Thursday, November 18, 2010

How To Get Rid Of Telemarketers And Survey Researchers

I was bored at work today, so I thought I'd make a helpful guide for the people who are sick of getting calls from the place where I work. Here's how to get telemarketers and survey researchers to stop calling you. 

  • DO answer the phone. 
  • DON'T ignore calls for days and then finally answer and complain that we keep calling you. We can't tell the difference between you not wanting to answer, and you not being home. You will be called until contact is made. 
  • DON'T just hang up as soon as you realize it's a survey or a telemarketer. You will be called until someone actually talks to you. 
  • DO say you're not interested. 
  • DON'T say "I'm too busy right now," when you mean, "I don't want to hear from you ever again." We will try to call you back when you're not busy. 
  • DON'T explain your lack of interest. Don't tell a long, drawn-out story about how busy you are. You're wasting your time, no one cares. If we ask why, it's to categorize you for a call-back from the refusal team.
  • DON'T pretend you don't speak English. We speak to tons of people who actually can't speak English, and can tell the difference. You sound like an idiot. And if we happen to be doing an important survey, you might be called back in Cantonese. 
  • DO ask to be taken off the survey researcher's call list, or to be put on the telemarketer's do-not-call list. Do this quickly, before the telemarketer has a chance to read their scripted rebuttals. 
  • DON'T insist to survey researchers that they shouldn't be calling you because you're on the national do-not-call list. The list only applies to telemarketers. 
  • DON'T offer to call us at home. You're not proving anything except your douchiness. 
  • DON'T threaten to sue us. Actually, keep doing that. It's always good for a laugh. 
  • DON'T be rude unless you want us to "accidentally" schedule a call-back. 

Guess who's getting called back at
dinner time tomorrow?


  1. Do you know what's funny? When people threaten to sue or call the police on us when we're doing survey research for the government.


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  2. I used to work in a call centre and i agree with every single word. :) Nice post.

  3. I wish more people would just be sensible and remember it's another human being on the other end ):

    This is a great list though ^_^

    1. No, it's an asshole.
      If you doubt it. Look in the mirror.

  4. Um, hold on... YOU're giving ME a list of mandates for what I should do when you call me out of the blue in my own home?

    Most of us, I think, rent phone numbers and own phone equipment to communicate with those we need and want to communicate with. We preferentially give out our numbers to family, friends, businesses with whom we have financial relationships, etc.

    The premise is that we hope our phone will ring when someone to whom we have provided our number either needs us, or has something we need. This is simplistic, and breaking things down to a hierarchy of needs is subjective, but I'm sure that out-of-the-blue solicitations by strangers for goods, services, and information pretty much comes near the bottom of almost everyone's hierarchy, if not off it altogether.

    Granted, if you can make money from a corporation or a government by making telephone calls, then great. I recognize it's a tough job. I would rather see Coca-Cola put money in your pocket than take it from an impoverished, malnourished grade-schooler. Governments get useful info regarding electorates. Fine. I am polite to call center employees.

    But I think this post does a disservice to call centre employees. It suggests they all will go through a script essentially regardless of who they're talking to and what might be occurring on the other end of the phone. Is someone in their home in the midst of an emergency? Maybe they're a victim of spousal abuse, and a jealous husband will beat them for saying, "No one," when asked, "Who was that?" Maybe trying to sell someone a product they can't afford simply rubs salt into a financial wound.

    An automaton can go through a script. Just as a stranger on the street would expect common decency from a passer-by, I would hope that an anonymous call centre employee ringing my number from and an undisclosed locations would demonstrate a bit of ability to interact on a human basis.

    In short, this post is simply a mirror of the person minding their own business at home who behaves rudely to an intrusion from a call centre employee.

  5. Um... this list is supposed to ultimately be helpful. I honestly don't know what you're so offended by.

    1. "Douchiness" that's what. It's a stupid term used by a stupid writer. Um, use English words, not slang when you write.

  6. @ TH

    "It suggests they all will go through a script..."

    I'm a supervisor at a call centre. Interviewers are supposed to stick to a script. That is their job, to read a script and input answers. There are situations where the script doesn't apply, but they are few and far between, and they actually do have instructions for what to do in those situations.

    All service jobs involve a "script" of some sort. You smile and say "How are you?" and "Have a nice day," the cutomer is always right, etc. In telephone survey research and other call centre work the script is just much more explicit.

    I don't know why you are upset by the idea that call centre employees follow a script.

  7. Marissa,
    Helpful to who? The post starts from the premise that it's okay for corporations to disrupt the private lives of people in their own homes. Therefore it perpetuates a potentiall problematic paradigm.

    You seem to be saying that because a corporation pays someone to cold-call someone at home, it's okay?

    Your reasoning would seem to be:
    Corporation pays employee to do job.
    Job mandates following script.
    Script invades privacy.
    Job is okay because it pays.
    Therefore, invasion of privacy is okay.

    Following orders doesn't justify all ends, does it? (Soldiers in Iraq follow orders to break down doors. SS in Third Reich puts Jews in ghettos.)

    In most "service jobs" the customer comes to the service. When it's the other way around, it's invasive. Jehovah's Witnesses can come to my door and go through a script in service of God, but it doesn't mean I want them to interrupt my shower.

    (Actually, speaking of politeness in service jobs, did you read the Sunday NY Times article about "decormyeyes"?

    Cold-calls by corporations are a clear cultural case of money = power. If it is okay for the corporation to cold-call me at home, and the customer should not object, then we're saying the corporation is actually right, isn't it?

    1. From Dave Wrigting

      Hi TH,
      I couldn't help but notice that you keep referring to the clients who supply our funding as corporations (free marketers). I just wanted to help you out a little bit on that matter. I also work for a survey research company that does this type of call center work. 85% of the surveys we do are for politics so we are actually getting the majority of our funding directly from Government accounts, that's right uncle sam, the checks even read from The United States Government directly on them. It may be true that either Christina's, or Marissa's call center our funded from other sources, however I'm positive the call center I work for receives very large checks from Government locations. So if you hate these type of calls I would start telling your local congress men and especially Mr. Obama to stop calling for so many damn political polls because Obama has been signing most of the checks for these political polls. Just a fact you might want to know...

  8. When you own a telephone, there is a presumed license for people to call you on that phone. The "Dos" I list are the fastest and simplest way to revoke that license.

    You seem to be saying that because a corporation pays someone to cold-call someone at home, it's okay?

    Actually, cold calling someone at home is okay whether you're being paid by someone or not. As I mentioned, there is a presumed license to call telephone owners.

    The logic is:
    It's okay to call people on the phone.
    That's it.

    LOL - Godwin's law! Call centre employees are comparable to the SS!

    Jehovah's Witnesses coming to your door are a much better comparison - there is a presumed license for people to knock on your door, until that license is revoked.

    I never said you shouldn't object to being called by telemarketers or survey researchers. In fact, this list tells you how to get them to stop calling you.

    So, still, I don't see what you're offended about.

  9. TH,

    You're making an interesting assumption that Marissa somehow has the power/authority to MAKE ALL CALL CENTRES LEAVE YOU ALONE!!!

    Shockingly, she doesn't (unless she's secretly a lesser phone goddess).

    Call centres are a fact of life. I'm sorry that reality offends you, but I think it should be clear to a casual reader that Marissa is trying to help you limit the number of times the same call centre is going to call you about the same survey.

    This post has nothing to do with the morality of call centres and it's pointless for you to go on... and on... and on about how the author is somehow a satanic worshiper for working at one.

    There are jobs that require mindless, repetitive tasks to be done. This is one of them.

    So get over it, say "no thanks, not interested," and get on with your life.

  10. @ TH

    Actually, you misunderstood me. My point was that Marissa was not doing a disservice to call centre employees by "suggesting they all go through a script," because following a script is the main component of the job description of most call centre employees.

    My other point was that there's nothing wrong with following a script because all service sector employees have a script they follow, whether it is written out or not.

    If you think the fact that there is a script means that call centre employees won't react if they hear an emergency on the other end, as you implied in your initial comment, I have to ask, where on earth did you get that idea from?

    I agree with Marissa, that cold calling is perfectly fine whether the caller is paid or not.
    Furthermore, a lot of call centre work, maybe even most, is not cold-calling, but is calling existing customers of the client.

    I don't know where you are getting the idea that the script, and even the act of calling itself, is automatically an invasion of privacy.

  11. Just to clarify further, originally my main objection was that you said Marissa was "doing a disservice" to call centre employees when she was just describing the job.

    In general it seems you are complaining about all these negative consequences of call centre work that simply aren't a problem in reality.

  12. I don't mean to spam, but I just wanted to add that people who complain about survey research calls are incredibly self-centred. As demonstrated by TH's attitude, they think that just because they personally don't like getting unsolicited phone calls, that makes it WRONG. They don't seem to be able to conceive of the notion that the purpose of the call is something that could actually benefit them, or society as a whole. Customer service follow-ups actually do help companies improve how they serve you. Opinion polling actually does influence policy making. People such as TH also don't seem to be aware that just because they personally don't like receiving unsolicited phone calls, that doesn't mean everyone else feels the same way. There are plenty of people who are happy to share their opinions and experiences by doing a survey over the phone. Even when I used to do telesales for arts organizations, there were plenty of people who were glad we called them so that they could buy subscriptions and memberships.

  13. We seem to have exceeded critical-thinking word volume. People are polarizing, and seeing only black-and-white, no gray. A lot of our points are actually the same.

    Mainly, cold-calls provide entry to discussing underlying cultural assumptions about communication, privacy and social good. Cold-calls per se just aren't a big part of my life. From a logistical standpoint, the original post is obvious - play nice; express your wishes. It's just that a call center employee posting capital DO's and DON'Ts on getting rid of her is a bit funny.


    Re "When you own a telephone, there is a presumed license for people to call you on that phone":
    Too general a statement: Who's presuming? What "people"? When I rent a phone number, I pay to unlist it so I don't get unwanted calls. This includes: prank calls, calls from patients, automated calls from corporations selling health insurance. I would like that most if not all calls coming in are from people to whom I have given my number. Note that I'm not denying the "reality" of call centers - can we explore the boundary of what is, and what is desireable?

    Fortunately, our society supports free speech, inluding the commercial variety, which is the basis for your so-called "presumption". The point is, just because something can be communicated, should it? Sometimes, sure. Sometimes, not. You can generalize about what "is", here, or try to go a bit further.

    Re: "It's okay to call people on the phone. That's it."
    Again, a generality flaw. Who is able to call who depends on call content - threatening calls are not ok. It depends on the motivation for the call - for-profit corporations cannot cold-call people on the National Do Not Call List; non-profits can. Automated calls not connecting a callee to a live person within two seconds are not okay. There are a million contingencies.

    Re: "LOL - Godwin's Law!"
    The point of this "law" is that Nazism is so severe that maybe people shouldn't use it in everyday argumentive hyperbole. I can relate. But I'm pretty sure LOL-ing (at the horror of Nazism?) does not change the underlying fallacy of "I was just following orders".

    Also, the frequent mention of "presumed license" falls into a similar fallacy. Look, we'll use a more current example: the U.S. federal government presumes it has a license to indefinitely detain alleged enemies of the state wthout due process of law. Don't you think there's a bit to discuss beyond "It's okay to call people on the phone. That's it." (Next you'll say, "It's okay to indefinitely detain someone deemed to be a threat to the country. That's it.)

    Re: "You're making an... assumption that Marissa somehow has the power/authority to MAKE ALL CALL CENTERS LEAVE YOU ALONE!!!"
    No, I didn't say or imply that, or that call center employees are "satanic worshipers". See first couple paragraphs.

    Re: "This post has nothing to do with the morality of call centres...."
    That's just it. It didn't. And I'm not sure I'd call it "morality" per se. Ethics would be closer. Good thing my comment was there to allow your comment, though, yeah?

    Anyway, all right, have fun with the rest of it.

  14. Oops. Sorry for the duplicate.

  15. this list would be useful if it had any chance in hell of actually reducing the number of telemarketing/survey calls a person receives, but it doesn't. Even being on the Do Not Call list we still receive 4 or 5 calls every day from telemarketers and surveyors or telemarketers pretending to be surveyors. It doesn't matter how many times you politely tell them you are not interested, or ask them to put you on their do not call list, or any other possible scenario you can think of, these calls just keep coming.

    Just because someone owns a phone that shouldn't give you the right to harass them endlessly with no recourse other than canceling phone service.

  16. Thanks for do's and don'ts i will take note all of that so if there is telemarketer calling me i am pretty sure that i can handle it now.

  17. Wow. Don't we all have something better to do than waste twice the time it would take to turn away a survey, to preserve our debating prowess. TO BE HONEST, you're not going to change anything and it doesn't matter. Get back to your lives and stop spamming a perfectly good page.

  18. Amen Sister!
    This absolutely made my night! Thanks for posting this. I am a fellow call center girl and your dos and donts are fantastic!
    My personal favorite is when people push random numbers on their phone or pretend to be an answering machine to "confuse the telemarketer" and make them go away...nice try folks. I also enjoy "accidentally" putting mean folks on the call back list. ;) Oh the joys of a calling center.

  19. @ Kelsey I have been in call centers and survey research for over 22 yrs the only thing that putting the mean people on the callback list is wasting the time of you your coworkers and the companies time as well as taking the chance of having your company sued and or shut down if they can't pay the fine I would rather just put them on the do Not call list and get on to the job

  20. The best way to get rid of these telemarketers is to use a device called a T-Lock call blocker. You get a 1200 number personal blacklist. Just google or use sites like on all the numbers that call you to see who you should block. Overtime it makes a big difference.

    1. Or just simply tell them to FUCK OFF!

  21. Equipping your company with credible telemarketers should be prioritized.

  22. Telemarketing is the only form of advertising that requires an immediate response.Newspaper and magazine ads, radio promotions, billboards or direct mail demand little or no immediate attention. They can all be ignored. Not telemarketing. When the phone rings, the natural response is to answer it. Rarely do you just ignore it.Telemarketing Services

  23. I agree not answering the phone is the best way to get rid off those annoying telemarketing.In Finland i am working as an call center agent however we take those customer service which we always yelled at us and we can't do anything about it.

  24. Thanks for this type of interesting post that Hoe can we get rid of telemarketing researchers services. Keep on posting new blogs

  25. I just did a survey with a young man fro Calgary. Excuse the following monitor report - at one time I was a call floor supervisor. He identified himself and his company, was polite, only said "um" once (something that particularly irks me!), and I had no problem answering his questions. The one question I took exception to, was when he asked my ethnicity - I thought that was still illegal in Canada - its been years, I could be wrong. I'd have given him 9's to 10's across the board. You have to understand who is working on a Sunday afternoon on a call floor - ages 16-65+, white hair, green hair, conservatively dressed, or with dragging pants, a briefcase, or skateboard propped against the wall of their cubicle. It could be an out of work executive, grandmother, or high school student with an eye on university. Give them a break! They'd all rather be elsewhere than talking to you on the phone! As for being scripted - its what they do. My word of advice to the telephone surveyor - memorize your script - so it sounds conversational - not robotic! Do your job - but get an education, get a real job, and get out of there - so others can follow in your footsteps!

    1. Sorry - didn't think before I put "anonymous" above (the ex-supervisor). Just call me Hawk - that's what my team called me. Cheers -

  26. Thanks so much for this post! These telemarketers are relentless, and now I know how to fight back!

  27. I agree not answering the device is the easiest method to get rid of those annoying telemarketing. In Finland I'm being a call center agent, however we obtain those customer support which we always yelled at us so we can't do just about anything about it.

  28. Why not "threaten" to sue? I just collected a $2500 settlement from a company I threatened to sue because they posed as surveyors when they were really telemarketers. And I'm about to take another one to court for the same thing - $6000 this time. Hitting these cretins in the pocketbook is likely the ONLY way to make them stop. (And, to be clear, when I say "cretins" I am referring to the people who know they're breaking the law.)

  29. I have a prepared statement when people call me and ask me to take part in a survey. It is: "I'm sorry. We are prohibited from participating in surveys without compensation. We charge a minimum of $35 to participate in a survey. If you will give me your credit card number and your social security number we can proceed."

    This usually gets rid of them very quickly.

  30. Oh, I find that a bit scary about DND. But thanks to make us know about Do not call List,we are thankful to you and always feels fortunate when we visit here. Do not call list

  31. Or just don't be a dick. You can generally tell if someone is a surveyor or a marketer. Marketers are bad. Surveyors are doing the general public and various businesses a favor. I'm sure none of them had dreams of being there calling you. Interrupting your dinner? Not that rude. Spouting the F-bomb at somebody who is just doing their job? Pretty rude if you ask me. Respect to those who have the patience to be telephone surveyors

  32. I am new to this blog. But I have enjoyed your post and learned something
    new.I hope next post will be very helpful for me so Waiting for your next update.


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