Calls

I don't know how they found me, but they found me.

A few weeks ago I activated my landline phone service, and since that moment I've received 4-6 calls a day. From friends these calls are not. I'm suddenly regularly contacted by Mastercard, Visa, Bank of America, Capital One, the LAPD, the LAFD, the Christian Veterans Association-- the Christian Veterans Association. It doesn't stop there. A-Plus Carpet Cleaners, AT&T, DirecTV, Verizon California, Citibank, American Express, Sports Illustrated, Washington Mutual, and National Geographic have all called me as well. Literally, 4-6 calls a day.

I've gone through a few different phases of reactions so far--

At first, I politely declined. Then, I began angrily declining. Then, I began asking them, "How did you get this number?"-- most of the time they didn't know. Then I started giving them the whole, "Take me off this list and never call this number again." But the calls continued.

Then last week, a friendly man called from AT&T (the service I'm using), and asked if I'd tell him how my experience with AT&T has been so far, so they could improve their customer satisfaction. This was great, because even though this wasn't AT&T's fault, and it certainly wasn't this cordial man's fault, it was a golden opportunity to take my anger out on someone. So I got real angry and told him this was the worst service in the world and that AT&T was a terrible company. Hurt, he apologized and told me he hoped my experience with AT&T would be better in the future. I said it wouldn't, and I hung up. But although yelling at a man who had nothing to do with my problems made me feel better, it hadn't solved my problem.

And then I figured it out. I decided to play their game with them. They'd sell me something, and I'd sell them something. So when a lady from Capital One called yesterday, I listened to her pitch, and then tried to sell her my George Forman Grill. Frankly, it's way too big, and I hardly ever use it anymore. But it's in good condition, I explained, and I'd sell it for half the price I bought it for.

Silence. After a pause, she continued her pitch. I cut her off, and explained that I was far more interested in selling my Forman Grill than signing up for a new credit card. She was quiet. Indeed, we had reached a standstill. She said she hoped I decided to use Capital One and wished me a good day. And that was that.

Later that day, I was called by a woman from Bank of America. So I broke down my entire fantasy football team, and explained that as long as either Leon Washington gets on a roll or the Denver running back situation gets worked out, I'd be in good shape. I went on for at least 4 full minutes, and she listened patiently the whole time. Then I insisted that she reassure me that it was not stupid of me to trade away Kevin Jones. She did, and then explained that she had to go. A shame.

Since those two conversations, I've not only attempted to sell my shot glass collection, vacuum, and sister to various callers, I asked someone relationship advice, I asked someone else how I'm supposed to just focus on the journey and not the destination, and today, I played the piano for a gruff-sounding man collecting money for the LAPD.

I've discovered that you're never lonely with a slew of courtesy callers in your life.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hysterical!
I'm never lonely as long as you keep blogging.

Anonymous said...

don't you have the 1-800 do not call number?
also, you might want to get Caller ID.

Tim Urban said...

Tell me the 1-800 number immediately. And I do have caller ID. The problem is, a lot of the numbers have normal area codes.

Despite all my previous amusement, the calls are annoying the hell out of me again today.

Erika said...

tim, just go online and type in no call list. You should be taken to a website where you can put in your number.. A Harvard grad and you don't know about the no call list! Oye Ve!

Anonymous said...

I recommend buying an automatic fart machine from farts.com, asking telemarketers to hold while you finish using the bathroom, and then using the machine to make disgusting sound effects for several minutes before saying something like, "Actually this isn't going so well, I think I'm going to be in here a while, would you mind calling back later?"

morgan said...

outstanding. best blog yet.

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Tim:

Neither our Department or any of our associations officially call seeking funds.

If you can provide some further information that will help us find these fallacious beggars, we would be indebted. It is in all of our interest to stop what may prove to be criminal behavior.

If you have any further info or wish to discuss this matter, please call me via 3-1-1 or (866)4-LACITY.

Oh, and information on the official do-not-call list can be found at:

www.donotcall.gov

Sorry for the intrusion, hope this is helpful.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Firefighter/Specialist
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

Happy Will said...

The LAFD blogger is the greatest comment of all-time on a blog. (Second place goes to The president of the world RPS society who responded to my brother's post on cheddarted.com).

Tim Urban said...

FYI, I called Brian and we had a pleasant little chat. It turns out that I was called on behalf of the LA Fireman's Relief Association, not the LAFD.

To be honest, I was disappointed. The LAFRA is legit. I was hoping that Brian and I could have tracked down a thief posing as the LAFD.

Anyway, according to Brian, there's a serious problem in LA with people posing as the LAFD and collecting money from unsuspecting people. Now I'm not one to get all morally outraged by everything. But that's pretty morally outrageous.

The important thing in all of this is that now I have the LAFD logo on my blog. And no one can take that away from me.

Matt said...

Yeah, that's an old scam. I had a fraudulent "policeman's benevolent association" guy curse me off once when I was about 14 or so. I informed him that the first time I hung up meant that the call was over. He called me a bratty little faggot which, given the fact that I had no experience with the opposite sex and was none too comfortable with this, was somewhat disconcerting for me. The idea of a telemarketer telling you she had "to go" is very funny.

Anonymous said...

hi tim.

Bobbi Newell said...

I realize that my comment may be way, way, way, after the fact, but this post resonated with me. For the past 5 years, I have been receiving calls from people with Indian accents claiming to work for Microsoft, and offering to fix my computer (I have never contacted Microsoft for IT support). I went through all the normal responses: polite refusal and hang up; polite refusal, ask them to take me off their call list, hang up; angrily tell them to stop calling, slam phone down and break the cheap cordless handset. None of it had any effect. During this process, I did manage to get one guy to admit that he wanted to sell me software. In other words, they were trying to scare me, and SCAM me into buying their shit.

That's when I decided to start messing with them. For 4 years, I have taken various routes including saying I have no computer or that I have a Mac (apparently it's a Windows Mac); insisting that Bill Gates himself fix my computer (he's not qualified, according to that scammer); insisting they tell me what's wrong up front ("I didn't call you, you called me!"); and just plain yelling "SCAMMER!" and hanging up.

My comments and refusals caused yet another scammer to transfer me to his supervisor. I told the supervisor that I didn't want his products because my husband and son were both IT guys. Boss man's response was "Did you say your son is IT gay? Or IT guy?" Oh yeah, I broke him good. And yes, I called him out on his unprofessionalism and the personal abuse. He hung up.

I feel no remorse about any of this. These people are unscrupulous telemarketers who are using scare tactics to sell their crapware to users who don't know any better - often the elderly, who likely live on fixed incomes and need their money for living expenses, medications, etc.