Telemarketers: Are They the Bane of Your Existence?


Telemarketers, Don’t Call Me… PLEASE!

Do-Not-CallThere is nothing that riles me up more than robocalls and telemarketers.  They truly are the scum of the earth.  I have no patience with them and their games. I detest 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.  Is it possible 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. But bear in mind, 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, 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.

My two favorite ways to handle telemarketers 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, or get my 4 dogs into a barking frenzy.

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 probably be what my late father used to do – (RIP Dad). He would get all excited about what they were selling, spending as much time with them as he could (after all he was retired and had nothing else to do) and he would sign up for everything… right up until the point where it would be time to make payment arrangements then he’d say “You know what, I changed my mind. Never mind.” and hang up.  It was a game to him.  I would laugh so hard, picturing the person at the other end cursing up a blue streak.

The Do Not Call Registry – does it really work?

nocallLike many Americans, you’ve probably listed your phone number on the National Do Not Call (DNC) Registry. So why are you still receiving all those unwanted robocalls?  When it first became available, I jumped on the bandwagon and entered my phone numbers and my parents numbers.
The best thing people can do when they get an illegal robocall is to hang up. Do not press “1” to speak to a live operator to get off the call list. If you do, according to the FTC, it will probably just lead to more robocalls. The caller will know you’re there and willing to answer, and may continue calling.

Complaints to the government are up sharply about unwanted phone solicitations, raising questions about how well the federal “do-not-call” registry is working. The biggest category of complaint: those annoying prerecorded pitches called robocalls that hawk everything from lower credit card interest rates to new windows for your home.

In the US, the “National Do Not Call Act” which was enacted in 2004 was intended to take care of that, but so far it appears to have had little effect. The US government has set up a website to report offending calls, but many spammers hide their Caller ID information preventing anyone who files a complaint from being able to provide complete data on who disturbed their peace.

So what can be done if anything about this problem?

If the government aggressively pursued and prosecuted any offender who elicited say 5,000 such complaints, even with a modest $10,000 fine, these calls would probably dry up almost overnight.


It’s typically illegal to make a telemarketing call to consumers who haven’t given their express consent to receive such calls. However, many robocallers simply ignore the laws, betting that the regulators are too busy to come after them. And, unfortunately, they’re often right.

Criminals and con artists, usually located in foreign countries, make the calls and pose as Internal Revenue Service agents, law enforcement, tech support and utility companies to try to rob victims. Other common telemarketing scams include sweepstakes, lotteries, sweetheart scams and grandparent scams. The scammers also manipulate Caller ID so that it looks like their calls are coming from a legitimate business, a local phone number or even the IRS and police.

That’s why I’m always surprised the National Do Not Call Registry didn’t come into being until 2004. Since then, it’s had a rocky history, and many people still aren’t quite sure how it works. Even after all these years, you’ll see myths online about what is and isn’t blocked, whether or not cellphones are allowed, rumors that the FTC is about to release your number unless you act right away, etc. So I’m here to set the record straight and clear up the confusion once and for all.

How to sign up for Do Not Call

DoNotCall600x

  • Joining Do Not Call List is easy. You go to the website www.donotcall.gov and enter the landline or cell number you want on the list. There’s a quick email verification and you’re done.
  • You can also call from any phone you want on the list. That’s all it takes. Your number stays on the list until you ask for it to be removed or you give up the number.

I should point out that fax numbers have different regulations, so signing them up won’t do anything for you.

Scam warning: You might receive a phone call from someone claiming to work at the Do Not Call Registry or Federal Trade Commission. They’ll claim your number isn’t listed on Do Not Call and offer to sign you up — you just have to provide some personal information. This is always a scam; just hang up.

What the Do Not Call List does and doesn’t cover

The Do Not Call list keeps you off for-profit business call lists, but it isn’t instantaneous. Telemarketers update their lists periodically, so the FTC says it can be up to 31 days before it takes full effect.

Established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the DNC ought to work. Once you register your residential telephone number – including wireless numbers – commercial telemarketers are not allowed to call those numbers.

The only exceptions are: calls from organizations with which you have established a business relationship; calls for which you have given prior written permission; calls which are not commercial or do not include unsolicited advertisements, such as school closings, tornado warnings or other civic notices; and calls by or on behalf of tax-exempt non-profit organizations, which includes political solicitations (although there’s a slight difference between telemarketing and robocalls—the latter are unsolicited auto-dialed telemarketing calls that are either pre-recorded or from a live person—most people conflate the two terms, and so do we.)

If you receive an unexpected sales call after you’ve registered your number, and you’ve been on the list for 31 days, you can file a complaint. Just go to donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222 FREE. Be prepared to provide the date of the call and the company’s name or phone number.

On the other hand, political organizations, charities and survey takers are still permitted to call you. Businesses you’ve bought something from or made a payment to in the last 18 months also have a right to call. If you ask them not to, however, they must honor your request.

Sometimes during a call from a survey company, they’ll ask if they can make a follow-up call. If you agree, then an associated for-profit company can call you with a sales pitch — so, I would decline any offers for a follow-up.

Be careful when signing up for sweepstakes and free product offers. The fine print may say the company can send you telemarketing calls.

Under the rules, most businesses can’t hit you with prerecorded telemarketing messages, also called robocalls, without your written permission. Political and informational robocalls, such as those received from health care providers, banks and schools, are still allowed.

Still, it is a good idea to register all your landline and wireless numbers, because if you do receive a telemarketing call, that’s a good sign the person on the other end is a scammer. Legitimate telemarketers play by the rules and don’t want to risk a fine for disregarding a number on the list.

Okay, stepping off my soapbox now.

What are your thoughts on this?  

Does the Do Not Call list work?  

What steps do you take when you get robocalls & telemarketers interrupting your peace?

 

Posted in:
About the Author

Sherri Meinke

A long-standing Computer Geek with over 25 years of experience. Having owned her first Apple IIe and moving on up the ranks with a multitude of Windows-based pc’s to her latest toy, a Dell Venue 11 Pro tablet with Windows 10. Sherri repairs, upgrades, and recycles computers as well as consults, trains & designs Websites. She is a Former AOL Community Leader and loves forums as well as online training. She created the "Camp Wired" computer training program at the Medina County Library system, 8 years ago. It is a free computer education program teaching technology in a relaxed atmosphere where students at all levels get to mentor other students and grow in their knowledge and understanding of technology. This program runs year round with no signs of slowing down.

14 Comments

  1. Great article Sherri, about a common and most frustrating annoyance. Especially when they call during dinner time, which they seem to do with uncanny regularity.

    My favorite trick is to talk utter gibberish until they finally give up trying to make any sense of it. Always good for a laugh. 🙂

    • Jim, my hubby will hear them out while we eat which just riles me up more. I know people need jobs & have to work but some of them are just so rude.

      I like the utter gibberish trick, that’s a good one.

  2. There is my way, to use a program called PhoneTray (Canadian by the way – but works all over the planet). You’ll also need the old fashion 56k modem and caller ID on your phone. This company offers a usb modem that rocks. Those that are interested, check ’em out, Mindblower!

  3. I registered all my numbers with the do not call registry and for the most part it works, I don’t get near the calls I used to and when I do I just breath heavily into the phone 😉

  4. I agree… but to a certain extent.
    As always when confronted to commercial harassment I try to remember what I believe in when out of the situation, that is to make a distinction between a corporation and an employee. I hate telemarketing as I hate commercial representatives ringing at my door (fortunately only commercials here where I live), but I cannot hate an employee just doing his job, as long as he/she remains polite. After all, maybe the guy was unemployed, you know, found that job… I don’t wish to break his day, insult him or even be fresh with him/her. After all I can spare 30 seconds to let the intruder understand that I am not interested. Period.

  5. While the DNC list may keep legitimate telemarketers from calling you, it does little to nothing to slow down the illegitimate ones. I used to religiously report illegitimate telemarketers until I realized that people had been reporting the same telemarketers for years. I no longer waste my time reporting. As for the legitimate callers. I inform them all that I never donate, vote for or otherwise support people or organizations that solicit me by phone.

  6. In my country, Australia, the DNCR did little to stop the never ending procession of calls from dawn to midnight x7days/wk. My national number does not ring in anycase, since it carries the internet only. But my voip number is constantly bombarded.
    I’ve had upwards of 25 calls in a day from as little as 3 companies. I have never answered the phone. I can’t answer my phone. I have an answer machine & when it plays I listen to who is talking & decide whether to pick-up or not.
    These telemarketers are usually calling from overseas & seem to not be governed by the Australian DNCR. One sub-continent Indian/Pakistani telemarketer who used a variety of mobile numbers that apparently were not listed here, would leave vulgar or threatening messages. I kept them for 2yrs hoping to piece it all together so I could make a viable complaint but luckily this year he seems to have gone away.
    The robo calls are the most annoying because at the end of the 5rings followed by my message there is a very loud engaged signal that seems to go on & on. Turning the sound down makes no difference.
    So I haven’t answered my phone for almost 7yrs. That’s how long they’ve been trying me. My number must be on every list that is sold around the world.
    It was so bad last year I almost got a new number. The same caller would call every few minutes for an hour, then wait & repeat later same day.
    I wish I could work out who spread my number around, I would give them a piece of my mind! grrrr
    We have a website called Reverse Caller ID where I can entered the number & it tells me who owns the phone number. Most of the numbers entered belong to telemarketers & the 100’s of complaints about each number are all the same basically. But these people persist.

  7. wow so many different comments. If I come across one that is polite, I inform them I do not accept solicitations at my door or on the phone) I bid them goodbye and my hackles do not get raised at all unless they try to keep me on the phone or call me right back. This is why as a self employed computer technician/it person I never cold call on people. Much of my business is on referrals. I am low key & not pushy with people and that adds up to success for some people,. Thanks folks for reading my article.

  8. Many years ago, people used to get stuff in the mail that they didn’t order, and then get bills for it. This finally stopped when a law was passed that said if you got stuff you didn’t order, you got to keep it as a free gift and could even sue the sender if they start billing you for it.

    If they would pass a similar law that if you purchase stuff from a telemarketer that called you illegally, you could keep it and sue them if they bill you, such calls would end immediately. I haven’t seen any other solutions that would actually work.

  9. I usualy don’t answer the phone since the calls are usualy for my wife so I just ignore the ringing.
    On the rare occasion, that I do answer the phone, such as my wife not being home, my response will vary. If it’s a Robo-Call I just hang up. If they are selling something I will ask what it is and say I have no use for that, or I get it cheaper at…
    I have been known to tell a company selling auto insurance that I have a pre-paid 5 year policy with State Farm and I pay $500 for the five years. That is $100 per year. Each year without an accident I get $50 – $75 back thus I’m only paying $25 – $50 per year and that’s with full coverage and collision with only a $50 deductible. They will then tell me they can save me $250 to $500 per year with them. I then ask them “Well how can you save me more than $250 when I pay less than $50 now? Will you be paying me to use your insurance?” at this point THEY usualy hang up.
    I’m going to be 64 next month, and this is still a lot of fun. Makes me feal like a kid all over again.

  10. If you’re really creative, you can modify the classic response by Tom Mabe (search for it on the ‘Net) where he answers the solicitation call pretending to be a detective at the scene investigating the murder of whomever the solicitor is calling. Mabe recorded it and sent it in to a radio talk show. Look for it…it’s the best five minutes you’ll spend this week.

  11. My son, after listening to what I had to say to a telemarketer, explained to me how poor the people who take these jobs are and how important their meager earnings, which they glean from listening to the likes of people like me, are to their survival. By the time he was through, I was ashamed of myself. I have since cleaned up my language and now say, “No thank you,” and then hang up. Unless it is my cell phone they call. Then they are free game.

    One thing I always wonder is why in god’s green and purple earth does anyone think that interrupting my dinner is going to get them a sale. Yeah, sure. Now I wouldn’t buy anything from you if you were the last distributor on earth.

  12. There’s a funny prank phone call online from a while back which had a tele marketer ringing someone who worked in radio or something so he recorded the call and played a prank on him, telling the caller he’d phoned a crime scene, asking if he knew the homeowner, asking if he was his secret lover and stuff.

    As to me, here in the UK we get loads of these calls from international numbers on a daily basis, often ringing multiple times. This includes calls and texts with recorded messages about PPI. A lot will ring asking for a 1 minute survey which usually takes far longer than a minute.

    At the same time I do feel sorry for the people making the calls. They probably hate their job and just need to make some money.