If you enjoy dinner more
than you enjoy answering the phone with your mouth full, read on!
Did you know...?
Most telemarketing firms use
a tactic called "predictive dialing" so as not to waste the telemarketers'
*valuable* time while waiting for you to pick up? Their computer auto-dials
your number, assuming it'll take you an average 2-3 rings to pick up, and
switches you over to the next available telemarketer when you do. Instant
hangups and the delayed response typical of a telemarketing call result
from this predictive dialing.
A common practice of telemarketers
is to call the elderly repeatedly and establish a relationship with them.
The telemarketer will become a "friend" to a lonely old person, using this
"friendship" as leverage in high-pressure sales.
America has enough telemarketing
power to make 560 calls per second.
It is illegal for a telemarketing
firm to solicit to you using any kind of artificial voice or pre-recorded
message, under many circumstances.
It is illegal for a telemarketer
to call a consumer before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
Telemarketers must identify
themselves (name and company) upon request.
In Germany, traditional telemarketing
is illegal--businesses cannot call out to customers without prior consent.
Thanks to ANI (Automatic Number
Identification), telemarketing agencies can detect your return phone number
AND home address if you call them.
Telemarketers and junk mailers
(more precisely, the companies that provide them with your information)
routinely check and correct their databases using the information printed
on personal cheques. Some telemarketing infomediaries go so far as to harvest
phone numbers from these cheques.
telemarketing calls in the ass!
save yourself a lot of time and annoyance by committing to memory this
short phrase--or better yet, write it down and put a copy next to your
Me On Your Do-Not-Call List"
done it, and it works--I even got a letter
in the mail from one telemarketing agency (without even asking for it!)
confirming my addition to the Do-Not-Call list. If you don't believe me,
read from someone else who
it really works. Telemarketers are required by law to maintain a "Do-Not-Call"
list where they put the numbers of people who don't want to receive future
solicitations from them. Numbers on the list must remain there for at least
10 years. If you want to be a bastard and play the Telemarketer Mini-Lottery,
demand a written copy of their do-not-call policy, which they are
required by law to provide. Any telemarketing company failing to provide
this owes you $500 under the TCPA
(Telephone Consumer Protection Act). It might not be a $350 million jackpot,
but it'll more than pay for the dinner they ruined.
provides a wealth of useful information on suing telemarketing agencies
for violations of the law:
``Can I sue companies for illegal telemarketing practices?''
There are U.S.
laws that give you specific rights of action. Your state may also have
its own laws that let you do this.
Other states have statutes in various stages of
Arizona, Oregon Alaska,
laws'' allow a mark in the phone book to stop telemarketers.
In California telemarketing
calls to non-published numbers are restricted. (Also known as unlisted,
unpublished or private numbers.)
In many states, including
telemarketers are required to register; after you get their name ask them
for their registration number and report them if they can't give it. development.
Consumer Protection Act allows consumers to sue telemarketers if
the company's pattern of calls breaks the law
or more times in a year. Most actions are brought in
claims court for $500. But the law gives them a
defense, which few consumers are willing to go to the trouble of trying
to overcome. It appears easier to secure a judgment based on ``technical
violations'' such as failure to provide a
policy.If you're determined to litigate, you
may want to visit the
Law site, or to spend $10 on a booklet called
So You Want to Sue
a Telemarketer, available from
Citizen, Inc. by calling 1-800-CUT-JUNK. See also the
Elbel shares the following excellent tip on his
of paying the outrageous monthly fee to have your phone number unavailable,
have the phone company list your number as follows:
[Initial(s)] [Pseudonym*] .......City, State Phone number
pseudonym could be your wife's maiden name, your middle name (that you
never use), your grandmother's maiden name (don't use your mother's--that's
the security password for many of your banking transactions), or a name
of your choosing. This only costs a few dollars and it's as good as an
unlisted number. When a telemarketer calls (using phone book information),
they will ask for "Mr. or Mrs. Pseudonym", which is as good as saying,
"Hello, I want to sell you something." The response to such a call is simple,
"Remove me from your list and never call again".
sales pitches are not the only annoyance brought on by telemarketers. You
probably receive calls from some telemarketers and don't even know it!
These come in the form of annoying
calls that many recipients attribute to
wrong numbers or bored teenagers (bored old farts?) making prank calls.
These are a result of the predictive dialing schemes mentioned earlier,
and summed up nicely by antitelemarketer.com:
why would a telemarketer call and hang up?
more and more scumbag telemarketers are using a device called an autodialer.
This piece of technology from hell will actually dial four or more numbers
AT THE SAME TIME for one operator. The idea is that half of the numbers
will either be busy or nobody will answer. ...Its a great time saver if
you are a telemarketer.
L of the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) makes it illegal
to use autodialers (in non-emergency situations) to certain numbers, including
cell/pagers, hospital and nursing-home rooms, elderly homes, etc., autodialer
use is nearly impossible to prove, and they're legal to use on residential
annoying sales call starts at the telemarketing agency, where the *ahem*
Sales Representatives (sometimes referred to as "monkeys with scripts")
sit at desks with a headset and computer screen. The telemarketing agency's
computerized phone system dials several numbers at once, transferring the
ones that pick up (and aren't an answering machine, fax line, etc.) to
the next available *ahem* representative. A pre-written salespitch script
appears on the SR's screen with the necessary personal details, such as
your name, etc., filled into the appropriate blanks (hence the common "monkeys
with scripts" references). More advanced telemarketing systems allow the
SR to type your responses into the computer for instructions on what to
do next. Once the call between yourself and the SR ends (swearing optional),
the SR goes back into the pool of available telemarketers to receive one
of the next autodialed calls. Remember of course that your beef isn't with
the representative him/herself--they're just doing as told, trying to make
a living and probably making less than you do--your beef is with the evil
corporation that hired them and made you run out of the shower to answer
their call, and the evil corporation making millions selling your name,
phone number and records of your past purchases to evil corporations that
want you to answer the phone dripping wet (a not-too-nice electrical hazard,
IMHO). In other words, cussing out the rep in most circumstances is rude
and won't do any good. You want to cuss out somebody higher up the food
But Wait! There's More!!
Ready to learn about more
evil telemarketing voodoo? See the telemarketing-term glossaries and some
facts about what's in a telemarketer's database via the links below:
Glossary | Another
one | What's
in their database | Telecommunications
trivia-stuff | Telemarketing
Technical Stuff | Illegal
Future Telemarketing Calls
getting on the Do Not Call lists will lighten the load considerably, you
still have to jump out of dinner/shower/bed and answer the calls to begin
with. Some sales-call-haters prefer to stay off the master lists in the
first place and save themselves the trouble of telling off telemarketers.
haters around the world share the following tips:
and foremost, NEVER EVER EVER buy anything over the phone, particularly
from a telemarketer. You'll get added to their "sucker lists" immediately
and spread through telemarketer databases like never before.
using 800 numbers from your home. Thanks to ANI, the telemarketer gets
a record of your address and phone # when you do. (Call the bastards from
a payphone if necessary :)
give your phone # to companies that have no business with it. (There's
no reason Radio Shack et al needs your real address and phone#. You're
buying batteries, not guns!)
cheques to a company by mail, blot out your phone number if it appears
on the cheque. Companies often get your number (and address, for junkmail)
from personal cheques.
junk mailers, telemarketers combine your contact info with valuable information
on past purchases using information from warranty registration cards. Don't
fill them out--they're meaningless in the eyes of the law--and are used
mostly to tie a name and phone number to a specific type of purchase.
a vindictive mood? Want to control the spread of the wildfire that is your
personal information? See if you can find out who the telemarketing agency
bought your number from, and ride their ass. Ask for a cut of the money
they made from selling off your database information. Tell 'em you don't
like marketing calls and may take your business elsewhere, to a competitor
who has more respect for your privacy. In any event, demanding to know
from the next telemarketer where they got their list will most likely make
them squirm, and asking to speak to the supervisor/manager/boss/misc. head
honcho mucketymuck will make them squirm even more. It can be safely assumed
that these organisations might consider you Trouble and think twice about
dialing your number in the future.
probably get the runaround at first, "We don't have access to this information...we
don't keep track of...we are not at liberty to discuss..." but eventually,
you might get hold of detailed info on how your information is propagating.
If you can determine with any certainty who's misappropriating your name
(use some of the name-tracking tricks above), you'll have those MFers by
the short-and-curlies. Now, we start talking lawsuit, and...
you're just bored, you can use sales calls as a form of free entertainment.
and make believe the salesperson is your top-secret partner in crime. Ask
him/her where the bomb is located or which governor's daughter you ought
to kidnap next.
friend and pretend you're government spooks wiretapping the tele-terrorist
mentioned above. Make a tape recording of yourselves--the "agents"--commenting
on the conversation, unaware that the 'tapped' party can hear you. Playback
the tape during a telemarketing call and act really suspicious. E.g.:
and telemarketer are yakking)
1: Got anything on 'im yet?
2: Sh! They'll hear us!
1: No way. This is a one-way tap, they can't hear anything.
2: Oh. (Matrix-esque not-quite-DTMF tones in background...beepbopboobbeepbip)
1: Is that xxxxxx on the other end?
2: No, I don't know who that is. The voice doesn't sound familiar..it may
be his new contact.
1: I heard this guy has over 20 bodies buried in his back yard.
2: You're shittin' me!
1: For real. He's wanted on charges ranging from manslaughter to stalking
to kiddie porn. (click!)
3: Eagle, what's your status?
1: Nothing yet, at least nothing admissible in court.
3: Got a trace on the remote number yet? (click!)
(interrupting spiel) Hey... do you hear something?
1: Oh SHIT! I think he's onto us!
3: ABORT! ABOR...
Telemarketers. In this game you rack up points based on how long you
can keep them on the line--e.g. how much of the telemarketer's time you can
waste. Bonus points for making them repeat themselves, more bonus points
for making them mad, still more for making them swear.
this page on using your answering machine (& favorite pet :) to
foil telemarketers' call-progress monitors and get bounced off their lists
as an invalid number. Also, see this fun anti-telemarketing
software. "Enigma: Anti-Telemarketing Software guides its users
in the fine art of telling telemarketers to stop calling. Simple and fun
to use, this program will help provide you with hours of laughs (confused
and frightened telemarketers not included)."
a pizza. (It doesn't matter that the shmuck on the other end of the line
is hocking aluminum siding, ask for pizza anyway :)
but slowly turn down the volume on the phone as you talk (or, failing that,
back slowly away from the receiver). The telemarketer will probably turn
up his/her headset volume to compensate. Then, when you return to full
volume you're sure to come in LOUD AND CLEAR.
in a Reverse Crank Call. Many of these overpaid radio personalities make
crank phone calls and play them on the air...while they're celebs and can
get away with that kind of thing, the everyday schlob like yourself is
not so lucky. Since they called you, however, sales calls are a fun and
perfectly legal opportunity to try your hand at crank calls. While not
everyone is a Jerky Boy, you can still have fun--here's one of the actual
exchanges between myself and TruGreen, a chemical lawn-care service.
Hello, this is Tru-Green ChemLawn, blah blah blah you have grass cutworms
in your lawn.
These grubs are hazardous to your lawn... we are offering a special deal
on chemical treatments that will kill...
Oh, don't worry about them, they don't eat much.
But sir, they'll chew up your lawn and....
Well, I guess me and them'll just have to get along then...
(suppressing laughter): So, you're saying you're not concerned about the
grass grubs eating your lawn...
No, I have my own way of dealing with them.
It's a better solution than using chemicals. I just send the wife out to
dance naked on the lawn.
(trying hard not to crack up): ...And this works?
Yeah, it seems to take care of the grub problem. Get a few complaints from
the neighbors though...
(about to lose it): So it kills the grubs...
No, it just blinds them. When they can't see where they're going, they
die off soon enough.
(has totally lost it and tries to talk through peals of laughter)
...yeah, I was thinking maybe I could rent her out, maybe you guys could
have her out nights and weekends, take care of the rest of the neighbourhood's