Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

Making a telemarketer beg

When the telephone rings, I usually rush to pick it up. Since I am unemployed, any call could be a prospective employer with an invitation to a job interview, so I don’t want to miss those calls.

But when it’s a telemarketer, I sometimes lose my cool, especially because I am on the national Do-Not-Call list.

A recent survey in Florida found that the biggest consumer complaint is about receiving telemarketing calls when one is on the state’s Do-Not-Call list. The state’s list costs $10 with a $5 annual renewal; the federal list is free. Either way, you should not receive calls, though some companies and activities are exempt.

On the holiday weekend, I got a call from an air conditioning service company telling me that they were coming through my neighborhood, and did I want to have my A/C system looked at? I calmly noted the company’s name and requested its phone number, and the woman asked me why I wanted it.

“It’s for the Do-Not-Call complaint,” I said.

“Oh. Are you on the Do-Not-Call list?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said.

She gave the number, but then asked that I not file a complaint. The call to me was a mistake, she said, then she hung up on me.

I filed the complaint because many companies that violate the Do-Not-Call rules seem to be betting that you won’t file a complaint.

One of the most persistent and annoying telemarketers I ever dealt with was this one company in Denver that kept calling because a part of my home warranty was expiring. This one woman kept calling and I kept telling her I wasn’t interested, then hanging up as she re-launched her pitch. She insisted on calling me “Vinny” despite not being my drinking buddy, and I kept hanging up on her.

Finally, she called and basically ordered me to not hang up on her. I did anyway, then left for work. (I had a job then.)

When I got home from work, I noticed a message on my answering machine. It was her, in a call made a few minutes after I left for work, and the first words were, “Vinny, I told you not to hang up on me.” I stopped the message and deleted it at that point.

For the third time, I filed a complaint against the company, and that was the last I heard of it.

The most annoying is a local newspaper whose subscription I allowed to expire. I’m not angry, just unable to afford subscriptions now, and am letting a lot of magazine subscriptions go, too, until my job situation improves.

Newspapers are exempt from the Do-Not-Call lists, and on a recent Sunday I got hit again, and explained for the second time in three weeks why I would not take another subscription. I guess the script tells the telemarketers to keep trying, but I gave up and hung up.

When the federal Do-Not-Call list was started, it was hailed as the beginning of a new era when you could answer the phone and not hear a sales pitch. The program does work, but I guess the few calls that are made because they are exempt or because the company is just violating the rules have thus become more annoying.

But at some point I may just dump the landline and say goodbye to telemarketing forever.

Or until they find a way to hit the cell phones.


January 5, 2009 - Posted by | Living in the modern age | , , , ,

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