Social Question

8Convulsions's avatar

How do you treat telemarketers/phone surveyors when they call?

Asked by 8Convulsions (2182points) June 8th, 2011
34 responses
“Great Question” (3points)

I work at a call center that calls registered voters in California to do public opinion surveys. I’ve heard just about every excuse, insult, and personal story you could imagine.

A couple of the most bizarre experiences that come to mind – A woman who broke down in tears because she said she had just been sent home after being held at gun point for two days. Who, surprisingly, still did the whole survey. Also, an old man who enthusiastically explained to me that he goes to the park to “steal the pine cones from the squirrels to make wreaths with.” Unfortunately, I had only asked about his thoughts on some housing development or tax increase.

Recently, one of my coworkers got someone who refused to do a survey because they were in the middle of a séance. While another coworker had to end a survey early because the man she was talking to said, “Ma’am, it’s 1950, and this drought we are having is going to kill all the wheat!”

I’m just curious, what do you guys do when someone calls you during dinner for a survey or something? Are you rude or polite? Has anyone played a good trick on someone or had an unbelievable, but true, reason for not being able to talk?

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_zen_'s avatar

I’d like to pull a Seinfeld on them, but I usually just say I don’t have time, and please not to call. I treat them like waitstaff – as long as they aren’t pushy. They are, after all, just people doing their jobs.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I’m afraid I’m boring. I usually just say “Sorry, I’m not interested, good bye” Often the person will say “But Ma’am..” then I interrupt and say “Please don’t call me ‘Butt Ma’am’ ” and hang up. I try to be polite, as I have done that type of work, but I’m brief.

Bellatrix's avatar

I am always polite. I have said I am cooking dinner or some other excuse. I did tell the people who kept phoning to offer me wine deals that I am an alcoholic and their calls stressed me so please don’t call again (I’m not!). Telemarketers have on the other hand been rude to me and to my husband (the one who phoned my husband was from India I think).

Cruiser's avatar

I start asking them questions about their personal preferences like…do you prefer cotton over polyester and why. Who is Willie Dixon. Have you ever visited Yellowstone? They eventually hang up.

8Convulsions's avatar

Haha, I love these! Although it may get us off the phone with you, these types of responses make our nights a bit better. At least it gives us something to talk about between calls. :)

meiosis's avatar

I have signed up with the UK’s Telephone Preference Service, which makes it illegal for telemarketers to call me. As such, when they do, I usually have the following response: “Yes, I am interested in xyz. I’ll just go and turn the stove off, and be with you in a few seconds”. I then go back to what I was doing before while they stay on the line waiting for me to come back. Five minutes later, I hang up. They never call again.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I usually tell them no thanks,then hang up.
My brother however,has made them sit through drum solos. ;)

8Convulsions's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille and I thought it was a treat to listen to a ring back tone!

BarnacleBill's avatar

If a person is polite to me, as in, identifies that they are not selling anything, asks if this is a convenient time, and tells me how long the survey should take, I generally take the call. One of my New Year’s resolutions is not to answer a call when it’s inconvenient if I don’t recognize the number on caller ID. Funny how people’s curiosity gets the better of them—they can see they don’t recognize the number, it’s an inconvenient time, and yet they still answer the phone.

Blackberry's avatar

The same as any other person: with respect. They’re just doing a job. Anyone who automatically treats them like crap just because they called is a douchebag.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Politely, because I used to conduct surveys for my uni’s sociology department and did fundraising for a charity, but I don’t want to take surveys, and I give where and when I want to, so if I happen to get those sort of calls, I say, “No, thank you”, and hang up.

poisonedantidote's avatar

I usually say something allong the lines of:

Why, hello Clarice.

would they have you back, you think? The FBI? Those people you despise almost as much as they despise you. Would they give you a medal, Clarice, do you think? Would you have it professionally framed and hang it on your wall to look at and remind you of your courage and incorruptibility? All you would need for that, Clarice, is a mirror.

ucme's avatar

I usually give off an enormous gut wrenching belch straight down the phone, that’ll get your ear sprayed. Then I hang up with a contented smile on my face :¬)

dabbler's avatar

We let any call that we don’t recognize through callerID go to the answering machine.

AmWiser's avatar

I start off polite, saying ‘thanks but I’m not interested’. If they say ‘but ma’am’, I set the phone down (without hanging up), and continue doing what I was doing. Sometime when they call they get a ‘no thanks’ and a abrupt hang-up.

SuperMouse's avatar

I am unfailingly polite, as others have mentioned I tend to think of the callers as doing their job and trying to get by just like me. I did have a friend once who liked to say “I’m busy at the moment why don’t you give me your home phone number and I’ll give you a call back.”

The only exception to my politeness is when I get calls from bill collectors looking for my ex-husband; to them I am unfailingly rude.

FutureMemory's avatar

I tell them I’m not interested, then immediately hang up. No reason to wait for them to say anything.

YoBob's avatar

I am actually quite rude, and believe I have a right to be. Our phone almost rings off the wall during evenings and weekends with our caller ID showing “Unknown Caller” (the vast majority of which turn out to be fund raisers or survey folks of one stripe or another). Yes, my phone number is on the national no call list. That, however, does not apply to survey folks, charitable organizations, political advertisers, or those who “have an established business relationship” with you.

I am up at the crack of dawn and do the usual work day schedule and more often than not have some sort of extra-curricular activity such as cub scouts or fencing with my kids to do after work. Then there is the usual BS that everyone needs to deal with in life like maintaining vehicles, general errands, etc… In short more often than not on week days I leave my home at dawn and don’t return until after dark, often wearing different clothing.

Then there is the weekends where things like trips to visit aging family members, or scout camp outs, or family day trips happen, not to mention those things like yard work and home maintenance.

Bottom line is I get very little time to relax in my own home and (perhaps if the stars align right) have a nice sit down meal with the whole family. Even better, once in a blue moon I get to actually “sleep in” on a Saturday morning (pretty darned sad when you consider waking up at 9:00 “sleeping in”).

Now, can anybody out there give me one good reason why I shouldn’t be rude to people who intrude on the precious few moments I have to relax in my own home by calling to solicit donations, ask me to take a survey, or espouse their political agenda?!?!?!?!

I actually had a guy call to solicit donations at 8:30 last Saturday, one of those rare times I was planning to sleep in and perhaps have a rare bit of morning pleasure with my wife. I informed him that if his organization ever wanted a donation from us again they would quit harassing us by telephone. His response: “I’m not harassing you…”. Keep in mind that this is 8:30 in the frikin’ morning on a Saturday!!!

I do my best to simply not answer the phone for unrecognized callers, but that seems to exacerbate the problem as one then gets put on the no answer recall list. On those rare times when I am tricked by a non-profit calling from a private line or I neglect to look at the caller ID, a simple “not interested” is not sufficient!

mattbrowne's avatar

I try to be polite. Because these poor guys couldn’t find a better job and have to make a living too. I feel sorry for them. But I never buy anything offered by telemarketers. Never.

downtide's avatar

If anyone calls me asking for me by my old name, I tell them that person doesn’t live here any more. Everyone who NEEDS to know, already has my new name. Anyone who doesn’t know, is an unsolicited telemarketer.

If they have my new name and it’s still a marketing call, I say “I am signed up for the Telephone Preference service and I want you to remove my details from your calling lists. Failure to do so will be a breach of the law.”

woodcutter's avatar

Caller I D. Don’t leave home without it. If I don’t recognize the number or definitely if no number shows I let the machine get it. My machine still has the default bot voice.

downtide's avatar

Trouble with that, @woodcutter, is they keep you on the list and keep trying. At least if you speak to them once, and insist that they remove you from the lists, they stop. Or they should, if they’re not breaking the law.

woodcutter's avatar

@downtide That might work but they will always try to get their foot in the door on the way out. Most of them don’t leave a message anyway so it amounts to deleting a hang up at the worst. Sometimes just the act of answering the phone tends to encourage them even though you want them to piss off.

downtide's avatar

@woodcutter I work in a callcentre (admin/management, not actually on the phones, although I’ve done that too) and I have to respectfully disagree. Failing to answer the phone won’t help a bit because your number will remain on the calling list and you’ll be pestered for ever. The ONLY thing that actually works is speaking to them and specifically requesting to be removed from the calling lists. Then they have to, by law, comply with your request.

Everything else might make you feel better but it won;t stop the calls.

woodcutter's avatar

I don’t get many solicitations because I signed up for the “do not call registry” here. My cell # is registered also. Technically if they call, the person should have recourse by reporting them to the registry which can impose a serious fine on the callers. That way you don’t need to tell them to stop because they also have, or should have all those prohibited numbers on file. It is assumed that those who are registered are already informing all solicitors to not harass them. Having to address each and every one of them would be redundant at the least and down right aggravating at the worst.
I know they are only trying to make a living but I’m guessing these people have scraped the bottom of the barrel to get work and bothering people at the same time. I can’t believe any of them really like doing that.

meiosis's avatar

@downtide What about being a timewaster? Would that get one taken off the list?

downtide's avatar

@meiosis no it doesn’t. It might make the callhandler hang up that particular call, but it won’t stop them calling again. Callhandlers WILL hang up if the call is going nowhere: most staff work to what we call an “AHT” – Average Handling Time. You’re allowed a certain amount of time per call, on average, and a long “time-wasting” call will penalise the call-handler. So staff are encouraged to hang up the call if it’s going nowhere, and take the next one that might be a sale. But it won’t get you taken off the calling list.

YoBob's avatar

@downtide – In short, you are flatly stating that it is the policy of such callers to utilize a form of passive aggressive blackmail. In fact, I contend that this goes beyond being on the call list until you speak to somebody in person. There seems to be a new trick I have noticed designed to punish those who dare not to answer their phone. When an answering machine answers, rather than hanging up immediately, they now wait sufficient time so that there is a “blank” message left on the machine. Thus, the victim is forced to spend as much time deleting the “message” as they would have answering the phone.

Regarding the problem of the re-call list. Consider what happens when 8, 10, or more organizations put a single number on the recall list that has a policy of not picking up calls from unknown numbers!!!

I contend that this is not only harassment, it takes passive aggression to criminal levels. and I am seriously considering the following solution. Let me know what y’all think.

Here in America it costs very little to file a lawsuit. However, it costs those who have to defend themselves thousands regardless of whether they win or lose. So, how about simply filing a harassment suit against each and every unsolicited caller. Sure, the case probably won’t stick, but those engaging in such behavior will have to either settle out of court or shell out for their defense.

Sounds like a great cottage industry for a team of slimy lawyers. Any takers?

YoBob's avatar

@woodcutter – The problem with the no call registry is that charitable organizations, political campaigns, and those with an “established” business relationship are exempt. I too am on the no call registry, but that doesn’t keep the exempt callers at bay.

woodcutter's avatar

@YoBob yes I know but they always have their names on the display at least the one’s I’ve received so still just let the machine get it. Are there really any people in this day and age who do not have caller ID or don’t quickly check who the caller is before answering? With me it has become second nature. It’s not being paranoid it’s just being smart. We all have those moments when we just don’t feel like visiting with a certain person at that time.

downtide's avatar

@YoBob I fail to see how it’s blackmail or illegal (unless the person called is signed up to the Telephone Preference Service). It certainly doesn’t breach any laws in the UK. It may be different where you live.

YoBob's avatar

@downtide – Hmm… you have clearly stated the policy is:

“Even though you clearly don’t want to talk to me as evidenced by your failure to pick up the phone the last 100 times I have called, I will continue to make your phone ring, thus intruding on your personal time until you damned will pick up and talk to me in person.”

How can that be classified as anything other than harassment and/or blackmail?

True, it is not a technical breach of the law (here in the US as well as the UK), but it does not change the nature of the practice and I, for one, am quite on the verge of getting ugly about pushing back.

woodcutter's avatar

With the do not call registry I wonder if it is really profitable to be in phone solicitations at all any more. Signing up is free and takes 2 minutes. I haven’t had to be rude at all to these people because they don’t get through. With all the commercial bombardment we all endure the home should be the one place to avoid this.

Coloma's avatar

I am always unfailingly polite and simply say ” No thanks but have a great day.” Sometimes I even engage them and am extra friendly even if I reject the survey.
No reason to be rude, period. Don’t sweat the small stuff and the person on the other end of the line is just doing there job. I do not agree with being rude at all and telemarketing is a viable business.

The majority of telemarketers are college aged kids and senior citizens looking to support themselves. Be nice!

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