‘No, Mr. Ball is away from his desk right now’ | SierraSun.com
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‘No, Mr. Ball is away from his desk right now’

James Ball, Sierra Sun

Once upon a time, I was a starving, young college student in desperate need of beer, or rather, grocery money.It is the shame of my family that I once took to the mean streets as, yes, a telemarketer.The horror. The horror.If there is one group of people I wish could simply be vanquished to some sort of busy-signal purgatory, it is the telemarketers.My job used to be this…Dial random number from phone book, RING, RING, RING…”Hello?””Yes, Mr. (insert name), this is Jamie, calling on behalf of the Georgia Sheriffs Safety Council (fictionalized version, but close). This is just a courtesy call to remind you to buckle up this holiday season. I’d also like to offer you a nifty bumper sticker and hat pin as a way to say thank you for your donation of $15 to the troopers. Now, to get this mailed out to you, I just need to verify that you still live at (insert address). Is that correct?””Well, yes, I do, but…what organization did you say you were with?””The Georgia Sheriffs.””Are you a deputy?”Now, the guys I worked with had several variations on what to say here. I always, said “no, I’m calling on their behalf,” which was true. We had been contracted by the sheriffs to do their fund-raising.But some of the guys I worked with would, when the managers weren’t around, say, “yes.”Maybe it got them more sales, more spiffs and recognition, but I couldn’t do it. In fact, I couldn’t do it more than a few days before my conscience got to me. They worked me during people’s dinner times and their prime relaxing hours, when I would call and invade their homes with my canned pitch.I hate that more than anything.I’ll be sitting there at night, G&T fired up and mixed just right, when all of a sudden… RING, RING, RING.”Hello?””Yes, Mr. Ball, good evening. This is Clarence from ACI long distance phone company telling you how you can save up to 40 percent on all your calls to Outer Mongolia and South Alabama on off-peak Sundays from 3 a.m. to 4:12 a.m. in months that start with an R. Plus, Mr. Ball, we’ll give you our prime rate of 26 cents a minute on all the other calls you make.”Now, mind you, I never make it this far anymore. When I get this call today, I put my mouth directly to the phone and yell “No!” then hang up. Seriously.It wasn’t always the case, though. I used to be a sucker for the pitch, even the too-rehearsed, time-worn ones.I’d feebly try to say “no, thank you,” but that doesn’t work, does it? “Well, I understand, Mister Ball,” Clarence would continue. “But for signing up today, ACI is offering you a free T-shirt and a beer cozy, which will be sent out to you directly in a deluxe custom kit for only $1 6.98 shipping and handling.” “A beer cozy, huh? I could really use one of those. And that deluxe custom kit sound pretty spiffy, doesn’t it?””So to get you started with ACI, I just need your current address to authorize the switch, which we will pay for.””I don’t know, Clarence. I’m pretty happy with my current long distance carrier.” “Mister Ball, did you realize the current carrier you use charges you a $5 per month service charge, has double the long distance rates on early morning calls to Sheboygan, is being investigated by the FCC and clubs little baby seals on a regular basis?””Wow. Sheboygan, huh? I might need to call someone there someday. Do you have a service charge, too?””No, Mister Ball, we have a maintenance repair warranty for only $4.95 every two half-months which ensures your service will not be interrupted at any point in time.”I don’t know,” I’d say. “OK, sign me up.”Back in that day, I fell for a lot of these pitches, but I also scammed the phone companies on a regular basis, legally, I mean.They would call and offer me to switch carriers. And for my trouble, they would throw in six months of free long distance. Of course, at some point, my old company would call to see why I had switched. I told them the truth. “They gave me six months free long distance. Why, what are you offering for me to come back?””How about seven months of free long distance, three nights stay at a Crowne Plaza and plane tickets to Maui.””I don’t know…” I would say, feigning resistance.”OK. Fine. I’ll give you a case of Dom Perignon 1 956, a Hassleblad 6×6 camera valued at $6,000 and a date with supermodel Rachel Hunter…and my firstborn.” “But don’t you all have a $5 a month service fee?”Dead silence.”You’ve broken me. I lay stripped bare before you with nothing left to offer. Yes. Yes, Mister Ball, there is, in fact, a $5 a month service fee with us. I, I’ve exhausted all possibilities. What more can I offer you to join us again?””Hey,” I would say. “You got any of them beer cozies laying around there?” “It could be arranged.””Woo-hoo. Sign me up.”And I would repeat the cycle every six or so months, getting the most these vultures would offer for a chance to chew on the rapidly decomposing carcass that is my precious time.Today, I barely get past the “Hello, Mister Ball,” part before hanging up. After I get past sitting at a desk, sitting in a car, sitting on a chair while on the telephone and doing all the other million thankless tasks which we all do every day, the last thing I want is to have the sanctity of my home invaded by these idiots.I’m all for banning solicitation over the phone. Period, no exceptions. I’m sorry if that hurts the charities with legitimate fund-raising needs. Do it somewhere else. Please.At the end of the day, a moment’s peace is the last sacred thing I have left. Do me a favor: keep your offers and specials and deals and great savings to yourself, because I gave at the office.Just leave me alone.Sierra Sun E-mail: sun@tahoe.comVisitors Guide | News | Diversions | Marketplace | Weather | CommunityCopyright, tahoe.com. Materials contained within this site maynot be used without permission.About tahoe.com… 


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