How to escape scripted calls

Picture by Alan Clark (www.flickr.com/photos/alanclarkdesign)Phone calls from call centers – often at the most impossible and/or inconvenient hours of the day. You might be one of those rare few people who like receiving them, but I definitely don’t. I can live with the market research ones (and even have been known to take part at times when I actually did happen to have some time at the exact moment the call came in), but I really hate the sales calls.

These calls always follow some silly script that is supposed to keep you on the path to usually signing up for some service or subscription – a script that is designed to cover all possible scenarios, but I can guarantee that one particular scenario is not taken into account: having me on the other side of the line. Actually, I feel intellectually insulted by the mere fact that I am being considered a possible candidate for buying something by means of such a blunt instrument as a script-based phone call.

It is of course always possible to end the call quite quickly by being equally blunt and take a very hostile and negative attitude right away, but I prefer not to use that approach as it only adds to the total amount of negativity in the world and leaves both parties in the call with a bad feeling. Using easily found general arguments as ‘I don’t have time now’ is also not a good strategy to escape the calls, as the inevitable next line in the script is ‘When will be a better time to call you?’ So I have devised a more refined way to get out.

The key element is always to find a line that will immediately make clear to the call center agent that any further attempts simply make no use whatsoever. Whether or not the line you come up with bears any relation to the truth is completely irrelevant. The main requirement is that it has to position you in the very center of the group of people that will be considered impossible targets for whatever is being sold. Some examples will make it clear what I mean:

– for calls about investment opportunities (invariably preceded by the word excellent) it helps to point out that I have a mortgage, an ex-wife and 2 children, obviously leaving no money for investments whatsoever

– when a supplier of electricty or gas is trying to convince you to switch to them (no matter what you are paying now: according to their script you WILL invariably save a considerable amount), I have found it extremely effective to tell that you are considering to move to another house in the very near future; in that case it makes no sense to still switch providers at your current address and as the next address is not known yet, it is also no use whatsoever to look into that

– if the call is about selling a subcription to e.g. a newspaper or magzine, tell the caller that following the news or the topic of the magazine is part of your job and that you therefore receive the paper or magazine already, paid for by your company

Well, you get the picture by now, I guess. I hope you can put the examples to good use yourself. Let me know if you come up with any others.

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