#002 Ringy-Dingys

"Is this the party to whom I am speaking?"

When watching Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In with my parents in the 70's, Lilly Tomlin's Ernestine was one of the characters I remember the most. I'm not sure if it was her 1940's garb and silly demeanor, or just her snort that made me laugh. Who knew I'd spend so much time on the phone as an adult. I even worked as a switchboard operator twice. The first time was in 1980 at the Snow King Resort. It was an old switchboard with wires and plugs just like Ernestine used.

I have 2 office jobs, a home land line, and my husband and I both have a cell phone. I added my home numbers to the ‘no call list’ some time ago, but the problem is it only keeps away legitimate sales calls from people you have never done business with. At home we don’t even answer our land line any more, our friends, family, and other people we want to talk to have our cell phone numbers.

At work, the telemarketer, robocalls, spam, scam, and crank calls out number the legitimate business calls, it's crazy!  Some of the callers get around the no call list because you have done business with them before or currently do business with them, some are just scams, I even get the occasional crank call. I was wondering if anyone has done a study on how much these calls are costing businesses in man hour dollars. I did a search and found many links on hiring a telemarketer, and many on stopping those telemarketers. (I'm still looking for that study.)

You are not dealing with just anyone's fool. I am a high-school graduate. – Lilly Tomlin, as Ernestine the Operator

Over the years the telemarketers have com up with some pretty ingenious angles to suck you in. I’ve given up on getting rid of all the calls, unfortunately it’s part of life these days. I stay on the phone long enough to make sure it’s not a legitimate business call, then hang up. Some are very good at sounding legitimate, but most are easy to figure out. My favorite? A computer yelling at you "DON'T HANG UP!". But guess what, I hang up.

Why would anyone want to buy anything from these unscrupulous people? Why would anyone want to do business with a company that tries to trick you on the get-go?

Here are a few basic tips:

  • General rule of thumb: Don’t engage - just hang up.
  • If it's too good to be true, then it probably is.
  • Nothing is free, you are either a customer or a commodity. If someone is offering you something for free, you and your contact info are the commodity.
  • Once you take a survey you have done business with that company and they can now legally spam call you.
  • If you are entering a contest that requires all your contact info read the fine print. Many times you are authorizing them to sell your info to their associates, which could be telemarketers.
  • Google is not calling you (unless you asked them to).
  • Don't say "Yes" if a caller asks you "Is this [your business name]?" after you just answered the phone introducing your business. Scammers record it and use the recording to authorize whatever they are selling.
  • Educate your employees. Among other things, scammers call and ask your employees for info on your copier to send an "updated manual", then send one with a big bill.
  • Never give out or confirm your banking or credit card info to someone who called you.

How may I, in all humble servitude, be of assistance? – Lilly Tomlin, as Ernestine the Operator

It’s frustrating weeding out the calls but sometimes it can be dealt with on a more humorous level if you get a real person. No sense on getting stressed out or angry over something you have little control over. But remember, that real person trying to sell you something is likely just a person like you or me with a really crappy job. I only mess with real people who are rude and/or obviously trying to scam me. I started a blog series, “Ringy-Dingys” to share some of the more memorable calls in my career.

Please follow my blog and feel free share your unusual telemarketer stories long the way.

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