It’s OK To Shoot Telemarketers

Normally I’m not one to advocate violence. Yet here I am.

I work from home. And I have lived in the same place, with the same phone number, for nearly 15 years – the longest I’ve lived anywhere, ever. So my phone number has been attached to my name and address for quite some time.

When I first moved in, I used to get calls for an auto mechanic shop, which I presume had the number before I did. Those eventually trickled off. And the spammers and scammers were never much of a problem until I started working from home a few years back. And perhaps that is the root of the problem, the fact that I work from home and am therefore present and available to be pestered by these incessant calls.

The Perennial Pig
PBANYSOver the years, I have been getting a semi-annual call in the evening from some drunk asshole claiming to be from the Police Benevolent Association. It always sounds like he’s calling from a bar, and he always claims that I’ve donated in the past. And when I try to politely decline, or explain that I have never donated in the past, he rudely hangs up on me. I even contacted the Police Benevolent Association about this but to no avail – not even a reply. Yet another reason to hate cops.

Now, whenever I get a call on behalf of the Police Benevolent Association, I immediately scream into the phone: “Fuck you pig, your daughter’s pussy smells like shit!” And then I hang up. But, really, I’m not a violent person.

I do try to do the appropriate thing. I’ve long been registered on the National Do Not Call Registry, an organization that will turn anyone into one of these “all government sucks” zealots. They have taken the concept of a useless government program to new, oxygen-starving heights of ineffectiveness.

If I get multiple spam, scam, or unprovoked telemarketing calls from the same entity, I will report them to National Do Not Call Registry. But that’s about as helpful as calling out to a blind lifeguard. These calls still come, and almost always from the same people.

Powerless to Fight the Power
The most prolific dickheads are the ones who have been trying to get me to switch power companies. I live in a high-rise condominium in New York City. I couldn’t even switch power companies if I wanted to. Hell, I don’t even know who provides my power. I assume it’s Con-Ed, but the condo management company handles all of that shit and just sends us the bill.

Naturally I tried to explain this to these power pushers the first dozen times they called. But they are not interested in listening. No, they just keep calling. I guess it’s a numbers game, which is why I’ve gotten multiple calls from them during the same day. You’d think they’d avoid that, as annoying potential customers seems counter-intuitive to the sales process.

DoNotCallThe good news is that their harassment campaigns appear to be cyclical. They’ll come and go in waves. Or maybe they are getting shut down and need time to set up shop elsewhere, under a different name.

This August they started again, but with a new twist. Now they hang up when I answer. In fact, I get a lot of hang-ups on my answering machine. So, this morning, after answering the phone only to be hung up on again, I gave it the old *69 (which is how I knew its those power pushers, because I Googled the number and found multiple complaints). And then I called these wankers back.

Now if you think someone who writes 2,000 words about annoying phone calls isn’t the kind of person who would repeatedly call a telemarketer every five minutes for the rest of the day, you’d be wrong. Because that was the plan. And I have done it before. But these clowns had an automated service at the other end of the line. Most of these companies have taken such measures, or masked their number so that you call back an inoperable line (yes, I’ve had in-depth discussions with telcos about this sort of thing).

An Indian Tried to Rape My PC
One of my all-time favorite phone scams happened just last month. A man with a ridiculously heavy Indian accent called, claiming to be from Windows. Not Microsoft, but Windows. Already I was feeling embarrassed for the guy. The only thing lower than a telemarketer on the ladder of Earth’s living creatures is a telemarketer who sucks at his job.

This nincompoop went on to explain that “Windows” was calling because my computer was infected. Oh deary me! And if I would just log-on and do exactly what he tells me to do with my computer, all would be fine. All would be fine, people.

Now I vaguely remember getting hit up by a nearly identical scam a few years back (the disadvantage of working from home is that you become familiar with all this bullshit). I assume they are hoping to find the elderly and unemployed, anyone not savvy enough to realize it’s a scam. Because in the time it takes for them to explain their bullshit, you’ve already Googled it and discovered their fraud.

I thought about pointing out that, in addition to Microsoft’s own security software, I also have both Norton and Malwarebytes software running daily scans of my computer. I was equally tempted to call the guy on the fact that the company is named Microsoft and not Windows. But that could all be easily explained away, though perhaps not by a dolt such as this. No, I wanted to nail this clown, but I also wanted to nail him good.

As he pushed me to follow his instructions, to “fix and protect” my computer, I wasn’t about to wait around to see if the plan was to get me to download a virus or offer up my credit card info, as a Nigerian security precaution. So I asked him how he knew that my computer – of all the computers in the world – had an infection.

Whoa! He was not expecting that. Like a Republican, his response was to ignore the question and simply reiterate his demands with increased volume and ferocity. So I did the same, until he nearly pleaded, saying he wasn’t sure why I was asking that.

The Prime Gig is probably the best movie about the world of telemarketing.

The Prime Gig is probably the best movie about the world of telemarketing.

I told him that if he knew that it was, indeed, my computer that was infected, then surely he must know my IP address. After all, that is the only way he’d be able to identify my computer remotely.

“Of course,” he said. “That is why I am calling you.”

“Well, then,” I replied. “What is it? If you know my IP address, then please tell me what it is so I can make sure you are calling about the right computer.”

He put me on hold for a second, to consultant his superiors, which could have been the pencil sharpener if we’re speaking metaphorically. And then he came back with the following argument: “I know your IP address, but I can’t tell you for security reasons.”

“But if it is is my IP address, why can’t you share it it with me? After all, if it is mine, then it already belongs to me, so how could giving me what’s already mine be in any way construed as a security risk?”

“We are not allowed, sir. Now, please, if you will just follow my instructions…”

Had I been on top of my game, I would have offered him a fake IP address to see if he would confirm it as the PC they had identified as being in need of assistance. And then turn it around and accuse him of being a fraud, and a liar, because that wasn’t in fact my actual IP address but rather a fictitious one I had just made up.

But I resorted to my default setting, which is that of a sophomoric ape. I started repeating the following, in an increasingly loud and accusatory tone: “You don’t know my IP address, do ya? Do ya? Do ya? Do ya? Do ya? Do ya?”

This went on until he hung up. I did the old *69 on this guy as well, hoping he would answer so I could keep repeating it: “Do ya? Do ya? Do ya?” I wanted him to have nightmares about me that night. I wanted the feel of a headset against his cheek to stir so much anxiety that he’d never be able to make another telephone call as long as he lives. But the number was not available. No such luck.

Tormenting the Telemarketer
In a way, I am the telemarketer’s worst nightmare. Not because I regularly file complaints on the National Do Not Call Registry, which I’m almost certain does absolutely no good whatsoever. But because I’m willing to take the time – their time. And to these clowns, time is money.

Whatever time a telemarketer wastes on me is time they can’t spend suckering some little old lady who doesn’t know any better. So I’ll gladly listen to their pitch every now and then, when I have a particularly slow day and need some amusement.

I especially enjoy trying to find responses that are not on their list. You see, telemarketers are provided with an automated sales pitch. For whatever situation, whatever contingency, whatever question you might ask, they have already provided their callers with a response designed to lead you back to saying “yes” to their pitch.

The Boiler Room is another cinematic take on telemarketing.

The Boiler Room is another cinematic take on telemarketing.

But when you offer a response that’s not in their plan, they are stumped. You can sense the panic in their voice, and imagine the call supervisor – upon hearing an interruption in the normal flow of the pitch – rushing to their cubicle, hovering over their shoulder as they try to reel you back in.

The smart ones will simply hang up on me. They know it’s a numbers game, and if I am being difficult then it’s best for them to simply move on to the next potential sucker (like the drunk from the Pig Benny Assoc). But the green, and the greedy, won’t ever walk away from a live call. They get so many answering machines and hang-ups that an actual person is often too good to pass up.

The Impossible Sell
One time a guy was calling to try to get me to switch phone carriers, before the Feds actually cracked down on that (the only reason they took action was because the big telcos threw around plenty of lobbying money, fearing these upstarts might start stealing some of their customers away). His pitch started with what he assumed would be an easy opening question: “You like saving money, don’t you?”

I said, quite convincingly, “No, I don’t like saving money. In fact, I kind of enjoy wasting it on petty things, and it really annoys my girlfriend.”

Of course, my girlfriend at the time was now listening in as well. The man was stumped. Clearly they didn’t provide him with a track to take if someone said that they didn’t enjoy saving money, because they didn’t expect anyone to respond that way. And I knew that I had him convinced of my sincerity because he seemed a little upset that I was so frivolous.

This went on for a good five minutes. I don’t know why his supervisor didn’t intervene, because that’s an eternity in telemarketer time. He could have closed two or three other sales if he hadn’t got hung up with a maroon like me.

Legal Disclaimer
I do not condone the shooting of anyone…not even telemarketers. The suggestion in the title of this piece is merely for satirical purposes and should not in any way be acted upon.

However, it is your duty as a member of the human race to torment these telemarketing bastards whenever they call. Get creative, and get offensive.

For example, the next time you get a call from someone conducting an opinion poll, say: “Sure, I’ll trade my free time for your free time – my answers for your answers. For every question of yours I answer, you have to answer one of mine as well.” And, on the odd chance that they don’t hang up on you, be sure to start with questions like, “Have you ever molested a pet?”

It’s not until we, the people, rise up together and challenge this evil empire that we can ever hope to rid ourselves of it. I say again, get creative, and get offensive.