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AI That Annoys Telemarketers (gizmodo.com)
216 points by mhb on Feb 5, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 184 comments



This is very similar to 'Lenny', a script someone developed for Asterisk systems. It looks like the original website is down, but there's still a FreePBX module[1], a youtube channel with many, many call recordings[2], as well as several other forums posts/etc I won't bother to link. There used to be a hosted service you could forward calls to as well.

The Lenny script's brilliance was its simplicity. Basically, it just waited for silence, then played back one of several clever lines recorded by a confusing-sounding old man. He'd ask the caller to repeat because he couldn't hear, divert questions by asking "Sorry, who did you say you were calling from again?" and tell long stories about his daughters then say "oh sorry, what was your question again?".

Note, I appreciate the cleverness and social engineering aspect of this, but I don't use it myself. I do have a blacklist on my home phone, but it only goes to a 'not in service' tone, and I've only ever added 4 numbers to it (one in particular was some guy that told me wife to "f* off" when she said she wasn't interested).

[1] https://github.com/lgaetz/freepbx-Its_Lenny [2] https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLduL71_GKzHHk4hLga0nO...


Fun anecdote time Lenny and even this new Jolly Roger AI- it's not just the telemarketers who are being scammed, some of them are using Lenny to do the scamming to get around their employers rules and get out of having to do real work.

At a previous startup I worked at, we had an outbound call center with 500 reps who were incentivized by their talk time- the amount of time they spent on outbound calls.

We found about 5 sneaky agents who would purposely call Lenny and sit on the call doing nothing, doing their nails, reading their kindle to keep their metrics up and high and look like they were doing their jobs well (and winning monthly contest incentives that would give them small bonuses or extra PTO) instead of calling real customers.

I always wondered if the people who designed Lenny know about how some reps purposely call them to keep their own metrics up. Like, they think they are sticking it to the telemarketer, but really the telemarketer WANTS to screw around and take forever on the call so their performance bonus increases.

Once we caught on to this, the company changed the metrics around to number of unique outbound calls. But then the reps also figured out a way to game that. There were even a few of them who figured out a way to set up dummy numbers and they would basically call their friends, or even EACH OTHER at the call center, and sit on the call with their friends instead of calling the call center. I could never really blame these reps, it was such a crappy soul sucking job and I gotta say behind the scenes I was always impressed with their ingenuity to try and get around the metrics. These reps were making $11 an hour and had to clock out even to use the bathroom (illegal practice that the company just broke the law on).

I'm so glad I left that place, it was such a toxic atmosphere.


I always wondered if the people who designed Lenny know about how some reps purposely call them to keep their own metrics up. Like, they think they are sticking it to the telemarketer, but really the telemarketer WANTS to screw around and take forever on the call so their performance bonus increases.

I suspect that the authors of Lenny would think that was the best possible outcome. Stop a telemarketer annoying people AND wasting the money their employers? Sounds like a pretty good outcome.


Wouldn't this be sticking it to the company though? Wasted unproductive phone calls hurt the bottom line and produce no sales, and as you mentioned the employees running this scam get bonuses, so costs go up.

What could be better to hurt the company than that?

In other words, the goal here is to disincentize spammy calls from businesses.

Causing telemarketing to be less profitable and more costly is a good way to achieve that, so this tool being used by "both sides" is a good thing.


Read a piece years ago that said you should be very careful what targets you set in business as people will inevitably optimise/game the system them for those targets.

I've seen this play out at multiple places with staff all the way up to are managment/director level.


Not just business, this is true everywhere. As Goodhart's Law puts it, "When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure."

http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?id=3978


Yay!! A somebody else referenced Goodhard's law so I don't have to.

The concept has an extremely long and storied history. Just look up the 'Chinese Imperial Exams' for more info. Makes me really wish that Eastern History was taught in Western schools. Otherwise, we're doomed to repeat their past mistakes.


This is integral to any system, not just business. The incentives you set will dictate how the system works. This can have great effects when used correctly and disastrous effects when people who have no idea how to create a properly functioning system are the ones making the rules.

One example is that in Mexico, people don't have to pay property taxes until a building is complete, so there are many buildings with a false unfinished second floor so they can always be marked as incomplete.


> One example is that in Mexico, people don't have to pay property taxes until a building is complete, so there are many buildings with a false unfinished second floor so they can always be marked as incomplete

It seems like courts would fix the problem here, since a judge could easily see the spirit of the law and fix the letter of the law accordingly.


So, the Cobra Effect (as Wikipedia calls it)? Original story being that the colonial government offered a bounty for each poisonous snake killed (intending to reduce their numbers), but ended up increasing them because people bred cobras for the income.

Seems like the same sort of thing is playing out in companies using telemarketing.


  > had to clock out even to use the bathroom (illegal practice that the company just broke the law on).
Assuming you're in the US, what's the relevant law?


I'm not sure about the relevant law, but here is a bunch of articles about it:

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/company-pay-employe...

Interesting, this case was at a telemarketing company too. Wasn't my old firm, but this is EXACTLY the same thing that my old company did. Guess it's an industry wide practice!

> According to a DOL release, American Future Systems — which is based in Malvern, Pennsylvania, and has a number of locations, including in Woodbury Heights, according to the company website — allegedly made telemarketers clock in and out for breaks as short as two to three minutes. The company's timekeeping system would reportedly subtract the break time from the employees' total hours worked each week.

> The DOL said workers were docked pay for virtually all time spent not making sales calls, sometimes bringing their wages below the federal minimum wage.

> The judge ruled that the practice violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and determined that the company is liable to pay back wages.

> In a statement, the company said it never denied any employees a break, but instead worked with them to create a flexible work environment that gave reps personal freedom.

That last sentence, lol.

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2016/01/company_made_worker...


On the topic of Lenny, "who" is great, if you want to just listen to one recorded Lenny call to get a sense for how it plays out (and have a laugh too), in this particular one a car crashes into the building where the telemarketer is working, adding to the strangeness. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lL870ixdsY


this is exactly what i thought of when i read this article.

just heard this lenny convo ~last week as i saw it posted on reddit. told my coworkers about it as well :)

edit: here's a great link about the video, with the bonus of giving subreddit info: https://np.reddit.com/r/itslenny/comments/40ul71/telemarkter...


What I do is put the call on speaker and pass the receiver to my four-year-old son, who's super excited that someone wants to speak with him.

It transforms an annoying experience into an entertaining one.


Sounds awesome! All around win. You change the economics of telemarketing by keeping them on the line while also doing some parent-child bonding as you are enjoying a shared activity together.


Telemarketers I tend to just say, "No thanks" and hang up on them. They are in a crap job, probably forced into it my circumstance, so the compassionate side of me doesn't want to abuse them.

The argument that wasting their time will ultimately make it uneconomical for those who employ telemarketers is an interesting one, although I doubt we'd get enough critical mass to make a difference. Implementing a basic income so people don't _have_ to work as telemarketers would be better for society as a whole.

On the other hand, the calls from, "Microsoft Security" are actively trying to harm me, so I'll waste their time all I can, delaying their opportunity with the next person.


Having worked a telemarketing job back in my high-school days, I was grateful for the hang ups. We had quotas on calls completed and sales made, so letting us move on to the next household was a good thing.


As someone who worked as a telemarketer during college to pay for his degree so he could understand things like AI... Thank you!

Being a telemarketer sucks. The work environment is often toxically focused on metrics, turnover is high, and nobody wants to bother people at home!

Sadly it paid much better than most other jobs available to me at the time, especially once I got half decent at it and starting earning commission, so I don't think things this will ever make it uneconomical for employers.


I worked doing telephone surveys for a summer. It could really wear on you when people weren't polite. (And simply saying "No thanks" and hanging up was polite enough.)

People who hung up right off, workers tended to say (to the disconnected line), "I'm sorry, I believe the call got cut off. I'll set you up for auto-reply every five minutes..."


How about a service that uses a Siri-like voice recognition service to do one very limited context task: Screen your calls against telemarketers?

A lot of telemarketer outfits with trashy setups are already at a disadvantage: Their predictive dialers leave a huge gap of silence at the beginning of an answered call because they don't properly time their dialing with available operators. Such a service could learn the vocal characteristics of your family and friends and would probably do a great job with recognizing cues telemarketers produce unconsciously.


You don't really need something that complex. You can either:

1. Just don't answer any call if it's not in your address book, as I do if I'm not at a computer.

2. Do a Google search for the number, if your doctor, tailor, or dry cleaner doesn't come up, don't answer. Add these to your Address Book for the future.

Usually http://800notes.com/ or similar sites will come up for telemarketers, with many notes. If implementing #2 in software, it would make sense to go the other way, validating that a number probably is a telemarketer, instead of validating that it's something relevant to you (which would be harder).


I always pick up the phone, because I don't want to miss a call from a friend or a family member calling from jail, or a hospital, or a stranger's phone after they got in a wreck.

It's less of a concern now that nearly everyone has cellphones, but I'd rather not risk missing a call like that :/


It is common practice to call twice in a row for emergencies. So if a random number calls twice in a row, then you should pick up.


That's what I tell my friends and family, but I don't think it's all that commonly known among the people I know :/


or if that call is really from your known ones then they will surely leave a voice mail


Another thing is that in the US junk calls more often than not come from out of state.


Except that cell phone numbers tend to tell you where somebody lived 5 years ago, as opposed to where they live now. This makes it quite hard to screen based on an out-of-state area code.


I find that doctors offices often call from an unknown number. This is for privacy reasons: if a psych doctor calls and someone who doesn't know I am seeing one sees the caller ID, they would have violated my privacy. Also as a rule they don't leave voice mail messages beyond "this is Dr. So-and-so please call me back." Because of this I always answer all unknown numbers. If they turn out to be a telemarketer, I tell them they called the director of the FBI and ask them who they work for and how they got my number, then promise them to investigate their company because calling this secure line is a threat to national security.


That reminds me of the classic where a callee guy pretended to be a cop investigating a murder scene, and started interrogating the telemarketer.


You are thinking of Tom Mabe. Hilarious. He had a whole album (maybe more).


I use Anveo as my VoIP provider. They have a neat web-based call flow tool. My line is setup so that if you're not ona white list, you get a recording asking you to press a digit, else the call goes to voice mail. This has gotten rid of all telemarketing calls. Maybe 1 in 10 even make it to voice mail (most hang up first).

But anyway, Anveo has had a "robotalk" feature for years, though I dunno how much AI it has.


This would be perfect for the "This is Microsoft Windows calling" scams.

You know the one - a dude with a very thick Indian accent who wants you to install some program to "fix" your PC.


Even better, rather than an AI you outsource the talking to someone who has nothing better to do with their time and a mobile phone. Pay them a graduated scale depending on how long they kept the caller on the phone.


These scammers called my 88 year old father, and managed to talk him in to attempting to install some malware.

He isn't terribly computer literate, and Windows confuses the heck out of him (switched him to Chromebooks - so much better, but I digress).

Anyhow, after spending almost an hour with him, they hung up in frustration - as he could not follow their directions to get the malware installed.

So Windows is secure after all.


Anyhow, after spending almost an hour with him, they hung up in frustration - as he could not follow their directions to get the malware installed. So Windows is secure after all.

Thank you for the laughter!


I used to pass the phone to my daughter and told her to mimic his accent, ask silly questions like "where's my pizza" etc. It's the little things that make life worthwhile, isn't it?


I first heard of Tom Mabe on the radio when the morning show ("Kirk, Mark and Lopez") out of Baltimore played some of his bits on the air. He would prank the telemarketers ("Hey, I'm glad you called. (Darkly:) You wouldn't know how to get blood out of a carpet, would you? I've got a lot of blood here..."). He had some of them going quite a while- in a really quite funny way.


Where's the cruelty? This robot isn't calling them names; it's not insulting them. The worst you could say about it is that it's wasting their time.

But it's not even wasting their time as much as they're wasting mine. Never - not once - has a telemarketer call been something I would remotely be interested in. But they get paid for their time, while mine evaporates into the aether.

That's even assuming the best case scenario - that they're cold-calling me for a product I may conceivably benefit from. What about all the scammers? What about those who call up the elderly, and continue to try to sell them hard, even if it's obvious that the person on the other end should not be making financial decisions?

Maybe we should turn off spam filters to stop wasting the time of those who write the poorly worded viagra and aluminum siding ads.


Inthe end, it's all about money - and wasting the time of the person being paid to call you is wasting the money of the person paying them.

Turning off spam filters will have no effect on the time of the person writing them. Thanks to the magic of computers, when the message is written once, it can be sent as many times as necessary, with a much smaller incremental cost than a human on a phone. The cost to a spammer to send a message that bounces off a spam filter is actually higher (due to the need to buy/find open/vulnerable STMP relays when their reputation falls or they're blacklisted) than to send mail that is delivered, so keep those spam filters on!


Can you go into more detail? For my personal mail, my default approach is to toss spam client-side (via automatic filters or otherwise), so the spammer gets no signal about whether or not it is delivered. Does reducing the reputation of their relays hurt them much more? If so, which mail hosts support doing this?


I use a greylist daemon (http://www.x-grey.com/) as a first line filter and it easily stops 50% of spam right there (the spammer will get a transient delivery error---most don't even bother with trying again). Last year I did look into using some realtime black lists, but there were a few critical false positives that kept me from using them (and there's quite a few not worth using---details http://boston.conman.org/2015/05/11.1).


I am not sure about what level you have to reach to get the mail rejected at source relays, but I know that on my Rackspace email system we forward spam mail back to appspam@rackspace.com to add it to Cloudmark, a distributed anti-spam system. Something similar happens with gmail. Dropping mail client-side doesn't inform any of the major relays, and it doesn't spread the workload - you're on your own.


> It can even detect when a telemarketer is getting suspicious, triggering a completely inane response that usually convinces them otherwise.

How does it do that? Does it have some sophisticated voice recognition that can pick up on emotional reactions? Or does it just jump into them on a schedule that's calibrated to when someone would likely start to be annoyed?

The "yeah uh-huh" stuff seemed pretty straightforward: it sounds like just shoots them off whenever there was enough silence to imply the telemarketer was waiting for a response.


Here is what I have done many times when a telemarketer calls I listen to what he wants to sell, the I say: “Yes, I think I’ll be interested in this, can you hold on just a bit?” Then I put down the phone and let him wait. Many times, the caller was still waiting 5 minutes later.


Some of them are paid/incentivized for their talk time, so the reps will be perfectly happy, in fact GLAD, to be put on endless hold, because they can mute their headset, kick back and talk to their friends while all the time their metrics look good and it looks like they're working.

Some of our reps at my old company would purposely change our AI to dial places like Medicare or social security so they could purposely get put on endless hold.


I believe that some call center forbid, or heavily penalize, the workers for hanging up on a potential lead.


I have a solution to telemarketers that I have found to be extremely effective. No matter what they say you reply "That's very interesting, please tell me more." Ideally you should do this in a flat monotone. They rarely make it past 3 or 4 opening gambits.


Instead of annoying these poor telemarketers, I'd rather have some software play a decent stand-up routine before declining the invitation to participate in whatever their service is.

I can only assume that the telemarketer's day sucks enough without this type of software in play.


Re:how a comedian (Seinfeld) responds to telemarketer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hllDWSbuDsQ


Love this! Almost fell off my chair laughing. Reading through the comments I saw some tender souls among us feel that Jolly Roger's kindly enticement to go on speaking is cruel, and wondered if there was a more humane way. I kept seeing the issue of the "What company is this? .... click" scenario. Given that there's a fairly high likelihood that the line callers for these guys are fairly gullible and/or cheaply greedy, as well as unlikely to be long term employees, I'm wondering if you could get one to flip on their bosses and provide a real location/target for the promise of $[500-1000?] to a PayPal account (of course it wouldn't be paid, fuck 'em they're scammers). I'm trying it next time one of them calls. Granted it doesn't accomplish the initial goal of being more humane, but good intentions and all that.

Edit: You can apparently be awarded $1500 in private action against an entity calling you if you're on the DNC list. For social engineering purposes maybe promise to split it with the representative and suggest that s/he might be personally on the hook for money if they don't help?


You wonder why you can't convince a scammer to give you valuable info in exchange for a fake promise to pay? You can noodle that out.


Close but not really what I said. I speculated that it is possible to do so, I didn't wonder why one couldn't. Think about who is calling you. The people working those phones aren't and never will be Kevin Mitnick. They're poorly educated, morally apathetic, have no real options, are unlikely to be employed at the same place in a few weeks anyways, and may in fact be being scammed by the people running the operation as well. People fitting that profile are prone to believing that they've gotten/will get lucky despite the evidence, see lotteries. They're basically indistinguishable from their ideal marks.

Also, yeah supervisors might be listening to the call/the call is recorded, but it would be uneconomical to monitor them all live all the time. Any attempt to turn them would hinge on their expectation that their remaining time at the gig is going to earn less than what they expect to get from you. If you can convince them that they could make $1500 now, that's a month's salary for them. If they expect to be fired tomorrow then even a chance that you're telling the truth starts looking worth it.


Is there a self-hosted version of this for those of us without 3-way calling or long distance plans?


He's had enough interest in the project that he decided to run a Kickstarter for it : https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/202664225/the-jolly-rog...

Unfortunately a self-hosted option doesn't appear to be in the works, but maybe with enough feedback he'll add that.


Or a sip endpoint so that we can use a little cheap net bandwidth rather than expensive minutes.


There's a dummer implementation of this idea that does use a sip endpoint. https://www.reddit.com/r/itslenny/. Too bad it frequently goes down (due to abuse) and isn't as sophisticated as the OP.


Reminds me of the "Telecrapper 2000" from a long time ago:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QlK_zHisT_A

http://myplace.frontier.com/~pumamanor/


Forgive my ignorance, but has telemarketing always been going on in the States? Does it depend on the State? Why does the register not work? Is there no organisation that hands out fines? What's going on that you can not protect yourself against intrusion in your own home/life?


What happens now is that legit companies are not calling anymore. It's only scammers. What they do is use a PBX or Voice Over IP system where they can set the caller ID themselves. When they call someone, they create a new number (sometimes daily, sometimes per call) that appears to be in your area code. So you report them to the Do Not Call registry, but the number is bogus, so the Feds have no way of knowing who actually called you or who to fine. If you ask who the company is on a call they'll either hang up on you or give a generic name like "Carpet Cleaners".


Telemarketing has existed a long time in the States. There is a national do not call list, and it works pretty well. However, scammers don't respect it, so you'll still occasionally get calls. Also, businesses with a "previous relationship" can call you. I once had to threaten a car dealer with legal action to get them to stop calling (I had test driven a car). A related problem I had was that I got a phone number that formerly belonged to a deadbeat. There were constant calls from debt collectors. It took about two years to convince them that they had the wrong number. Well, actually, most of them were pretty good because they can get in a lot of legal trouble if they harass the wrong person, but then the company would sell the debt to another company, and the calls would start again.


I thought the same. Where I live there's a register where you can suscribe, and if telemarketers call you then the company can be fined. Isn't there in USA such a thing?

Even if somebody calls using VoIP, they will mention their products, so I don't know why that would be an obstacle to identifying them.


"Telemarketer" nowadays means just anybody making annoying calls. I don't remember when was last time somebody who actually wanted to sell something has called. All the calls I am getting now are either asking for donations (which are exempt from do-not-call law, being a "charity"), doing a "survey" (also exempt) or are from criminals helping with my "credit card debt" , from "Windows security", from "IRS" etc. I imagine the criminals, already breaking more serious laws, would ensure they are not vulnerable to the do-not-call.


VoIP that's very hard to trace is the problem. And it's not unique to the US.


I will pay $20 for this iPhone app. Take my damned money.


And he gets to run a Turing test on his AI for each call, sorta like training AI through CAPTCHAS.


To me this (somewhat) passes the Turing test no? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turing_test ... if only it had prerecorded context bits that could be recognized ...


No because the human doesn't expect that he might be talking to a machine. If he knew there was a 50% chance it was a machine then he'd find ways to recognize it - like its inability to follow the conversation at all.


>Should the interrogator know about the computer? [1]

> ...he states only that player A is to be replaced with a machine, not that player C is to be made aware of this replacement.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turing_test#Should_the_interro...


I've always liked the telemarketing counterscript: http://egbg.home.xs4all.nl/counterscript.html


I called the robot's number, added a second call to the robot's number, then merged the calls and muted myself. It was pretty hilarious.


I've been getting so many calls lately, I've been playing music for them lately, trying to waste their time, hoping that they will take my number off whatever list it's on... I really wish there was a way to waste more of their time. Thus far, all I've determined is that they don't like Ace of Base.


They might actually start calling you more because the reps get incentivized by talk time, so getting a chance to chill and listen to music instead of actually having to talk to people and try to sell scam things people don't want to buy is a refreshing change for them.

Realize those reps hate their lives, hate their jobs and are probably getting $11 an hour in some crappy hell hole trying to make $$ to feed their kids... it's not a job anyone WANTS to be doing and they really don't WANT to be bothering you, they are just forced to by their employers.

If you don't want the calls, just say, "Please put me on your do not call list, thank you and have a nice day" and then hang up. Asking for the DNC is crucial- the words "DO NOT CALL" is the magic phrase that will get them to put your # into the blocked list of the autodialer. Some scammier telefirms won't actually add you to their DNC list if you say "stop calling me" it has to be the phrase "add me to your do not call list."

Also if you just hang up on them without saying anything, the software will automatically add your number back into the queue to reattempt you again and again sometimes within days. Our outbound autodialer software used to recall people who didn't answer and also everyone who sent the reps straight to voicemail. The autodialer basically throws everyone back in to get endless calls in perpetuity until you pick up and the rep talks to you. And in a big shop where you've got 500 reps making 200-250 outbound calls per day, they can try you 1x a week forever.

So if you really don't want ANY more telemarketing calls ever, stay on the line until the rep comes on, then say "please add this number to your do not call list, thank you, goodbye."


It's cute how you think international criminals obey US law.


If they call back can you sue them?


Yes.


People seem to have varying success, but I find that any even semi-legitimate companies will stop calling if you answer and ask to be put on their do not call list.

It can be necessary to talk over their opening spiel.

This is in the US for a number that is already on the national do not call list (which has lots of exceptions); I don't make threats or argue or anything sophisticated, just "Please put this number on your do not call list." Then hang up.


This never worked for me when I was receiving wrong-number collections calls, they would just hang up and call back the next day. What did work was hanging up, calling the number back, and asking to be added to their do not call list.


Debt collectors are actually more regulated than telemarketers, so once they are convinced you aren't the debtor, they will stop. I think the not wasting time on pointless calls is even more important to them than marketers. Even in the case that they are contacting the debtor, there are pretty strict rules they must follow.

I guess this discusses some aspects of it: http://blog.credit.com/2011/04/getting-collection-calls-for-...


Yeah, I did some research back then, and it didn't really seem to be by the books. Regardless, if they were the ones that initiated the call, they would all instantly hang up if I suggested they had the wrong number/person/etc and call again later.


"It’s absolutely brilliant when it works flawlessly." Ain't it the truth? This is said of my own software creations.

Though, to be honest, they seldom work flawlessly.


The calls I get usually start by the telemarketer asking to speak to the owner. I say she isn't available and they always hang up right after that.


In what way is 'AI' involved?


Haha this is genius, now add a premium rate number to that and profit.


This could be dangerous depending on what the telemarketer is saying.

TM: Would you to know more? Bot: Yes.

TM: Do we have your permissions to record this conversation. Bot: Uh huh.

TM: Do you agree to the charge of $123.45? Bot: Yes, sounds good.


Who would the telemarketer charge? I don't think you can initiate a charge to a phone number unless the number itself calls someone, can you?


If it's from your provider, yes, they absolutely can. Because on their side, the number links to a "specific person/account", and they will charge to that, or add the service to that.


They can't actually charge you unless they have payment information. Which you obviously wouldn't give to the bot.


Good job on making things worse for underpaid workers who in all probability also hate what they do.


So if I hired someone to follow you around in public and gently but constantly poke you with a stick you would treat this person well simply because I was paying them? You're just happy they have a job?

At what point is a person responsible for their job/career? Regardless of whether it was a choice or not, if your job is to annoy, harass, and manipulate people, those people being angry and treating you like shit is just an occupational hazard.


If the alternative for that person is being homeless and starving, probably yeah. Or at least I wouldn't be pointlessly malicious toward them while fending them off.


interesting take, while i agree with @erokar's sentiment of not being unnecessarily malicious towards the telemarketer, in your scenario I'd probably call the cops after politely tell your employee to bug off :)


Have some empathy. Regardless of how this person got to their decision, you may be justified in the right to be annoyed, but why not choose to be kind?

Also people complain about telemarketers so much, but how many calls are you really getting a day from them? Also, how many times has one really interrupted something important you were doing?

They're just sales people whose business meetings happen over the phone.

Yeah, you COULD treat your waiter like shit (angry customers are just an occupational hazard), but that's a shitty thing to choose to do, outside of extreme situations.


> Yeah, you COULD treat your waiter like shit (angry customers are just an occupational hazard)

What waiter? A telemarketer is not a waiter. I choose to go to a restaurant. And if my waiter's service is bad, I can always leave, or complain to their manager. If the service is bad enough - like, oh, for instance, the waiter wastes my time by taking my order and telling me an hour later that they ran out of the thing I ordered - I might even be entitled to some compensation (a discount on my next meal, etc.)

I can't complain to a telemarketer's manager, and while I can hang up, I can't prevent them from calling me again, and I'm sure as shit not going to get compensated.


The rest is true, but it's pretty easy to block individual telemarketers:

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201229

http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/how-to-block-phone-calls...

They always seem to call from the same number for me, day after day, then they go away when I block that number.


Great, this is just the solution Verizon offered me, after the service rep acted like nobody on earth had ever called in to complain about robocalls from Cardholder Services.

The problem is that robocallers often spoof the telephone number from which they call. It looks to me like they change the false, spoofed number about once a day. Given that I get 2, 3 or 5 calls from "Rachel" or "Ann" or "Microsoft Tech Support" a day, that's a lot of spoofed numbers to block

In short, not a solution, except from a narrow, legal standpoint.


I tend to get a lot of calls from 0 or Unidentified. Not sure how to block that shit.


If you're on Android, you can whitelist inbound calls using a freemium app called Mr. Number[1]. I'm not sure there's anything even remotely like it on iOS.

If you're using a VOIP service, ymmv. Before I switched to Ooma, my previous VOIP provider allowed you have a whitelist. So basically anyone not in my contacts got bounced to voicemail, and my phone would not ring at all. Ooma's call blocking is obtuse and manual, but it's half the price of my last provider, and the call quality is way better. An unfortunate compromise, I guess.

As for land lines, I used to use a now discontinued device+software called a Phone Valet [2] connected to an unused Mac. It basically acted as an answering machine/lightweight IVR. My phone would ring once so that the caller ID could get picked up by the device, and then based on a set of rules, my phone would either continue ringing, hang up (on known telemarketer numbers) or redirect to voicemail (everyone else). It was a pretty neat device, but I guess the decline of the landline led that product to be EOL'ed.

[1] http://mrnumber.com/

[2] http://www.phonevalet.com/


I didn't say that telemarketers are waiters -- just that you have the option to also treat them like shit for making a mistake, but most people more readily view that for what it is: you being unkind.

Also, you choose to have phone service. One of the things that comes with that is the possibility you will be called by someone you do not know.

You CAN also complain to people in charge of telemarketers.

You also CAN prevent them from calling you again. There is relevant legislation, there is precedent, you have technological options (another user mentioned these, with links), you're just not exercising them, and choosing to be rude instead, hoping (possibly rightfully so) that that will deter them.


> You CAN also complain to people in charge of telemarketers.

I've literally never, not once, had a telemarketer admit to me on whose behalf they were calling. It's always an instant-hang-up.

> There is relevant legislation, there is precedent

Again, I need to know who to point the long arm of the law at, and at best, it's very hard.

> you have technological options (another user mentioned these, with links)

That are easily circumvented by moving to a different number. (And now, maybe I've blocked my doctor's new number, or my mother-in-law's, or who else knows whose.)

> choosing to be rude instead

Yeah. I am. Fuck 'em. To use my 10-year-old's response, "they started it". It's rude to cold-call me and sell me something without knowing whether I could even use it - I don't need aluminum siding on an apartment I rent. It's doubly-rude - criminal, in fact - to call me despite me being on a do-not-call list. It's extra-flavored criminal to call me pretending to be Microsoft and to ask me to install malware on my device.

The absolute worst I could do is keep an honest person on the line and baffle them. As I said in my original comment, that's not cruel. It's rude at best.


You are absolutely free to be rude when you want. I am not saying you should never be rude to a telemarketer, but it's not warranted to be rude in every single situation.

My problem with the tone in this thread is that everyone is seemingly groupthinking on how to best use their pitchforks to hunt telemarketers.

The ones that are doing shitty stuff should be dealth with, but if your response to every single telemarketer (whether they are doing the really evil stuff, or just calling you at 3PM), is not reasonable.


Start from this perspective, it is the caller who is being rude, the caller who responds to kindness with additional rudeness, and the caller who wants to take money from you. Kindness doesn't work in this case.

They are calling from huge banks of numbers in my own local exchange, Ohio, Florida; you can't just block all numbers. I get 5-10 per day. They won't reveal who they are working for in many cases, so there is no one to complain about. The whole idea of being called by someone you don't know is at risk, and we are going to have to switch to a clean list, instead of a block list.

The best solutions just make it much more expensive for them to do this. What it does have to do is cost the company money, and increase total utility by preventing them from wasting others' time.


Yes, the caller has done many rude things. There is no point, however, where responding kindly is not an option. You always have a choice on how to respond.

Also, I'm not against making this more expensive for telemarketing companies, I'm just against this particular means, and the seemingly prevalent groupthink that every telemarketer on the end of any phone line is a scumbag trying to harm you and your family in any way possible.

Also, all you're going to do is start an arms race. If it become profitable for telemarketing companies to hire developers to find ways to detect this "solution", things will just go back to the way they were.


Could you help us understand, which companies are using telemarketing to sell legitimate services that some customers want? And why don't they clearly identify themselves and respect the customer's concerns (not just reading off a script)


Oh, please. They are spoofing their phone number and violating the US telecommunications act by calling me on my cell phone.

This is not the same as treating a waiter like shit.

In fact, I not sure why this is considered treating them like shit. They will be talking to someone no matter what. Does it matter if they keep repeating themselves to one person or a bunch of people?


> Also people complain about telemarketers so much, but how many calls are you really getting a day from them?

In one of the interviews, this guy says he was getting 4-5 telemarketing calls a day, some of them asking for someone who had the number many years ago.


Right except this isn't the usual case. and most likely isn't the case for most of the people in this threads that are brandishing pitchforks.


> Have some empathy.

You can't have actual empathy for anyone outside of your Dunbar number.

Even if you could, I would choose not to.

Have empathy for prostitutes, not for telemarketers.


Wait, how are prostitutes in your Dunbar number but telemarketers aren't?


Yeah, that got weird real fast.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar%27s_number

Dunbar's number is a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships.


> > Even if you could.

Prostitutes aren't actively trying to scam you.


Using this is not treating them like shit, it's wasting their time, which is exactly what they do to others.


Responding in kind is not always a great solution. Also, it is not the case that telemarketers are not capable of also employing computers to more efficiently bother you.


I agree, this is pretty mean and funny at the same time. I think where it turns from mean to funny is about where we imagine ourselves a certain distance away from them. But I do remember a certain time where I got mad at a customer service rep and made some comments that were... a little too cutting, and I remember experiencing her react in a way that showed she was hurt and upset. It hit me hard and I haven't done that since.


But if you had only been polite, would you have gone away feeling frustrated or ripped off? There's a reason people are rude to customer service staff - it's to vent their frustrations at the company that's causing them grief, and thus feel more relieved themselves.

The job of the rep is to represent the company and that includes receiving gratitude as well as criticism, "I love you" as well as "you f*". Perhaps the problem is that there are people desperate enough to suffer abuse in exchange for money. We already solved similar issues protecting people from their own desperation with minimum wage and workplace safety laws so maybe we need a legally required "maximum personal abuse" requirement on employers to protect workers from this.


Tunesmith said some hurtful personal remarks to the agent (I could imagine something like "are you so stupid and your whole family so completely worthless, and you probably apat our several kids by several deadbeats to boot, that the only way you can scratch out a miserable existence is by trying to scamming people? You are going to die destitute and your children will always be homeless!", not complaints about the company


Actually it was almost literally what someone else on another subthread used to justify treating them badly. Something along the lines of, "Look, I'm sorry to be speaking so sharply to you, but you're the one who chose to work there."


Telemarketers are intrusive, and most do not respect the do not call lists, or they find creative ways around it.

If they want to waste my time, I see no reason not to waste theirs.


I wouldn't be so quick to say they hate their job. A person with a financial incentive to do so can swallow any justification to be enthusiastic about their job. Not all of them will, naturally, but if I'm allowed to be crass, some whores actually like being whores.


Why are you talking about whores? Whores aren't trying to steal or hurt anyone.


I was thinking more of the "sell your dignity for a paycheck" part. The person I was responding to was discussing the internal motivations of those that work in telemarketing jobs. Saying they're trying to steal / hurt is an external judgment.


We should probably feel sorry for them. In many ways, they're the victim. Actually, muggers too. I understand some of them came from broken homes and didn't have the same advantages you or I had. If you don't give muggers money they may decide they have no choice than to murder you, which will almost certainly provoke a turn for the worse in their lifes. Give all you can - they need it more than you.


In the 2nd recording on that page, the caller identified himself as a former soldier with PTSD. That sounds like someone who made a decision to take a high risk of ruining his life - and it happened. If you can't accept suffering mental illness and physical injury or death, then don't become a soldier.


The army doesn't recruit grunts who had the benefit of family wealth, solid public education, and job prospects.


This is inhumane. I don't like being cold-called but I really feel sorry for the lads and lasses doing it. I've been extremely lucky to have had the privilege in life that allowed me to receive good education, land a sequence of ever better jobs and build up skills that allow me do things I enjoy and get paid infinitely more than I deserve. Trolling folks that due to no fault of theirs were much less lucky in their lives is as ambitious as trolling my two year old son but way, way more cruel.


Have you even read the article and watched the videos? Hint: watch the videos and read the intro text...


Aren't telemarketers people who are just trying to get their bills paid?

Seems like bullying behaviour to be unkind to them.

A quick "no thanks" and hang up is enough.


The point is that wasting telemarketer's time makes their business economically unviable. There are less antisocial ways of making ends meet.


How is this "bullying"? Let's not get carried away with this word. This isn't Tumblr.

That out of the way, y'all need to stop giving your phone numbers out to everyone. Google Voice is incredible for a very good reason.


If I'm on the no-call list already and am getting called, the person on the other end deserves Lenny.


Apologies for being overly critical, but I think the boss or the company deserve much more wrath than the poorly-paid telemarketing person you actually talk to.


Good luck tracking them down, though.

If we want spammy telemarketing to stop, we have to make it unprofitable. The way to make it unprofitable is to ensure it results in less sales. Decreasing call volume decreases sales. Etc.

There are legal avenues, but it's incredibly difficult to follow through. Literally every time I've asked who was calling me - the name of the company, anything - I've been hung up on, instantly.


Aren't the people who respond to these calls the real problem?

Yes, we can hang-up, but I see no advantage to doing anything beyond that like being mean, yelling, etc.


The Jolly Roger Telephone Co is not mean, nor does it yell at the telemarketer.


Are you referring to yourself as a company?


No, I'm referring to the service the original post is about.

But if you're concerned about my actions, I don't yell or say mean things to telemarketers either. Depending on how much free time I have, I either keep them on the line, or I try to find out who's calling me so I can complain about them and hear the sound of them hanging up instantly


I'm not sure that "the boss deserves more wrath than the poor shmoe doing the calling". I've talked my way through a number of "Rachel, from Cardholder Services" calls. The human "service" reps ask for card number, expiration date, last 4 of social, billing ZIP code, and sometimes the CVV/CID/CSC. Those "service" reps must know that's enough info to start using the card. They certainly know it by the 3rd time they're told to soak their heads or pound sand or jump in a lake. When I've given an expired Visa gift card's CC number, I've gotten a very curt dismissal. I feel pretty certain that everyone involved in "Rachel from Cardholder Services" knows exactly what's going on, and that it's a scam and illegal.

Those poorly-paid "telemarketers" are part of the problem. They deserve all they get.


You're confusing telemarketers with phone scammers. Phone scammers try to call you to install malware or steal you CC info, etc. Telemarketers call you to try and sell you something or get you to donate to the police union.

Telemarketers are poor schmucks trying to work a job. Their companies generally will abide if you request the do not call list. Scammers probably will not.


Any call I get that starts with a robocall from "Ann" or "Rachel" or "Barbara" from Cardholder Services, or Account Services, or Microsoft Tech Support is basically fraudulent from the start . Robocalling is stricly controlled, and I use Linux. Next, we have Caller ID spoofing, some of the area codes are non-existent, and maybe the number is of the wrong format. After that, the failure to identify who they work for clearly is a big red flag, as is the use of names like "Edward" or "Candy" for people with South Asian accents.

Even before the no-call list became effective, there wasn't a lot of difference between a telemarketer and a scammer. For several years, I politely asked for a written copy of their no-call policy, every single telemarketing call. I got one. Telemarketing was a very shady grey area business long before the fraudsters made it legendary.


Sure, they are part of the problem, but are they responsible for creating the problem? If you remove every telemarketing caller, does the telemarketing industry disappear?

Do we blame Hitler or every person in Germany? The leaders bear the majority of the responsibility.


Why, yes, if we remove all the humans that do the scamming, then the scam industry disappears. Actually, all we have to do is make the work so unpleasant that very few people will do it, and then only at a high wage, which renders the whole scamming thing uneconomical. And then it disappears.

With respect to the 3rd Reich, the Allies didn't let people who pled that they were only following orders off the hook. Neither would most moral philosophers today. If you know you're scamming people, and the "service" reps for Cardholder Services certainly do know tht, then you're morally accountable.

If all (or the large plurality) of us would listen to the robocall, hit 1 or 5 or whatever to get to a human, and then waste the human's time, the telemarketers would end up out of business.

Of course, if the FCC did it's damn job, and enforced valid caller ID, the whole thing would go away, too. The fact that this hasn't happened is a crying shame, and indicative of some major failures in the US Federal government.


If the workers disappear, the industry disappears? I assume that there are plenty of workers that would quickly replace them, but I could be wrong.

We are in agreement about this being a problem that the FCC or other gov agencies should be trying to stop.


Well, yes. But that's a simplistic case. Evidence shows that no matter how terrible a job is, some one will do it. It's just that as jobs get worse, fewer and fewer are willing to do the job. The amount of scammers willing to do the unpleasant task of dealing with 419-eaters and Scambaiters at a particular wage goes down.

Free market economics tells us that as the supply of some good goes down, the price almost certainly rises, all things being equal.

When the supply of "service" reps/scammers goes down, we have 3 cases:

1. Demand for that labor stays the same. In this case labor rates go up. This will make scamming less economical, driving some scam factories out of business.

2. Demand for "service" reps goes up: Same as case (1), but worse for the scam factories. More of them go out of business.

3. Demand for "sevice" reps/scammers goes down: this is really a case of "all things don't stay the same", because in this case, scam factories employ fewer "service" reps. Maybe some scam factories leave the market, maybe all scam factories make fewer calls a day.

In any of the 3 cases, WE WIN! Not as many scams are perpetrated, and the amount of calls goes down. Of course, an ideological free market analysis almost always gets things either partially or wholly wrong. We also don't know what the relationship between wages and number of people willing to put up with hobbyist scambaiters is. It's possible that like freeways on a Saturday, even a small worsening of job conditions makes the number of people willing to work at scam factories go way down. Or not. Unknowable. I just think that jerking the "service" reps chains as hard as possible is the only rational response.


Just following orders, right? If you willingly take a job to annoy people, you aren't going to get much sympathy from me.


I only ask for compassion or understanding, not sympathy.


Sounds like an opportunity for a system that plays one round of Lenny (or similar) then comes clean, admitting that it's a recording and we hope the telemarketer sees the funny side of it, "now please put this number on your do not call list for this and all other companies that you make calls for"... Then maybe a little pep talk that encourages the telemarketer to tell their boss to "stick this poxy job" because life will be better when they move on..


The person you're actually speaking to has no control over actually calling you- they're just logged into their desk which their bosses at the company code up to an autodialer, so as soon as they log into their desk it starts calling you.

Just tell them, "please add me to your do not call list" (magic words!) and they can put you in their software as DNC.


Those magic words used to work.. the standard response I get now is "Sir we are not allowed to do that".


I'm on the Do Not Call list, so they are actually criminals. They're offering debt services (which I don't need) which I assume are a scam. Any moment I'm wasting of their time is a moment they're not scamming someone else.


So there's the national do not call list which doesn't work that well, then each company has their own internal Do Not Call list. If you ask the person calling you to add them to their DNC they will and the calls will stop.


I do both, and oddly they keep coming, and file complaints with the FTC. The national list works well -- violators (if they can be found) are liable to prosecution.


I'm sure scam artists and burglars are just trying to pay the bills too. If you choose to do something so anti-social, then sometimes you'll have trouble.


> A quick "no thanks" and hang up is enough.

No, because then they get to annoy the next person.

The more of their time your waste, the less profitable it becomes, and the fewer telemarketers there will be. Wasting their time is a public service.


Not taking it personally is healthy for people on both sides of the phone-line.

I tend to just hang-up without saying a thing. I highly doubt they take it personally. If they are bothered by it, they are not going to last long as a telemarketer anyway.


Also the call is often given away by the slight delay and sometimes music whilst their computer hands the outbound call to an operator. There's the signal to hang up.


> A quick "no thanks" and hang up is enough.

A quick "sorry, he recently passed away" is just as fast, and probably reduces future telemarketing.

On the one hand, the callers are humans with dehumanizing jobs who probably just want to have a non-awful conversation for a few minutes before returning to the auto-dialer to get rejected yet again. On the other hand, they get fired for not making their numbers, and their managers listen in on their calls to make sure they keep pushing the hard sell. On balance, I tend to go for polite, quick refusal. I wouldn't mind chatting for a few minutes, but they would probably get in trouble for that.


Nothing wrong with them getting fired -- it opens a job for someone else who was unemployed. The net effect is the same average wages paid into the labor force.


Whaaa...? "Nothing wrong with getting you killed -- it opens a partner for someone else who was single. The net effect is the same average amount of coupling." Do you even see individual humans anymore?


I believe they still receive an hourly wage. Their bills get as paid as they ever did.


Wait, you think these scammers--they are not telemarketers--believe they work for Microsoft or Amex and don't know they are lying? We're supposed to be polite to criminals?


Yes, but I don't care about them in any way because of the way in which they've chosen to get their bills paid.

A quick "no thanks" gets them on the way to harassing the next person. And we don't want that, do we?

I don't actually believe you really give a shit about telemarketers pay at all; i've read other people say the same thing as you and it just doesn't sound convincing at all.

It's like when people say "well, you have to respect other people's beliefs". No...no, you don't. There's no persuasive argument for that assertion whatsoever. I accept that they hold those beliefs - like I accept the reality that some people can "offer" other members of society nothing other than the ability to make phone calls on other people's behalf. for profit, to people who don't want to receive them but who have no technical or legal way of preventing them - but I'd rather they didn't. There should be an opt-in list you have to sign up to to receive random phone calls at home from people hawking tat and services you don't need, and anyone doing this when you're not on the list should end up with a fine/jail sentence, but until that happens I'm going to waste as much of their time as possible.


Yeah, so don't seek jobs at shitty places. Yeah yeah yeah the whole "beggars can't be choosers thing". Unless the telemarketer is literally your only option whatsoever, then I'm sure you have a choice of flipping burgers.


Someone made a similar comment and was severely down-voted -- be an adult, say no thanks, and hang up the phone.

If you're being called extremely consistently at the same inconvenient time, then your case is extraordinary, take some measures to make sure the company doesn't call you again (no call list, whatever else) -- don't take your frustration out on the person who's turn it is to call you.

I stated this before, but if you think about it, telemarketers are just sales people who work over the phone. Even when they're being overbearing, no one treats sales people this shitty in person.


> If you're being called extremely consistently at the same > inconvenient time, then your case is extraordinary, take > some measures to make sure the company doesn't call you > again (no call list, whatever else) -- don't take your > frustration out on the person who's turn it is to call > you.

There is a large group of people for whom there is literally no way of stopping them calling. That's the point you don't seem to understand. You're saying essentially "it's not their fault that they're illegally harassing you having taken steps to hide their identity so you can't report them". It's a moronic argument!

You're conflating "being an adult" with "meekly accepting that some people are going to phone you in the evening when you're relaxing with your family and try and bullshit you into giving them money without giving them a piece of your mind". All of the phone calls are inconvenient because they all waste my time; when are they ever not inconvenient?

You might just as well describe crack dealers as "businessmen, just after an honest buck".


You're telling me, that you, as a grown functioning adult, can't think of a solution to the problem of someone calling your phone number illegally repeatedly?

Change your number? Threaten to sue? Actually sue? Call the parent company? Call whatever company that is hiring them (whose products they're trying to sell you), and complain?

How "large" is this group of people? Are you sure the loud complainers on the internet aren't causing overestimation on your part?

If you're not trying to be interrupted, unplug your phone/silence the ringer. Then you definitely won't get interrupted.

They may not be inconvenient if they are selling something you actually want. While this is unlikely, it is possible, this is the same rationale for other forms of advertising/marketing.

BTW, the same derogatory tone with which you mention "crack dealers", people also used (and still use) for people who sell pot (which is now legal in a few areas). Pot and crack are not the same, but the tone with which you're criticizing people who sell crack cocaine the substance is the same tone that people used while weed was illegal (and still use today).


> Change your number?

Expecting someone to change their number to protect themselves from telemarketers is asinine.

> Threaten to sue? Actually sue? Call the parent company?

Threaten whom? The telemarketer? Instant hang-up. Their boss? Good luck getting them on the phone. Their actual company? Good luck getting a telemarketer to tell you that information; that's an instant-hang-up.

> Call whatever company that is hiring them (whose products they're trying to sell you), and complain?

Assuming there's even a legitimate item being sold, that's an interesting idea. The next time I get an offer to get an estimate for having siding put on my residence, I'll take them up on it.

I'm afraid, though, that the person who shows up to the apartment complex I'm renting from will just be a local contractor, who's actually completely innocent party who was duped by a "marketing company" into paying money for leads. Then I'll have wasted their time. I'd feel bad about that; not about a telemarketer.


> Expecting someone to change their number to protect themselves from telemarketers is asinine.

Asinine options are options. It is hyperbole to imply that someone has zero options.

Also, your comment is contradictory -- you detail a possibility on how to find the company that is "providing leads".


I also write short science fiction stories from time to time. They're about as plausible.


Change my number...to what? They're already calling at random, or have got "my" number, so that changes nothing.

Threaten to/actually sue...who? Number withheld; comedy foreign accent. I'm going to hire a private detective or hacker? Abduct them and bring them to the UK for trial?

They're often doing a survey on stuff like spending habits etc so it's not obvious who they're representing, or it's fraud like helping me "get money back" from a bank or insurance company. You understand these are criminals calling me, right?

"How "large" is this group of people? Are you sure the loud complainers on the internet aren't causing overestimation on your part?"

Huh? I'm only concerned with me and the calls I receive.

"They may not be inconvenient if they are selling something you actually want. While this is unlikely, it is possible, this is the same rationale for other forms of advertising/marketing"

Lol! That's adorable.

"BTW, the same derogatory tone with which you mention "crack dealers", people also used (and still use) for people who sell pot (which is now legal in a few areas). Pot and crack are not the same, but the tone with which you're criticizing people who sell crack cocaine the substance is the same tone that people used while weed was illegal (and still use today)."

Pot! Lol! You mean reefer? Cannabis should be legal; to grow, sell and consume. If you sell crack you're a cunt, though, because crack is exclusively used by end of the line idiots who sadly don't always die before they've caused other people to suffer.


People start using crack aren't in nearly as bad shape as people who have become habitual. That's why crack dealers are monsters.


This happens all the time, scammers calling from India via voip and scaring elderly people into installing malware onto their Windows computers. The police say they can do nothing about it, but this service would be a perfect way to make these scams unprofitable by tying up their operators.


And in the case that they just develop technology to detect this?

Or even worse, develop technology to make telemarketing calls even more efficient?


>> no one treats sales people this shitty in person.

We have "door knockers" where I live (Ontario, Canada) who present themselves as representatives of gas and energy companies (and some have even gone so far as to say they work for the government) who try and get you to show them your energy bill and/or try to get into your basement to give you a "free inspection" and then get you to sign up for something you don't want.

In my experience, saying "no thanks, not interested" (in person) just makes them more aggressive in their claims with the same scripted retorts- i.e. they're there in an official capacity (they're not), all the other neighbors let them sign up (probably not), they have a photo id (that anyone with computer skills can reproduce) and that they're there to save you money (doubtful).

They show up in my neighborhood every couple of months, and after a while, you sorta get worn out by the routine and find that being rude/abrupt is the easiest (and sometimes only) way to get rid of them.


I didn't want to make the point that it was NEVER warranted -- just that it was very rare for it to happen. Obviously, people do get into disagreements that may even turn violent in person. My point is that if someone isn't in your scenario (which I suspect most are not, they're just piling on with the "down with all telemarketers" bandwagon), they should look to other options, before making someone else's life very difficult through technology.


"very difficult"? I'm not casting a nam-shub on them; I'm just giving them the option of talking on the phone, which is literally what they get paid to do.

Like I said in my comment above, it's not cruelty.


You basically picked up on two words out of the entire comment, then misquoted me (I did not call it cruel)...

My point is simple, you're choosing to be rude, and that is fine, completely your choice (especially given what you've stated about what it's like where you live). But that reaction is not necessarily warranted for the person that gets 1 call every few months from a telemarketer.


Bravo, you have done an incredible long troll job, posting in the forum like a telemarketer talks on the phone, pushing BS motte&bailey logic to trick or wear down people.


> (I did not call it cruel)...

Sorry, I was quoting myself.

And I'd argue that what warrants the reaction is how many calls the telemarketer is making, not how many the receiver is picking up.


> I stated this before, but if you think about it, telemarketers are just sales people who work over the phone. Even when they're being overbearing, no one treats sales people this shitty in person.

Sure they do, in similar situations like door-to-door sales. They're pushy, annoying, and coming to you, not the other way around. Often their whole business relies on screwing over old people. Anything that can be done to ensure they bug fewer people in a day is a public service.


>> Often their whole business relies on screwing over old people.

My retired parents live on the same block as me, and I'm always telling them to never let in or hand over personal information to a "door knocker" (someone hawking energy savings or a free inspection). Those guys definitely take a different tack with older people-- one guy who I turned down moved on to my dad and told him he was from the government, which was an outright lie.

Of all the people who knock on my door, the energy salespeople are by far the worst, because they're incredibly aggressive and use shady tactics. There are tons of horror stories about them in Ontario, Canada [1][2][3]. I would love to see an outright ban on door-to-door energy sales here.

[1] http://www.thestar.com/business/personal_finance/spending_sa...

[2] http://www.thestar.com/business/personal_finance/2013/11/15/...

[3] http://www.thestar.com/business/personal_finance/2015/06/16/...


Telemarketers started off with blocked phone numbers, which I don't pick up anymore.

Now that they reveal their numbers I immediately block that number on my phone after I hang up the call.


I find they call from a new number every time.


I find myself called inconsistently at different times (often inconvenient, sometimes not), from different numbers, with the same pitch ("Free install of a home security system!").

I have told them I am ineligible (I don't own a home), that I am uninterested (satisfied with my current security situation), that I believe them to be a scam in the first place, and that I would prefer that they stop calling. I have asked to be removed from their list. I have asked to be put on their "do not call" list. I have submitted the numbers on the FCC web page. I still receive about 1-2 calls a month from them. Their EV from calling me is zero (or negative, if I manage to track them down). If they are really interested in wasting their time, they can do it without wasting mine as well.


I smell astro-turfing from a telemarketing firm here.




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