20 Responses to Use With Telemarketers (PG)

1. If they want to loan you money, tell them you just filed for bankruptcy and you could sure use some money.

2. If they start out with, "How are you today?" say, "I'm so glad you asked, because no one these days seems to care, and I have all these problems. My arthritis is acting up, my eyelashes are sore, my dog just died . . . "

3. If they say they're John Doe from XYZ Company, ask them to spell their name. Then ask them to spell the company name. Then ask them where it is located, how long it has been in business, how many people work there, how they got into this line of work if they are married, how many kids they have, etc. Continue asking them personal questions or questions about their company for as long as necessary.

4. This works great if you are male. Telemarketer: "Hi, my name is Judy and I'm with XYZ Company. " You: Wait for a second and with a real husky voice ask, "What are you wearing?"

5. Cry out in surprise, "Judy? Is that you? Oh my God! Judy, how have you been?" Hopefully, this will give Judy a few brief moments of terror as she tries to figure out where she could know you from.

6. Say "No" over and over. Be sure to vary the sound of each one, and keep a rhythmic tempo, even as they are trying to speak. Sing in an operatic voice if possible. Or a "Tiny Tim" falsetto. This is most fun if you can do it until they hang up.

7. If MCI calls trying to get you to sign up for the Family and Friends Plan, reply, in as sinister a voice as you can, "I don't have any friends, would you be my friend?"

8. If the company cleans rugs, respond: "Can you get out blood? Can you get out goat blood? How about human blood?"

 9. After the Telemarketer gives his or her spiel, ask him or her to marry you. When they get all flustered, tell them that you can't just give your credit card number to a complete stranger.

10. Tell the Telemarketer that you work for the same company, and they can't sell to employees.

11. Answer the phone. As soon as you realize it is a Telemarketer, set the receiver down, scream, "Oh my God!" and then hang up.

12. Tell the Telemarketer you are busy at the moment and ask him/her if he/she will give you his/her home phone number so you can call him/her back. When the Telemarketer explains that telemarketers cannot give out their home numbers say, "I guess you don't want anyone bothering you at home, right?" The Telemarketer will agree and you say, "Me either!" Hang up.

13. Ask them to repeat everything they say, several times.

14. Tell them it is dinner time, but ask if they would please hold. Put them on your speaker phone while you continue to eat at your leisure. Smack your food loudly and continue with your dinner conversation.

15. Tell the Telemarketer you are on "home incarceration" and ask if they could bring you some beer.

16. Ask them to fax the information to you, and make up a number.

17. Tell the Telemarketer, "Okay, I'll listen to you. But I should probably tell you, I'm not wearing any clothes."

18. Insist that the caller is really your buddy Leon, playing a joke. "Come on, Leon, cut it out! Seriously, Leon, how's your momma?"

19. Tell them you are hard of hearing and that they need to speak up . . .  louder . . . louder . . .

20. Tell them to talk very slowly, because you want to write every word down.

NOTICE: The above have all been tested and approved for use on telemarketers. No Telemarketers were harmed in the testing.

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I suppose some degree of commerce would grind to a halt if telephone solicitors weren't able to call people at home during the dinner hour. But that doesn't make it any more pleasant. Now Steve Rubenstein, a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, has proposed "Three Little Words" -- based on his brief experience in a telemarketing operation -- that would stop the nuisance for all time.

The three little words are "Hold on, please." Saying this while putting down your phone and walking off --instead of hanging up immediately -- would make each telemarketing call so time-consuming that boiler rooms would grind to a halt. When you eventually hear the phone company's beep-beep-beep tone, you know it's time to go back and hang up your handset, which has efficiently completed its task.

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