Friday, September 25, 2009

Thank You, Mr. Bell, But You Can Have Your Phone Back.

Thank You, Mr. Bell, But You Can Have Your Phone Back.
by Judy Vandiver

I’ve been trying to think of some good lines to say the next time the phone rings and it’s a telemarketer. I don’t like telemarketers. Well, not them personally, but their annoying phone calls. It seems they love to start by inquiring about my health. “How are you doing, Mrs. Vandiver?”

The next time they ask here’s my response: “I’m glad you asked. I thought one of the relatives would call to check on me, but ever since the county started cracking down and limiting prisoner calls, I just don’t hear from them as much. And to tell you the truth, I’ve been feeling right poorly. I have a migraine in my big toe. I put a call in to my doctor, but she hasn’t called back. In fact, I thought it was her when they phone rang. I would go down to that free clinic, but after I drove the car into the lake, the kids hid my car keys. Hey, do you think you could come over and give me a ride to the clinic?”

Telemarketers aren’t the only annoying calls I get.  I once answered the phone and was greeted by a caller trying to collect on a neighbor’s bill. Whom was the collector with? The phone company!

The lady explained that they couldn’t actually call the customer directly because they had discontinued service to them. Then she asked me if I would go next door and tell the neighbors to pay their bill.

She seemed surprised when I told her no. However, just so she wouldn’t think me totally uncooperative, I suggested that she contact the woman next door at her place of employment – which just happened to be the phone company.

About four years ago, I had a second phone line, for business calls, installed in the house. The very first call I received was from the collections department of the phone company. No joke! They wanted to know when I could make a payment against the outstanding phone bill. When I tried to explain that I hadn’t even used the phone yet, the man on the other end insisted that I make a payment immediately or my phone service would be disconnected.

“But, I’ve only had this number for ten minutes,” I told him.

I “googled” my new phone number and found out it had previously been assigned to the police department of a near-by community. (Ah, now we know why the county is cracking down on those prisoner calls.)

Hubby and I moved again last year. New phone number. Old problem. Note to previous owner of phone number:  “Cassandra, call me. We need to talk. You know the number.”

And to top all my strange phone calls off was the one I received from the local hospital concerning an overdue bill. I explained that I had, indeed, been a patient recently, but it had been for minor surgery, not the delivery of a baby girl, as she continually insisted. After much arguing, I was informed that denying the delivery of my phantom child would not excuse me from paying the bill. By the way, she even told me that I had named my infant, Kimberly. Every year on April 15th, my husband again asks if we can claim Kimberly as a dependent on our tax return. I recently told him that Kimberly would now be thirty years old and had moved out.

So, if the phone rings in the night, I’m not answering unless the caller I. D. informs me it’s Cassandra, Kimberly, or the prisoner holding area of the local police station.

Click on the word "comments" below and add your story of a harassing phone call. Keep it clean or I'll have to use my delete key.


  1. My pet hate is the "caller" who isn't even human--or even alive. Usually these are telemarketer recordings (which kick in even when answered by voice mail, which usually means you get a VM message with the front end cut off, or--in some programmer's genius attempt to avoid that--thirty seconds of silence when you do pick up in person). But I have also picked up the phone to hear fax-line noises and nothing else.

    And I once got a political-survey call where, after having politely answered the first few questions (which held no interest for me whatsoever), I lost patience and asked if the survey taker hadn't exhausted the list yet. (No time estimate had been provided up front.) She said, "I'm afraid it'll take another ten minutes." Whereupon I replied, "No, it won't," and hung up on her.

  2. Oh, Judy, I hope you do give that answer to a telemarketer, and I hope you tell us what happens.

    My best telephone story was a telemarketer who began by telling me I had won a diamond watch. Why I didn't just hang up like I usually do, I don't know, but I said OK and continued to confirm my address (which he already had) for delivery.

    Now, he said, we're going to also send you a free magazine subscription. So I chose one of magazine selections.

    Believe it or not, he continued, we're going to give you a second free subscription. So I made another choice.

    Now, all you have to do is buy one magazine subscription. When I replied that I was not going to buy any magazines, he assured me it would cost only pennies a day.

    I said no.

    "But," his voice began to get a little nasty, "it's less than a cup of coffee a day."


    Voice is now decidedly nasty, "Don't tell me you can't afford a few cents a day!" I wondered where he bought coffee. Or maybe it was his math skills that weren't quite right.

    When I replied, "No, I'm not buying any magazines" he shouted, "Cheap!" into the phone and hung up. I was left asking the dead line, "Does this mean I don't get my diamond watch?"

    And apparently that's what it meant--the watch never arrived, but I had a laugh at his expense.

  3. Katherine, don't you also hate the automated voice that tells you to please hold for an important message? Not only have they interrupted my day, but they want me to stand there and hold the phone until the next available operator is ready. I don't think so.... I usually hang up. Recently, however, I stayed on the line to see what it was about. When the operator came on the line, she started her spill about how they could lower my interest rate on my Discover card. My response: "Since I don't have a Discover card, and therefore no interest rate to pay, does this mean that if I apply for a card, you'll actually pay me interest every time I make a purchase on the card?" The lady hung up.

  4. Carol, I too, have been called names by telemarketers. The one that stands out in my memory was the one who told me she needed to speak to my husband about a private and personal matter. When he heard her start her spill as a telemarketer, he handed the phone back to me.

    "Why did you say this was personal when you're trying to sell something?" I asked.

    She screamed the "B" word at me and hung up.

    I'm sorry you didn't get your free watch, but something tells me those diamonds weren't real. :-)

  5. OK, two comments. The first, I don't have this problem any more because we cancelled the land line and only use cell phones. It's wonderful.

    But, in the day when we did have a land line a friend of mine whose husband was a carpet cleaner received a call from someone wanting to clean her carpets. She said, "Oh, that is what my husband does for a living." The person laughed and said, "I guess you don't need us then." So... we got this great idea, that no matter who calls, THAT is what our husband does.

  6. Grodgers, What a smart idea and so much shorter than my spill about the toe migraine. Ha ha.