Wow, just had the weirdest cold call in a long time. I get a lot of these, normally one or two a day. There’s various ways of dealing with them, depending upon my mood and how busy I am. Often the telltale pause before they’ll speak is enough for me to hang up, and generally start screaming in frustration that I was interrupted in mid-flow for no reason. But when I’m feeling more patient I like to have a little chat.
This morning I received one from someone from “the government” (presumably an outsourced department located somewhere in India) offering me the chance to consolidate all my debt into one loan. I appealed to him, asking him why he would try to scam people. He became very defensive, and then went straight back to trying to sell me his offer. Those are the ones that make me sad.
Then there’s the technique my friend Stu uses, which is to interrupt them apologetically, and say, “Sorry, can you hang on, there’s someone at the door,” and then put the phone receiver down somewhere and get on with my day. They’ll wait an amazing time.
Or sometimes, along with my housemate Craig, we like to see how silly we can make it. When asked our annual income we’ll tell them, “40p” and insist it’s true. Or when asked about our debts offer numbers like £5 million. On one superb occasion, Craig managed to get the caller to tell him all the private information he’d been trying to pry from Craig – his age, car make, annual income.
I always try to remain polite, because blimey it must be a crappy job. But at the same time, they’re cold calling me to attempt to scam me (I spent a good fifteen minutes with someone who was trying to trick me into installing malware on my PC, which was one of my favourites), so it doesn’t seem unfair to have a little fun.
But just now was the strangest, just because of the pure gall of it. I’d planned to keep going with it as long as I could, because I was so entertained by the irony of the whole thing. But then he gave me a feedline that could not be resisted. A feedline that when you read it doesn’t even make sense for him to have said, as if he were scripted by a lazy comedy writer. Oh, and they always ask for Mr Smith, and I never, ever say that I am him, and they always go right ahead and talk to me as if I were.
Him: Hello, can I speak to Mr Smith please?
Me: Who’s calling?
Him: Hello Mr Smith, I’m calling from Do Not Call…
Him: I’m sorry sir?
Me: Did you say “Do Not Call”?
Him: Yes, Do Not Call. I’m calling today to help you to stop receiving cold calls, nuisance calls, marketing calls that you receive to your line.
Me: You mean like this one?
Me: You’re going to help stop me getting this call?
Him: How do you stop this call?
Me: I stop it like this. [click]