Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ha ha! Screw YOU telemarketers! Screw YOU!

To the horror of more than one girlfriend - and the the amusement of several - I've never been particularly nice to telemarketers.

My Mother always used to simply tell them in a severe tone that they were wasting her time and, when she was particularly annoyed she'd use the same words Dad used while watching Hockey Night in Canada.

I'm sure that when I got my first place of my own with my own phone I probably resorted to the same tactics for some time - though I do not specifically recall. I soon bemoaned the lack of a national Do Not Call List. I had heard about how one existed in other countries - specifically the U.S. - and how you could get your number put on the list and then telemarketers were legally obligated to refrain from calling you. I can't imagine how this worked efficiently in the days before high-functioning computers, but that's not germane to my point.

Around the turn of the century I put two and two together and realised how important call-times are to telemarketers. I even spent some time working in an inbound (I.E. I was NOT a telemarketer.) call-centre and had the importance of call times repeated to me by upper management like a mantra. This was where I learned my most dastardly trick - the one that horrified some and delighted others...

Upon realizing that I had connected to a telemarketer I would express my exaggerated faux-interest in their product ("Why yes, I'd LOVE to get Guns & Ammo magazine for a bargain price.") and then 'discover' that I needed to attend to something ("Oh, just a moment I need to get a pen and paper." or "Oh crap, I'll be right back, the kids are playing in the oven."). At this point I'd set the phone down - off the hook - and go about my business. And now comes the hard part for the telemarketer... the clock is ticking. Their sales metrics are going to hell the longer they wait, but I have assured them that I REALLY want to give them a sale. The call is taking a longer and longer time every moment, but they have a seemingly guaranteed customer on the hook. The question becomes 'how long do they wait?'

The real art of it is finding the perfect moment to come back, just before they are about to give up and reassure them that you'll only be a moment longer and how you can hardly wait to get your hands on the great deal they are offering. If you can catch them at the perfect moment, this is really when you score big points - how can they give up now?

You may think this is unfair and evil. "It's not the telemarketer's fault." Well, not really. But they did take the job. And it sure as hell isn't my fault that they're calling me. I figure that in a country lacking a DNCL this is a pretty good tactic to put to use. Again, from working in a call centre I know that every number that is ever used goes into a file - with various other info (money spent, credit card numbers if applicable, possibly addresses) is a section for notes. And every time I screw around a telemarketer, the more likely it is that they are going to add that fact to their notes - eventually earning capital letters or bold face or even a radio-buttoned flag... warning that I'm not worth the effort. A defacto - 'Do Not Call'.

Since I first got call waiting I have quit answering dubious numbers. But with a cell phone I'm still on hand and disturbed by the interruption. For some time now it has also been necessary for individual companies to have their own internal 'DNC' lists... but who knows how well maintained these are and if there isn't a date at which the request runs out - I'd swear that some places I've told to quit calling have begun again after six months or so.

But today that all changes. The Canadian National Do Not Call List has begun. It took hours this morning to get my number registered - the flood of people must have been enormous.

I'm also amused by this article warning us about the exemptions (Why the fuck are newspapers allowed to keep calling selling subscriptions? Can someone explain that?) and portenting that by signing up for the DNCL we're just going to create a need for more direct mail and spam. Hmmm... well, I've got the required wording for effective 'No Junk Mail' filtering on the snail mail box, and my spam filter on my email has proven for two years or so to be extremely effective. So, what marketting firestorm exactly is it that I am bringing down upon my head?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I Never Thought I'd Tag an Entry with both 'Hitler' and 'Sitcom'

A sitcom about a happily married Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun in a typical 'Pleasantville'-esque American 50's suburbia... except apparently it's England. Though only Neville Chamberlain speaks with a British accent.

"Heil, Honey, I'm Home!"

(and the 2nd half, if you are truly so inclined)

No. Really.

Not a joke. I mean that in every way. It wasn't funny. I don't even mean that it was too taseless to be funny. It really isn't funny. It was cancelled after one episode. It was a real (attempt at a) sitcom, when it might have been funny as a one-time-only SNL sketch.

Apparently, (and this may be retrodicting) it was intended to be a parody of bad-sitcoms. The thing abour parodying something bad is that you can't afford to be bad yourself.

Whoever created this series should be forced to sit and watch it, Clockwork Orange-style until they promise to never do it again.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Where no Cake has Gone Before...

Geeks don't often come out looking good. Their absurd fidelity to the minutae of their fetishism regularly triggers the scorn of those of us with some sense of what really matter in the real world.

Case in point:

On the Food Network show 'Ace of Cakes' (geeky enough in it's own right, a show about decorating cakes) they recently did a show where they elaborately decorated a cake to look like the command deck of the original Star Trek series Enterprise. (Add geek level number two.)

It is cartoonily impressive.

But it gets better. Meanwhile over at trekmovie.com, they got into a good debate about it. (Level three.)
Comment number 6, Sean, goes WAY over the top - which is noted above as being parody of how Trek fans geek-out and nit-pick. This may be true, or it may be retrodicting. Either way, the need to defend it is telling in it's own right. Yet it goes on. And on. And on. The statement sparks a small online fracas that extends well beyond the borders of cakes and Trek (as if that wasn't bad enough). It gets a bit boring to be honest, but a quick skim to see how retarded it gets is worth a peek on a slow day. That is if you can handle a flame-war over the dismissive use of the word 'First' (I kid you not.) and who has the right to use ALL CAPS when and where.

Monday, September 08, 2008

A Stern Phone-call from the Boss

I know that this is a week late, but I had a busy week last week with reshoots on 'Beast...' so I'm just getting around to watching the DNC & RNC today... heck, I'm not even going to finish watching DNC highlights today, let alone catch up on analysis of the various passes, yields and of course Hillary's dramatic movement to suspend proceedure.
THAT was great theatre.
But then, Melissa Etheridge gets up on stage for a victory medley of songs.
I'm not really a fan, but I did buy her first CD back in... '88 was it that it came out? For that matter, when was it that she came out?
Anyhow... I'm off topic by a mile in just two sentences.
M.E. was at her throaty best on-stage in Denver last week... except for one lousy little galling thing.

I imagine that she took a phone call later that night.

M.E.: Hello?
B.S.: Hi. Is that Melissa?
M.E.: Yes. Who is this?
B.S.: Bruce.
M.E.: Bruce? I don't know any... oh. wait. THAT Bruce.
B.S.: Yeah. That Bruce.
M.E.: Bruce, from New Jersey, Bruce.
B.S.: Exactly.
M.E.: Look, Bruce I think I can guess what this is all about...
B.S.: You do, do you?
M.E.: Yes...
B.S.: Then why the fuck do I have to make this phone call!?
M.E.: I thought...
B.S.: First Reagan, now this.
M.E.: Well yeah, but he was a Republican.
B.S.: What kind of difference does that make?
M.E.: You let Kerry use 'No Surrender' - heck you even came out and played...
B.S.: What does that song mean?
M.E.: You mean 'No Surrender?'
B.S.: Yes. What does it mean?
M.E.: It means... uh...
B.S.: Don't think to hard now. It's right there in the lyrics...
M.E.: "No retreat... no surrender..."
B.S.: Riiiight. It was a good motto for that campaign...Christ, that fucking campaign...
M.E.: So...
B.S.: That's what it means. Simple as that. Now... what does 'Born in the U.S.A.' mean?
M.E.: "I was Bor-"
B.S.: NO!!!
M.E.: You say it like fifty times -
B.S.: It's ironic!
M.E.: But you sing it so anthemically.
B.S.: That's anger Melissa! Anger! Do you understand irate anger!?!
M.E.: Is that intended to be ironic?
B.S.: I swear to god, next R&R.H.o.F dinner, I'm gonna smack you right in the face. That song is about a country gone wrong. It's not about pride. When Republicans mis-use it, it's one thing. They look like idiots. But when it's used as a victory song for a history-making moment in Democratic Party nominations... FUCK! Melissa, Democrats should know better. The DNC should know better. Obama should know better. YOU SHOULD FUCKING KNOW BETTER!
M.E.: I'm sorry, Bruce. I'm a bad lefty. I screwed up. I'll never do it again. You are right, and by 'right' I mean 'correct' not...
B.S.: Yeah yeah, I know what you mean, I'm not nuance challenged like the rest of you.