Join 3,561 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


How can I amuse myself at the expense of telemarketers?
November 3, 2006 10:52 AM   Subscribe

How can I get revenge on telemarketers, legally & safely?

I do what I can to keep my phone # out of telemarketers' clutches (I'm not the Do Not Call registry, I instruct companies I work with not to sell/distribute my info, I tell every telemarketer to take me off their list and to not distribute my info), but lately I have been getting calls at my office number and my cell phone number.

I'm tired of being nice & polite to these scumbags. Instead, I want to have some fun! So I am looking for ideas on how to annoy telemarketers who call me, but in a way that will not get me in any sort of trouble.

Ideas I have had are to:
  • Pretend I'm happy to hear from them & attempt to convert them to a fake religious sect. (Or Scientology?)
  • Ask them a lot of questions about their product, then start repeating the same questions and letting the questions get dumber and dumber until I just say "oh, well, no thanks!" and hang up.
  • Ask them lots of questions and then tell them I'll have to ask my mom because I'm only 15.
I'd love some even better, easy to execute things I can do to amuse myself at the telemarketers' expense but that won't come back to bite me in the ass. Thanks!
posted by tastybrains to Human Relations (62 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
"No problem, I'll just go get him". Put handset down.

Quietly hang up phone 5 minutes later.

Really, the only thing you can do to hurt telemarketing is make it less efficient. Waste 2 minutes of their time means 2 or 3 people they didn't call today.
posted by Leon at 10:56 AM on November 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


Use this counterscript.
posted by grouse at 11:04 AM on November 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


You can use the Telemarketer Counterscript, which adds more of an element of fun & interaction to Leon's suggestion of making the telemarketer less efficient.

Personally I think it's a little mean--it means that the individual wage-slave will get in trouble for blowing his calls-per-hour ratio, and possibly get fired or something.

Still, it's pretty funny.
posted by bcwinters at 11:05 AM on November 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


What Leon said: wasting their time (yet not wasting yours) costs them money and means that they're unable to bother a few more people a day.
posted by unixrat at 11:06 AM on November 3, 2006


Leon: Yeah, I could do that, but it's not that fun & it probably won't ruin anyone's day. I'd really like to turn telemarketer calls into something annoying into an opportunity for a good laugh. I have no illusions of making a huge impact on telemarketing as an industry (unless my hijinks cause a few people to quit and get, you know, real jobs).

Thank you for the counterscript, that is exactly the sort of thing I could use!

I don't feel too bad if someone gets in trouble, honestly. If they call me, then they can talk to me on my terms or not at all. If it's a company I've done business with and it's thus not completely unsolicited, I would not be a jerk...this is purely for the few companies who continually harrass me despite my asking them nicely & professionally to leave me alone.
posted by tastybrains at 11:13 AM on November 3, 2006


I had a blast stringing one along for about an hour. He was trying to get me to buy a cruise. I told him I didn't have a credit card, but my girlfriend who wasn't home did. I asked for his number to call him back with the the card number. Naturally, he wanted the card number NOW. So we began thinking of ways to pay for the cruise. Finally, the telemarketer asked if the girlfriend had any old CC statements laying around. The statements would have the CC number and we could surprise her with the cruise! After looking thru the house for about 20 minutes, I couldn't find a statement. After getting bored, I told him I had another call that I had to take.
posted by GarageWine at 11:14 AM on November 3, 2006


A year ago, SBC started calling me EVERY DAY to get me to switch to their long distance service. I was finally able to get rid of them - not by asking to be taken off of the list, but by torturing their call center workers.

I did the "put-the-guy-on-hold-and-wait" thing once, and watched the call timer on my phone. It was at 00:30 when I put him on hold, and 08:10 when he finally hung up.

The next guy had a heavy Spanish-speaking accent. He greeted me in English, and I responded "Lo siento, pero no hablo espanol." He quickly flipped into Spanish and repeated his greeting, and I responded with "Um, I'm sorry... I don't speak Spanish." He paused, then started in English again, when I repeated the Spanish bit. Finally he hung up.

During the call the next day, I started playing Europe's "The Final Countdown" quietly on my stereo. (It was in the CD player - don't ask why.) I sat down and put the phone microphone right next to the tweeter of one of my speakers. As the guy talked, I slowly turned the volume up. Once it started getting loud, I asked him to speak up. Eventually the music was deafening, and I had to stop him every 3 words or so to ask him to speak up, and to please turn down his music. He finally hung up too.

I think that was the one that finally broke them.
posted by cebailey at 11:17 AM on November 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


(EDIT: I said "Lo siento, pero no hablo INGLES" in the middle story. It makes a lot more sense that way.)
posted by cebailey at 11:18 AM on November 3, 2006


You want to annoy, make life difficult for the individual worker who is on the line with you. You would be pleased to ruin their day and you don't care if they get in trouble. So, personal "revenge" on the individual drone who is calling you... but revenge for the actions of the company? The company doesn't care if its employees get treated like crap by the people they have to call. All you'd be doing is hurting a stranger who didn't decide that you should get called, who doesn't have any influence over the policies of their employer, who has probably taken this horrible job because they lack other options, and whose job already sucks. I don't see how this could be satisfying in any way.

Just say no thanks and hang up.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:21 AM on November 3, 2006 [5 favorites]


I agree... the telemarketing industry is scum, but the people calling you are probably the least deserving of the treatment unless they're actually snotty or mean. This would be like harping on the telephone repairman about your long distance rates.

I think the only way to get real "revenge" is to humiliate the telemarketing companies or bother their owners if you can locate their home phone numbers. Also you can look at ways to get them into trouble with the state attorney general over do-not-call matters (though of course I'd be surprised if any state agency really gave a shit about individual cases).
posted by rolypolyman at 11:32 AM on November 3, 2006


You want to annoy, make life difficult for the individual worker who is on the line with you. You would be pleased to ruin their day and you don't care if they get in trouble.

I think I made it clear that this is exactly what I want to do. Neither of us has any idea why the drone chose to become a telemarketer, but they chose to become a telemarketer, and thus they made their bed, and they can either sleep in it or try & buy a new mattress.
posted by tastybrains at 11:32 AM on November 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


All you'd be doing is hurting a stranger who didn't decide that you should get called, who doesn't have any influence over the policies of their employer

I think that's why we gave all those Nazis a pass on their crimes against humanity - "just following orders." If people refused to take telemarketing gigs - and I think that they should - the world would be a better place.

As for ways to make them stop calling you, the most effective is to get as much information as possible about them, then tell them to put you on their Do Not Call List. If they persist, seek legal action.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:33 AM on November 3, 2006


We've used the "I'm being deported does your offer still stand" response. Usually works.

Although, it'd be easier to just hang up. Often they work on commission and by taking up their time they aren't making any money. And often they aren't allowed to hang up first. This can be fun too - answer the phone, let them give their bit and then don't say anything - see how long they'll stay on the line in silence.
posted by Sassyfras at 11:33 AM on November 3, 2006


Amen to that, tastybrains.

Although in the past few years, every single telemarketing call I've received was an obvious VoIP connection and the person was calling from India. (I always ask them)

Haven't had an American telemarketer in a while. The ones that I can actually understand are calling from Canada. But screw them. They're taking a job that involves calling to annoy people. Fuck that.
posted by drstein at 11:37 AM on November 3, 2006


Most of the junk calls we get are computer automated from some weird sattelite dish provider. They aren't human so it's really annoying and when I keep pressing the button to get taken off the call list it just hangs up on me. Ugh. You can't do much revenge to that?
posted by Gooney at 11:40 AM on November 3, 2006


Don't do this. Come on. I used to be a telemarketer. Many of the people I worked with were high school students from lower income families who were contributing to the support of those families. It was very hard work, and we took a lot of abuse from both our supervisors and from the people we called. But, we could make more money telemarketing than we could at any other job. As for myself, I supported myself through much of college telemarketing. I'm not evil, and I resent the comparison to a Nazi. It was a job. And believe it or not, there were people - everyday - who were happy to hear from us. You may not be one of them, but don't screw with someone's ability to make a living.
posted by amro at 11:41 AM on November 3, 2006 [7 favorites]


My favorite, though obviously this won't work for everyone, was to ask them to hold on a moment, and hand the phone to the youngest child in the house. The most memorable conversations were held between anonymous telemarketers and my then-four-year-old sister...

"Hello?...
Um, I'm Frances. What's your name?...
No, I'm just Frances...
I'm four... I go to Tiny Tots, have you been there?...
No, my name is -just- Frances!..."

Sometimes this would continue for many minutes, sometimes only a couple. But it was unendingly hilarious. Caveats: the youngster has to be non-shy, willing to speak to strangers on the phone, and has to know that he/she -can't- give the phone to Mom or Dad. Fill those requirements, and you're in for evenings of pure gold entertainment.
posted by po at 11:47 AM on November 3, 2006


The question wasn't about the morality of having fun with telemarketers, which I still have no problem with. The question was about fun & safe ways to do so.

I don't understand why so many people think it's the responsibility of those receiving an unsolicited call to pussyfoot around the telemarketer. I know it pays a lot of money for an hourly unskilled job, and that a lot of people are college & high school kids. You know why it pays a lot of money? Because no one wants those fucking calls, and the people who are taking the jobs making the calls are supporting a sleazy industry.
posted by tastybrains at 11:47 AM on November 3, 2006


I think it's a dickhead thing to do to mess with the individual telemarketer. They have no idea until they call you whether they are annoying you or not. If you don't want the product/service than don't waste your time or theirs. I find the whole "They picked the job just have to deal with me being a jerk." not very convincing.

The most effective thing to do to stop calls is to tell them you've lost your job or have no money. That will usually work.
posted by josher71 at 12:04 PM on November 3, 2006 [3 favorites]


Try reading the question before answering. The 2 companies I am seeking revenge against have repeatedly ignored my request to stop calling me. I am also on the Do Not Call list.

The company knows that I don't want their shit. Maybe the individual employee doesn't know, that's not my problem. They are a representative of the company, and they are calling me.

I'm talking about being a goofball, not drowning their pet cat or sending them dead rats in the mail. Give me a break. They might even enjoy it. I know I enjoy crazy phone calls when I'm at work.
posted by tastybrains at 12:13 PM on November 3, 2006


What Leon said: wasting their time (yet not wasting yours) costs them money and means that they're unable to bother a few more people a day.

As a former telemarketer, I loved when people did this. It cost me no money and meant I got paid to sit there and do nothing. It was a beautiful thing. People who would leave the phone off the hook were the best. 5 more minutes I could read my book without taking the next call, 5 more minutes of chatting, etc.

So yeah, that's not a very good strategy if you're looking to annoy telemarketers.
posted by dead_ at 12:13 PM on November 3, 2006


My method is to tell them that I don't have the item or ability for which their product is designed. It's amusing to me, but not particularly abusive to them, which is my preference.

Examples:

They sell rugs. "I'm sorry, I don't have a floor."
They sell long distance. "I don't have a phone." or "I have no friends, family, or aquaintences to call."
They sell magazines. "I can't read."

Some calls work better than others, obviously. I usually follow up with asking to be taken off their call list.
posted by trixie_bee at 12:18 PM on November 3, 2006 [2 favorites]


So yeah, that's not a very good strategy if you're looking to annoy telemarketers.

But is it a good strategy to hurt telemarketing companies?
Also, you mention 5 minutes. Is there some sort of time limit for calls, e.g. you need to hang up after five minutes if the callee doesn't say anything?
posted by sour cream at 12:20 PM on November 3, 2006


They have no idea until they call you whether they are annoying you or not.

Yes but as soon as you answer the phone they know - by the tone of your voice if nothing else.

If you don't want the product/service than don't waste your time or theirs.

Most people do not normally find telemarketers who are able to grasp the meaning of 'not interested' annoying. It is the ones who will try to force a lengthy conversation about your absolute need for product x on you that piss people off. And this group deserve all they get. If they had the sense to just say thanks for talking to me and get on with the next call they would not get into trouble about call ratios etc....
posted by koahiatamadl at 12:20 PM on November 3, 2006


Try reading the question before answering. The 2 companies I am seeking revenge against have repeatedly ignored my request to stop calling me. I am also on the Do Not Call list.

The company knows that I don't want their shit. Maybe the individual employee doesn't know, that's not my problem. They are a representative of the company, and they are calling me.


You know, tastybrains, if this is true you can really fuck with them by finding out exactly who they are an calling the FCC. That was a constant fear of supervisors I used to work with, and actually might work to accomplishing your goals rather than simply playing around with some poor sap on the other end, who has (I guarantee) heard the exact joke you have in mind over 100 times.

Get their company name. Call the FCC. It's a massive, massive fine for calling people who are on the Do Not Call list. But then, I guess that wouldn't be any fun?
posted by dead_ at 12:22 PM on November 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


Seriously, if you are that pissed off about it, get caller ID and do not answer calls from states in which you do not know anyone, 1-800 numbers, or anyone you don't recognize. And get an answering machine. Jesus.
posted by starbaby at 12:24 PM on November 3, 2006


Also, you mention 5 minutes. Is there some sort of time limit for calls, e.g. you need to hang up after five minutes if the callee doesn't say anything?

No, not really. I used to sit on calls for 20 or 30 minutes if the person I called stayed "off hook" for that long. Though most calls rarely last more than 5 - 8 minutes, so when it pops up that you've been sitting on a call for more than 10 minutes, a supervisor would generally come by and ask what's up. At least, that was how the telemarketing company I worked for did it when I was in college.
posted by dead_ at 12:24 PM on November 3, 2006


Call your state's attorney general's office if they've ignored your request to have your number removed from their database. The telemarketing firm I worked for in high school was very diligent about abiding by these requests and if a complaint was filed a recording of the call had to be supplied to the client (non-profits in this case) and (I think) the AG's office. I saw quite a few people fired on the spot for ignoring Do Not Call requests--the company did not want the hassle of a complaint.

Anyway, as for your revenge plans, I say go for it. Nothing is more entertaining for a bored-ass telemarketer than a wily customer.
posted by mullacc at 12:27 PM on November 3, 2006


You want to annoy, make life difficult for the individual worker who is on the line with you. You would be pleased to ruin their day and you don't care if they get in trouble.

I think I made it clear that this is exactly what I want to do.


Yes, I was just recapping what you said.

And I didn't mean to be introducing a debate about the morality of messing with them. I agree it's funny to think about hypothetically. I just meant, I find it hard to believe that actually messing with them will bring satisfaction, once one recognizes that they are following a script and work under very strict conditions (that is, it's not their own personal jerkiness that makes them so persistent, it's that they are enmeshed in a crappy evil company).

I have known several perfectly nice normal people who've had this job, and it was because they couldn't get another job, and they hated it, and every day someone wanted to get petty revenge against them so would treat them in ways they'd never treat another person on the street. Adding to someone else's misery never makes me feel better about things; it just makes me more emotionally wound-up. If there's someone who's annoying me, and I can just walk away, I find it always works better to do that than to continue to engage. Hence, "no thanks" and hang up.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:28 PM on November 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


If you want "fun", try a simple line. "Sorry, I'm dead." There you go. Fun, simple, messes with their head for a minute, and it's pretty hard to mistake any possible chance at a sale after that line.

Or, you could try "I'm a jerk and will attempt to torment you over the next half-hour. Now that we've established that, are you interested in some magazine subscriptions?"

Also- If you're wasting your employer's time on the office phone to mess with telemarketers, it just might come back to bite you in the ass. Also, these phone calls are often recorded without your knowledge, depending on state laws. Keep that in mind. If you really want to cover your ass, don't bother messing with telemarketers, release your stres somewhere else.
posted by Saydur at 12:29 PM on November 3, 2006


Here. I looked up the information for you. This is a great way to get revenge on telemarketers legally, and safely.

You can file a complaint by e-mail (donotcall@fcc.gov), telephone 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY, or mail. Your complaint should include:
  • name, address, and telephone number where you can be reached during the business day;
  • the telephone number involved with the complaint; and
  • as much specific information as possible, including the identity of the telemarketer or company contacting you, the date on which you placed your number on the national Do-Not-Call registry or made a company-specific do-not-call request, and the date(s) of any subsequent telemarketing call(s) from that telemarketer or company.
If mailing a complaint, send it to:

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554


Good luck.
posted by dead_ at 12:31 PM on November 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


Try asking for the supervisor. Refuse to hang up or answer any questions until you get the supervisor. When you get the supervisor, explain to him/her that your number is on the Do Not Call list and if they call you again, you'll complain to the FCC about their noncompliance.

The supervisor should be able to make a note on your file, and it ought to stop the calls permanently. If not, then follow through on the threat.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 12:33 PM on November 3, 2006


Although, I like the goofy surreality of "I don't have a floor". Maybe I just don't do this because I don't have the energy to stay on the phone with them, but if you do, goofiness could be fun.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:35 PM on November 3, 2006


And I might add, I always kind of wished that someone had actually called the FCC on the company I worked for. Too bad it never happened.
posted by dead_ at 12:37 PM on November 3, 2006


"Quit being a prick" springs to mind.

Whenever you consider "getting revenge" on some one who's just doing their job, picture the same thing happening to you at your workplace, just because some asshole has taken it upon himself to object to what you must do for food and shelter. Get the hell over yourself. If you aren't interested in the call, then for fuck's sake, hang up the phone.

Now, on a more practical note, consider signing up for a Vonage account or some other VOIP service. Ever since doing so, our telemarketer call count has dropped to zero.

Then, you'll be free to holler at the paperboy or the mailman or whatever other working stiff's brief interruption to your day you find so bloody damned intolerable.
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:46 PM on November 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


The 'I am not interested and put me on your DNC list" worked like a charm for me. Calls went from 2 a day to 2 a month. But now I am getting telemarketing calls that are pre - recorded messages. 2-3 a day sometimes trying to sell me a mortgage. Left on my answering machine. How am I supposed to deal with this?
posted by vronsky at 12:49 PM on November 3, 2006


Telemarketing calls are predictively dialed. A computer dials numbers and forwards the connections to the drone. This computer can be fooled.

Back in the days before the DNC list I had the misfortune of being assigned a phone number formerly owned by someone who seemed to have changed their number in order to escape telemarketers. I got 4 or 5 per day.

I rolled my own telezapper. I circuit-bent a digital answering machine to add a line-in jack and synthesized a set of SIT tones. My answering machine went "Doo dah dee! Hi this is Bob and no this number is not disconnected...". The logic is that the dialing computer recognizes a disconnected number and not only hangs up the call but removes the number from its database. I left this running and the number of calls steadily decreased over the next month or so.

(I guess a quick bit of googling shows this is a pretty common practice.)
posted by rlk at 12:52 PM on November 3, 2006 [2 favorites]


I just started saying "Chompy" at random while they were speaking.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:55 PM on November 3, 2006 [2 favorites]


vronsky, that's what's happening to me too. I have called them back and told me to stop calling, which doesn't work. I guess I'm going to try & get some more info out of them.

Anyway, while I will try to get the companies in trouble with the authorities, I don't see any harm in having fun with the person who calls me. I like the simple & fun ones like "I don't have a floor" and I also like the counterscript. It's really not mean, unless the telemarketer in question has thin skin, and in which case, why the hell are they a telemarketer.

It's just a way to turn an annoyance into a little bit of humor. God forbid!
posted by tastybrains at 12:58 PM on November 3, 2006


They are telemarketers because they lacked any other choice. No one does it for fun. A little bit of humor? Do you send wacky replies to every bit of spam in your inbox?

Here's another thing - when your number comes up on someone's call tree, this often includes your name, address and other personal information. When someone makes their disinterest a bigger deal than it is, an embittered operator can make your phone number an even bigger target for cold-calling firms. When someone makes it clear that they're prone to apoplectic fits over a solicitation call and takes it out on the poor sap strapped into the headset, the same poor sap can very easily tag your file to recieve even more calls.

As for the FCC, forget about it. They're tied up with indecendy complaints from ten years ago. Seeing fines and punishments levied against some company that dared to contact you would become your life's work. This is not worth going all Ahab over. Just hang up the phone and get on with your life.
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:12 PM on November 3, 2006


Totally this
posted by |n$eCur3 at 1:12 PM on November 3, 2006 [4 favorites]


Here's another thing - when your number comes up on someone's call tree, this often includes your name, address and other personal information.

Oh yeah. I forgot all about this.

Most of the time when people fucked with us, we didn't care and in fact enjoyed it.

However, when someone got really, really nasty, it wasn't unheard of to look them up and mess with them. I can recall numerous occasions when this happened, and one guy in particular who took his revenge out in very malicious, illegal ways.

Moral? No, but something to keep in mind.
posted by dead_ at 1:31 PM on November 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


Some people say that living well is the best revenge.

And, since telemarketing is one of the worst (safe, clean) jobs in the world, and it's clear that you've never been a telemarketer, it sounds to me like you're doing pretty good.
posted by box at 1:59 PM on November 3, 2006


Another former (Canadian) telemarketer checking in (shitty local economy... did it to pay for school... fuck your self-righteousness).

I loved getting put on hold.

When people were dicks, a lot of us would set them for call-backs as early as possible the next weekend morning.

It's a shitty industry, but not the fault of the person at the other end. Believe me, actual telemarketers hate their parent companies more than you do.

Say no thank you. Ask to be put on the DNC list. Move on with your life.
posted by ewiar at 1:59 PM on November 3, 2006


I did telemarketing for a campus group in college. I was a member of the group and called parents of other members to solicit donations. It was better than working book buyback at the campus bookstore, which I had done previously (talk about abusing people who are just doing their jobs).

I know you want to have fun; my favorite callees were the ones that actually talked to me and we had a normal conversation for 10 minutes. The only entity it hurt was the group I was fund raising for (i.e. "the company") since no donations were made (or sales in your case). The ones that tried to "have fun" (as you describe it) just wore me out because it would have been easier to just say "Please don't call me again" and it's a pain to have to be pleasant to someone when they're just screwing with you for kicks. You wouldn't do that to the retail clerk at the store or your server at a restaurant would you?
posted by ml98tu at 2:15 PM on November 3, 2006


When a number shows up with a blocked ID, I answer the phone with: "May I have your password, please?"

No matter how they respond, I only repeat the same phrase. The number of charity calls has dropped dramatically since doing this.
posted by trinity8-director at 2:30 PM on November 3, 2006 [2 favorites]


I totally get this question. I am haunted by telemarketers. They are only there because people reward them. I screen calls using caller ID. If a company is too persistant I get angry. My M.O. is to answer the phone and speak very slowly and very quietly ala the Tex Avery Droopy Dog cartoon character . I ask the telemarketer if we have ever met? Do they like rainbows? I ask them why my thumb hurts? I ask if they like cats? But mostly I ask them to repeat themselves, or start from the beginning, as many times as I can without laughing aloud. It amuses me. I earn bonus points for outrageous Non sequiturs and for making the wife pee if she is in earshot.
posted by SMELLSLIKEFUN at 2:37 PM on November 3, 2006


If you speak a foreign language... this is what a friend of mine used to do.

Answer, in Cantonese "I'm sorry, I don't speak English." If, on some off chance, the telemarketers does know how to speak foreign language of choice, switch back to English and say "I'm sorry, I don't speak [insert language here]"
posted by Phire at 2:55 PM on November 3, 2006


All right, let me come at this from another angle. The OP is a technical writer. I think we can all remember a time when we found a bit of technical documentation lacking. A set of vague instructions here, a few steps left out there and a dozen redundant clauses inbetween. This can complicate projects and interrupt one's plans. It can be, dare I say it, an annoyance.

Now, no one would ever dream of starting a thread about how best to make sport of the author of a manual one found irritating. There would be no discussion of how to make them pay for how they make a living. But for some reason, when it comes to telemarketers, people become children who've just trapped a fly, wondering if they should pluck off the wings or the legs first.

I can't fathom what makes folks declare themselves phone vigilantes, as if they're the first ones to decide that they have the right to abuse people who cannot retaliate as a condition of their employment. What I suspect is a basic cowardice that corrupts the rest of their lives, an inability to deal with what they find truly difficult.

So frustration builds up over a long series of tiny, percieved injustices. When a telemarketer presents themselves, folks see a "safe" target, one they can lash out at with no fear of reprisal. A bit of petty shitheadery, and they get to feel like they struck back at an unjust world.
posted by EatTheWeak at 3:21 PM on November 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


The folks protesting screwing with telemarketers are probably right on a moral level. But so what? We've all had shitty jobs -- here's hoping being treated badly will encourage a telemarketer or two to get a better freakin' job.

My wife and I are always trying to one-up the other with pranks on telemarketers, most often just speaking in gibberish, belching (classy, no?), nonsequiturs, pretend foreign languages, creepy requests, etc.

Once, we pretended to be in the middle of an act of domestic violence, but upon relaying the story to friends, were reminded we might end up with the police at our door. Too bad, though -- we had all sorts of ideas for background activities to pretend we were engaged in.

I have, on the occasion of a call on a sunday morning or some other wildly inappropriate time, insisted we talk only about how unfuckingcool it is to telemarket on weekends. Or to vulnerable, lonely old people. Jerks.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 3:25 PM on November 3, 2006


I don't mind telemarketers so much. Just keep saying no. What I hate are those "toner phoners" who call your place of work and pretend to be from your toner supply company. Surely no-body has a problem fucking with those guys.

I once told one who needed to "verify" my copier model number that it was a Bananaphone 2000.

Sorry to jump in on someone else's question, but is it possible that the people working for the "toner phoners" genuinely believe that they are working for a legit toner supply company? Some of them seem genuinely shocked when you tell them that they are not your suppplier.
posted by kar120c at 4:51 PM on November 3, 2006


I remember in the late nineties there was basically a war among the long distance companies all the phone companies. I never called long distance so it didn't make a difference to me who my long distance company was so I decided to say yes to every single one that called me. I think I ended up switching about 2-3 times a week. Too bad blogs weren't around back then because the stories were quite amusing. Depending on my mood and time I had I would either hold out until they gave me money or some obscene amount of minutes or just agree right away, like within a second of them calling. There would always be this silence, then a stammer, then an incredulous: "Really?". It was a lot of fun, I miss those days.
posted by any major dude at 4:54 PM on November 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


Hi. Speaking as someone who worked for a market research company briefly (not technically telemarketing, as nothing was being sold), being an ass to the person on the other end of the line (who is more than likely a college student who can't find any other way to pay the rent in the dismal job market that is your average college town) only makes you more likely to get called back. Revenge is made better when it's not obvious.

You want to get them to stop calling? Send them a letter notifying them of their breach of telecommunications law and ask for $800 as an out-of-court settlement.
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:02 PM on November 3, 2006


In regards to all the back and forth debate about whether or not you should abuse telemarketers... the OP wants to 'have some fun'. They don't want to abuse some poor college kid, they just want to have a laugh. And by the sound of it, the person on the other end of the line will get a laugh out of it too.
posted by twirlypen at 5:19 PM on November 3, 2006


they have your phone number and probably address. you might find 10 pizza delivery guys showing up to your house the next day. i worked telemarketing years ago, we did that to the particularly rude people.
posted by probablysteve at 7:24 PM on November 3, 2006


I'm trying to disabuse you of this ridiculous notion, tastybrains. It boils my blood to see such glib, smug discussion of fucking with someone simply trying to do their job. If it seems like I'm repeating myself, then it's because you're not bloody listening. What you're considering is as pointless as attempts to get you to see reason seem to be.

Seriously, who the hell do you think you are? I'm tired of being nice & polite to these scumbags.? I doubt that's ever been the case. You seem to regard inflicting you with minor, momentary annoyance as a grievous offense which condemns the irritant to any punishment you can think up. Christ, I'll bet you're a lousy tipper, too.

Are you of noble blood, perhaps? Some NASA scientist who was seconds away from cracking light speed travel before your phone rang? Of course not. You're just another damn number in a call cycle that the telemarketer has no control of whatsoever.

Not a single one of these little "counterscripts" that's getting bandied about is cute or fun or even the slightest bit original. No one you expose them to will be cowed or impressed, and many of them will likely make a point of insuring you recieve many more calls. I'm trying to help you here. This is a very bad idea I urge you to leave this alone, as you'll get nothing positive out of it. Being shitty to strangers who have access to your address and phone number will surely come back to "bite you in the ass."

Since you're so tired of hearing it, I'll say it one last time. Just hang up the phone. If you don't want to be on the call, then hang up the phone. That's it. That's all. You'll be back to your Very Important Day in an instant.
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:05 PM on November 3, 2006 [2 favorites]


I doubt that's ever been the case. You seem to regard inflicting you with minor, momentary annoyance as a grievous offense which condemns the irritant to any punishment you can think up. Christ, I'll bet you're a lousy tipper, too.

Ok, I really think you should take a step back and try to calm down. Re-read your posts when you are a little cooler headed. You are starting to sound downright deranged, but I'm hoping you are just having a bad week and that it's causing you to take all of this just a wee bit too personally.

What does turning annoying phone calls into something amusing have anything to do with how polite I am in general, or how well I tip? For what it's worth, I usually tip at least 20%, rounding up to the nearest whole dollar and that's on the post-tax amount.

Anyways, you are jumping to wild assumptions, resorting to insulting me personally, and just generally being a dick. You say you're trying to "help", but I suppose that was obstructed by all of the obnoxiousness...in my defense, it was laid on pretty thick. Next time I'll look harder.

In all honesty, I probably won't do the telemarketer pranks, since several other posters here have made calm & logical comments about why it's not worth it.

However, when you derail a thread and immediately resort to namecalling instead of making polite & calm responses, it makes it really hard to take you seriously. I also find it interesting that you are so abusive in a thread in which you are essentially imploring me to be nicer to people. Take a look in the mirror, buddy. If you expect people to be nice to strangers, then why not try it yourself instead of being juvenile and trying to "give me a taste of my own medicine".

Anyways, I'm done with this argument, since I'm clearly not dealing with a rational person here. To those of you upset that I might have fun with a telemarketer, don't worry, I probably won't at this point. Telemarketers = 1 ; Tastybrains = 0.
posted by tastybrains at 9:21 PM on November 3, 2006


tastybrains, for what it's worth, I was initially wrong about your intentions. From later stuff you've said, I see that you want a surreal, goofy, gentle thing to do. From your post and some of your earlier comments, it sounded like you wanted to play a malicious prank to "get revenge" on "these scumbags". That's what I was protesting. I'm guessing that language is what's gotten EatTheWeak going; you compare telemarketers to Nazis, ETW compares hassling them to a man hitting his wife, and we're off to the races.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:18 AM on November 4, 2006


I telemarketed. It was a lousy job, being essentially money farming - you sit around in an office, on a low hourly rate, calling people to kill the time. And to all those saying that being messed with will make you get a better job, I can safely say that being a telemarketer is inspiration enough.

That being said, during my time on the farm I was selling gym memberships. My favourites were the guy that cheerfully told me "I'd love one, mate, but I've got no legs" closely followed by the guy that told me he was too busy being drunk to get to the gym.

Being creative with a telemarketer can make their day. Being rude or pushy is just going to get you a truckload of pizzas.
posted by Jilder at 4:43 AM on November 4, 2006


Did you forget to read the part where I said I wasn't going to do this?
posted by tastybrains at 6:46 AM on November 4, 2006


This guy knows
posted by Giant luck at 2:31 AM on November 5, 2006


[a bunch of comments removed, you can take the extra discussion to metatalk]
posted by jessamyn at 1:28 PM on November 6, 2006


« Older Going to London for Thanksgivi...   |  I may have an opportunity to m... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.