Recently someone sent me some tips for dealing with telemarketing calls and junk mail, in the form of a chain letter. I find this to be both ironic and humorous. Like all chain letters, it takes something good, adds on a bunch of nonsense and flim-flam, and then begs people to spread it around. Let’s have a look:
Three Little Words That Work !! The three little words are: “Hold On, Please…” Saying this, while putting down your phone and walking off (instead of hanging-up immediately) would make each telemarketing call so much more time-consuming that boiler room sales would grind to a halt.
Then when you eventually hear the phone company’s “beep-beep-beep” tone, you know it’s time to go back and hang up your handset, which has efficiently completed its task. These three little words will help eliminate telephone soliciting.
I have no idea if this is really from Andy Rooney. Not that it matters. I don’t really consider Rooney to be some sort of techno-expert. He’s a guy on TV. He does what I do (communicate with people) except that he has to wear makeup. I can’t think of anyone less impressive to cite as a source. A common chain letter tactic is to attribute the contents to some authority, and I expect that is what has happened here.
In any case, this suggestion is brilliant. I will be doing this from now on.
One of the things I struggle with is that the people doing the actual calling are working for peanuts. While worthy of scorn, they are just reluctant henchmen serving a mastermind who is far beyond your reach. They are verbal punching bags, and no matter how much abuse you heap on them, none of it will make it back to the lothsome people running the show.
But by following this suggestion I can do something besides vent on some hapless drone. If I ask them to “hold on a second” and then walk away, I have not done anything to the sap on the other end. I’m sure he’d rather sit there in silence than read through his script for the fifty-third time today. More importantly, I’m clogging up the works. If I had implied that perhaps his mother was less virtuous than is normally expected of mothers and then hung up, he’d be interrupting someone else’s dinner by now. But instead he’s sitting there doing nothing, which is costing his employer (Calling Center Manager Plapatine) both time and money. Best of all, it doesn’t require any extra effort on my part. I was going to put the phone down and walk away anyhow. All I have to do is not hang up.
This is a telemarketing technique where a machine makes phone calls and records the time of day when a person answers the phone. This technique is used to determine the best time of day for a “real” sales person to call back and get someone at home.
What you can do after answering, if you notice there is no one there, is to immediately start hitting your # button on the phone, 6 or 7 times, as quickly as possible. This confuses the machine that dialed the call and it kicks your number out of their system. Gosh, what a shame not to have your name in their system any longer !!!
I do get these hang-up calls from time to time. They usually preceed a real telemarketing call by an hour or so. When I get one of these, I know that odds are good I have a spam call coming in the next hour.
But I don’t think the suggested solution makes the slightest bit of sense. The machine is just seeing if you pick up. I hear the hang-up click the moment I say “hello”. I’m certain the machine isn’t listening beyond that point, even if it was possible to “confuse” it.
This is the sort of superstitious thing people come up with when they don’t understand how a computer works. The program only cares about one piece of input: You answering the phone. By the time you realize what you’re dealing with, it has that piece of info, and it would be senseless for the programmer to go to the extra trouble of having the thing listen beyond that point.
These things are opened by a human. As a rule, I don’t want to confuse this person when I’m paying my bill. The last thing I need is for them to see the ads and throw them away, along with my check. If a utility company wants to send me an ad with the bill, I don’t get too bent out of shape. This isn’t general spam sent blindly to everyone. These guys know who I am and we have an existing relationship.
It costs them nothing if you throw them away! The postage was around 50 cents before! the last increase and it is according to the weight. In that case, why not get rid of some of your other junk mail and put it in these cool little, postage-paid return envelopes.
Send an ad for your local chimney cleaner to American Express. Send a pizza coupon to Citibank. If you didn’t get anything else that day, then just send them their blank application back! If you want to remain anonymous, just make sure your name isn’t on anything you send them. You can even send the envelope back empty if you want to just to keep them guessing! It still costs them 37 cents.
I do this from time to time. If the ad makes me angry, I almost always make sure to send them some junk back. There are some credit card ads that are very sleazy and decietful, and those guys get to pay for me mailing them junk.
I don’t do this to ALL of them, because it’s just too much hassle. You’d have to really spend time on this if you wanted to get them all.
If enough people follow these tips, it will work—-
The postal service was having trouble long before the internet came along. Email is just a handy excuse. In any case, telling me that doing this will help out the postal service doesn’t really motivate me.
This tactic takes a little effort on my part. More effort than would be needed to simply throw the stuff away. Junk mail isn’t the worst problem we face, spam-wise. Unlike email spam, the sender does indeed have to pay for it. Unlike telemarketing calls, junk mail is only a slight annoyance.
I seriously doubt that one person doing this can affect their own supply of junk mail. While it is true that if EVERYONE did it, it would no doubt impede the efforts of the junk-mailers, but remember how this works: This return mail is opened by someone working near minimum wage, opening envelopes and looking for completed applications / checks / sign-up forms or whatever else they want you to send back. That guy probably doesn’t have any power over who does and does not get junk mail. Even if he DID have the power to take you off the list, is he going to take that extra step because you sent him a fistful of coupons? This is assuming he even knows who you are. If the ONLY thing you send is coupons, then he’s not going to know who sent them, and thus cannot stop sending you junk mail.
And all of this just wouldn’t be complete without:
If you have a good idea, you will never need to beg people to spread it around. Great ideas are viral in nature. Typing in ALL CAPS only draws attention to the fact that this is the true goal of the email: not to combat solicitation, but to simply spread.
So, this email had one good idea, which is this: Ask telemarketers to hold and let them sit there. As I said at the beginning, it is a good idea wrapped in a bunch of nonsense.
In closing, please forward this link to all your friends. ;-)
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