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TorgoX (1933)


"Il est beau comme la retractilité des serres des oiseaux rapaces [...] et surtout, comme la rencontre fortuite sur une table de dissection d'une machine à coudre et d'un parapluie !" -- Lautréamont

Journal of TorgoX (1933)

Saturday January 26, 2002
08:10 PM

Conversational tactics with salesmen

[ #2441 ]
On the jukebox: BT (feat. M. Doughty) "Never Gonna Come Back Down (Hybrid's Breaktek Mix)"

So being all linguistical and stuff, I feel compelled at times to offer expert testimony in one of the more important questions of our day: what to do when annoying people call and try to sell you things.

Now, you could just be mean/rude/abrupt to them and whatnot, but those people have almost the worst imaginable job, and the fact that it requires them to bother me doesn't make me feel any better if I say "don't bother me!" and hang up. Instead, a "successful" conversation is one where both sides are happy that everyone was civil, said "hello" at the start, "goodbye" at the end, and there's nothing eventful inbetween.

Now, the salesmen's "scripts" are to sell you things, and say things at you that make it impossible to get out of buying it. "But sir, an extra credit card is handy!". So the key is to say something that's well outside their script, and which makes there be no point in them continuing this call.


poor drudge selling the L.A. Times over the phone: "Hello sir, have you thought of all the benefits you'd get from subscribing to the L.A. Times?"
me: "I already subscribe to it."
drudge: "You... do? [checking the call-list] You're not on my subscriber list."
me: "Yes, I told the housekeeper to start up the subscription last week, and it's been coming every day. That's rahther all I know about it!"
[drudge then apologizes for the bother and says bye]


poor drudge selling the L.A. Times over the phone: "Hello sir, have you thought of all the benefits you'd get from subscribing to the L.A. Times?"
me: "Not really. I'm blind, and I just have my computer voice-read me papers off the Internet."
[drudge then apologizes for the bother and says bye]


poor drudge selling the long distance service: "Hello sir, are you aware that you're spending way too much on long distance? Have you thought of switching to AT&T?"
me: "I shouldn't really do anything clever with the phone service now, I'm moving in just about two weeks."
drudge: "Oh, where to? AT&T provides service all over US and Canada!"
me: "I'm moving to South Africa." [They never have anything to say beyond this, like "oh, AT&T has service in South Africa!" or anything]
[drudge then apologizes for the bother and says bye]

Credit card salesmen are harder, and I'm out of bright ideas here. But here's my best material:

poor drudge selling credit cards: "Hello sir, you have been selected to receive an MBNA Platinum card!"
me: "This line is not encrypted! You know I can't talk on unencrypted lines! THEY could be listening in, with their microwave dishes and their satellites! You know what they'd do if, if, if, if, if they got my mother's maiden name! My MOTHER!"
drudge: "Um..." [looking for a way to extricate himself from the conversation with today's Crazy Man. So give him a way...]
me: "[matter of factly] Look. It's time for the cats to come in. Yes, all of them who want to. So they can help. So I'm going to go get them. [Cheerily] Goodbye!" [hanging up]

Or there's always the old standby: "You know, this is a data line, not a voice-phone line! Normally, if I weren't here testing the line like I am just now, if you'd called, you'd have gotten a earful of screaming modem noise. So strike the number from your database, okay? Bye. [hang up, and don't answer it if it rings in the next minute or two]"

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  • I usually just tell the truth. "I am not interested." If they persist, I hang up.

    However, I have a better method: caller ID + blocking hidden IDs + not answering "unknown ID" + an answering machine with the default message. So I almost never get calls from salespeople anymore, except for that psychic Jamaican chick who leaves a message (I'd think she would be the LAST person to leave a message for me, knowing we would never call back).

    Anyway, in other words: avoid the conversation in the first place.