Telemarketer: How To Get Rid Of Me (And Why Tormenting Telemarketers Works)

LifeHacker has an article from a Telemarketer, and it provides some ideas about how Telemarketers work, and suggestions on how she thinks you should get rid of them.  For those that seem plagued by repeated calls from the same Telemarketers, it explains a lot. The first part of the article talks about how Telemarketing organizations work.  And from my experience, I think it describes it well.  The second part describes what the Telemarketer wants you to do to “help yourself”, and of course help them. Let’s review this and see how Tormenting Telemarketers takes advantage of this information.

How Telemarketers Work

With all those calls they are making, they must be making tons of sales, right?  Well, maybe not as much as you might think.  Consider this quote from the Telemarketer:

Not all companies run exactly the same way, but most calls follow a similar pattern. Successful telemarketers generally have a 96% chance of getting turned down. With such terrible odds, they will be relentless in trying to keep you on the phone.

Yeah, if you’re here, I’m sure you’ve had it with the relentless.  But out of 100 calls, the Telemarketer might make about 4 sales.  And these are calls that are answered.  So imagine if 1, 2, or more of those calls were Tormenting the Telemarketer?  Do you see where that could directly impact their bottom line, and make telemarketing unprofitable?  Also, check out the second part about keeping you on the line.  As long as you don’t say “No”, they have a hope.  And they hope to wear you down, and make  you feel that since you’ve spent that much time, you should buy in order to justify the time.  It’s a sales technique that takes advantage of the “Sunk Cost Fallacy”.  Keeping them on the line turns the Sunk Cost Fallacy against them.   They’ll stay on longer than they should.  I’ve actually had conversations with Telemarketers for over 45 minutes, and at the end, NO SALE.  It’s easy to see where just a small percentage of such calls could ruin a Telemarketers day.

Another complaint I’ve seen around the web is that the same number will call them repeatedly.  Sometimes several times in the same day.  Certainly, if you don’t answer they will stop calling, right?  Wrong.

If the caller doesn’t reach you, they mark your lead as “no answer” and the system programs it so you get called again a few days later. If the company does not have a large lead pool, you may get called as soon as 12 hours later.

It’s actually a computer calling you.  Not an actual person.  However, it’s the same concept.  And the computer never gets tired.  Ever.  So if you don’t answer, you can 100% expect a return call from the Telemarketer.  That’s why I think you should answer them.  And talk to them, if you have the opportunity.  For starters, the computer will have satisfied i’s job and probably won’t call back for a much longer period of time.  Second, and more importantly, you’ll spend time talking with someone that will get tired of talking to you.  And keeping them from making other calls with potential sales.

If the caller does speak to you, they will do their best to sell to you on the first call. A good telemarketer uses the “Three Nos” rule: don’t let the customer go until they have said “no” three times during the phone call.

The Three No’s Rule.  This is pretty typical in all sales, not just Telemarketing.  As long as you don’t say “No”, they hope to wear your down and make you feel like you should buy in order to justify your time talking to them so long.  Not saying “No” will also tend to keep them on the line (see the Sunk Cost Fallacy above).  In fact, their rules may prohibit them from disconnecting a call until they get 3 No’s, which you can work to their disadvantage.

What They Want You To Do

The next section if the article is titled “How You’re Making It Worse”.  This is such a classic “blame the victim”.  The Telemarketers claims WE are making “mistakes” that cause us to get repeatedly called.  No, it’s the Telemarketers own overly-aggressive belief that they can demand to talk to you, despite being on the Do-Not-Call list, asking to be removed (and subsequently getting hung up on), and bad (if not profane) reactions if you’re not interested.

Martial Arts teaches you to use your opponents momentum to defeat them.  Let’s go through her suggestions, and keep in mind the above information.  Let’s figure out how our Anti-Telemarketer techniques relate to how Telemarketing works.  Keep in mind that the Telemarketers goal, and the only reason they stay in business, it to make a profit.  The Goal of Tormenting Telemarketing is to eliminate that profit to make the unlawful Telemarketers go out of business.

So let’s begin with the first suggestion.

  • Don’t immediately hang up the phone

The Telemarketer reiterates what they said earlier in the article, that this just results in another call attempt.  By a computer.  It costs them virtually nothing to continually ring your phone.  Ironically, the FTC recommends to “Hang Up The Phone”. The Telemarketer is just confirming that this does not help.  Answer the call.  Talk to them. This costs them money.

  • Don’t engage with the telemarketer in any way

Yes, we don’t want to give the Telemarketer any false hope of a sale.  Oh, wait, yes we do.  Telemarketing requires verbally engaging with the potential customer for sales.  For the unscrupulous Telemarketer, this is their weak spot.  While they are talking to you (and not making a sale), they are unable to engage with anyone else.  This costs them potential sales.

  • Don’t get irrationally angry at the telemarketer

Okay, you’ve been calling my number repeatedly for days, so any anger is NOT irrational.  But I digress.  I agree here, you don’t want to show anger to the Telemarketer.  They will hang up, and likely call you again.  This does not meaningfully hurt the Telemarketer.  Be nice, feign interest, keep the conversation going.  Being angry at Telemarketers does cause a lot of stress, and is part of the high turn-over at these boiler-room call centers.  Repeatedly dealing with angry calls may result in a person quitting, but it’s a hollow victory.  The business will just fill the slot with someone else and continue.  Tormenting Telemarkers goes directly after the root cause, not the hapless employee.

  • Don’t give up mid-conversation and hang up without an explanation.

Yes, if you just suddenly hang up, they will call you back.  However, if you are going to file a complaint with the FTC, hanging up has a nice side effect.  The first call you get from the robo-call is just a front number (or faked) from the auto-dialers that transfers you to the actual Telemarketer.  If you hang up, they sometimes call back from a different number that is more likely their real offices.  Use both numbers in your complaint.  If you are going to hang up in order to see if you get an additional number, hang up while you are talking to make it sound more like an accidental disconnect.

  • Don’t let the telemarketer call you back at another time

I agree with this, but not in the way she means.  Don’t let them call you back, but insist that they talk to you now.  Keep them talking.  They will get tired of it.  I’ve had Telemarketers want to put me on their Do-Not-Call list, even over my objections.  And when they beg to put you on their do-not-call list, it’s one of the few times I believe  them.

How To Make Calls Stop

The Telemarketer finishes with some “simple” steps:

  • Ask them “Please put me on your do not call list”
  • Register on the National Do Not Call List
  • Ask again to be put in their “do not call list”

I assume you are already on the National Do Not Call List.  If not, do it now.  You probably also know that asking to be put on the “do not call” list of someone violating the DNC is rarely effective.  Even the Telemarketer obviously knows this, since she suggests you ask again, and again.  You shouldn’t have had to ask the first time, right?

The Telemarketers momentum is the massive numbers of calls.  The Telemarketers weakness is time.  The time it takes to talk to a convince enough people to buy their product.  Robo-calls have made it easier to make more calls, and those “Press 1 for more info” are the first level “referrals”.  Given the thousands of calls, our strength is time multiplied our numbers.  Tormenting Telemarketers removes the advantage of robo-calls by making the Telemarketer bear more of the burden of the thousands of calls, and eliminate their profits.  When they no longer make money, only then will they stop.  Read some helpful ideas at the Tormenting Telemarketers Hints page.

She ends with this quote: “Make the right choices and you won’t be bothered.”  A final stab blaming the victim.  Shame on you.

You can read her full article here at I’m a Telemarketer.  Here’s How to Get Rid of Me.

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