That's Life: Getting to Know Your Telemarketers

By Phyllis MaguireiBerkshires Columnist
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I am on the "do not call" list, or so I was led to believe. Yet, the other day I received five calls that were not from friends, neighbors, family but only strangers. 
I recognized some of the callers' voices, as it has been the umpteenth time I have heard from them: "This is your last chance to reduce your interest rates on your credit card," one recorded message warned me. When I told a friend about that call, she said "Oh that's Rachael." She was right: the message is prefaced by "Hello, this is Rachael."
I have in the past pressed 3 on my telephone pad at Rachael's suggestion to stop future calls, only to have the calls continue. I decided to press 1 in order to speak to a representative for more information about obtaining a credit card with the company seeking my business. I had an ulterior motive: I wanted to ask the representative why I was still being called, but as soon as I said I was not interested in acquiring a credit card, the representative hung up.
Rachael please let my friend and me be. I pay my credit card charges in full each month, and Bea does not want a credit card. (Between you and me, I don't know how she manages without one.)

I get a kick out of the strangers who call and say, "Hello is this Phyllis?" Do they think pretending to know me by first name will make me more receptive to their "pitch" whatever it is?
Why, oh, why do these people who want my business, call at inconvenient times, such as when I am just sitting down to dinner, shampooing my hair or entertaining company?  

In the last weeks before the presidential election, I received so many calls from pollsters and campaign workers, who were trying to sway my vote, you would have thought I lived in a swing state. I tried to be polite when shooing them away. "I'm sorry, I don't have time to talk to you right now." Admittedly, I would have liked to say, "I will be exercising the right to vote, but whom I vote for is my secret."
There was a college student taking a survey about supermarkets, however, that plucked on my heart strings. I answered a couple of questions, "Is your supermarket kept clean?" "How many times a week do you shop for groceries?"  Then I begged off: I'm cooking dinner. I have to go."  

"Please don't hang up," the student moaned. "If you don't answer the rest of the questions, I won't get paid."
"Poor kid," I thought, remembering my own children working to earn a few dollars when they were in college. So, I turned off the stove, sat down on the couch in the living room and answered the rest of the questions. If I were hard-hearted, I would have eaten a half-hour earlier that evening.
I did learn something during that call, however. I asked the student how she got my number and she replied, "We're in Canada, and we get numbers off the computer."

Now I wonder where my telephone number is listed online.
It's our Social Security numbers we are urged to keep safe. Never give them out to strangers, on the phone, etc. I am grateful to the editor who warned me years ago when I was young and naive not to include my Social Security number on the invoices I submitted for stories I'd  written. 
Now, I am older and wiser, well I like to think I am wiser. If I really were, I always would screen my telephone calls.

Tags: telemarketers,   

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