‘Tis the season

… for charitable solicitations by telephone. Here’s my new solution.

It’s been going on since before the elections, but I fear it’s only just getting up to speed. I dislike having to tell someone to hang it in their ear, but there is no way I am going to make a contribution to ANYTHING over the phone.

Today, I had a stroke of genius. It’s not quite as abrupt as Seinfeld’s response, but I think it might be effective. Hopefully it won’t backfire like Kramer’s MovieFone experience (link caution: 1 offensive word).

From now on, if I answer the phone and get a solicitation, I will say, “Oh, I’m sorry- let me transfer you. [Professional customer service voice] Hello. If you would like this household to contribute to your organization, please send us a self-addressed stamped envelope including your program information. We request that our phone number be removed from your call list. If you believe you have reached this message in error, please press 1 now. Thank you. [If “1” is pressed] You have reached the mailbox for the ___ household customer service center. Please leave your message now.” (It’s all in the intonation.)

At least I now have a civilized script so I don’t lose my cool when pressed by a desperate volunteer or salesperson. I’ll let you know how it goes. Even better, feel free to try it yourself and let me know how it goes for you!

4 thoughts on “‘Tis the season

  1. I’m not so clever or convincing. I just tell them in as nice a voice as I can that I don’t make contributions over the phone (and I don’t anymore because if I do it once, I’ll get hundreds of calls). Instead, I get a ton of mail, but I can dispose of that at my own time. I rarely get those calls now (I screen them when I can). I think your approach sounds great, as it gives them a taste of their own medicine. Let us know if it works.

  2. Are you really going to do that? I want to see you do it.

    I don’t remember what Seinfeld did, what did he do?

    Having been a telemarketer (and a missionary), I don’t feel too bad interrupting them and shutting them down – why waste my time or theirs? I have considered asking for their home phone number so I can call them back at a time convenient for me and inconvenient for them. Might still do that. But for now I let them get about 2 sentences in, where they say their name and where they’re from or some catchy hook, then I call them by name and ask them to put me on their do-not-call list. Then I hang up. The rudeness maddens Ed, but he doesn’t have to field the calls as often as I do, and I’m just done wasting my time. I don’t think there has been a decrease in calls, though.

    Did you really want to get me started on this? I commonly get calls for service businesses (hvac, windows, etc.) that are calling me out of “courtesy” because they are doing work “in my area” and offering estimates to the neighbors and what time should they stop by? I stopped being polite to those guys after one of them called and I said, “Me. It was ME you just did work for, don’t you keep a record so you don’t annoy and solicit your own customers?” It was true, too, they had just done work on our basement. But the callers obviously don’t have those lists so now I say it every time. Makes ’em pretty flustered.

  3. Update: I tried it. The woman HUNG UP ON ME right as I was taking a deep breath, getting ready to start the speech. I guess the whole “Let me transfer you” thing confused her. I proclaim the first attempt a victory.

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