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New Scam, Same Scum

Last week, I received several phone calls that, once answered, gave me several seconds of silence, and then a hang-up. Curiosity got the better of me (as well as the temptation of "free nights and weekends" on my cell phone), so I called it back.

That's when I found out that the scum-sucking swine (with all due apologies to pigs everywhere) that are telemarketers have a new scam: they get you to call them, so their pitch is on YOUR dime.

It took me more calls than I care to admit to get a transcript of the pitch (you can say a lot in 100 seconds), but I got it all (and verified it all). Let's see what the fine folks at (company name and phone number omitted) have to say, with a bit of creative translation.

(Author's note: yes, I'm sure it's them. I found their direct line and managed to get the exact same message from one of their phone options. And I have their number saved three times on my Caller ID.)

Hello and thank you for calling our non-profit campaign center. We're not going to tell you who we are, because we don't want angry people tracking us down.

"We are currently unavailable or on another phone call."
The odds are whoever is calling us back is pissed, and we don't want to talk to THEM.

We represent several law enforcement and public safety organizations, both at a state and a local level, and we want to apologize for missing you on your earlier phone call, as we've had some difficulty with our new telephone system.
Let's see. We'll blend in an appeal to civic duty and a bit of CYA for those hangup calls that got the sucker to call us back on his dime. That'll give us a little protection.

The purpose of the call was simply to let you know about the many worthwhile law enforcement and public safety fundraising projects we're working on. We hope to be able to reach you again in the future, because people like yourself are the backbone of our many projects which help your police officers and fire fighters.
We want you to give us money. If you do, we'll give a little to unionized public employees who you are already paying through your taxes.

Also, we'd like you to be aware that the federal do not call list does not apply to calls that are made on behalf of non-profit organizations.
FU.

However, if you do wish to be not be called back, we will certainly honor your request.
If you ask really nicely, we'll leave you alone. Ain't we decent?

And although we may represent many organizations, we don't represent them all, and if you want to be placed on our internal do not call list, after the tone just please leave your full name -- spell it if necessary -- and your phone number beginning with your area code. Please don't forget to include your area code.
We'll still probably bug you, but we'll use different names. But in the meantime, if you give us your name and phone number to re-sell to other telemarketers, we'll think of leaving you alone. And don't forget that this whole call is on your dime, not ours.

Please note it takes up to 90 days to process to be completed at all levels, and this will certainly assure that you don't receive a call back.
So now that we've found you, we're going to keep bugging you for three months before we leave you alone. For now. Maybe.

Now please consider, though, that if you ask to be placed on our internal do not call list, you won't have an opportunity to help sponsor the police and fire organizations you normally help sponsor throughout the year and during our holiday season, and without people such as yourself, we would not be able to continue our many worthwhile causes.
Because God knows the only way you'd ever consider supporting your local police in fire is if some telemarketing scum from Maryland calls you up and nags you. Lord knows you don't already through taxes and other local fund-raisers.

And again, we apologize for missing your call, and please remember to buckle up, drive safely, and have a great year. Thank you.
And with that, this also serves as a valuable public-service announcement. Who could complain about that?

I think on Monday I'll give them a call on their direct line (omitted -- see below) and give them an earful or two. And if anyone else would like to get the jump on them and sign up for their "internal do not call" list as well, that might save you an annoying call or three in the future.

At least three months in the future, however. Ain't they just the model of efficiency?

J.

(Author's note #1: The full, uninterrupted, uninterpreted message and originating phone number are in the extended section.)

(Author's note #2: On reflection, I have decided to omit the company's name and direct phone line from the above piece. However, I am fully confident that it is them, and may change my mind after speaking with them today. I personally have absolutely no fear about any repercussions of doing so, but I also have the luxury of hiding behind a pseudonym here -- it's not my full, legal name plastered all over the site. I can think of far better ways of thanking Kevin on the one-year anniversary of my presence on Wizbang than getting him sued.)

Update: I ended up calling them, and spoke with the telemarketing spokesweasel of Dennis Marketing Group of Owings Mills, Maryland. the common theory of the commenters was correct -- the calls were the result of a "predictive dialer" that didn't connect me to a live telemarketer in time. He also said that the Do Not Call list doesn't apply to non-profit organizations or those representing them, and they were working for the New Hampshire Highway Patrol. (It didn't occur to me until afterwards that New Hampshire doesn't have a Highway Patrol, just State Police.) He also said that he'd be glad to put me on their do not call list, and I told him that I didn't accept his 90-day limit. Any future calls would be met by insults, obscenities, and any other forms of abuse I could think of at the time.

If anyone else would like to call them and pre-emptively register for their list, their number is (410) 654-0100.

(410) 581-0821

Hello and thank you for calling our non-profit campaign center. We are currently unavailable or on another phone call. We represent several law enforcement and public safety organizations, both at a state and a local level, and we want to apologize for missing you on your earlier phone call, as we've had some difficulty with our new telephone system.

The purpose of the call was simply to let you know about the many worthwhile law enforcement and public safety fundraising projects we're working on. We hope to be able to reach you again in the future, because people like yourself are the backbone of our many projects which help your police officers and fire fighters.


Also, we'd like you to be aware that the federal do not call list does not apply to calls that are made on behalf of non-profit organizations. However, if you do wish to be not be called back, we will certainly honor your request. And although we may represent many organizations, we don't represent them all, and if you want to be placed on our internal do not call list, after the tone just please leave your full name -- spell it if necessary -- and your phone number beginning with your area code. Please don't forget to include your area code.

Please note it takes up to 90 days to process to be completed at all levels, and this will certainly assure that you don't receive a call back. Now please consider, though, that if you ask to be placed on our internal do not call list, you won't have an opportunity to help sponsor the police and fire organizations you normally help sponsor throughout the year and during our holiday season, and without people such as yourself, we would not be able to continue our many worthwhile causes.

And again, we apologize for missing your call, and please remember to buckle up, drive safely, and have a great year. Thank you.


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Comments (27)

That's another mystery solv... (Below threshold)
OregonMuse:

That's another mystery solved -- I've been getting 3 or 4 of these calls per week for about the last year or so and never could figure out what they were. I don't have caller ID or any other fancy phone technology so the only thing I do is to hang up. Glad to know I haven't missed anything.

I just never answer my phon... (Below threshold)

I just never answer my phone. If someone wants to get in touch with me, they can leave a voicemail.

It's my understandin... (Below threshold)
JC:


It's my understanding that one telemarketer has a machine that dials ten numbers and the first person to answer is who they talk to, and if any of the other 9 answer they get the hangup.

JC

Motto at our home"... (Below threshold)

Motto at our home

"If they love us, or it's important, they will leave a message."

BTW, in a moment of soul-cleansing confession I did a very short stint for my local newspaper drumming up subscriptions via their own "phonebank" system.

I hated myself. The script plays on a person's basic psychology of curiousity and trustfulness.

JC above is correct.... (Below threshold)
jack:


JC above is correct. Telemarketers have phone systems which dial anywhere from 2 to sometimes 20 numbers at a time. The first one to pick up gets routed to a person for the pitch. If you pick up just after someone else does you think it's a hang-up (which technically it is) but it's not a trick to get you to call back. Until recently they almost always showed up as "Unknown Caller" in my caller-id.

JC and JackIt depe... (Below threshold)

JC and Jack

It depends how many people a telemarketer has in his/her phone bank

All phone calls are routed by a computer, which dials sequentially blocks of numbers, as soon as a "pick up" is discerned, the 'puter program routes it to the next open telemarketer on this list... this is way telemarketers hear lots of answering machines/voice mail.

Another indication you may have a telemarketer is when you answer your phone you'll hear a slight delay, soft click then suddenly someone asking for you by name or "is this is man/lady of the house?"

If you don't say "hello" right away you might be fooling the telemarketer that you are nothing but an answering machine and they'll hang up on you because it's only sales that get the poor schlub on the phone more than the minimum wage s/he is getting for annoying people at home.

My favorite telemarketer ca... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

My favorite telemarketer call is the one with the recorded message that tells you to wait on the line for the next representative. Uh, no thanks.

Depending on how this reall... (Below threshold)
Aubrey:

Depending on how this really works, it sounds like the telemarketer can avoid the do-not-call lists as well.

I wonder when someone will ... (Below threshold)

I wonder when someone will invent a machine that can prevent the telemarketer's computer from breaking the connection.

Of course, that would probably be illegal, but...

Jay Tea - I think on Mon... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

Jay Tea - I think on Monday I'll give them a call on their direct line (omitted -- see below) and give them an earful or two. And if anyone else would like to get the jump on them and sign up for their "internal do not call" list as well, that might save you an annoying call or three in the future.

I'll empathize and then suggest you skip the spleen venting. Your return call may be considered a "business transaction" opening yourself up to future calls by associates from this sneaky operation. This phone bank may not call but they may sell your name to another affiliate and skirt the DNC list - if they follow it in the first place. Given your report, they may or may not be fully aware of the legalities of their action. Some suggest that it may simply be a busy phone bank though your suggestion is not an impossibility. Sneaky b*st*rds.

Ignore them, save your money and time, and extend your life a few extra seconds. It just isn't worth it even for the therapeutic value. I'm guessing the grunts working the phones have no voice in the matter and their employers (the ones with decision making responsibility) sure won't take your call. If anything, document your phonecalls and the sales spiel and send it to the FCC. That might be productive use of time.

This explains all the hangu... (Below threshold)

This explains all the hangup calls I get... sheesh. I get the please hold for the next available representative ones too occasionally.

The one that used to worry me was the recorded message that said "Please hold for an important message from your jeweler." I was terrified my wedding ring was about to expire!

It's not only telemarketers... (Below threshold)
-S-:

It's not only telemarketers, but a general abuse by nearly all commercial organizations (and/or even governmental ones) about use of personal telephone service...

IF it's important enough for a company/anyone to contact you about anything, it's important enough for them to write to you. If they don't know your address, then there's little room for them to suggest that there's any relationship (commercial, personal, representational) between you and them (the caller).

Phone service is paid by the he/she who has the service, it's a utility that the consumer purchases and others assume it's there for their use, while it isn't -- meaning, if you need something signed, something returned, some sort of feedback or response from a consumer, then send them a written request. I get really annoyed at the phone service I pay for being assumed to exist for the use of anyone/everyone for whatever they *think* they may want, need or be curious about.

If it's not a friend, relative or a personal call thereabouts, it's not reasonable to assume you can just get someone's number (or are even entitled to it, which many assume they are) and then use it to further projects. It's the worst case of our cultural presumptuousness upon everyone else I can think of and one of my pet peeves. If you want a document signed, returned, something/anything from me, it can't be accomplished using a telephone so why the calls?

Perhaps the issue isn't that it's an obvious non productive behavior commercially and otherwise, but that people can accrue expenses for hassling everyone else over their home phone numbers -- maybe it's just one of those things that organizations do to generate loss.

What it DOES generate is bad reputations. Anyone using telemarketing automatically gets a pass by me. I really, really hate people using my phone number/s for thier sales/solicitations/lazy purposes. If it's important, write a letter.

It's a great scam, except m... (Below threshold)
John S.:

It's a great scam, except my number is registered on the FDA's do-call list . Just making my phone ring is worth a $11,000 fine. Of course, the phone bank is probably in India.

Oh the telemarketers are ba... (Below threshold)
firstbrokenangel:

Oh the telemarketers are back allright but they are using a different word than "telemarketer." I've been reaming them a new one when they call. Next one I get, I will get the name, phone number and report it like a good citizen.

Cindy

Amazing how much time you h... (Below threshold)
firstbrokenangel:

Amazing how much time you have on your hands, J

I remember a great Sienfeld... (Below threshold)
Amber:

I remember a great Sienfeld episode where a telemarketer calls Jerry to give his pitch:

Jerry said, "I'm sorry, I've got some guests over, would you give me your number and I'll call you back tomorrow."

The caller said "tomorrow is Saturday, so I won't be at work tomorrow."

Jerry then said, "That's fine, give me your home number and I'll be happy to call you back at home."

... click.

I think what is worse are t... (Below threshold)

I think what is worse are the idiots who FAX all sorts of crap to you. It is literally stealing your personal/company's paper and toner.

the irony! the abbreviatio... (Below threshold)
trappedinmn:

the irony! the abbreviation for the Do Not Call list is DNC - how appropriate!

RE: trappedinmn's post (Mar... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

RE: trappedinmn's post (March 28, 2005 07:02 PM)
the irony! the abbreviation for the Do Not Call list is DNC - how appropriate!

Subtlety can be quite powerful. ;) Layers, I tells ya', layers.

I received a call letting m... (Below threshold)

I received a call letting me know my phone number was chosen for a free burial plot. I explained I had no intention of burying my phone number and thought their offer was most strange. The telemarketer was flustered but, started her spiel from the top, repeating that my phone number was chosen for a free burial plot. I asked why a phone number would need a burial plot. Before she could answer, I told her my phone number would probably prefer to be recycled to a good home rather than buried in a plot, even if free.

You might be interested to ... (Below threshold)
Jim:

You might be interested to know that FTC rules require telemarketing companies to do less than 3% of their calls as "hang ups" or "answered by computer", ie a pre-recorded pitch. The other 97% must be answered by a live human.

Interestingly enough, the FTC proposed a change to this rule in November 2004 to raise the hang up percentage to something like 10%. The rule change got no press and by the time I heard about it the public comment period was closed. Well boy-howdy.

Have you heard that Congressman from somewhere in the mid West talking on the radio about all these poor telemarketers that we're putting out of work? I sympathize with the individuals, but you can't make it your job to annoy people. These bottom feeders (my appologies to the little people who are actually on the phone) must be stopped.

RE: Jim's post (March 28, 2... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

RE: Jim's post (March 28, 2005 08:32 PM)
Interestingly enough, the FTC proposed a change to this rule in November 2004 to raise the hang up percentage to something like 10%...

Why am I not surprised? Interesting indeed. Anyone want to venture how long it will take until that number is escalated up to any-number-they-want-%?

Thanks for reminding me to ... (Below threshold)
julie:

Thanks for reminding me to unplug my fax machine, Henry!

Yeah, and why I sold my FAX... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Yeah, and why I sold my FAX machine long ago. You can send and receive all the faxes you want via other technology.

A) Fax machines are covered... (Below threshold)
James:

A) Fax machines are covered by a US law that many people hoped would apply to spam, but doesn't. USC 47.227(b)(1)(C): "It shall be unlawful for any person within the United States... to use any telephone facsimile machine, computer, or other device to send an unsolicited advertisement to a telephone facsimile machine..." Each unsolicited business fax is worth 500 bucks, if you can ever manage to press charges. Note that this is under private action, which is one of the reasons why the CAN-SPAM act hilariously lives up to its name. But I digress...

B) One of the great things about having a cell phone instead of a land line is that federal law states in no uncertain terms that NOBODY is allowed to cold-call your cell (b.1.A.iii of the same USC title), and provides for the same fines ($500). I always give my cell when a form asks for "home phone", and I still get one or two calls a month. I love cutting them off mid-pitch with "Did you know this was a mobile phone?" About half manage to stammer an apology, the rest just hang up. Beautiful.

This scum is still operatin... (Below threshold)
anonymous:

This scum is still operating today! Really wish someone would shut them down already. Maybe some hacker could do us some public service work and... >;)

I ended up using the compan... (Below threshold)
Lisa Frattare:

I ended up using the company's phone number posted on this message (not the number they call with) and left a voice mail in the first mailbox in the telemarketing department, asking that they discontinue calling our number. Having left the message at 6pm on a Sunday evening, I was shocked to receive a phone call within an hour from a real human (the owner of the mail box) who said our number would be removed within a few days...




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