How to deal with cold calls

The phone rings. I hate that on the best of days, but in particular when I’m in the bathroom. There’s a 50:50 chance of there being a telemarketer on the other end trying to convince me to change my supplier of electric energy. My email client has a spam filter. Why can’t my phone have one too?

I have come to adopt a “do not disturb” policy towards phone calls. When I’m eating, shitting or sleeping, I won’t answer, no matter what. You simply can’t summon me out of the bathroom, my bed or the kitchen. Those are “airplane mode” locations and even off limits to people I actually want to talk to. Of course, this does not solve the problem with the problem of the phone ringing in the first place and being unable to tell who’s calling if the number is unknown or suppressed.

Cold calls are illegal and telemarketers know that. Hence it’s rather pointless to threaten legal actions. Callcenters are typically set up as shell companies doing contract work (so you can only ever sue a fall guy at best). Of course, there is always the thunder whistle option, which may feel quite gratifying for the moment, but keep in mind: they got your phone number and they are likely recording the call. Causing damage to the ears of the callcenter agent is not only assault, but will also certainly not get off the list. Neither will asking nicely for that matter.

So, what can be done about the problem? Quite easy actually. Every callcenter has a limited number of agents. Those cost it money in terms of wages and therefore they have a daily quota of contracts that must be concluded in order for the callcenter to become profitable. Every agent can only talk to one client at a time and that’s their weak spot: the longer you bind one up in a (n unsuccessful) call, the more difficult it becomes to fulfil that quota. Creating a loss for the callcenter is pretty much the only language they understand and eventually, they’ll take you off their list out of self interest.

How do you bind up a callcenter agent? Unless you’re really bored and just want someone to talk to, the method of choice is to feign an interest in whatever they are selling, but letting them know that you need to consult your documents. Sadly, your ledgers are in the basement and you’d have to get them first, but your hip injury makes climbing stairs a bit difficult. Ask the agents if he’s willing to wait anyway (he is, they always are), then go and do the dishes (or whatever more important things need to be done), but make sure to put the phone next to a running TV, so the asshole has something to listen to while you’re away (that keeps them in the line longer).

Posted in Tips and Tricks