Friday, November 03, 2006

Telemarketing is pure evil

When I left Nashville, telemarketing had become a major nuisance. I could count on at least one call a night, if not more, usually at the most inopportune times. It got to the point where I stopped being polite and attempted to use whatever powers I could muster to smite said caller back to the netherworld where he/she came from. They are tough lil' buggers, though.

Greece was a refreshing change. We could go for months without the phone ringing unnecessarily. Telemarketing had not yet cast its evil eye on the Greek market and it was a very good thing. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and slowly but surely telemarketing has picked up here. It isn't anywhere near as bad it was in the U.S., but we can guarantee that telemarketing call is going to come at a time when it really isn't convenient, not that such calls are ever convenient.

My husband is a bit of a pushover. While he won't buy anything, he is quite polite, listens to their pitch and responds amiably. I, on the other hand, have discovered the perfect device for offputting telemarkers in Greece. Whenever we get a call that shows up as "private caller" on caller ID (which could, of course, be family members so we just have to answer, don't we), I pick up and answer with the loudest, most obnoxious Southern belle hello I can muster. This is usually met with a few seconds of fumbling and muttering - obviously the caller has momentarily lost the ability to speak in their own language - and then I hear "Signomi, lathos". Not even sorry, wrong number, just sorry, wrong. Well yes, you are wrong. Quite wrong. Just to ruffle their feathers a bit more, I answer with "endaksi" and hang up. Let them mull that over a bit. Maybe she did speak Greek? But she sounded!

Look, I know that for some people telemarketing pays the bills. It has opened the doors to thousands, perhaps millions of jobs worldwide. But that doesn't diminish the fact that telemarketing is pure evil, and email spam is its hellish little spawn. I honestly think I would rather starve to death, and let my family starve to death, than work as a telemarketer. That's just me.

At least now I know the perfect trick to use with telemarkets should we ever return to the U.S. I can answer the phone with a hearty Greek greeting and see what happens. I might get lucky, or I might end up on the line with one of the millions of Greeks who have immigrated to the U.S. I guess you can't win them all.


Scruffy said...

HI Mel,

Good article.

You should really google "Tom Mabe". He has a series of taped funny calls on how to handle telemarketers. His best is that when they call he pretends that he is a police detective investigating a murder (of the person who lives at this number) and when the telemarketer explains that he was only trying to sell something to "the victim", Tom (in his role as police detective) says that the telemarketer, since he had a business relationship, is now considered a suspect. Of course, the telemarketer tries to explain that it's just his job and he calls many people a day etc. But, Tom (as police) continues and says he's going to have to get the telemarketers vital information so they can send an investigator to his place of business to interview him. This guy (telemarketer) almost crapped his pants.

Other Tom Mabe:

- Telemarketer calls trying to sell Carpet (Tom acts like he just killed someone and needs the salesman to come right over and bring the carpet with him to help wrap up the body.

- Telemarketer calls trying to sell funeral plots. Tom pretends like he's considering suicide and tells the telemarketer that he has a gun and was considering killing himself, and now that HE (The telemarketer) has called and is "coincidentally" selling funeral plots, that this must be a "sign from God" and now he will shoot himself. The telemarketer freaks!

Scruffy2 said...

Mel, this really is your best post yet. I have more:

Here's what I do to Greek telemarketers:

The other day, one called about getting a credit card from a bank. I told them that I would love to have a credit card and that I am from Albania and will it be ok that I don't have a residence permit? and that my income is 200 Euros a month, and that my job is that I play a musical instrument on the Bus, and Metro for money.

When they balk, I explain that if they need someone to vouch for me, my friend from Pakistan said that I could help him clean windows on Vouliagmenis ave to make more cash if that would be ok.

They really get flustered and I keep pressing saying that I want the card but eventually they just hang up on me.

Flubberwinkle said...

I have a few friends who work at telemarketing services. It's definitely not a pleasant job, it doesn't pay sh*t, they are constantly inspected by the unit overseer. Yes, they have horror stories to tell you and are sorry to intrude on the peace of every home, they don't like it either that this crappy job was thy only one they could find and will be fired from because my friends just aren't "pushy" enough.

When a telemarketeer salesperson calls and starts their pitch, I interrupt at the start, "Please don't tire yourself, I'm not interested. Thank you anyway". Sometimes they reply with a thank you, sometimes I think maybe someone's eyes just welled up, and most of the times they just hang up quickly to get in some commission. Cause bottom line: They're trying to put food on the table like the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

In some countries (I know the UK for sure), they have a service where you can opt out of recieving telemarketing calls.

Do they offer the service here? I keep meaning to call OTE and find out. I very much doubt it but it'd be nice.

They are such a pain!

Scuzzy said...

ED: How do you opt out. I don't think the phone company can know of all the thousands of companies out there who call you?

In the states, they have a "do not call" list that you can ask to be put on from the individual company who calls you. But, as I said, with thousands of companies out there, it may take you years to get on all their lists.

Does the UK phone company send a list to all the TELEMARKETING companies and let them know who not to call?

Maybe this is a good idea for the USA?

J.Doe said...

While living in Italy I always pretended that I was just a foreigner who didn't speak the language. With the prevalence of foreign domestic workers there, they probably just thought I was just another foreign maid or caretaker who had no money anyway.

Anonymous said...

Hey Scruff,

Yeah, it seems in the UK you can register with the 'Telephone Preference Service' (for free) and within 28 days, the cold calls stop.

Check it out:

They offer the service for mail too... Please God, let them introduce something similar here!

scruffy said...

A National Do-Not call list. Good Idea. I seem to remember hearing something about it in the states but never really knew if they implemented it. But, at least in UK, they have their duckies in line.

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