Fun_People Archive
19 Apr
Even Further Telemarketer Torment Techniques

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Wed, 19 Apr 100 23:48:40 -0700
To: Fun_People
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Subject: Even Further Telemarketer Torment Techniques 

X-Lib-of-Cong-ISSN: 1098-7649  -=[ Fun_People ]=-

[Long-time Fun_People will remember previous postings on this topic
 Newer Fun_People may want to catch up by reading those particular
 archive entries. - psl]

Forwarded-by: Keith Sullivan <>



In today's column we'll be tying up a few loose ends, and, if we're lucky,
some telephone solicitors.

About a year ago I wrote a column in which I concluded, with exquisitely
fair journalistic objectivity, that telephone solicitors, telemarketers,
and the like were chancre sores on the genitals of electronic communication.
I then invited my readers to send in their favorite methods for getting
rid of these vermin, and sat back to wait for the oodles of e-mail I
anticipated would choke my mailbox.  A few weeks later, my mailbox's
respiration impeded by exactly two messages, I concluded that this
assumption was perhaps unwarranted.

As it turned out, I simply hadn't waited long enough for responses, with
"long enough" in this case being defined as "a little over a year."
Considering that the average humor column has a shorter shelf life than
fresh hamburger, I think I can be forgiven for not expecting any more
responses; in any event, I'm sure you'll agree that the sadistic ingenuity
displayed by these readers was well worth the wait.

Included the initial set of responses were the efforts of Kevin Wickart of
Bloomington, Illinois.  From the detailed descriptions Kevin sent me, it
is clear that he is a man who takes foiling telemarketers only slightly
less seriously than, say, maintaining a measurable pulse.  Consider Kevin's
first-string anti-solicitor tactic:

"It's called 'Playing Dumb.'  REALLY dumb.  Ask the phone solicitor to
spell everything, including your own name.  Pretend that you don't
understand even the basics of what he's offering, and that you've never
even heard of the product or service.  If he's offering a switch of
long-distance services, ask him how their rates compare to other insurance
companies.  Try to convince him that you have the intelligence of a
three-year-old, but the voice of a forty-five-year-old."

(Kevin did not specifically say to pretend that you were Geraldo Rivera,
but this was the gist of his method.)

For the more extreme cases, Kevin recommends pulling out all the stops.
"Just try to weird the guy out.  Become 'Non-Sequiter Man&trade;.'  Ask
him if he's wearing a suit.  Ask him where he got it and how much he paid
for it.  If he falls for this, ask him if he'd sell you his suit.  Mention
aliens when you're pretty sure he's not paying attention to what you're

When implementing this method, Kevin advises "Tailor your responses to the
product.  If the solicitor is selling long-distance services, ask how much
it would cost to call Mars.  Ask if phone calls on their service are
traceable.  Tell him you don't have a phone.

"If he's selling siding, ask him what flavors they have.  Ask how much it'd
cost to do your Camaro.

"If he's selling film and photo processing, ask him what pictures are on
the film.  Tell him you only know really ugly people, so could he take
pictures of people he knows."

No time for a solicitation-specific response?  "Respond to every question
with 'beep.'  When he gets really annoyed, change your responses to 'honk.'"

When asked about the relative effectiveness of the two methods, Kevin
concluded "Dumb probably works better than weird, but weird is more fun."

The truly amazing thing is that, compared to the other responses I got,
Kevin's anti-solicitor methods were the epitome of compassion and restraint.
Please come back next week to hear about the Attack of the Fifty-Foot
Lawyer, the Kinsey Retort, and You Ask For It, You've Got It.  And if I
have offended any telemarketers in the reading audience, all I have to say
to you is beep.  And honk.

Copyright 1999, by Jonathan P. Bernick
Frumious Bandersnatch <>


Welcome to the final installment of our continuing series on pest control.
In last week's column we discussed how to torment, harass, torture, and
otherwise inflict misery upon telemarketers.  This week we're going to get

Our anti-telemarketer suggestions for this week come from Paul G. of
McHenry, Illinois.  From his methods it is clear that Paul's priority in
dealing with telephone solicitors is not so much deterrence as (and I report
this fact with deepest admiration) bloody-minded vengeance.  Paul has an
set of three techniques that he uses to this end, which I will refer to
respectively as The Attack of Fifty-Foot Lawyer, The Kinsey Retort, and
You Ask For It, You've Got It.

THE ATTACK OF FIFTY-FOOT LAWYER -- This method works by giving the offending
telemarketer a swift kick in the torts.  Paul explains:  "Start reading
them passages from the ... Telephone Consumer Protection Act, especially
those parts concerning the penalties for violations they have already
committed, [such as] Caller-ID blocked."  (A typical penalty is $500 per
offense, with each call a separate violation.)  Be careful, though, that
you don't get carried away and start making up penalties of your own:

ME:  ... and life imprisonment for calling while Baywatch is on!

TELEMARKETER:  Are you sure about that one?

ME:  And no chance of parole because it's a two-hour episode.

THE KINSEY RETORT -- For more serious cases, Paul has a script prepared,
which begins when the telemarketer calls:

"[PAUL]:  Thank you so much for calling to take the sex survey...


"[PAUL]:  The sex survey. Are you ready to begin?

"Then, despite protests, I read the questions on the script, each question
being more explicit than the last.  They usually hang up on the third or
fourth question."

(Paul was gracious enough to provide me with his first five "survey
questions," which will NOT be printed here.  To give you some idea of the
rate at which the explicitness of the questions increases, Penthouse readers
would hang up around question seven.  Penthouse writers would hang up around
question ten.)

Paul offers a word of caution:  "This backfired on me once.  I received
five or six calls on the same day from the same telemarketing office.  All
of the women who called eagerly answered all of the questions on the script.
The final call from that telemarketing office was a girl who called and
said she was calling to take the sex survey."

(For those of you who are wondering what those answers were, this is a
respectable column that would never stoop to such crass sensationalism.
Also, Paul didn't tell me.)

YOU ASK FOR IT, YOU'VE GOT IT -- Paul developed this technique the last
time he moved.  "Within 24 hours of listing my house for sale, the calls
started coming in from ... various moving companies.  When asked where they
got my phone number, they all said they got it from the Multiple Listing
Service listing.  (The MLS prohibits this use of listings.)"

"I then decided to hit them all where it hurts -- in the pocketbook.  I
made appointments with all who called for the same time and day.  At 8:00
PM one Tuesday evening, about 20 of them showed up in my front yard.  I
told them they'd been had, and that the appointment was set up as my
retaliation for their illegal telemarketing practices."  Paul then referred
all complaints to his son-in-law, a local cop -- in uniform -- who was
standing next to him.  There were no takers.

MORAL:  If you want to avoid telephone solicitors, have your daughter marry
a cop.  And always videotape Baywatch.

Copyright 1999, by Jonathan P. Bernick
Frumious Bandersnatch <>

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