Death of a salesman

        Hello. Is that Mr Elk?

We’ve all had them. The incessant sales calls, interspersed with the “Hello, I’m a hacker looking for easy access to your computer, erm, I mean, Steve from Microsoft…” type calls.

Now, apart from the half-assed hacker boys who I like to hold on the line for as long as possible (personal record now stands at 75 minutes before he realised I was taking the piss), I fully appreciate that these sales people, pollsters, market researchers are, like all of us, simply trying to make a living. I usually try to be polite, thank them for their time, and end the call as pleasantly as possible. This, often as not, fails to work, and I’ve been on the receiving end of a torrent of abuse on more than one occasion.

The past three months, I came to realise something. If I thought it was bad for me, with an average 5-6 of these uninvited calls per day, it is much, much worse for those vulnerable individuals who have taken time to answer their questions, or, God forbid, have actually purchased some of the tat that they hawk. It would appear that, if you give one of them any time, you are suddenly on every database as an easy mark. Staying at my mother’s house, I found myself bombarded with 15-25 of these callers every, single, day.

So I’ve managed quite a comprehensive attempt at reducing the number of unwelcome calls (down to a manageable 6-8 per day), and feel it my public duty to share some preliminary findings.

Responses that don’t work:

  • Politely requesting that they remove the number from their database.
  • Demanding that they remove the number from their database.
  • Pointing out that they have just broken the law by calling the number (she’s been signed up to the national “no sales” service for over 5 years!)
  • Threatening to track them down and insert their headphones where the sun don’t shine.
  • Asking if their mother is happy with their career choice.

The ones that partially work. (They only partially work, because they remain on the phone much longer than I’d like, but has the advantage of delaying the call to their next intended victim):

“Hello, is this Mr Elk?”
‘No’.
“Are you a family member?”
‘No’.

Only once did it get as far as: “Well, who the hell are you, then?” I was tempted to answer that I was a burglar, but felt that this individual might take it seriously, and I didn’t fancy explaining myself to the imagined police officer who may turn up.

“Hello, is this Mr Elk?”
‘No’, in deepest bass possible, ‘this is Mrs Elk. Can I take a message?’

Two things happen at this stage. The idea that Mrs Elk should have such a deep, masculine voice so repulses them that they hang up, or:

“Why, yes, Mrs Elk. We are offering 50% off our world leading widgets that you really can’t live without. This offer ends in three days, and you must act quickly to take advantage of this offer.”
‘Oh, I’m sorry. Mr Elk deals with widget purchases. Can I take your number and get him to call when he gets back? I’m sure he’d be interested in cheap widgets.’

That’s pretty much when they hang up. No widget salesman worth their salt has time to accept incoming calls!

The ones that always work:

“Hello, is this Mr Elk?”
‘No, this is Penge; the butler. May I ask who is calling, for Mr Elk?’

Normally, they hang up immediately they find out you are the butler.

“Hello, is this Mr Elk?”
‘I’m afraid you have the wrong number. There is no-one here of that name.’

Mostly you will get a simple hang up, but may receive an apology of that automatic type that we blurt out when we do the same ourselves. Only once turned abusive with a, “do you mean to tell me that the national phone company would get this wrong?”. Responding with ‘No – you obviously dialled the wrong number’, apparently warrants a “F**% you!” before the line goes dead.

“Hello, this is Tracy from XXResearch. May I have a few minutes of your time to answer some questions?”
‘Why yes, it is. My normal charges for answering questions is £40 per minute, how would you like to pay?’

Line usually goes dead before I can ask how they would like to pay!

Possibly my favourites, but only use these with the automatic dialler ones, where the line appears to be dead for a few seconds before they speak.

‘Congratulations, you are through to Hairy Harry’s S&M Chat. Calls cost 96 pence per minute, plus your normal network charge…’

For some reason, they really don’t want to talk to Harry, or are averse to dabbling in anything bondage related, and very few hang around long enough to learn the cost…

‘Target location successfully logged. Launch sequence begins in 30minutes. To abort launch sequence, press 1.’

Now, call me old fashioned, but, if it were me, I’d quite like to abort whatever launch is about to send some unknown ordnance my way. Only once has someone retained a healthy sense of self preservation and pressed a button. Follow up with:

‘Please enter your six digit security code to abort launch sequence.’

“Shit”, gasped the poor chap before hanging up. I have an image of him crashing over desks to reach the exit, and hot footing it up the main street in the hope of finding a place of safety. Watches way too many spy movies, if you ask me…

Of course, the national phone company could easily enough stop these calls, by simply barring anything which appears to be a valid UK number but originates from a call centre in India, the Congo, or Milton Keynes… but profit has to come before safeguarding customers, so I won’t hold my breath for any imminent change.

Sincerely,
Hairy Harry
MI6 strike launch operative

About Running Elk

My given native name, Running Elk, was bestowed in 2008 as I took my first steps as a fully fledged Medicine Man in the Zuni tradition. A most unlikely candidate for the role, my journey as a healer had begun some four years previously. The detour onto the shamanic way was unexpected, yet has proved to be one of the most rewarding challenges of my spiritual journey.
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43 Responses to Death of a salesman

  1. stevetanham says:

    Reblogged this on Sun in Gemini and commented:
    A wonderful and very amusing post from Mr Elk…

  2. Thanks for the smile this morning.

    They don’t like talking to receptionists either. I tried that one a few times. I just say, “You’re through to reception, this is Shirley speaking. How may I direct your call?” – I use that one a lot if the phone has been ringing a lot that day – and the line goes dead.

    My eldest brother once informed them that he’d been having issues with harassment, so he was happy to talk to them, but thought it was only fair to warn them all calls to his number were being traced by the police. They hung up pretty fast.

    My other brother will randomly answer with the names of various companies, which usually causes them to hang up pretty quickly too. The furthest he ever got was them asking if he was sure he was from that company, but they appologized and went away when he assured them he was, and asked if he could help them.

    On two different ocasions, my brother – the one who claims to be from companies – and I have had fun with the ones who call claiming you were in an accident. Bearing in mind, we’re both completely blind. So the conversations went something like this:

    “I’m calling because you were recently in an accident.”
    “Oh, no! Was I hurt badly?”
    “Yes.”
    “That’s terrible! I’m going to get better though, right?”
    “Yes. You should make a full recovery.”
    “That’s good to hear. I was worried there for a moment. How did it happen?”
    “It was a car accident.”
    “Was I driving?”
    “Yes. But it wasn’t your fault.”
    “No. I imagine it wasn’t. It was probably the fault of whoever let me drive their car.”
    “I’m sorry?”
    “Well, since I’m blind, whoever let me drive their car is at fault, right?”
    *Click*

    • Running Elk says:

      Lol. I’m amazed that they continued for so long given your brother had no idea he had had an accident! 10 out of 10 for perseverence… lol. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  3. Sue Vincent says:

    I love listening to Nick play these callers. I think it is his expression of unholy glee as the minutes tick by that I like best 😉

  4. Sue Vincent says:

    PS. Nick is howling with laughter ans says he is definitely using the launch sequence one… 🙂

  5. janmalique says:

    This is fabulous. Sharing.

  6. Pingback: Death of a salesman — Shamanic Paths « strangegoingsonintheshed

  7. Kelly Evans says:

    THAT is awesome. Years ago, when newspapers used to call, enquiring if the home owner wanted a subscription, my dad would tell them he couldn’t read. “Then how do you know what’s going on?” “I look out the window.” Hmm, wonder where I get my sense of humour from…

  8. bobcabkings says:

    I let them all go to the answering machine. Most don’t leave a message. Some manage to hang up before the greeting (which is entirely generic – no name). Does it stop them? No, but I gave up on interacting with them long ago. I do like your approach.

  9. Widdershins says:

    My best ever hang-up, when I was a callow lass, was to answer with, “Oh hi, we’re about to start our ritual. You wouldn’t happen to be a virgin, would you?”

  10. Pingback: Death of a salesman ~ Running Elk | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

  11. PaulMTL says:

    Reblogged this on Writers Cove and commented:
    My first reading of the day, I just thought it would be perfect on one of my post categories. “Rants and Raves”

  12. kytwright says:

    Reblogged this on Kyt Wright and commented:
    We should all aspire to this.

  13. kytwright says:

    A friend of mine does this sort of thing.
    Me?
    I tend to slam the phone down or lose my cool.

  14. Thank you for the wonderful inspirations, you just made my day! 😆

  15. Pingback: Death of a salesman – Writers Cove

  16. Lyn Horner says:

    Hilarious ways to handle those pesky calls. I used to interact with them, usually saying I wasn’t interested in whatever they were selling or begging a contribution for. Since that was a waste of my time, I now simply press the little red end call button. That’s a real time saver.

  17. dgkaye says:

    Brilliant post! I’ve also heard that when you see it’s a telemarketer or unknown number. pick up the phone and say ‘County jail’. 🙂

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