Telephone Nuisance Calls

Today I answered the first nuisance call (as opposed to wrong number, to which I am always polite) that I have had for some time. After telling the chap politely that under the Timbuctu town clock on the second Thursday of next week would be a convenient time for an appointment, and ringing off, I got to musing about the whole business: does anyone really buy from a cold caller?

Anyhow, it gives one a chance to be a little creative in dealing with them. I have been collecting ways to do it, over the years.

My all-time favourite was a friend’s husband who fielded the seventh or eighth from a carpet firm in the course of a single day (they concluded that they had somehow got onto a “fitted carpets” list while finding someone to fit a new carpet in their hall and stairs) and finally lost patience.

“I’ll have to ask my wife about this,” he said. “Hold on.” Then he shouted to his wife in the next room, “Darling, shall we have the dining-room ceiling carpeted? We’ve done everywhere else, haven’t we?”

Funnily enough, when he talked to the phone again he found that the bloke had rung off.

Has anyone got any good ones?

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It’s just like email spam: very few people will buy, but the cost of making the approach is low, so even if only one in a thousand falls for it there’s still profit to be made.

Feral once worked in an office where the sales guy was an Ac-Tor; his approach was to use a two-year-old list of contacts, call people cold, try to sell them the product, and then swear at them when they weren’t interested.


I would argue that he was in fact a sales guy, and that as and when he got a part, he would have been a ‘resting’ sales guy. By their fruits, and all that.

I still bear the scars from a brief stint flogging advertising space.

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I’m so sorry, Gus.

In this particular bloke’s case, his self-image was clearly Ac-Tor whether or not he’d ever actually got anywhere with it. He didn’t have a Wall of Stuff Wot I’ve Been In, and I don’t think it was because he was so secure he didn’t need one.

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Oh, it wasn’t so bad, Hedgers: I was young, resilient and very, very stupid. On the whole, I feel rather sorrier for Ac-Tors like Feral’s.

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I knew a failed Ac-tor (he once got a crowd part in a film, and it gave him Ideas) who was constantly in a state of putting his best profile to the camera, if that makes sense. I admit he was good-looking, but not that good.

I don’t think he ever did phone sales, though.

The only person I knew who did is now a professor, so I won’t say who it was in case it damages his career. He was not an academic at the time, just hungry.