It seems to me that among those small aggravations most everyone grapples with these days are those phone calls requesting we donate to some cause, accept an offer for a vacation jaunt, switch our credit card, and the list goes on. How to cope with this deluge may be a bit of a problem and, strangely enough that question came up recently at our family picnic of all places.
Yep, some of us were just sitting and talking on a beautiful summer afternoon having partaken of the usual picnic food and drink when the subject of those phone calls came up.
What I found interesting was that folks were responding in a variety of ways, none of which consisted of blowing a shrill whistle or doing anything equally “nasty.” Nope, they described using shock and surprise in fending off the callers without being abusive. Anyway, I’ve reconstructed a small sample of these techniques to share – without identifying any specific caller.
Caller: “Hello, I’m calling on behalf of an organization dedicated to supporting veterans with disabilities.” Response: “Well, I sure am glad to hear from you folks. What’s on your mind?” Caller: “I’d like for you to consider a donation of fifty or maybe a hundred dollars.” Response: “That would be nice. I really could use an extra fifty or hundred dollars. That VA disability payment I get every month doesn’t go very far. How do I sign up to get this donation? And would it be every month or just one time?” (Dial tone)
Caller: “Hello, this is Elaine and I’ve been trying to contact you about something important … ” Response interrupting: “Elaine, is that you? I didn’t recognize your voice. Anyway, I’m so glad you called. I’ve been wanting to talk with you but have been kinda scared to. I’m really sorry about last Friday night. I had a little too much to drink and said some things I probably shouldn’t have – oh, you didn’t say anything to Fred, did you? He has a terrible temper and can get violent.” At this point there usually is dead silence followed by a dial tone.
Caller: “I’m calling on behalf of the association of local law enforcement officers, how are you today?” Response: “I’m doing okay so far, what do you want?” Caller: “We’re asking for a donation to help local law enforcement officers by providing equipment not funded by taxes. Would you be willing to help?” Response: ” I already donated to local law enforcement about three weeks ago. I got nailed in that speed trap on the west side of town and the ticket cost me $132. I count that as my donation to local law enforcement.” (Dial tone)
Caller: “I’m so pleased to inform you that you have been selected to receive a very special offer of a several day cruise to the Bahamas. We’ve never made an offer at such a low price before, but before going into details, I must make sure you qualify. Okay?” Response: “Sure, what do you want to know?” Caller: “First, do you have a major credit card?” Response: “Sure do. Every month the kids put a hundred dollars on it so I can have some spending money. They take care of all the rest of my finances after the mess I got into last time.” (Dial tone)
Caller with an accent: “I want to tell you you have a problem with your computer. It is very serious and you must do something about it right away.” Response: “Well, you’ve been working on my computer for over a week now so what’s the problem?” Caller: “You must turn on your computer and I will tell you what to do so we can repair it.” Response: “Wait a minute. How can I turn on my computer when you have it in your shop? Hey, what’s going on here? (Dial tone)
How about one more. Female caller, relatively young voice: “Hello, I’m calling because our records show you have donated to our university in the past and would like to request you do so again.” Response: “Do you attend the university yourself?” Caller: “Yes, I’m a junior this year.” Response: “What’s your opinion of the school?” Caller: “I think it’s absolutely great. A marvelous place.” Response: “We have no association with your university and have never set foot on campus, but everything we’ve heard confirms your opinion.” Caller: “You really have no connection at all? Never even visited us?” Response: “That’s right. And we don’t know anyone who has attended your school, teaches there, or works there. Now are you ready to for our credit card number?”
Yep, sometimes callers really do represent a worthy cause – and can also be shocked and surprised. At least that’s how it seems to me.
Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.