My Bibliography

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Don't Call Us... We'll Call You




(As in Phone Guide)

I reckon what with all the no call lists being completely useless, that if you can’t beat ’em, then you might as well entertain yourself with telemarketing callers.   Yeah... why not dish a side of entertainment with your dinner, but share, keep the phone on speaker in the middle of the table so the whole family can enjoy.  That’s a great way to break the monotony of pretending to be interested in their day, or, if you’re just the lonely loser type like me and eat frozen lasagne and suchlike by yourself every night in front of the telly, you can actually look forward to the only dinner guest you’ll ever have.  Yes, telemarketers offer something for everybody – and they’re free!
A long time ago in the UK, I once rather stupidly listened to a consumer programme on television that said the best way to deal with such calls is to politely say something like this: 
‘Thank you for your call, but I’m not interested at this time.’ 
Absolute balls to that!  Why the fuck should I be thanking these annoying bastards for letting my pizza go cold?  But then that was back in the day when the world hadn’t become quite so rude yet and before the last bastion of the Brits became outmoded.  Because today, as we all know, telemarketers have an answer for everything; skilled, or so they fucking think, in counteracting your adamant refusal; repudiating that overly polite and civilised rejection; refusing to shove it where the sun don’t shine - as was always clearly the true meaning of even the Brits – and trust me, it don’t shine anywhere like it does in Mumbai - the main headquarters of the telemarketing race.  But yet they’re persistent, a bit like the gas you get for 48hrs after you’ve eaten a particularly spicy curry.
And you do know who’s responsible for them getting their murky little hands on your number in the first place, don’t you?  Yes, your telephone provider, for the most part, and you’ll find it’s in the small print: 
Periodically we provide lists to companies who may have a boatload of crap to sell that you’ve never heard of, who’ll call to tell you that you’ve won a competition that you never entered in the first place or that they can have your credit card bill reduced by 99% - but only if you provide the number, the expiry date and the three digit security code on the back as well as your mother’s maiden name... oh, and your bank account information.  
No, you have to actually read the small print to be able to know to tell them not to give your number out even if you do opt to pay their rip off charge for a private listing.  And of course these companies sell them to every other company ‘cos they’re all in cahoots you know.  And every time you’re asked for your number on some website it goes on yet another list, and before you know it, your phone’s lit up like a radio station’s switchboard when the prize offered is lunch for two at your local IHOP if you’re the 32nd caller.  Yes, usually around 6pm when you’re just about to sit down with your egg and chips to watch the news and see who’s killing who around the world now.  Or worse, making you miss the serious stuff, you know... like the headline news such as the unfeeling tyrant who stole one of our beloved and protected homeless people’s shopping carts, not to mention the feigned look of concern on the News Anchors’ faces when they go on to report that that member of the protected and revered sub-cultured species only has a wheely bin to collect all his bottles in now.  Um... excuse me, but didn’t he steal the cart and the garbage can in the first place?  But that’s all right, he’s a bum; it’s not a crime when you can’t pay a fine.
But seriously, I immediately block all strange numbers coming through on my phone these days though, fucking amount of them, shocking indeed, obviously numbers able to propagate like catholics, the area codes obvious even if they’re not 800 or 899 numbers cos they don’t belong to Canada, and nobody calls me from the States, I’m far too private for that.  Well, that is unless its the other phone companies; they rather cleverly try to trick you by assigning a local area code, making you think you do have a friend in the world after all and going on to further trick you by using your first name as if they’re an old friend: ‘Hey Johnny... how ya doin’?’  Of course that’s only if they haven’t been outsourced, for even if the fluidity of their second language skill is impressive, the telltale East Indian accent betrays their location right off the bat, and other aspects too that they’re so unaware of, like if you ask if they have HD service on Broadway yet, of the most famous streets that runs the length of the entire city of Vancouver, and they ask you how to spell it.
And there’s nothing wrong with that, I s’pose, I mean who else wants that job over here anyway?   But now you know why you had to settle for the secondary area code, the less prestigious one, the good ones all allocated to South Asia, all calling pretending to be just up the road, all wanting to ‘bloody helping’ me save money.
“KinnaspiktomeesterMoont?” the voice says. 
“Sorry, wrong number, I didn’t order any takeaway,” I say.
Or, if I’m in a completely bad mood (and I do feel slightly guilty about this one because I know that there might be somebody over there with three generations relying on them to buy a sack of rice for the entire year with their pitiful earnings, and because I do admire their ability to speak English, over-exuberant in its effort to sound as if its actually local, as it can be)”
“Can you repeat that please?”
“Iamkillinfromsuchandsuchacompanyakinnivverrmakeoutthe-nameof”
“I can’t understand a word you’re saying,” I say.
“Iam-killin-from-suchandsuchacompany-a-kin-never-makeout-thenameof,” they say a bit slower, a bit louder.
“Nope, I still can’t make out a bloody word, can you speak English please?”
“Surr...Iamspeakinthebloodyenglish.”
“Is this a prank call? Frank is that you pretending to be a Pakky again?”
“Surraamkillinabouttobetellinyouaboutthefeaturesyougetwithourbloodyphonecompanyfree
furaweekbeforewestartcharginyouastromincalrateslikeeveryothercompanyinCanadadoesbecausethe
provincesrefusetoregulateitlikeanyothercivilisedbloodycountry,” they say, obviously getting a bit tetchy now; that karma sutra thing we all hear about not doing much at all to release their tension, obviously.
“Oh, I’m sorry, I have no need for a carpet cleaning, we have hardwood... we changed after you told us it was extra to actually remove the dirty stains that we hired you for the first time.”
“Surramnosayinbloodycarpet-amcallinfromsuchandsucha-companyakinnnevermakeoutthebloodynameof.”
“Look, I have absolutely no idea what language you’re speaking, but you will have to excuse me; I’m expecting Tyramail at any time.  Salam.”
Click.
Now, I feel guilty, because the reason I do this is so that said telemarketer will get into trouble for not sounding like a westerner if their supervisor is monitoring the calls. Yes, at the time, I find that just punishment for them making my chips go as cold and soggy as a bunch of witches tits.  But then I have visions of his sari ass being kicked out into the streets of Mumbai with nothing but a begging bowl to earn a living.  Or I wonder if they just get hauled back into the classroom to learn the language properly, or perhaps demoted or something, but whatever, doomed forever to remain a slum dog sleeping on the undercarriages of trains, I imagine, and local ones too, you know the rickety old kind. That is unless they go back onto the tea plantation or something - or is that only women?  Its only ever women you see on the tea boxes, in their beautiful coloured traditional dress and that red spot on the forehead from where the gun pressed too hard to force her to smile for the photograph like you see on the kind of tea caddy your granny might still have on her windowsill or from a retro box of PG tips - well, that is until they replaced her with talking monkeys or some indescribable sock puppet that I believe they might use these days - if there’s a difference - maybe they shot her though; women’s rights the way they are, she probably demanded two rupees a month instead of one.
And then there are those who do speak English, the overly polite and professional female voices that are slightly flirtatious, giving the impression they’re sitting in some pristine, efficient corporate environment; but their only interest the details of your credit card  and not really its interest rate. Do people actually fall for that?  Like, do they give out their numbers and security codes?  Are there actually people so lonely that they get taken in by a scammer with a friendly voice professing to help reduce their debt?  There has to be or they wouldn’t be doing it.  In actual fact that friendly voice is probably sitting in a trailer park with a baby attached to her tit – or at least, the guy she picked up in ‘The Sheep Shack’ the night before, no, she’s probably talking on a sex line in a Chinese accent on call waiting. 
No, I listen to these people in their entirety, I can understand them after all and they can be quite amusing, with their American drones and idiosyncrasy that betrays who they really are.  But anyway, you have no choice; they just delve right into it without taking a breather, not allowing you to say that you’re not interested, ignoring you if you do, skilled in trying to hook the polite and unsuspecting with the monologue that they no longer need to read from a piece of paper, having recited it so many times that they’re not only feeding the baby, holding a sexual conference call, but also wondering just how Troy and Garth’s evil triplet brother Fabio could have come back from the dead, especially when his mother, who is also his first wife and little sister, had him hacked to little pieces in a hamburger factory to be served up at the cook-out at the county fair.  Yes, all this, as well as sending out spam emails informing people how they can achieve the hardest hard-on ever if they don’t mind imminent heart failure and impaired vision by opting for a cheaper alternative to Viagra because nobody can fuck without some help these days, according to them.  But on that matter, they might be right; the drug not at all for impotence, everybody knows, it’s merely a sex enhancing stimulant, in effect, no different from ‘poppers’, the amyl nitrate ‘leather cleaner’ that was so famed back in the eighties.   But no, we can’t admit that; it’s only for people with erectile dysfunction. Yeah right.  When will the human race say it as it is?
“Ohhh... you want to give me a credit card?” I say, when they finally expect me to jump right on whatever it is they’re offering. 
“No... sir...,” they say (a word that actually means ‘you stupid fuck’) after a momentary and stunned silence that might’ve been more appropriately employed to show surprise when they found out that Fabio had actually had a sex change and was now in love with his long lost quadruplet brother Hunter whom they thought had died in the incubator having been pushed out of the womb by the other three because he had a bigger dick than them. “I’m calling about your credit card interest.”
“Oh yes I certainly do have an interest, I’ve been trying for years to get a credit card, but I’m always declined... they won’t even give me a secured one you know.”
“Sir, I’m calling about our credit card interest rate services, we offer the opportunity to have your high rates reduced... we can really limit that for you... so if you’ll just provide me with your number... why pay more?”
“Oh that’s great, a high limit?  Aw... thanks for giving me this chance,  Oooh I can’t wait, I never thought I’d be able to have nice things again... fuck you credit bureau... I’m ba-ack!  But don’t worry; I have learned my lesson, I’ll only book four-star hotels in future... fly coach from hereonin. No sireebob, I won’t fuck you over.” I say, until the penny drops.
Click.
“Hel-lo... hel-lo.” I continue to say even though my act of dumbness has obviously worked and no one to hear me... God I guess I am lonely.  But again, the point is to entertain yourself.
There are other ways too to fuck with them too; you simply tell them that you’re very interested, but could they possibly wait a minute while you go look out all your credit cards and your partner’s too.  They’ll always say, ‘sure no, problem....’ but thinking privately what a sucker you are and not quite believing their luck, 4,223 calls that night and finally a schmuck that’s gonna pay for a new HD TV for them and any other amount of online electronics.  I often wonder just how long they waited on the other end of the phone though, but they’re never there when I check back fifteen minutes later.  Mind you, I only do this on the landline where there are no cell phone charges.  
But leaving them hanging is the easy way out, the coward’s way if you like, and no real fun at all, but whatever floats your boat; it still sticks it to them.  I also know someone who simply says, ‘uh-huh’ to absolutely everything that the telemarketer says or asks, no matter what... that can be fun as you listen to them get all agitated; thinking you haven’t understood them properly.
Click.
Then there is the gay guy or the cow from hell that just won’t let you go and they start to lose it; their professional voices soon reverting to reflect the gutter pig bitches that they really are – I mean come on, they must be.  No offence if you are one, perhaps its a stopgap, a way to earn a bit of extra money, but really you gotta be pretty desperate.  These particular calls usually start out by me interrupting their lengthy breathless spiel by demanding to know upfront if this is a telemarketing call, but they’re very skilled at avoiding that question though; simply reiterating how it is more of a service that they offer, or at least that is until I interrupt again:
“Is this... or is it not... a telemarketing call?” I say.
“Sir... we are a company that provides peace of mind by offering...”
“So it is a marketing call?”
“Well ye-es, but....”
Okay... well I’m not interested....”
“Well how do you know you’re not interested; you don’t even know what it is we’re selling?”
“I know if I haven’t gone looking for it, I don’t need it, that’s why?”
“But sometimes you don’t always think about the things that you need...”
“Oh fuck off.... hanging up now sweetie.” I say.
Click.
Now once a particularly inflamed queen (I could tell by his voice and the expressions he used) called me right back to continue the argument, and I found that rather funny actually, the gall of it:
“Tell me honey ham, did it hurt when the devil spit you up and you landed here?” he said.
“Not interested, buh bye.” I said.
At least these days though, I do listen initially, I just used to hang up.  And here’s why:  I got a call from someone speaking a bit too fast after the inevitable: ‘may I speak to Mr Mount?‘ which put my guard up immediately.
“Speaking.” I say all annoyed like.
“My name’s Jerome, and I’m calling from the Bank of (whatever it was).
“I’m not interested.” I interrupt, completely impatiently.
“Oh really... can you say that again?” he said rather bitchily, “you’re not interested?”
“That’s right,” I say all sanctimoniously, refusing to back down even though he’d peaked my interest.
“Well... o-kay then... you’re loss... buh bye.” he sang as if auditioning for Glee.
Click.
Yes, these days I at least listen, because to this day I bet you any money that call was from the bank that Visa used during the time when they had a promotional thing going on, the kind where they select people every month and void their entire fucking Visa bill.  I’m absolutely convinced it was something like that, but I’ll never know now due to my short temper - although I like to think that was just a ploy on the telemarketer’s part, I mean, they must have things like that that they do from their end too, sticking it to the nasty customers like me, psychologically abusing them.  And that’s what if feels like, it tortures me; if not that, then why else would he not have been as persistent as they normally are, been so haughty?  All I know is that I’m left feeling like I really missed out on something good there, something free for a change.
I don’t know if it’s just because I’ve blocked all of these numbers now, a feature that comes free with my landline, but I haven’t received any marketing calls in ages... perhaps they’ve blacklisted me, perhaps they’ve put me on their no call list.  Whatever... I feel rejected... keep picking up the phone to make sure it’s working, actually.  They still come through on the cell phone though, I know, because no-one, but no-one, in my personal life knows that number, not even I... and as much fun as fucking with telemarketers minds can be, until my cell phone provider doesn’t charge me for receiving incoming calls, which is another fucking blog altogether, I’d rather sit and ‘tikka masala’ thinking just what I might say when they do next call on the landline... and you know they will... just as sure as all the T (for telemarketers) in India... or perhaps I can consider that on my free cruise to the Bahamas that I just won.  Score!  I just have to make my way to a seminar in Florida to take it up.
Click.

2 comments:

  1. I once had a guy try to sell me Royal Jelly on the phone....in french. Apparently there's a lot you can do with Royal Jelly....if I understood french I might have figured out what that was.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ooh la la, that is a bit out of the mold... hey who knows what delights you missed out on. Dare I look it up on the Internet?

    ReplyDelete

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