There is nothing more annoying that sitting down to dinner, preparing to go out or doing something that is important and then receiving a call from a telemarketer promoting something in which you have no interest. This is sometimes known as direct marketing or inside sales.
Some of these solicitations are recorded and sent by automatic dialing systems that select numbers at random in a particular area code or geographic location. Others are done by people who are given a script to read in order to persuade the recipient to contact a company selling the product. Robocalls that are using computerized auto-dialers and computer-delivered pre-corded messages in the sale pitch are often the workings of a scammer, but even for legitimate companies they can be problematic.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has implemented a “National Do Not Call Registry” list on which anyone can request to be listed. Once on the list telemarketers are forbidden to call these numbers and, if they do so, can be heavily fined. Some states also have additional regulations. In 2009, FTC regulations banning robocalls went into effect.
Other countries have also instituted similar laws. In Canada, for example, telemarketing is regulated by the government and enforced by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.
For a number of people these telemarketing calls are a constant annoyance. However, there are a number of ways to stop these calls and get a little revenge along the way. These are especially effective if there is a live person on the phone. If it is a robo call, get the phone number, look up the company, and report them to the FTC. This is effective only if you are on the “No Call” list.
- One favorite is to say, “I’m really interested, but someone’s at the door, will you excuse me a minute?” and then just leave the phone off the hook and go do something else. After about 10 or 15 minutes they will get tired of waiting and hang up. Be sure and leave the phone off the hook for awhile as they will call back if you hang up immediately.
- Say “No speak English” and hang up.
- Pretend to be a small child and say, “Nobody’s home except Grandpa and he’s waiting for an ambulance to take him to the hospital.”
- Ask the telemarketer where they work and tell them you want to apply for a job.
- Tell the telemarketer that you’re looking for a date and he or she sounds just like what you are looking for and where can you meet them. If they persist go into the expectations for the event, how to dress, and anything else you can think of. Just don’t let them get back to their script.
- Have a recorder handy with taped music and place it next to the telephone at full volume.
- Tell the caller that you can’t read or write and are getting kicked out of your house.
- Have a whistle near the phone and say “Don’t call me again” and then blow on the whistle.
- If they are talking about lending money, say “This is great, I just filed for bankruptcy, how much can I get?”
- Ask the telemarketer for a phone number to call. When they say they can’t give it out then ask for their home phone number so you can call. When they say they don’t want to get a call at home then say “Now you know how I feel” and hang up.
- If they are calling about a Family and Friends Plan, say I don’t have any friends, will you be my friend? Give me your home number and we can arrange a date.
- Just keep saying “No” in an even tone varying the pitch, until they hang up.
- If it is a rug cleaning company say “I’m glad you called, I’m looking for a company that can clean up a great deal of human blood because of a murder that happened yesterday in the living room”.
- When they ask “How are you today?” respond by saying “I’m so glad you asked. My sciatica is out and I have to take a lot of pain medicine, but you know how that is. No one seems to care these days, my dog died and I think cousin Bob is going to try to move in with me”. Keep going on with various complaints and eventually they will hang up.
It’s important to remember that if on the Do Not Call List telemarketing calls can be stopped all together. When they start to talk just tell them you’re on the list, say thank you, and hang up. If they can keep you on the line long enough, they can often get you to buy something you don’t want.