Dealing with telemarketers is an acquired skill. Just don’t go into it thinking that you have to defend your desire to not talk to them. Tell them you’re not interested, to take you off of whatever list they’re calling from, and then hang up.
These days for some reason the only people that call me for sales are minions of my mortgage company trying to get me to refinance.
A few years ago when the harassment level was higher I went on a futile quest to find a device or service that would:
a) answer the phone immediately.
b) say “if this is a personal call please press 1”
c) ring the phone if the person pressed 1, else hang up in 5 seconds.
However, this rather primitive tech was impossible to find in a consumer or office product, much less in an AIN service, and the IN group at Verizon wasn’t interested in implementing it either. I imagine I’d need an asterisk or a nuance server with a telephony line card or something like that to implement it today, but it should be fairly simple with that rather excessive level of investment.
I used to do outbound calling that wasn’t strictly telemarketing… it was calling people to tell them their credit card number had expired, or was declined, etc. People treated me like a telemarketer, though, and they were fucking assholes about it.
So, just use caller ID or something and ignore the phone if it’s a telemarketer.
Periodically my alma mater will call me up to ask for money. Their most recent strategy was very amusing. The undergrad doing the calling asks me how my experience was as an undergrad, and then asks me for any advice I’d have for undergraduates. I chat with her for a bit about my college experiences (I know where this is going of course, I’m just curious how long she’ll wait), she asks some questions, I answer them, she fakes interest. Then eventually she asks for money.
Does that work on anyone? Is anyone who graduated from a decent university stupid enough to not know that every time you get a call from your school they are asking you for money? So aren’t the solicitors just wasting their own time?
On the other hand, I have a pretty sexy voice, so maybe she was keeping me talking for her own purposes.
My favorite kind of telemarketer that we get at work is the “toner pirate.” These are the scam artists who call and pretend to be your regular office supplier. They ask for the model number of your copier and then ship you overpriced toner.
When they call me, I tell them our copier is a Sank-Yu 3826idhbskf87uw95idhw499t. Then when she asks me to repeat it, I tell her it’s a Toyotu sjj284jjdsqtg95873. If she hasn’t hung up on me by then, I say, “I need you do do me a favor.” Her: “What’s that?” Me: “Say, 'ARRRRRRR! I’m a toner pirate! ARRRRRR!”
Yeah, we have caller ID, but when the number is just a random long distance number, and we have friends and family in a variety of timezones, I have to pick it up. How do you tell when a telemarketer is calling?
I’ve started just hanging up, without a word, once it’s become clear who’s calling. It’s much better for my blood pressure.
If I’ve got some time on my hand, I like to engage those trying to do outbound market research surveys. I generally take the tact that they ought to pay me. It usually has me telling them, “But if my opinion is so valuable, why won’t you pay me?” I’ve even managed to get the call escalated to a supervisor on a couple of occasions.
I briefly worked as a telephone survey taker, and it was probably the worst or second worst job I’ve ever had. Far below fast food high school work, even. The happy day that I left that job, I promised that I would always answer and take phone surveys out of a deep sense of understanding the poor fuckers making the calls.
On the other hand, when telemarketers call, I advise them that they have reached me on a cell phone and are costing me minutes, which may be a violation of Federal and CA state laws. I don’t hear back much.