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MARK McCARTHY: Navigating the world of telemarketers

MARK McCARTHY: Navigating the world of telemarketers

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Let me start off by saying I have no problem with legitimate telemarketers who are honestly trying to make a living.

But let me follow this up by saying I do have a problem with people calling my phone for random things they don’t even know about.

I just had one. The call showed up on my phone as originating in Minden, Nebraska. I don’t know anybody in Minden. Nobody in Minden should have any reason to call me.

Normally, I ignore calls from Minden, but I thought this one could be entertaining, and it was.

A perky person identified herself as Emily from the warranty department and said she had mailed me information about my vehicle warranty, but this was my last chance and asked if I wanted to hear my options.

Here’s where my wise guy senses kicked in.

“I’d like to know what vehicle you’re calling about,” I told perky Emily.

She replied with, “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear your response. Would you like to hear your options?”

Nice ploy, perky Emily. Distraction. But not good enough.

“No, I’d like to know if you even know what kind of vehicles I have,” I said.

Emily, not as perky anymore, said, “Well, thank you for your time and have a nice day,” and hung up on me.

I thought so, Emily.

Many years ago, back in the days before cell phones, a call came from Sports Illustrated wanting to sell me a magazine subscription.

I had just settled in to watch Game 1 of the World Series when this call came.

The voice on the line rattled off the scripted sales pitch. Normally, I would have cut them off early, but I wanted to let this one go because I had an answer.

When the voice finished with, “If you have a few minutes, we can get you signed up today,” I was ready.

“I don’t have a few minutes,” I said. “I was just sitting down to watch the World Series and if you were any kind of a sports magazine, you wouldn’t be calling people right now.”

Again, I got hung up on.

Back even further, it was easy to tell the legitimate callers from the telemarketers when they would ask for my parents. My mom’s name is Twilla, so the random callers would typically stumble over the pronunciation.

Callers for dad were even easier to catch. Dad’s given name and his name on most legal documents was Thomas. Everybody knew him, however, as Tom. Except for one of his aunts who always called him Tommy.

Telemarketers were easy to identify when they called asking for Thomas.

Today, with cell phones, the callers have tried to be clever and make it look like they’re calling from a local number, such as Minden. That’s another way to test their reactions.

For a while there, it was popular for the telemarketers to call from numbers that come up on Caller ID as Chappell.

Next time you get a call like that one, ask them if they know where Chappell is. Most likely, you’ll be greeted with confused silence or they’ll hang up on you.

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