Sunday, January 01, 2006

Telemarketers Are People Too

That's a rather bold statement coming from me, as I hate hate hate telemarketers. I usually deal with them by letting them get started, then putting them on hold until they give up and go away. Or just hang up, 'cause they're not worth the waste of my breath. I could be more polite, but telemarketing companies have earned my eternal emnity by using automatic diallers. I answer the phone, but there's nobody there. It's just a computer characterizing my answering patterns so a telemarketer can call when I'm most likely to pick up.

Other strategies for dealing with telemarketers I've come across are "counterscripts", legal countermeasures, and wasting their time, automated virtual conversations (a variation of the time-waster using your computer), and even pretending to be a voice mail script ("Press 1 if you're conducting a survey, press 2 ..."

But I had an opportunity to sit down to dinner with a couple of university students who earn their rent by telemarketing. These are bright, funny, hard-working kids who need a way to make a living. So I asked them what some of their funniest phone calls had been.

First off, "Why don't you give me your home number and I'll call you back during your supper" is getting old. They've heard it. It's not funny anymore. The more interesting conversations they've had are:
  • "I'm standing in front of my living room window in my bra and panties . . . Oh! I thought you were somebody else!"
  • "Sure I'll take your survey, just a sec . . . " [sound of the Lord's prayer, sound of holy communinion, sound of more prayer.] At this point she gave up and went to the next call.
  • "You have a sexy voice. I bet you're good looking . . . " [ewww]
. . . and my favourite:
  • "Only if it really takes a minute. I have to take my wife to the hospital. Her water just broke and she's having a baby." (The survey was completed in 45 seconds.)


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