It is impossible to be too rude to a telemarketer.


J.D.: Custom Box Service.
Cathy: [Cathy has a quiet, thin voice further burdened with a deep southern accent. Also, the line quality is poor.] Hi, this is Cathy from QwestDex Media. I’m calling for Mr. J.D. Roth. Is this Mr. Roth?
J.D.: It is.
Cathy: Hi. I’m calling to speak with you about how your business should appear on Google and Yahoo! Do you have a business web site?
J.D.: We do, but I’m perfectly capable of handling this all on my own.
Cathy: But, Mr. Roth…


I mean, really: what the hell is QwestDex Media going to do to affect how our site appears in search engines? Give me a break. In the past I’ve had conversations with other telemarketers about how I spend more time working with web sites than doing anything else. They don’t give a rat’s ass. They still want to sell me stuff.

Have I mentioned recently that I believe telemarketers should be shot? I don’t think so, but it’s true. I have no patience with them and their games. I loathe them. I generally just hang up on them, but sometimes I’m lulled into staying on the line. I’m never polite, that’s for certain. I once had a woman call back she was so angry at me. Must have been her first day on the job.

Earlier today:


J.D.: Custom Box Service.
Brian: This is Brian from the Yellow Pages. I’m calling to update your free local listing. Are you still located at…
J.D.: You know what? I’m sick of this shit. We don’t do business over the phone. Mail me something.


Seriously. Just like that, with the “shit” and everything.

It is impossible to be too rude to a telemarketer. Don’t think of them as people. All they’re after is your money. All you’re after is for them to go away. (In fairness, I should point out that I believe my problems with Verizon stem from me having been rude to a telemarketer. Bastards.)

(I have a friend who is a telemarketer. I have to consciously will myself not to openly condemn him for this choice.)

10 Replies to “Telemarketers are the Scum of the Earth”

  1. Bill Hooker says:

    Evil Friend of Mine: hello?

    Telemarketer: hi, this is blah blah yakety yak–

    EFoM: Wait, wait. Stop. Just stop, and think for a moment about what you are doing here.


    (Very quietly): Is this really what you want to do with your life?

    T: *sob*

    But bear in mind, that every minute on the phone with you (who have NO intention of buying a damn thing) costs them money. Most of them work for a very small base salary, or none at all, and so depend on sales. Thus, if you really want to do a telemarketer a bad turn, you’ll keep ’em on the phone for as long as you can. Hanging up right away actually helps them.

    These days, I just interrupt the pitch with a curt “We’re not interested, thanks anyway” and hang up. I used to hang up without a word; one telemarketer rang me back just to hang up in MY ear in revenge!

  2. john says:

    My two favorite ways to handle a phone solicitation are:

    1. If I don’t need the phone for a while, I tell them to hold on for a second, put the phone down on the counter and go back to doing whatever I was doing.

    2. Ask them “Tell me if this sounds like I’m hanging up on you.” Then hang up the phone.

    I guess a third one would be what my grandfather does. He will get all excited about what they are selling, spending as much time with them as he can (he’s retired and apparently has nothing better to do) and will sign up for everything….right up until the point where it’s time to pay then he’ll say “You know what, I changed my mind. Never mind.” and hang up.

  3. Dave says:

    I’m working on a legal theory that allows us to sue telemarketers. It goes like this:
    1) I pay a fee to the telephone company every month for the privilege of having the exclusive use (in the sense that it is not available to another subscriber) of a telephone number.
    2) I purchased a telephone for my use and the use of my guests.
    3) I pay a fee to have my telephone number unlisted so that other people cannot call me.
    4) Telemarketers have not requested, and do not get, my permission to use either my telephone number or my telephone to contact me.
    5) Therefore, they are using my property (leased or purchased) without my permission to attempt to sell me something. The legal community has a term for this- it’s called trespass to chattel and they should pay me damages for that.

    In my opinion it’s very similar to someone planting a billboard in my front yard in the hopes that I’ll purchase the advertised product. It exploits my property and requires me to remove the offending nuisance.

    Anyone want to try out the theory is welcome to do so in small claims court and see where it goes. I’d be happy to advise.

  4. Amy Jo says:

    I live in great fear that I will someday be so destitute that I have to find work as a telemarketer, in part because I am such a nasty person to telemarketers or those providing “service calls.” What angers me more than anything is that most don’t listen to you when you tell them no, they keep on trying to convince you that you want their product or when you tell them you don’t want their stinky cable tv because you don’t watch tv, they incrediously ask why you don’t, like you are some sort of freak of nature.

    I have a harder time being rude to those who come to the door. We have a policy of not giving out money to anyone who comes to the door (or calls), even those representating organizations we know and do support. We ask them to leave (or send) literature, a membership or donation form, and kindly ask them to leave. Some get snippy, perhaps they won’t get credit for any donation I make in the future. In my mind, you are just asking for trouble by writing a check or handing over credit card information at the door or over the phone for that matter. Nope, not going to do it.

  5. Chris says:

    My approach is a combination of some of the above. Once I determine who the caller represents, I decide whether to interrupt rudely or just tell them “We are not interested”. Regardless, I promptly hang up despite the callers continuing chatter.

  6. Courtney says:

    The best $1.98 we spent was the “NO SOLICITING” sticker in our front window. We haven’t had a single unwanted knock on the door in weeks!

    As telemarketers go, I totally agree with you J.D. I either say “Thanks, we’re not interested” or “Please take me off your call list.”

    However, Andrew stays on the line. One recent fight occurred when he spent several minutes on the line with someone doing a marketing survey (and would pay him $75/hour if he qualified for their sample) while we were in the middle of a board game and enjoying a quiet evening together. I rolled my eyes, told him to hang up, etc. After not qualifying for the sample (gee, big surprise!), he got mad at me for being so rude to suggest he get off the phone. I reminded him that they keep calling back because he always answers all their questions, giving them the information they’re after and, only once since I’ve known him has he qualified and received any $. Not exactly worth the nuisance in my opinion!

  7. Allan White says:

    I took a telemarketing job in high school, selling Time magazine over the phone. I absolutely hated it – constant rejection. I sucked, apparently. I could not sell a product I didn’t believe in.

    I was fired within two weeks. My best friend, who apparently could sell anything, was making sales hand over fist. Worst. Job. Ever.

  8. summer says:

    i work at a verizon wireless outsource center. in my department i take warranty replacement calls from the northeast area. it makes me want to hurt people. and really, its not even the calls or the customers…its everything else. so if youre in the northeast and have a problem w/ your phone and get it replaced over the phone, theres a good chance i talk to you. if youre in the west area and contact general customer service, more than likely youll talk to one of my co workers. and all those calls come to little ol’ east texas, where the shithole SITEL has wrapped its cold, dead fingers around our throats and squeezed for all its worth. im just so damn thankful i dont do outbound. ugh. then i would really just have to kill myself.

  9. I’m a web developer for a small company, and all of us share phone answering responsibilities. I often do a variation of the “can you hold on a moment?” trick with sales calls. When someone rings trying to sell us something I’ll tell them “I’m not qualified to make purchasing decisions, but the president of the company will be available in just a few moments” – then I set the phone down on my desk and resume working. Every three minutes or so I pick up and say, “Are you still there? He’s just about done with another call and he’ll be with you in a moment.” I’ve kept telemarketers on the line for as long as half an hour with this one.

  10. Mom says:

    I have an online friend who defends telemarketers because she does calling work, doing surveys in Toronto, and she feels that people get telemarketers and survey conductors mixed up. I had an experience last night, though, with a survey conductor where the person was almost as bad as a telemarketer. Noah was here and I was answering all my phone calls (usually I screen them) due to expecting Jeff to call so when I got the survey conductor, he started going into his script right after I said “hello.” I interrupted him to tell him that I couldn’t do the survey because I was watching a child but he just ignored me and kept on rattling his spiel. I interrupted him again and said, “I’m babysitting,” and he got the message, finally. He apologized for bothering me then and hung up. To me, even these survey conductor phone calls are an invasion of my privacy and I’m glad I generally ignore them! I feel sorry for my friend in Toronto who has to do this kind of work and I hope she is able to get out of it soon, like she wants to.

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