Dodging the Telemarketers

What is it about telemarketers that me - a reasonable grown woman - want to hide and pretend I'm not home?

There are a lot of really nasty jobs out there: the fellow from the transportation department who has to scrape road kill off the roads; Big guys who maneuver small spaces to clean up sewage spills; and my brother Michael, who spends 50 weeks of every year away from his family while he trains the police force in Afghanistan.

But none of these professions can hold a candle to the granddaddy of nasty jobs: telemarketing.

If I want something, I drive to the store, look at the clearly-marked price, then decide how badly I need it. I shop at places like Trader Joe’s and Costco, where I can ask the clerks where I can find the coconut milk or lima beans, and they won’t try to sell me a Buick. I can retain a feeling of power and superiority because I am in control of my destiny, or at least my own shopping choices. I avoid malls where salespeople leap out from all directions, spraying cologne or convincing me that I am beautiful but I need a makeover. Really… how can I be both?

But if I think the mall peddlers’ tactics are hard-sell, telemarketers make them look like pushovers.

Granted, I know telemarketers are just doing their job and trying to make an honest living. At least some of them may be honest. But just by calling me, I feel like it’s an unwanted invasion, bypassing the front door and sneaking in through the phone lines.

I don’t seek telemarketers out. They seek me. They’re stalkers who know my name and phone number and want to smooth-talk me out of my credit card number. They are incredibly persuasive, and I am putty in their hands.

My husband Tom has no problem dealing with telemarketers. I know he’s on the phone with one when the conversation consists of: “Hello? We’re not interested.” I’m not as tough as he is. I’m a nice, polite person and I don’t want to hurt their feelings, even if they are calling from a warehouse in India but pretending to be down the street.

But I have a secret weapon. It’s called “Caller ID.”

I’d love to kiss the guy (or gal) who invented Caller ID. If I recognize the call, I pick up (except for my particularly chatty friends who are just going to move on to the next person anyway). If the number is a strange area code or literally “818-100-1000 NAME NOT FOUND,” the call goes to the machine, and usually just hangs up.

But telemarketers have gotten wise to the Private Caller ploy, and they stealthfully slink in through that back door. I don’t like to answer Private Callers because they’re already paranoid by discretely protecting their anonymity, and my subliminal judgment of them is not going to convince them to crawl out from their hiding space. Yet it’s a bit of the pot calling the kettle black if I’m hiding from callers who are also hiding. My mother-in-law and one of my 14-year-old daughter’s best friends both are Private Callers, so I play a little game of Russian roulette when I cross my fingers and pick up the phone. About 90% of the time it’s the dreaded telemarketer.

I can already hear the theme from Jaws playing in my head: Da-dum. Da-dum-da-dum.

The ironic thing is, we really do need to buy something and I probably should be talking to one of these phone predators. We have a tarp the size of a football field on top of our house, which means we actually do need a new roof. So when one called recently, I decided to champ it out and hear his pitch.

Telemarketer: “Mrs. Flynn?”

Me: “This is she.” (Two things - “Mrs. Flynn” was my grandmother who resembled Mrs. Santa Claus. “This is she” makes me sound so erudite, it’s hard to resist).

Telemarketer: “We’re working in your neighborhood this week, and we were wondering if you needed any home repairs.”

Me: Uhhh… (Maybe this one will be “the one.”) We actually do need a quote for a new roof.

Telemarketer: “What time will both you and your husband be at home?”

Me: “Huh?” (So much for my erudite act).

Telemarketer: “We need both you and your husband to be there when our contractor comes out.

 Me: (What are we – Siamese Twins?) “Why?”

Telemarketer: “It’s our policy.”

Me: (I’m getting a little scared) “Uh…4 o’clock?”

Telemarketer: “And will you be able to commit to buy at that time?”

Me: “Uhhhh….” (Why the heck didn’t I let it go to the machine?) “Uhhhh…”

Telemarketer: “May I speak to Mr. Flynn?”

Since I kept my maiden name, and my husband isn’t one of those whimpy-boys who takes his wife’s name (no offense to the whimpy-boys who do that sort of thing), “Mr. Flynn” leaves my long-dead dad, or my brother Michael Flynn, who as I already mentioned, will be in Afghanistan till Christmas. My answer?

Me: “I’m sorry. We’re not interested.”

At least I said, “I’m sorry.”

I told you I was polite.


Next week, catch my blog: “Running a Silent Auction – the Karmic Payback for Dodging the Telemarketer.”

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Emily May 10, 2011 at 11:30 PM
Mum- I loved your article! But there's no "h" in "wimpy". http://oxforddictionaries.com/view/entry/m_en_us1306497#m_en_us1306497.010 See- I'm learning from the best!
Suzanne Lewis May 11, 2011 at 01:47 AM
Lol! Well said! Ditto the wet one to the inventor of Caller ID.
Tom Rosholt May 11, 2011 at 07:53 PM
The dreaded telemarketers are annoying. They are just slightly more annoying than listening to the phone ring on and on because no one wants to answer it. Yes, I cowboy up and answer the phone. It is correct to say that I am abrupt with telemarketers. On the one hand, who wants to spend time as a telemarketer trying to sell something to someone who is only listening to be polite? On the other hand, I don’t care what I sound like to the telemarketers. I have homework, kids to manage, field my wife’s to do list, keep the dogs from eating everyone’s food, volunteer work, and a guitar to play. Who has time to engage in a lengthy conversation about some product or service that I might need? If I needed it, I would get it. The telemarketers I feel bad for are the ones calling for donations to worthy organizations, like The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (JDRF), The Red Cross, or Goodwill. I generally do not have a problem with them. After a few bad telemarketers, any telemarketer is going to be addressed with a frustrated and annoyed tone by me. The reason is they will ask for Mrs. Flynn and when I reply, “she is not here,” they say they will call back. This makes no sense to me being that they called to get a donation. Does it really matter if it comes from my wife? They have succeeded in wasting my time. I guess it is telemarketing karma. -Abrupt Husband married to polite wife
Linda Arbiter, MFT May 12, 2011 at 03:24 AM
My fav response to the dreaded telemarketer? "I'm really busy right now, could you please tell me what time you sit down to dinner, and I'll call you back then!
Kristen May 12, 2011 at 02:39 PM
So funny! I can relate to all of it. My husband says I am way too nice to telemarketers as well and always fall for their traps!
leslie clay May 13, 2011 at 06:30 AM
It is so hard to rude to them, but they seem to call at the worst times! I agree with you Kristen I am way to nice.
Cathy Flynn May 14, 2011 at 12:40 AM
If only we could infiltrate the blocked caller. There's got to be someone out there who can invent such a thing.
Cathy Flynn May 14, 2011 at 12:49 AM
Thanks Em. How did I give birth to such a smarty-pants? From now on I'm going to have you proofread my blogs before I post them. Check out "whimpy" in the Urban Dictionary: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=whimpy whimpy nasal bronch: an insult meaning, because of a constantly congested nose, your voice sounds like a termite flatulating. Wow... even more insulting than my "whimpy-boy"
Cathy Flynn May 14, 2011 at 12:51 AM
I'll have to use that one next time when I'm brave enough to answer the phone. Funny that they always seem to call during MY dinner time.
Cathy Flynn May 14, 2011 at 12:54 AM
Just make sure their trap doesn't include giving out your credit card or Social Security number. Then your husband will never let you answer the phone again. Hey... maybe that's not a bad idea. He'll beg you to let him take the calls.
Cathy Flynn May 14, 2011 at 01:04 AM
There are classes for teaching manners, but none that I know of for teaching rudeness - although it's probably a standard training class for parking enforcement.
Cathy Flynn May 14, 2011 at 01:19 AM
You are a brave, brave man, Tom. Perhaps we can rig it so that if a telemarketer calls our home, the ring tone would be something by your favorite band. Think of what a great mood you'd be in by hearing Ozzy play. Maybe you'll even ask the telemarketer to call back repeatedly just for the chance to hear "Crazy Train." This is already sounding like a very bad idea. Pretend I never mentioned it.
Irene Tassiopulos-Lyle May 15, 2011 at 04:26 AM
I seriously think this is a woman problem. My husband has no problem answering the phone and saying no. I always feel bad, worry about their feelings, worry if they have had time to eat dinner while making annoying calls...ugh it's just endless. Women-- we must rise up and say 'NO MORE WORRYING ABOUT TELEMARKETERS FEELINGS!' I resolve to just say no and move on. Join me..won't you? Thanks Cathy. Enjoyed your piece.
Cathy Flynn May 15, 2011 at 07:45 AM
You worry if telemarketers had time to eat dinner? You're way nicer than I am, Irene. Concern over their rumbling tummies has never entered my head. However, I would love to join you in the "just say no and move on" campaign. Thanks Irene. I'm enjoying your pieces as well.
Margie McKinnon May 15, 2011 at 09:47 PM
I loved Mr. Rosholt's comment. Very witty that man is. The best solution I ever heard is to say, "One moment", then hand the phone to your 3 year old. I guarantee 1 minute with Jack will convince them to change occupations.
James Cullen Bressack May 16, 2011 at 05:27 AM
Oh god! telemarketers hahaha. brilliant!
Carl Goss September 10, 2013 at 09:48 PM
We get those calls about once a week. I tell them I'm reporting them to the Do Not Call line the government has. I tell them there's a $10,000 fine. That usually stops them. I got one from something called Design Associates who said they're going to be in the neighborhood tomorrow and wouild like to give out an estimate. I said no and told 'em not to call again.


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