Fun with telemarketers

The phone rang a couple of times today, and when I picked it up it was a silent call that soon disconnected.

I knew what it was, it was a telemarketer’s autodial, dialing my number, then dropping the line because there was no sales droid available to take up the call. I take a very dim view of this, as it wastes my time in the cause of saving them time.

So I was relatively prepared when the call finally came in.

Them: “Hello, I represent the National Debt Helpline, and I am calling because I believe you may have debts we can help you with.”

At this moment in time, I am blissfully debt-free, apart from a few pennies on my credit card, and the mortgage, so I knew this was bull from the start. They are just calling people and saying “you are in debt”, and suckering those who are into thinking they know more than they do. So I launched into a routine that has worked well recently.

Me: “Who is saying I am debt? Who told you? I mean, that is private information, and if someone is telling you I am in debt, that is probably slanderous.”

Them: “No, no, sir don’t worry, we are not saying you are in debt, only that if you are we can help you.”

Me: “But who told you I was in debt. I definitely think that is actionable, I need to know. Anyway, who are you?”

Them: “I represent the National Debt Helpline, and we advise and help people like you.”

I don’t believe it – they have said a magic phrase. I pause, not speaking.

Them: “Hello, Mr Malme?”

Me: “What do you mean, ‘people like me’? Do you mean you are assuming I am in debt because I am black?”

(Note to anyone who doesn’t know me personally: I am not, but it was too good a hit to miss)

By this time the telemarketer is actually beginning to stutter. They try to explain that they meant nothing by the phrase, just “people who are in debt”. I have them apologising and going in circles for a couple of minutes. However, I spoil it by giving in to laughter.

Me: “I’m sorry, I have been winding you up.”

Them: “What?”

Me: “I have been having fun at your expense. It is what I do with unsolicited sales calls.”

Them: “Mr Malme, this is not a sales call, we offer help and advice…”

Me: “Stop right there. Look, you are probably a nice person, but you are doing a crap job. Can we both acknowledge that there is nothing you can say to make me change my mind about your company, and stop wasting each other’s time? Can you just tell me that you will remove my details from your database, and then say goodbye and hang up?”

Them: “But Mr Malme, this is not a sales call, our company is a reputable….”

Me: “Stop.”

Them: “organisation offering…”

Me: “Stop.”

Them: “advice to people like yourself…”

Me: “STOP!”

They stop.

Me: “You just can’t stop reading from the script, can you.”

Them: “Mr Malme, I am not reading from a script, it is just that our company is a reputable organisation…”

Me: “I was wrong.”


Me: “You are not a nice person, and you are probably going to hell.

They finally lose it.

Them: “I’ll have you know that I am a good Christian, and I go to church….”

Me: “No, that doesn’t matter, you are go down, down, down….”

I cackle down the phone at them, and hang up.


  1. chris
    April 29, 2010

    In case anyone thinks I am being harsh, The National Debt Helpline is operated by FTC Media Limited – who according to their website (which I am not going to give a link to) offers “the most targetted direct marketing experience, Consumer Lists, Email Data, Adult SMS, SMS Marketing Lists, SMS Data, IVA Leads, Debt Management Leads, Consumer Mailing Lists, Lead Generation, Sales Lead Generation, Car Insurance Renewal Data, Home Contents Insurance Renewal Data, Telemarketing Lists”

    So don’t feel sorry for them, they really are scum.

  2. April 29, 2010

    Yes, scum. Best word to describe them. I reckon you let the little f*ckers off lightly myself.

  3. April 29, 2010

    Oh man, that is priceless. You are awesome :))

  4. April 29, 2010

    Anyone who keeps repeating the same lines deserves it, as do those who argue instead of agreeing to take me off their list. When I was reading your transcript it was when they insisted on using the same line even after STOP, that definitely gives it away.

    On the other hand, some are quite pleasant and willing to go off-script, and with them although I’ll still say that I’m not interested I won’t give them a hard time (I’ve even had a couple volunteer to take me off their lists, which gets them thanked).

  5. May 1, 2010

    Well done! Not quite as satisfying as *actually* turning over the tables of the money lenders, but I think Our Boss would basically approve. =:o}

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