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When Telemarketers Attack

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I woke up early one Saturday afternoon due to the incessant ringing of my phone. I do not have a lot of time to sleep during the week, so when it gets to the weekends, I try to sleep as much as possible. Biologically you can't really "catch up" on lost sleep, but your mind thinks you did, and if your mind thinks you caught up on sleep then that is all that really matters. So when my face hits the pillow on a Friday night, damn the thing that decides to wake me up.

Because of the high-stress kind of life I live, "Hollywood" as one of my friends calls me, I have to answer the phone. I refuse to go out of my way to buy a cell phone, so when people call me in the dorm I have to answer. Unfortunately for me, I was greeted by a voice from overseas on Saturday morning. I think she was Indian. I normally love the Indian accent, but when it's coming from a telemarketer trying to get me to sign up for a VISA credit card, I go into what's affectionately called "superfunhappy mode." And while in "superfunhappy mode" I lose it and start to let the person on the receiving end have it with a barrage of artful and colorful terms that would make a sailor or a profusely swearing George Washington blush.

This time was different. People were in the room, and I decided to hear the telemarketer out. She first started telling me I was pre-selected to receive a credit card. This was total bullshit. Not only because they tell everyone the same stupid line to make them feel important, but because my credit is so bad, I've started making a paper fort out of the bills I get every month. Any company that wants to give me a credit card must be brain damaged. But then, this is a credit card company directly soliciting a college student on campus, which has to be illegal in some way shape or form. Maybe they suffered head trauma and never told anyone?

The caller then, in mangled English, started to tell me how I can sign up today and start spending. I laughed and said, "Sure, what do I need to do?" And she started asking me for all my personal information. So I told her I was hung like a polar bear, you know, to scare her off the phone. Apparently she didn't catch the joke and again asked me for my home address. So I started playing along like I was interested and gave it to her. I needed more letters to finish my fort at home. Finally she asked for my social security number, and I turned dead serious. I told her I refuse to give that to her because it is illegal for her to ask that. I'm not sure if it is illegal or not, but if a college can no longer take your social security number to identify you, I'm pretty sure a billion dollar blood sucker like this company can't ask for it either. She tried about six more times before I hung up. I give this company bonus points for being persistent but that is where the praise ends.

I immediately contacted my residence hall coordinator and asked her if it was illegal for the company to call. The response was it was not, unless you are signed up on the National Do Not Call Registry. Credit card companies control people through debt. Once they have you signed on with a high credit limit they know they have you for life. 83% of all undergrads have a credit card, according to a study by Nellie Mae. They hook you with crap like "build your credit now" and advertising the credit card like it's your gateway to independence. I say, forget them. I'm urging all students to register their phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry. Tell your college you want to be free from telemarketing while attending college. And while we're at it, if your campus store has not stopped carrying advertisements for credit card companies, tear the ads up and bring them back to the store to let them know you've had enough. Maybe this way we can all get some sleep on the weekend and not have to worry about other bills besides our student loans.

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About Brandon J. Mendelson

  • You think you have it bad. You should own a small business. Because our parent company gives us a web site with nothing on it, all of our business comes in by phone. Most of our phone calls are not from customers but from telemarketers. Nowadays, the companies are getting smart and starting to use prerecorded telemarketers. At least you got to have fun with yours. I can’t have any jollies if the voice on the line doesn’t respond.

  • Nancy

    I disagree, Matt (#3); there are always HONEST ways to make a living besides telemarketing, like pushing drugs, or prostitution, either of which is less offensive to the public at large. Telemarketers are right down there with advertisers & televangelists in the scumbags ratings. No one has invited them to invade their privacy, and that’s exactly what telemarketers do: invade your life & privacy without permission or invitation. They are owed NO sort of kindness or politeness, IMO.

  • the problem i have with telemarkeeters,is that they dont speak english very well. also they speak very fast. that gives me a signal that i would be better off hangin up

  • The quickest way to get a telemarketer off the phone is to make it sound like you’re reading from a script. A polite script, but one even more rigid and unvarying than the one they have to follow. I do this and it works every time.

    For example:

    THEM: Hi, you’ve been pre-approved for a (credit card / low rate mortgage / contribution to a really important charity), isn’t that great?

    ME: That sounds great but I won’t be able to participate at this time.

    THEM: You can cancel after the 30 day trial period and get all your money back, no questions asked! So let’s get you signed up right away, okay?

    ME: I appreciate that but I won’t be able to participate at this time. Thanks for calling, and have a nice day.

    For some reason, they almost always give up after two polite but flat refusals in a row. I guess their scripts allow them to do that.

    Usually they’re extra nice to me at that point and end the call quite pleasantly. After the tales of rudeness I’ve read here and elsewhere, they must be glad I’ve been nice to them, while giving them the precisely unresponsive responses their managers demand so they can end the call as quickly as possible and move on to someone who might buy the crap they’ve been hired to sell.

  • While you’re waiting for your name to be added to the list, when you have a telemarketer call, politely tell them to take you off of their list. Legally, they have to stop calling after that.

    Because of the National Do Not Call list, a lot of telemarketing companies are becoming much more aggressive with their tactics. The pool of people they can market is significantly less, thus they have to work harder to get the same amount of sales.

    But really, dont be rude or mean to these guys, they’re just trying to put food on their table too.

  • McG

    One more thing- an excellent and very mean prank is to take a pal’s dorm phone number and address and to spend about an hour on the internet. With about an hour’s worth of work and this simple information (nothing complicated or dangerous), one can do wonders. A friend of mine received free magazine subscriptions to Jewish faith publications, maternity magazines, and even phone calls from Mormons. Yes, you too can get your friends a free visit from the Latter Day Saints or the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

  • McG

    Every college student should immediately put their dorm phone on the do not call list. Our phone number got on telemarketing lists my sophomore year. We proceeded to get regular phone calls from mortgage companies offering us “low, low rates on home purchase values.” At 8 am. A college student’s nightmare. After weeks of cussing people out, I finally put the number on the list, and our problems were eventually solved. Sign up now, especially you, dormies.