Dealing with telemarketers a battle

The Sunday Column

As I sat down to write this column, my mind flashed back over my recent activities to find something I could focus on that has had an impact on my life.

Something that we all share and care deeply about. Something that if we didn’t have, it would leave a gaping hole in our lives and make our very existence less meaningful. Something that makes every day worth getting up.

What is that, you might ask? The answer: phone calls from telemarketers.

Few people realize it, but unsolicited requests, that today we know as telemarketing, have been around for centuries. There is evidence of unsolicited requests as far back as the cave man era.

Drawings on cave walls tell the story of men leaving stone tablets outside of caves promising if the dweller within left a dinosaur ham by the cave entrance after dark, they would find a pot of gold in its place by morning.

This early scheme failed as even the cave man knew a ham on the fire was better than a chunk of shiny metal. Native Americans also used smoke signals generating early telemarketer signals. They offered white man’s firewater in exchange for buffalo robes, but this effort was short-lived. First of all, they normally sent the smoke signals at supper time and it was too dark to see them, and they were shut down and fined by the Environmental Protection Agency for excessive air pollution.

The mere mention of the word telemarketer makes some people’s eyes bloodshot and the hairs on the back of their neck stand up as they spew a stream of words such as *&*%$#**.

Everyone has a favorite way of dealing with telemarketers such as hanging up, yelling, swearing or asking them to remove you from their calling list, which is one of their favorites. If you ask to be removed, they normally add your number to other calling lists just to be a pain.

You can also sign up on the federally funded Do Not Call List under the direction of the Federal Trade Commission.

Now that sounds impressive, but aside from the employees getting paid even if the government is shut down, not much else happens. I registered on the Do Not Call list and sent so many phone numbers of scammers to the FTC that it sent me an email telling me to stop sending in phone numbers. It was kind of like Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.

The people who were supposed to stop me from receiving unwanted phone calls told me to stop calling them!

I ignore most phone numbers that I do not recognize, but several times a day, I wind up stuck answering a telemarketer caller who uses a phone number that is familiar. When that happens, I normally talk to them, which drives my wife nuts.

Whatever they are selling, I act interested and see how long I can keep them on the line. At times it gets hilarious.

I ask for their phone number in case we get cut off so I can call them back. About twice during the conversation I ask them to repeat themselves or start over because I forgot what they told me before.

Sometimes I tell them I have to answer the door and sign for a package and ask if they could hold on a couple of minutes.

If they want credit card numbers or bank account numbers, I make something up together with a fake address. Sometimes they hang up but occasionally they scream at me for wasting their time.

I quietly mention they called me and please feel free to call back anytime.

I am like Don Quixote as he tilted at windmills seeking to slay those savage giants.

I have made it a personal challenge and will dedicate my life to tilting and destroying the telemarketers one at a time until the earth is free of their poison and the earth is once again free for innocent children and retired old men.

John Kasun writes from his home in Duncansville where he often sits in the dark, aside his horse, lance in hand, waiting for the phone to ring.