A new approach needed to deal with telemarketer methods

January 05, 2004

When my husband and I moved across a county line, we were assigned a new phone number. We'd had our old phone number for 26 years. I thought it would be hard to adjust, but it was relatively easy compared to an inconvenience I had not considered before: We were no longer on that now famous "no-call list."

We've signed up since then, but our number is not yet on the list. So once again we are dealing with telemarketers.

I've been known to be overly sympathetic to telemarketers. Even though they often call at the most inopportune times - imagine that - I try to remember that many of these people have children at home and are simply trying to earn a living. Although I know I won't be interested in the magazine/political candidate/septic treatment they are peddling, I usually listen patiently and say, "No, thank you."

Much to my surprise, many telemarketers don't like this. Some would prefer you hang up on them rather than extend the courtesy of hearing them out. I had one rather irritated marketer ask, "Why did you let me go on?" So much for sympathetic listening. Now I will politely interrupt and decline their generous offer early in the conversation.


If that doesn't work, sometimes I try to bring them into my circle of life. I will ask how they are and how much longer they have to work. If given the chance, I will ask where they are calling from and how the weather is there. I have had responses ranging from Sioux Falls, S.D., to Tampa, Fla. I tell them about the weather in central Kentucky and how beautiful it is here.

Needless to say, many telemarketers don't go for this either. I suppose they are on some kind of quota and they need to know rather quickly if I'm buying.

It seems, however, that sometimes good old-fashioned conversation works for me. Many times I talk to them as I would a family member or friend who had called at a bad time. I tell them, "I'm sorry, I am just getting ready to ..." and proceed to tell them what I am doing and ask them to call back later.

I employed this method as I was on my way out the door, headed for a Thanksgiving meal at my church. I conveyed that to the telemarketer on the phone and we both hung up in a better mood than if I had slammed the receiver down.

But recently I think I had the telemarketing call that takes the cake. I had just grabbed my car keys for some usual appointment and the phone rang. I answered and waited for a reply. A monotone voice came on the line. "Hello. This is a telemarketing call. We apologize that no one is available to speak with you right now, but someone will be with you momentarily. Please hold the line."

What? Excuse me? Righhhht. Of course, I will hold. After I stopped laughing I realized that this was a good thing. It seems the telemarketing industry has just made my life easier by giving me the opportunity to end calls before they begin.

The only down side is, I won't be able to do anymore tourism promos or catch the weather in South Dakota.

Kathy Johnica lives in Lincoln County.|1/4/04***

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