Tuesday 15 November 2011

How do you deal with cold calls?

We have had a plethora of cold calls recently, and I still haven't worked out the best way to deal with them. On a good (kind) day I will just say no thanks, but on a bad day, when I've already had several, I'm not quite so nice. I know the person making the call is just doing a job; I know s/he may have no other way to make a living. All this I know. But I hate this regular intrusion at (usually) a busy time of day, at a time of the caller's choosing.

I've just had one of these calls, and when the caller asked for Mrs. Stott (that's my other name, by the way), I said that no, she couldn't come to the phone, as she was very ill in hospital (I stopped short of saying that I had died, as I'm very superstitious, and I've got a book to write).

Which reminds me of the worst cold call I ever had, which was from a charity. It went something like this:

Caller: May I speak to Dr. Garrood, please?
Me: I'm afraid you can't. He died last week.
Caller: Oh. I'm sorry about that. Is that Mrs. Garrood?
Me: Yes
Caller: Well, I wonder whether you would be able to do some house to house collecting instead?
Me: ****! *******! ******!!!!

Nuff said


  1. I love this. It has been making me laugh all afternoon. I loathe the interruption too. In fact, I don't really like the phone ringing, no matter who it is. I prefer emails because they give me time to think before I reply/commit myself/blow my top etc..

    I know this is nasty of me, but I blow a whistle down the phone in the hope the cold-caller will never call back for the sake of their ear-drum. But I'm sure they do.

  2. I get very few. When I do I explain I'm registered with the telephone preference service, say their call is illegal and request they remove my number from their records. Being registered doesn't stop all cold calls, but we get far fewer than we used to.

  3. Whistle....hm, that's painful and surely should be kept for the real pests, the heavy breathers and so on.

    I listen just long enough to hear whether they are a charity. If they're trying to sell me something, I say, "Sorry, not interested" and hang up instantly.

    With the charities, I'll usually listen and at least consider - if it is a reasonable request to help with a flag day I will respond reasonably. If it's a request for money, I ask them to write but I never give over the phone.

    I have refused to give the time of day to chuggers ever since two in a row tried to make me sign up on the spot for a direct debit - a mere donation wasn't NEARLY enough for them and they didn't want to provide any written information about their charity either, I just had to sign up there and then, apparently. Get stuffed, I thought.

    A dilemma though isn't it, with charities. How are they to get money if they don't pester people?

  4. In Germany, such calls are illegal (in the UK, too?), and because my phone number does not appear in the official directories, I never get such calls.
    When I changed providers, I switched to a telephone and internet provider that let me create my own phone number on the computer, and only those people who I personally have given it to know it.

    Of course, there is always the option of simply not answering the phone unless you see a number on the display that you know; if it really is someone who wishes to speak to you, they can leave a message and you can return the call when you have time, right?

    When I do not want to be interrupted, I simply do not pick it up.

    The whistle method could backfire - I have heard that some call center agents have sued the person they had been calling for causing injury.

  5. Hi Frances, I put the phone down before they have chance to speak. A lady I know speaks in a childs voice, and says, mummy can't come to the phone now, I'm doing a picture, and she goes on and on until they're begging her to get off the phone.

  6. Joanna, I did think of the whistle, but I don't want to damage anyone. Well I don't think I do...

    Patsy we were registered once, but the effect seems to have worn off!

    Jenny, you seem to have this really sorted. I must give it another try.

    Librarian, we don't have the right kind of phone I'm afraid. For us, every phone call is a surprise!

    Susan, I just love the child's voice idea! I might give it a go ("Daddy's not here right now. He's doing Lloyds bank tonight, and he says that by tomorrow we'll be very very rich and he'll take me to Disneyland...").

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. If I'm in the kitchen when they ring, I lay the phone next to my audio book, I'm listening to so they can enjoy listening with me. I'm sure they must get bored of having everyone hang up on them. I enjoy it most if I'm listening to a murder novel. After a while I pick the phone up and listen to see if they are still listening and strange enough they don't seem to like my choice of novel.

    I've tried all sort of different audio books on them, Lynda La Plante, Joanna Trollope, Ruth Rendell etc. I enjoy listening to them while I'm cooking.

    Maybe you should give it a go, sometimes if I listening to music I'll do the same, it like putting them on hold.

  9. One of the best responses to such calls was one I saw on a YouTube clip by the American comedian Tom Mabe. Here is a link :

  10. That's nice, gentle idea, Jarmara!

    Thanks, Alan. I'll look it up.

  11. I think the best idea is to resist picking up the phone and let it go to the answer machine. Tell family and friends what you are doing and to shout, "It's me, pick up!" If you really can't resist finding out who it is, dial 1471 and see who shows up.

  12. On a slightly different tack - dealing with perverts and heavy breathers. Not just a whistle - but a blast from a rape alarm. The way you do it is to seem to play ball: "Oh, Darling ... I'm so glad you've called. Now I want you to press the receiver right against your ear and I'm going to tell you something that is going to give you such a thrill!"
    That's when you stick the rape alarm right in the mouthpiece of the handset, and press the button.
    I am told it can damage the hearing of these pests quite permanently.

  13. Maggie, I'm afraid I'm incapapable of ignoring a ringing phone. After all, it just could be the Richard & Judy Book Club wotj wonderful news, couldn't it?

    Author Doc, I'm surprised at you! Though actually if it were a heavy breather I think I'd most certainly do that (and if I had a whistle...)