31 July 2013

Ugh! Telemarketing

I have a new reason to not answer my phone when I see one of those unfamiliar long-distance numbers on the display. I’m sure we all dislike having our lives interrupted by the call, trying to sell us something that we probably don’t need. How about the now-too-common proactive customer service call — you are already our customer, but how much better could your service be if only you bundled a bunch of services together?

My Dad has his way of dealing with those calls. Every call a screened call, unless he happens to be next to the phone and it’s a number he recognizes. It gets easier over time to resist the urge to answer that ring, I suppose, but I’m someone who only recently stopped rushing dripping from the shower to answer the insistent ring of my phone, so that urge runs deeply in me.

My strategy has been relatively simple and two-pronged. First, an unlisted number. That eliminates the unsophisticated random calls working from lists. Second, I have registered my numbers (home and mobile) on the federal “do not call” list (CanadaUSA), so there are negative consequences for telemarketers calling me if I don’t already have a relationship with them or if they don’t fit into the various exceptions (notably charities, not bound by this list).

The gaping hole in my strategy is not so much what it is for my Dad. He gets TONS of calls from charities, which I avoid by giving largely to organizations I know really well that will not trade their lists with others. I’m also armed with my answer to those requests that generally frightens them away: “I give most of my money to AIDS charities because I have it.” That really shuts them up. No, my strategy fails more on the people I have business relations with. Telecommunications and TV: everyone wants to be my sole supplier, while I resist that for the simple reason that I don’t want everything to fail at once! (I deliberately got my mobile phone from a different company when I was having trouble with my home phone line.)

So what’s my new reason to not answer the phone when an apparent telemarketing call is incoming? It’s me. I don’t like what I turn into on the phone with these people. I might be in a relatively good mood, but the call transforms me into a short-tempered rude person who interrupts and eventually hangs up when the poor underpaid telemarketing person fails to depart from the script to answer my “get to the point” questions.

I’m writing this because it just happened and I’m not feeling very proud of my behaviour. I don’t see any prospect of becoming any more tolerant, so I think I’ll just have to avoid answering from now on.


Zeke said...


You might want to consider tracking and quantifying your phone use. You might be better served ditching all your phones and using some combo of Skype/Google Voice/Facebook Chat, etc. for more immediate communication needs.

I can vouch that being phoneless has served me very well. With the added caveat being it sometimes does make it tough to call a taxi...

Ken Monteith said...

Nah, I always arm myself for the eventuality that I will fall ill and need to call for help. Backup is essential to that plan!

My previous experience was that my home phone line was shorting out in the wall, taking with it my internet service and leaving me to go outside to the [rare] phone booth a block away. That's when I armed myself with a mobile phone as well! Belt AND suspenders is my motto, I guess.