What Retirement Will Teach You About Telemarketers


May 15
What Retirement Will Teach You About Telemarketers

Lesson #1: Unsolicited Phone Calls

The telephone rings. You wait but no one answers. It rings again. It is an annoying ring designed to irritate you until someone answers it.

Why doesn’t your assistant answer the phone? Oh, you no longer have an assistant. You are retired.

Why doesn’t your wife answer the damn phone? She is not home and, by the way, she is not your assistant.

You answer the phone. First mistake.

“Hello.” You expect to hear the voice of an old colleague, or perhaps someone from work with an important question. You have had thousands of such calls during your work life.

“Is this Scott?” asks a strange, accented voice with a hint of enthusiasm.

Unaccustomed to the telephone solicitation game, you answer honestly, “Yes.” This is usually a mistake, but you will learn in your new life. The people on the other end of the phone line are ‘marketing zombies.’ Their job is to irritate you until you buy their product, which you do not want or need.

Marketing zombies and their computer generated colleagues must be defeated, or you will spend the rest of your retirement talking to people you do not like, buying stuff you do not want.

First, register for the Do Not Call list maintained by the U.S. Marketing Association. Register your landline, your mobile phone, your spouse’s mobile phone, and any others you can think of. This helps a little, but is not completely effective.

Next, prepare your response to the zombies. Here are a few responses I have found effective:

  1. “Is this Scott?”

“No, Scott died. You are interrupting the funeral, please don’t call again.”

  1. “Is this Scott?”

“No this is the County Prosecutor’s Office. What is your name, phone number and registration number? Do you know it is illegal to solicit without a license?”

  1. “Is this Scott?”

“No, Scott’s in jail. He killed a telemarketing person. She had it coming. Don’t call back.”

  1. “Congratulations, you just won a free trip to Europe.”

“Sorry, but I have a communicable disease. If I go on your trip I will kill everyone else on the trip. Don’t call back. My germs can travel through the telephone lines; you should go to the doctor.”

  1. “We have a special offer for those who purchase solar panels this week.”

“I already have solar panels. Do you know how I can angle them to fry my neighbor? Don’t call back.”

If asked to buy a product, it is usually better to say you already own it so the zombies see no benefit in calling again.

Charity zombies are the worst. They can be exempt from do not call lists and will try to make you feel guilty if you do not cough up enough money.

  1. “Hi I am calling for disabled children. Without your help…”

“Sorry, but I just went bankrupt. Do you raise money for bankrupt people? Good-bye.” Then hang up before the zombie can deliver the next pitch.

“Do Not Do This” Telemarketer Rules:

Some “Do not do this” rules when dealing with zombies or computer generated calls.

  1. If you do not answer, they will call again.
  2. If you hang up without talking, they have verified the validity of your phone number and will call more often.
  3. If you yell at them, you have wasted your time and elevated your blood pressure for no reason. Zombies and computers are not human.
  4. Do not have a long conversation even if you have free time. Conversation with potential victims encourages zombies.
  5. If you become entangled in a conversation and are feeling pressure to buy stuff or sign up for something that is free (hint: nothing is free), just tell them that your spouse makes all the decisions and he/she is in Antarctica measuring global warming. If asked, when will she return, just say, “when the ice melts.” Never give a date for a follow up call.
  6. It is not a good idea to give zombies someone else’s name and number, even if it is someone you do not like. He or she can reciprocate digitally in ways that are even worse than dealing with zombies.

There are many benefits to retirement, but not having an assistant to screen unsolicited calls is not one of them. Just remember you are dealing with marketing zombies who want to take your savings. Exit the calls as soon as possible or you will be encouraging them to pursue you further.

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