About Tormenting Telemarketers

Back in March of 1993, I wrote a joke article called “Tormenting Telemarketers” for a Usenet newsgroup called ‘rec.humor.funny’. It got a good response, and even made the “Best Of Rec.Humor.Funny’. That was over 25 years ago, but throughout that time, I would still occasionally get an e-mail from someone outraged that I would encourage people to do this. Yes, as suspected, they were telemarketers. This simple ancient article was striking a nerve.

Since I wrote this, there have been further restrictions upon Telemarketers, new laws, and creation of State and National Do-Not-Call lists. However, if you’re reading this, you already know that many of these governmental measures haven’t prevented many Telemarketers from intruding upon peoples lives. If you look up a number of a Telemarketer that called you, there will be several forums of complaints about them and many other numbers. Many include irritation that the FTC and other enforcement is ineffective, useless, fruitless, or otherwise not working. Consumers are plagued with the following:

  • Violations of the Do-Not-Call list
  • Frequent hangups/dropped calls from telemarketers
  • Violations of the Do-Not-Call list
  • Unlawful pre-recorded telemarketing calls (Robocalls)
  • Violations of the Do-Not-Call list
  • Refusal of Telemarketers to add people to the Telemarketers Do-Not-Call list
  • Violations of the Do-Not-Call list
  • Rude, foul-mouthed representatives when you do complain
  • and did I mention, violations of the Do-Not-Call list?

So here we are. But my article, and it’s premise and counter-tactic, has a simple truth: The worst thing you can do to a Telemarketers is to talk to them.

Telemarketers will tell you, that if you are not interested, just hang up. Of course they do – it’s in their best interest for you to hang up. That may take 5 seconds, and they go bother the next person. Telemarketing is a numbers game. If they can blast through 99 people to get to that one sucker, they make money. But if one or two Tormenters take up 5 minutes, 10 minutes, or more, they may not get to that 100th call. Profit margins can be slim. Every 15 seconds you keep them on the phone is 1 or more people that aren’t getting bothered. And if they aren’t completing the calls, they aren’t getting sales. They aren’t making their quotas. And this is the only thing that will stop them – when they don’t make money.

If you’re a Telemarketer and reading this far, you’ve probably got your knickers in a twist. But don’t think that I’m totally against the entire Call Center industry. Inbound Call Centers do a fine job. I’ve been called by several companies that I do business with, and I deal with them politely and quickly. I get automated calls adntext from permissible sources and authorized vendors and value the service. The ones following the law, I have no problem.

For the rest, the unlawful, the rude, the robocalls, I consider Tormenting Telemarketers a public service.

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