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?

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