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I don't like telemarketers. I'm not going to buy anything by phone, ever, and I'm not going to give money to charities by phone. I just don't do business over the phone, and unsolicited phone calls make me unreasonably angry. It doesn't help that some of the people who call are unbelievably rude. The following conversation is a conglomeration of two I have had recently:
Unidentified solicitor guy: Hello, I'm blahdibeeblah from some charity or another. Blah, blah, blah, would you like to donate?
Me: Actually, I don't give donations over the phone, but if you would send me some information in the mail, I'd might consider it.
USG: Sure! I understand. We do that all the time, but we only send mail to people who donate. Can we count on you for a $35 donation and then we'll send you our newsletter?
Me: Uh . . . I just said I don't give out money over the phone.
USG: Of course, of course. What's your address, and I'll send you our information.
Me: [Stupidly giving out address, trying to retain politeness]
USG: All right, now what level would you like to donate at?
Me: I don't give out money over the phone. Please put me on your Do Not Call list.
USG: All right, ma'am, and would you like to donate before I do that?
Me: No, thank you. [Click.]
Recently, I've tried to think more objectively about this problem, and have come up with two ways to actually reduce calls.
Get yourself off the list
I am so sick of the recorded messages that come in the middle of the day. They call with a message, then if you're lucky, they'll let you press 1 to talk to someone. I would usually just hang up, but I was sick of having to get up and go to the phone, and I think it's really only one or two companies calling.
So now I take the bit of extra time to actually talk to someone. I get as much information as I can (which I'll talk about more below). Even if they hang up on you before you get a chance to be removed from their list, if you can only get the company name, Google them, find a phone number or email, and ask to be put on their Do Not Call list. I have done this successfuly with two companies so far!
Keep a record
We've been chased by a shady character lately who likes to call on Sunday afternoons. (It makes me extra mad when people call on Sundays.) He's always after donations for a different charity, but we can tell it's the same guy. I always get really mad and tell him once again to put us on his Do Not Call list.
Last Sunday, Mr. Mordecai did really well. He was ever so polite, asked a little about the organization, then asked the name of the fundraising organization. And got it! He took down the name, the caller's name, and their phone number. He asked again to be placed on their Do Not Call list.
Thus our paper trail has started. We will be recording information about each unsolicited call that we get. That way, if anyone ever calls us after we have asked to be placed on their Do Not Call list, we will have a record of it, and we can more easily file a complaint. I just filed two complaints today after starting our list, and it feels so good!
Here is the information to record:
- Name of caller (not sure if it's necessary, but it's a good starting point)
- Name of company they represent (sometimes multiple companies)
- A little about what they do if you're vague on it (this will make your Googling easier later)
- Phone number of company (this is where people get suspicious and hang up on me)
- Date and time of the call (the complaint form asks for this)
Once you have records of a legitimate complaint against a company, you can go to donotcall.gov and file a complaint. Even if you don't have all the information that the form asks for, you can still file a complaint. It makes their job a lot easier, though, if we give them all the information we can. If you have the company name, but not their number, you can do a quick Google for their phone number.
Make sure you have signed up for the Do Not Call Registry first, because you can't file complaints until 31 days after you have signed up. They also have a new feature to verify whether your number is on the registry.
So that's my plan. My violin teacher used to tell people she had died when they called for her. I figure this is probably a better way to stop repeat calls, though.
Anyone else have any bright ideas? Funny or exasperating stories? Companies to watch out for?
Oh, and just for fun, and to wield my blogging power, here are the names of the two companies against whom I have filed complaints so far:
- Non-Profit Services, Inc., calling under the guise of the following charities. They have called us for almost all of them, too, despite us asking them at least five times to put us on their Do Not Call list. They're number one on my hit list at the moment! Also, if you look here, only about 12% of the money they collect actually goes to the charities they're collecting for. Shameful! I'm surprised they call themselves a charity, because they're obviously working for profit.
- Cancer Federation, Inc.
- Disabled & Retired Firefighters
- Disabled Police Officers Of America, Inc.
- Dogs Against Drugs / Dogs Against Crime
- Firefighters Assistance Fund, Inc.
- FireFighters Charitable Foundation
- Operation Lookout National Center for Missing Youth
- VietNow National Headquarters
- Card Member Services (they call with an annoying recording, and when I pressed 1 to talk to a representative, they hung up when I asked for their number)