He Has a New Year’s Resolution for Telephone Solicitors — Don’t Call Him!

By Joe Darby


I’d like to provide a New Year’s resolution for all telephone solicitors: Stop calling me. I don’t want what you have and I’ll pick my own charities, thank you.

TS’s, as I will abbreviate them for the rest of this column, are certainly among the most persist folks you can encounter. For example, I can’t imagine why Heather keeps calling me, after all of the times I’ve hung up on her.

Well, I haven’t actually hung up on Heather. I wouldn’t be that rude. But Heather has made a recording, which I’ve heard repeatedly after I answer my cell phone.

In a very friendly, bouncy voice, she says something like this. “Hello! This is Heather. I’m calling you about your credit card account. There is nothing wrong with your account, but…”

In my first call from Heather, when she got to the point where she told me nothing was wrong, that’s when I hung up on her. For the very many times afterward, I would end the conversation as soon as I heard, “Hello! This is Heather!…”

As Mary can tell you, I’m a true “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” type of guy, so if my credit card account is all right, there’s nothing I want to talk to Heather about. Hmmm. I wonder if the young lady’s name is really even Heather.

As persistent as Heather is, the people who want to sell us extended repair warranties on our cars may even be worse.. They’ve been particularly avid in going after Mary, even filling our mailbox with their written solicitations to her, warning that her old warranty “may have expired.”

Well, yes, her old warranty has expired and she’s not in the market for a new one. She has repeatedly told them on the phone that she’s not interested and to quit calling. All to no avail. One woman even rudely told my better half that she would continue to call until Mary let her deliver her whole spiel. I hope that call was being “recorded for training purposes,” as they say, so her bosses could see how nasty she was.

We even got rid of our land line phone because the only calls we were getting on it were from TS’s. So those companies succeeded in making us change our lifestyle. One victory for them, I suppose.

I’d actually much rather have a recording solicit me than a real person, particularly when the cause is worthy, such as aid for police or firefighters. Those callers can really put a guilt trip on you, making you feel like a heel if you don’t contribute money to the folks who put themselves in danger for us. But my charity budget is limited, and I have to choose on my own which institutions or people I will help.

Sometimes we will hang up if we encounter a momentary silence on the phone after we answer. We’ve learned that this often happens when a TS calls, apparently because they start the calling mechanism just as they’re ending the previous conversation.

So, we use any defense we can not to be bothered by TS’s. Sometimes we win and sometimes we don’t.

I won’t even mention a whole other category, telephone scams. Except to cite this one instance. A couple of years ago I pick up the land line and a young man says, “Hi, this is your grandson.” I simply said no, you’re not, and hung up, because I don’t have such a person in my family.

But looking back, I wish I’d engaged the young scammer, who certainly was going to tell me he needed money, in a long, convoluted conversation. The nonsense and BS I would have fed him would have made my day, while wasting as much of his time as I could.

There are so many directions I could have taken the conversation. “Hey, you little scamp, you stole my classic car. I’ve got the police on you and I want it back.”

Or: “Son, I’m so glad you called. Your grandmother fell and broke her hip and we need you to send us as much money as you can.”

Or: “I’d love to help you boy, but I just split from your grandmother and I’m running off to Hawaii with a clerk from Walmart. We need traveling money.”

Well, you get the idea.

I hope the lad who claimed to be my grandson never succeeded in getting cash from some unsuspecting old timer and that somehow the cops caught up with him.

But, hey, that’s not a nice thought for the New Year, is it? Maybe he made a resolution to change his ways. Now if only those TS’s would do the same.

Hello! This is Joe! Happy New Year!