A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

I’m a Telemarketer—Here’s How to Get Rid of Me

You can't just screen my calls using caller ID. How can you make me go away for good?

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Even successful telemarketers have an estimated 96 percent chance of being turned down, says one company

With odds so low, out of sheer desperation, we will be relentless in trying to keep you on the phone. You can’t just screen my calls using caller ID. If you don’t pick up, I mark your lead (our lingo for file) as “no answer,” and the system programs another call for a few days later. If my company does not have a large lead pool, you may get called as soon as 12 hours later. If you’re dealing with this kind of aggressive campaign, it’s actually better to answer than to let the phone keep ringing.

When you answer, I’ll try to sell the product to you using the Three Noes rule: Don’t let the customer go until she has said no three times during the phone call. After the first two noes, the client becomes more likely to spend money. If you don’t purchase the item, I will log everything you’ve said and suggest calling you back another time. These are logged as “callbacks”—tiny gold nuggets for telemarketers to follow up on. And thus, the cycle continues. Now that you know how I work, here’s how to make me go away for good. Plus, learn some more ways to opt out of unpleasant things that seem inevitable.

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Young woman wearing hijab head scarf in city talking on cell phone

Don’t immediately hang up

If you do, I’ll mark your lead as “no answer”—the same status as if you had never picked up in the first place. Then I will call you back until I have a conversation with you. And if you hang up mid-conversation without an explanation, I will most likely call you back and claim that you got disconnected. If you hear these four words when you pick up the phone, though, you should hang up immediately.

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African-american businessman driving car and talking on cellphone

Don’t engage me in any way

Interaction gives me the false hope that you may just need some convincing to buy my product. Do not ask any questions. Do not try to explain why you are not interested in the product. Do not show empathy, compassion, or any other human characteristic.

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Businesswoman talking on cellphone and looking at laptop. Female executive working in office.
Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

Stay cool—anger won’t help you

Remember, the computer chose your lead—I didn’t. If you scream at me because you’ve gotten called before, it’s likely I’ll just put you back into the lead pool to torture you. If you think I’m being rude, you can ask to speak to a manager. Despite what I might say, every business has a supervisor in the call room. Watch out for these phone call scams that could steal your money.

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Caring retired father sitting on sofa and calling his children, communication
Motortion Films/Shutterstock

Say the magic words

The most efficient way to get me to stop calling you requires that you say one sentence: “Please put me on your do-not-call list.” If I ask why, be polite—but firm—and repeat, “I want you to put me on your do-not-call list.” But first, here’s the truth about the Do Not Call list.

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Typing on laptop
Stock Rocket/Shutterstock

Seal my fate

Sign up on the National Do Not Call Registry (donotcall.gov), which makes it illegal for companies to contact you more than once. Next, learn how to keep non-humans from calling you with these tricks to prevent robocalls.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest