Friday, July 29, 2005

End Of Days

I think I have just seen a harbinger of the downfall of civilization.

Maybe I am over reacting, but you be the judge:

The Scene: Yesterday, early afternoon. Lunch over, Sara down for her nap, Colin playing. Peaceful. Our heroine cleaning up the kitchen, contemplating which choice of chocolate to accompany the hit of coffee to be taken before her run. The chocolate and coffee being for purely medicinal purposes, you realize. Never mind that if she didn't indulge in all the chocolate and other questionable foodstuffs, she could be contemplating a nice book-and-couch scenario.

But our heroine is getting off track, yet again.

Ring, ring!

Diana: "Damn phone."

Diana: (answering the phone) "Hello?"

Computerized monotone meant to sound pleasant and warm but failing to sound anything but creepy: "Hello please wait for the next available Scholastic telemarketer."

Diana: (click)

I am trying to decide what bothers me about this most, and I am not talking about the whole interrupt-your-personal-business-even-if-it-is-just-scratching-your-nose annoyance that is the telemarketer call. There are ways around that: The "do not call" list, the screening your calls with the machine approach, the making up of horrible, yet funny things to say back to the poor sap on the other end of the line ("Oh! I am so glad you called, I am just so lonely! Let me TELL you all about it. I haven't talked to anyone in DAYS!"). I personally answer our phone, as we really don't get that many sales calls. Our number is unlisted. If it is a telemarketer, I just hang up after saying a polite "no thank-you".

What bothers me is that a machine has interrupted my day and now is asking me to wait on hold. What bothers me is that this approach obviously works, or it wouldn't be being done. I have gotten these sorts of calls before, from time to time and I assume you have too. After reflexively hanging up, for a brief moment I regretted not holding for the next hapless telemarketer and giving them an ear-full.

Then, of course, I realized that it would really not change anything, possibly even perpetuate it, as it counted as a connection rather than a disconnection in the grand telemarketing computer tally. It certainly would not have been the first time someone told them off and obviously it has not stopped this practice. I also wondered how long I would have been on hold waiting for someone to come on the phone trying to sell me something I assuredly did not want.

Plus, I was on the kitchen phone, the new dinky-ass one that is too small to hold to your ear with your shoulder, not like the old one in the bedroom. The old bedroom phone has a handset that can double as a weapon, should anyone try to break in. Had I been on that phone, I could have pretended to bludgeon the telemarketer repeatedly with the receiver, which would have been good practice, in case I ever had to do it in reality.

Maybe I should just switch the phones around, so I am prepared. Lord knows, there will be a next time.

(PS: Yes, I could have just put it on speaker phone, I realize, but where is the funny in that, I ask you? Plus, I never remember to do that until afterward.)

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Blogger Babs said...

The MOMENT I pick up the phone and hear 'Please wait, we have an important call for you' I hang up.

I reckon if it was THAT important there'd be a human being on the other end already.

(Plus we usually get the damned bill collectors doing that lol)

3:53 AM  
Blogger CarpeDM said...

We screen our calls. The answering machine picks up everything and telemarketers rarely ever leave a message. I figure if they really have important news for me, they'll leave a message.

I once told a telemarketer that my roommate couldn't come to the phone because I had killed him and buried him in the backyard. They didn't call back.

5:53 AM  
Blogger Teri said...

The machine-dialed call is high on my list of signs that the collapse of civilization is imminent. It's also damn rude. Why (why?!?) would I buy something from someone who was so rude to me? We are on the do-not-call list. And we have caller id. I never pick up the "unknown caller" calls.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

Babs- I wonder if having the computer do the initial call actually increases the chances that by the time a human gets on the line with the sap who is holding, a sale will be made, because the rest of us pissed-off folks have already hung up. You could have a lot of fun with those bill collectors, although I guess they could then take it back out on you as they probably do not have the best sense of humor.

Dana- Very true, very true. I am lucky that, usually when it rings it is Charles, or someone else real. Wonder if they then crossed your roommate's name off their list ashe was, well, dead and burried?

Teri- Has the do-not-call list made much of a difference? I am curious. Almost every single telemarketing call is from a credit card we already have, wanting to sell us something, which would not be stopped under the do-not-call rules, as we are already a customer. Wish caller ID had a belt attachment, so you knew not to answer BEFORE you dropped what you were doing and ran for the phone.

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wait until they have the GPS working in everyone's cell phone (yes, it is required by law!). The telemarketing geniouses have figured out that you would be DELIGHTED to pay for a phone call ad to your personal cell phone as you drive past whichever business is stupid enough to hire them: "Hi, this is the XYZ company calling to let you know if you come in to our store in the next 5 minutes, you can have 2% off all your purchases!"

Seems they are having trouble signing up business' though: the ads don't test market well with the focus groups. Gee, I wonder why?


12:12 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

MG- Wonder what the accident rate will jump to as people grab their phones to answer them in traffic. Sounds ripe for litigation.

8:22 AM  
Anonymous Gerah said...

Yes, oh, yes. I LOATHE the phone calls that ask you to wait after they call. That's the rudest.

I have a hard time being mean to the run of the mill sales calls, though... I just imagine that if I were a single mom or in circumstances different than what they are now, I might have to do a job like that. We're all just people trying to get through life, right? Maybe that voice on the other end doesn't want to do that particular job, but they have to. So, it's probably best just to hang up, like you did.

10:51 AM  
Blogger Teri said...

The Do Not Call list has worked pretty well. We don't get calls from companies trying to sell us new kitchen cabinets or lawn care services anymore. Both of which are especially ironic considering the fact that we rent...

6:51 PM  
Blogger beckyb said...

But hey, at least the recording said something! We always get the ones where you answer and say "hello" only to be greeted by silence. If you hang on long enough a machine or person comes on the line. I think i tried that once and now just hang up. Thank you, so glad I raced up the stairs and jumped a hurdle over the baby gate to answer that call.

Our number is unlisted/unpublished so we don't get too many of those calls. And it's usually because some asinine company we do business with has sold our number to someone else. If I get an actual person I tell them that we have an unlisted/unpublished number and to take it off their list. I must sound kind of ferocious about it because they always seem a bit intimidated and apologize and say they'll do it, lol. We have caller ID, too, so I try to make that my first line of defense (when the little crumb snatchers don't get to the phone first, that is).

11:59 AM  
Blogger Mojavi said...

I cancelled my home phone. Seems I was paying over 100 a month for telemarketers to have a direct line to my house. K and I only use our cell phone and I love it. THe only poeple who call me are people I want to talk to.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Gerah- Yes, I feel for those poor souls, too. I hang up on them nicely rather than rudely. I am sure it makes a difference and will secure me a place in heaven. With my hatred of calling people on the phone, I can think of very few worse jobs.

Teri- Good to know that the list is working. Funny, we received many more of those calls when we were renting, too. Must be some sort of correlation.

BeckyB- AHA! I always wondered what would happen if I just kept holding the line with those calls. We get a fair number of those. I am impatient, though, and hang up after the second "Hello?" My crumb snatchers aren't quite tall enough to reach the phone, although my days are numbered. Will be nice to holler, "Colin! Would you please get that?"

Mojavi- I am hearing more and more people doing that. It makes sense, at least until the telemarketers get a hold of your cell number.

1:57 PM  
Blogger moegirl said...

Luckily, my husband answers most of the time and he has a deep, growly voice and its almost frightening the way he says "Take us off your calling list" We had some persistent caller recently, so he added a twist, "Take us off your calling list or I will find your place of business and burn it to the ground."

Also, charities are exempt from the do not call list. So, if there is an organization that you give to, they may call you.

Another tip, you can cut down on your junk mail by contacting the Direct Marketing Association and you can make a request through them and it does cut down on the volume of mail.

There is a sucker born every minute, and so because this technique works, it will keep happening. So we are left to call screening and threats of arson.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Rozanne said...

Yeah. Don't be mean to the poor telemarketer. I was one once (summer job during college. It was a super-sucky job and I hated it, but I was always grateful whenever someone was polite. And the moment they let me knew they weren't interested, I ended the call. I totally understood how annoyed they must have been.

If, however, the telemarketer is a machine, be as mean as you want. It probably put some poor person out of a job.

5:56 PM  
Blogger Cagey said...

I was a telemarketer in high school - sucky job, but I made kick ass $$$$ doing it. Some advice for dealing with telemarketers - DON'T BE POLITE - don't give them a chance to answer - they HAVE to keep going with their spiel or they get in trouble.Take it from me - a telemarketer WANTS to hear a terse, quick "No, thank you" and then a click. Then, they can mark that call as a "no" and move onto the next call where hopefully THAT one will be the sucker they are looking for.

I waved bye-bye to Ma Bell and her kids back in 2002 - I haven't looked back. I LOVE just using a cell phone.

6:31 PM  
Blogger The Lioness said...

Am I mad?? Where, pray, is my comment? Have I really just commented in my head? I AM mad, and a bit worried. Now I don't even know what to say! Blame the stupid office, I finally organised most of it, and in despair stuffed the rest bin 2 drawers. Meaning I'll still have to tackle the remaining nightmare when I come back. PLUS, 3 days without the web. Who cares abt the sand and the ocean and the sea breeze, HELP!

7:08 PM  
Blogger beckyb said...

My hubby decided to be "nice" once to a telemarketer and let her go through the whole spiel before politely telling her no thank you. Our phone rang a few seconds later and it was her supervisor. He proceeded to berate DH because she (the telemarketer) was in training and it was rude of him to lead her on! Can you believe it???

8:18 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Stacy- I didn't know charities were exempt but it makes sense. I like Justin's arson threat, but I am twisted like that.

Rozanne- I am sorry you had to do such a sucky job. I must admit that it is sort of fun to just hang up rudely on machines.

Cagey- Were you paid by the call or the sale or a bit of both? So, terse is good. I can do terse. Actually I am terse but can be even terser. I will work on it.

Johnny- Have a lovely non-electronic time at the shore. I hate coming home to a perceived mess. The house always looks best as we leave for a week.

BeckyB- You are freakin' kidding me! I hope he gave the supervisor bitch an ear full, but as he is nice, he probably didn't. Wow. My mother-in-law lets them go on and on. She just doesn't want to be thought of as rude and, as she is not busy, it is no hardship. Maybe that is the best way to get back. Perhaps hooking the receiver up to a recording that says, "Yes" and "Sure" from time to time.

1:08 PM  
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3:17 AM  

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