It's not the telemarketers I hate, it's the telemarketing. I don't hate the players. I hate the game.
I just got off the phone with one of them. For a while it was practically a hobby of mine to make their job as difficult as possible. I'm never rude to them because I know it's just a job, but I take personal satisfaction in wasting as much time of theirs as possible. I figure the less efficient I made telemarketing, the less it will happen in the future. Call me a dreamer.
I have quite a few bits of schtick that I like to do. Usually these are unprepared because, frankly, it's just more satisfying to ad-lib it. However, I can recommend these approaches:
1) Politely say hello and wait for them to go through their whole spiel. When they stop and ask you a question, apologize profusely for being distracted and ask them to repeat it. Repeat this sequence as many times as possible before they eventually hang up on you. My record is 3.
2) Pretend to be slightly off. I like to affect a dumbish accent and then I'll periodically interrupt their speech with a loud, "HELLO!". This usually throws them for a loop while they scan their script looking for a good spot to restart.
3) Respond over-enthusiastically to every sentence they make. If they mention that they have a great offer for you, then scream "WOOHOO!" into the phone. Follow this up by slightly covering up the mouthpiece and yelling "MARGE! OUR SHIP HAS FINALLY COME IN!" to no one in particular. Repeat this as often as possible during their spiel.
My favorite interaction with a telemarketer went like this:
Tele-marketer: Good afternoon, sir. How are you doing today?
TM: Great. I must inform you that this call may be monitored for quality assurance purposes.
Me: (adopting my best paranoid whisper) What??? I knew it! I knew they were listening in!
Me: (still whispering) So, my phone line is tapped! Is that it?
TM: No, sir, I do not believe your phone line has been tapped.
Me: But you admit that you people are listening in. I knew this was going on. I told Marge!
TM: Ok, sir. Well, are you currently planning any home improvement projects?
Me: (whispering again) Is it Ashcroft doing this?
Me: John Ashcroft! Is it Ashcroft listening in? ASHCROFT! CAN YOU HEAR ME?!?!
TM: Sir, I don't think we have anyone named Ashcroft in our organization.
Me: Oh, I doubt that very much.
TM: Would you like me to check with my supervisor, sir?
Me: Uh...yes. Yes, please check with your supervisor.
TM: Ok, hold, please.
And then I was on hold for nearly a minute
TM: Sir, I checked with my management and we don't have anyone in the company named Ashcroft. There is no Ashcroft monitoring this conversation.
Me: Oh. Well, I feel a little silly then. Sorry.
TM: No need to be sorry. It's ok. Are you currently planning any home improvement projects?
Me: (whispering again) Are you people spying on me?
TM: No sir, we are not spying on you. It's not our policy to spy on customers.
I forget how it went from there. It was very satisfying though. I don't smoke, but I lit up a cigarette after that one. Ahh, that sweet Laramie flavor.
Anyway, I just got off the phone with a telemarketer. It went like this:
TM: Good evening, sir. How are you doing tonight?
TM: Oh, I'm sorry about that. Didn't mean to disturb you. I'm calling from the Hamilton...
Me: (interrupting) You didn't mean to disturb me? Did you think I was waiting for this call?
TM: (nervous laughter) No, no, I didn't think that.
Me: Then you thought I was doing something else and wasn't waiting for this call?
TM: Uh...(scanning script)... no. I didn't think that.
Me: So, I wasn't waiting for the call and I wasn't doing something else. I guess I was just lying very still then?
Me: (carrying most of the conversational effort at this point). I was just lying there then, doing nothing at all. Do think I'm lazy?
TM: (the nervous laughter again) No, I don't think you're lazy.
Me: What is it then? I wasn't waiting for the call, I wasn't doing something else, and I wasn't doing absolutely nothing. What was I doing? Was I in some sort of Heisenberg Uncertainty state until you called?
TM: I don't know, sir.
Me: Well, that settles it, doesn't it?
TM: Ok, well I'm calling from the Hamilton Corporation....
And off she went back onto her script, no worse for the wear.
Do I feel bad that she was raising money for the Special Olympics? Maybe a little bit, but it's not like she was participating in them. She doesn't get a hug. So maybe I'm a little rude, but I totally forgot to ask them to take me off their calling list. There's my kharmic retribution which I don't believe in.