, because you really ARE interested in chemical lawn treatment or whatever. If they are stupid enough to give you one, you can either: 1) when the next telemarketer calls, ask them to call you right back at your other number in the den, and give them the previous telemarketer's number, or 2) post the number in a handy place such as a restroom at the bus station.
b. Respond to personal questions with personal questions yourself ("and what about you, Mary -- how old are YOUR kids?"); try to engage them in light repartee -- it can be hilarious to listen to them try to wriggle out of talking.
c. Ask them if they use the product themselves,and if not, why not. Be sure to use their first name a lot, too. ("What about you Ted -- do you a have credit card from this bank, Ted? Ted -- what about your wife?" etc).
d. Tell them what a fascinating field telemarketing seems to be and that you're considering a career change. Ask them how they like their jobs, what their hours are, and how much they get paid. Technical questions of the sort that might come from TELECOM Digest readers are good, too, such as what brand and model of headset they're using, what kind of computer, etc.
e. Point out that since they have your home phone number that you'd like to get theirs (area code first, of course); ask if they mind you calling while they're asleep or eating.
f. Ask them what city they're calling from, and then launch into a long diatribe about what rotten winter it's been here in (your city). If they try to change the subject, interrupt them.
g. Tell them you feel sorry for anyone who has to be working during a civilized meal hour. Describe your own menu in detail, along with preparation guidelines. ("And Susan, are you still with me, Susan? Susan -- it's important that you use fresh garlic and ground pepper in the sauce at this point", etc).
h. Ask for the name and telephone number of their supervisor as a matter of course. If they ask why, tell them it's for government records or something equally absurd. Cite made-up federal statutes that require that they provide you with this information.
i. Tell them that the conversation is being taped for their protection and ask them to say their name several times slowly in succession.
j. And so on.
Most of these usually result in THEM hanging up on YOU, and meanwhile your dinner IS getting cold, but the more of their time you waste, the less profitable their venture becomes, and the more they may be personally inclined to choose a job that doesn't entail pestering people.


Mike Quinn


Tom Mabe recorded two CDs in a series titled "Revenge On the Telemarketers".


More Links

These are some sites covering related topics:


Several people have flamed me (Eric Smith) for having this web page. Here's a particularly amusing one. It is obvious that the person either didn't read or didn't understand Mike's last paragraph.

Date: Sun, 1 Jun 1997 00:56:09 -0400 (EDT)
From: <name withheld>
To: eric@brouhaha.com
Subject: telemarketing page

Geez, I read what you wrote about telemarketing and you know, you're dehumanizing those people. It's distressing to see another person complaining about the individuals just doing thier jobs. Instead of a person complaining directly to the company pursuing them, you're just another one who vents frustration at the little guy just trying to make a buck when the corporate jerks are the ones who get your number. Say something to the corporates and leave the sales people alone. Sheesh, don't you think their job is hard enough already without people like you in the world trying to make everyone's day miserable? I hope you're happy with yourself. And using dejected phrases like "civilized meal hour"?? I'm sure the whole "civilized" world eats EXACTLY when you do. Do you actually read the garbage you write or do you just like to see how many people accidentally make the mistake of finding your page?

-<name withheld>

So apparently <name withheld> believes that any kind of atrocious behavior is made acceptable if people are "just doing their jobs" and/or "trying to make a buck".

Someone else suggested to me that I should politely say that I am not interested then just hang up, rather than heaping abuse on a telemarketer. I say that anyone who interrupts what I am doing in order to try to sell me aluminum siding is scum and deserves whatever abuse they get. If they don't like it, they can choose not to call me, or they can hang up. Anything I can do to make their job harder and less profitable will make them more likely to get a real job instead. If everyone harrased telemarketers, that whole industry would dry up and blow away, and as far as I am concerned it would be good riddance to bad rubbish.

More Feedback

From: <Json37@aol.com>
Date: Fri, 5 Jun 1998 00:10:25 EDT
To: eric@brouhaha.com
Subject: Quality time? Guess again, pal....

Had quite a chuckle at your Telemarketing page. REALLY laughed out loud at your comment in reference to how the telemarketers should find a REAL job.

Tell me, Eric, what would you consider to be a REAL job? Judging from your illustrious profile, I would imagine it would have something to do with sitting in front of a computer all day, maybe giggling at the latest online "Dilbert" strip, maybe eating Twinkies 'til you see God, who knows. Let me tell you a little bit about my job.

Yep, you guessed it, poindexter.....I am a telemarketer. I sell advertising to businesses across the country. Lucky for me, I have yet to run into any anti- telemarketing prophets such as yourself. As for the question of the viability and validity of my non-real job, I manage to squeak out a comfortable living for my family, to the tune of about 6K a month. Not too shabby for a job that isn't real....

Anyway, Eric, thought a view from the other side might help to ease the load of the self-righteous indignation you feel you must bear, or at least lower your blood pressure a little. That's my two cents, friend. Lord knows I can afford it.


ps Post this on your site. I dare you. :)

Yet More Feedback

Some telemarketers actually do have a sense of humor:

From: <name withheld>
Date: Wed, 15 Jul 1998 19:26:52 EDT
To: eric@brouhaha.com
Subject: Hey

Your telemarketing sight is great. Really a good laugh. Guess what I do? Telemarket of course. I think the sight is kinda of amusing, and guess what, I like it when people try to mess with me on the phone. I am a 17 year old kid that is only working this job for the summer. And for a part time job, it isn't bad. I sit on my butt all day and get paid 6 bucks an hour. Sure beats running around hot grills at the locale fast food joint to only make minimum wage. But like I said, I like it when people try to mess with me. Everyone who works in my phone room is just like you and me. Most of them are down on their luck and it's the only job they could get. That dosen't make them scum. The scum are thoose people who aren't working at all and are just sitting at home getting public aid checks all day. But say what I might, it won't change your opion of us. And I don't mind that. After sitting for hours on a phone talking to everyone and their brother, I like to have someone try to change the subject. I will talk to hours to anyone I can get a hold of. As long as I am on my phone I am getting paid. And I could care less about the company I work for. So people that try to play games, I love it. Keep up the good work!

I'll have to agree that there are in fact many worse things than telemarketing. However, most of them don't call me at mealtime.

Even More Feedback

From: <name withheld>
Date: Fri, 23 Oct 1998 15:29:06 -0700
To: eric@brouhaha.com
Subject: Telemarketing

<grins> I got quite a chuckle out of your page... provided endless amusment after a long day at work where I slave away in the world of <gasp> telemarketing :) Well... it does pay the bills at any rate. And I can always tell myself that there is someone lower than me in the scheme of things... door to door salesmen! <smiles> I'm not at the bottom of the barrel of humanity... just close :) Though I have to agree, telemarketing is a lot like prostitution, I really do feel quite dirty when I get home from work, but as I said, it does pay the bills. <grins again> Anways, I'm just using it to pay my way through school so that I can get a "real" job. <shivers> If I'm telemarketing in another two years somebody please shoot me...

When I asked for permission to quote <name withheld> he replied:

From: <name withheld>
To: "Eric Smith" <eric@brouhaha.com>
Subject: Re: Telemarketing
Date: Fri, 23 Oct 1998 15:43:52 -0700

<smiles> Go right ahead. Your page is the funniest thing I've seen in months btw :) (Incidently, though I'm a telemarketer by day as soon as I get home, I despise telemarketing scum just as much as the next person. Generally what I do when they try to sell me something is to go into my own pitch from work.

TM: Hello, is Mr. <name withheld> available?
Me: Yes, speaking.
TM: Hello Mr. <name withheld>, this is Rob 'em Blind from the Hook-em-Up Long Distance Company, like most Americans I bet you would like to save money on your long distance right?
Me: Rob, I'm so glad you called! My name is <name withheld> and I was wondering if you would be interested the great new collection of music we are offering?
TM: <click>

Usually works like a charm :) So go right ahead and put my message on your web page, just change it to <name withheld> if you would.

<name withheld>

The Feedback Just Keeps Coming

From: PJam111111@aol.com
Date: Sat, 22 May 1999 04:25:44 EDT
Subject: Capitalism
To: eric@brouhaha.com

Hey buddy, you may pay to use your phone in your house, but do you pay for all the phone lines that you use? Hell no you don't. Good old "Uncle Sam" does. That means that if he says its "A O.K." to telemarket to assholes like you who happen to be stuffing themselves at dinner, complaining that I had interupted their Burger King value meal while I am in a stuffy office building slaving away for endless ungodly hours trying to help pay for my college, that is fine with me. My job typicly pays 250$-350$ a week. Sure beats the hell out of what you call a "real job" which probably consists of saying things like "do you want fries with that?" and wages like 5$ an hour. Besides, what do you do all day, paint landscapes and reflect on life? Chances are you have a shitty useless job just like me, or else you would be in a better mood when you get a telemarketing call.

I really really do hope I call you someday. I'll purposely butcher the hell out of your name, even if it is a simple name like Eric, purely for entertainment purposes. Then I will ask things like "Is there anyone there over the age of 18?" When you lie, trying to wiggle out of the conversation and answer no, I'll ask "How about is there anyone there over the age of 21?" "How bout over the legal smoking age?" "Legal drinking age?" "Anyone below age 65 there?", ect, ect. Then I will ask you if you own any small pets or farm animals for no reason whatsoever then announce a sale on kibbles n' bits for no reason just to see what you say. I do these things all the time, it's how I stay sane, by being a smart ass and acting like an idiot. Besides, my boss says its important to relate to the customers. Ironicly, I make more sales when I do this for some reason. I guess it gets attention, keeps people from hanging up, some even find it amusing, and it keeps me half interested, whatever. And no one cares what I do as long as I get sales. So try your lame little attempts to fusterate the telemarketer, see what happens. I guarantee that after we end our lovely little annoying conversation, if you ever get a sales call from me, you will be the pissed off and fusterated one and I will have the last laugh.

The validity of telemarketing, as horrid as the whole industry is, and as terrible as telemarketers are treated by their employers, stands. I don't care who you are, but you do not own the phone lines. Getting rid of telemarketing is comparable to getting rid of TV commercials. You have the right to demand "no more telemarketing" as much as I have the right to say "no more TV commercials." You do however, have the right to hang up the phone and I reserve the right to turn the channel. It's called Capitalism pal. Our country lives and breathes in your face, rugged-individualistic, raw capitalism. Get used to it, because capitalism made it possible for you to have your fat filled burger meal as well as your telemarketing call which interupts it. For the love, your a grown man and im a teenager. Get real Mr. Phone Nazi, and don't be such a baby. You should know these basic facts about our society. Picking up a phone a few times won't kill you, and it helps to keep single moms off of welfare, keeps students in college, and poorer kids off the street. There are no slick "slimeballs" where I work, looking for an "extra buck." Noone wants to be there, everyone is there because they need, not just like, money. Maybe this concept is unfamiliar to you, suburban white guy.

Post this on your website, Pal. Go ahead, make my day.

With Love,
Mr. "Scumbag" Telemarketer
Alex Moon

As a matter of fact I do pay for all the phone lines I use. A large portion of a phone bill goes to infrastructure costs. Where on earth did Alex get the idea that the government owns the phone lines? That's true in some countries, but not in the US. In point of fact, I actually pay not just for my own phone lines, but for those of other people as well. Alex would be well-advised to actually research these issues before spouting off about them.

What makes Alex think that I don't have the right to say "no more TV commercials"? In my household, I do precisely that. However, television broadcasters are not able to make my television interrupt me in the middle of doing something else in order to force me to listen to advertising. I'm sure they would love to do so if only they could.

Alex apparently believes that because he needs $250 a week, anything he has to do in order to earn that, no matter how repulsive to those he interacts with, is justified (perhaps because he's not a suburban white guy), and that those who are unhappy with his behavior are somehow obliged to simply roll over and take it.

I would point out to Alex that just as he maintains that he has the right to make my life more unpleasant by calling me to attempt to sell me things I don't want to buy, I have the right to deliberately try to make his life more unpleasant by using the sort of techniques on the web page, and furthermore, to try to encourage other people to do so as well.

No end of feedback in sight

From: "Erik McHatton" <poet1025@hotmail.com>
Subject: Hey
Date: Sat, 15 Dec 2001 20:27:25 -0600

I'm a telemarketer. I admit it. I do feel bad about catching someone at dinner, and if I do I politely apologize and let them get back to it. I have never pitched someone during a meal(that I'm aware of) I agree it's rude. I make about $250 a week and it's pretty nice. It's certainly better than flipping burgers, which I used to do. I understand the hatred of telemarketers. I used to hate them too. I just feel sorry for most of them now. I've been cussed out, screamed at, and screwed with enough times that I know how it feels. We are certainly the low men on the totem pole and no one cares. I am not however a scumbag. I know a lot of jobs out there more reprehensible than mine. I don't even sell anything. I make appointments for people interested in home security. I like humor sites regarding telemarketers, however calling us scum is a little mean. Do what you like however, it's a free country. Post this, I like seeing my name in print.

Erik McHatton

Is calling people that cold-call me to try to sell me things I don't want "scum" really mean? I'm sure I could come up with much worse epithets.

It is still the case that none of the telemarketers that have emailed me have included their telephone number so that I can pitch my products to them. If telemarketing isn't scummy, why aren't they happy to do so?

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Last updated April 9, 2003

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