Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Let the revolutions begin - end the tyranny no. 1: the unsolicited tele-sales call

Right. For all you who hate these calls but are a little unsure of how to deal with them, let me give some advice on how you can get a little fun out of these scourges of our existence.
The first thing you have to remember is that a tele-sales person relies on the fact that you are basically polite, won't tell lies, answer truthfully, and don't want to hang up without some form of closure like "No thanks, goodbye." They are never going to allow you to do that. They have learned to speak non stop for long minutes, and they will only ask you questions to which your ego or innate sense of politeness tells you the answer has to be either "Yes" or "I don't know" either of which will then give them permission to go on at even greater length.  If you happen to be lucky enough to get a recorded sales pitch, then fine, just hang up, they don't count.
The next thing you need to do is when you pick up your phone to answer it, never ever say who you are or even give out your number or any detail at all! This is very important. Say "Hello" and wait, or if you have the bottle, say nothing at all, because it's really up to the caller to greet you and introduce themselves. If it's an unwanted sales call they will ask if you are Mr or Ms John Smith. At this point if they have a wrong name, you just say, "Sorry wrong number" and hang up immediately! If they have the RIGHT name, this is where tactics need to be employed.
First, you ask, "Who is calling?" without having admitted that you are the person they have just mentioned. They then should give you enough information to decide on whether you want to take this call or not. If they don't give you enough information then persist with your questions, ignoring theirs, until you have the info you want. If you don't want to continue with the call, you have a number of options. If they want to sell you some home improvement stuff, double glazing or some such thing, simply say "I'm sorry, I don't own this house." This will probably be true unless you do own it outright and have paid off the mortgage. If you do own it outright, and don't want to tell a fib, or they want to sell you something which is not related to ownership of the property, then you could ask them to repeat who it is they want to speak to. If they ask you outright if you are that person, just say, "Hold on I'll see if he/she is available." That way, you are not lying, just buying yourself time. Put the phone down, and ask yourself if you are available for this particular call. The answer should be "NO" unless you have lost all sense of time, order and priority, and desperately want to hear the sound of another human being. Having decided that you are not available, you pick up the phone and say,"Sorry he/she is not available at this time." If they are quick enough to ask who you are, just say that you are a friend which is true. If they ask when the person might be available you simply say you don't know and need to go now, "Goodbye" and ignore any questions about when might be a good time to call back.
Now, if you want to have a little fun, you could use a different approach, although it does require a little dissembling, which in my book is ok with tele-sales calls. So, when they ask "Is that Mr/Ms/Mrs So and so?" you reply that Mr So and so has just gone to prison, but would welcome the opportunity to talk to this company if they (the caller) can just give you a number to pass on, and said person will phone them from prison if they can do a reverse the charges or free number call. Usually the caller beats a hasty retreat. You can invent any number of different scenarios which will also discourage the caller, like, "He's in the middle of a law suit against a tel-sales company for misrepresentation of goods". Really your imagination is your only limit.
Should the caller be trying to gain access to your computer, this is definitely a scam. Give nothing away. If they ask if you use Microsoft or Word tell them you don't know (act dumb), and do NOT do anything they tell you with regard to your own computer, like type in a code or address they give you. Ask the caller for his or her name - I once got Albert Einstein I kid you not! Then ask for the manager's name. Then ask for the manager's Microsoft Authorisation Code, which if they have the presence of mind to deal with, they will make up on the spot. At that point tell them it has too many (or too few) characters in it to be correct, and hang up.
So, take control of the process, be robust, creative and have fun. 

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