Like everyone else I’m fed up with inconvenient telemarketing calls. Asking them not call, hanging up, or insulting them being ineffective (the same ones keep calling), I decided to employ the adage “if you can’t beat them, join them” by engaging them in telephone conversations.

          Here’s a transcript of my first two engagements.

Duct Cleaning Telemarketer

            Me: Hello.

            T: Could I speak to Mr. or Mrs. MacInnis?

            Me: Yes.

            After about fifteen seconds of silence. T: Is this Mr. MacInnis?

            Me: Yes.

            T: How are you today?

            Me: Fine. Would you like to know how Mrs. MacInnis is?

            T: That won’t be necessary, I ....

            Me (interrupting him): That’s not very nice of you.

            T: What’s not very nice?

            Me: Not caring how Mrs. MacInnis is. Just hang on, I’ll get her.

             I let the silence hang for about ten seconds and then continued. Me: Sorry, but Mrs. MacInnis says she’s too busy to come to the phone.

            T: That’s all right, Mr. MacInnis. I’ll talk to you. We’re offering a special in your neighbourhood this week on duct cleaning.

            Me: We don’t have any ducks.

            T: No, no. DUCTS, not ducks.

            Me: Like I said, we don’t have any ducks. We have a cat though. But I think cats clean themselves just fine. Don’t you? Do you have a cat? Maybe a dog?

            T: No, I don’t. But I’m talking about, d-u-c-T-s; not d-u-c-K-s.

            Me: D-u-c-T-s?

            T: Yes.

            Me: That’s a strange way to spell ducks. But, like I said, we don’t have any ducks. We don’t even have a budgie. Do you clean budgies?

            T: It’s DUCTS we clean. It’s DUCTS.

            Me: What sucks?

            T: No. No. Ducts! Ducts!

             Me: I can’t imagine ducks could suck. I suppose they might be able to nip.

            T: We’re offering a deal to clean your air ducts, sir.

            Me: Even if we had air ducks, whatever kind of ducks they are, we’d never let them get dirty

            T: You clearly don’t understand.

            Me: OK. I’ll get Mrs. MacInnis, everyone says she’s much more understanding than I am. Just hang on.

            Dial tone.

Windows and Doors Telemarketer

            Me: Hello.

            T: Is this Mr. MacInnis?

            Thinking I may as well get right into it this time, I said: Yes.

            T: Very good. How are you today?

            Me: I’m fine, thanks. Your voice sounds very familiar. Are you Dave Schneck?

            T: No, sir.

            Me: Are you sure you’re not Dave Schneck? Did you go to school in Liebenthal, Saskatchewan?

            T: I’m sure I’m not Dave Schneck, Mr. MacInnis.

            Me: Nah, you can’t fool me. I’d recognize that voice anywhere. Why are you calling, Dave.

            After a slight pause, T: Mr. MacInnis, we have a special offer on windows and doors right now.

            Me: I’m sorry Dave, but we don’t have any windows or doors for sale.

            T: No, no. WE are selling windows and doors.

            Me: Have you been doing that for long, Dave?

            T: Yes. In fact we’ve been in business for over twenty years and, as I said, we have a special offer right now.

            Me:  Wow! Twenty years. That’s a long time. How did you get from Liebenthal into that business here in Toronto Dave?

            T: I … I…. I… would you like to hear about our offer?

            Me: No, Dave. Do you remember Doris Hefner?

            (It’s a testimony to the monumental perseverance of telemarketers that “Dave” didn’t quit at this point.)

            T (trying a new tack): How old are your windows and doors, Mr. MacInnis?

            Me: Well, Dave, I guess they’re about the same age as the house.

            T: How old is that?

            Me: Sorry, Dave, I don’t know.

            T: How long have you owned the house?

            Me: Since we bought it, Dave. Do you remember Scotty Schroeder?

            Another pause on the line, then T: No. Maybe it’s time you had your doors and windows replaced.

            Me: Why, Dave?

            T: Well, doors and windows tend to wear with age and get drafty and unreliable.

            Me: I don’t remember feeling any drafts, Dave. Let me call Mrs. MacInnis and see if she’s felt any drafts.

            T: OK.

            A long, silent pause.

            T: You said you were going to call Mrs. MacInnis.

           Me: Yes, Dave, but I can’t call her unless you hang up.

           T: Why’s that?

           Me: Because she’s out shopping, Dave, and I have to call her on her cell phone. I don’t have a cell phone so you’ll have to hang up before I can call her.

           “Dave” finally hung up. and didn’t call back.

            I have no idea whether this approach will result in our number being removed from any call lists; but even if it doesn’t, I enjoyed myself so much that I’m almost looking forward to the next call.