Fun With Telemarketers
I picked it up.
"Molowackabesai?" I said.
A gentleman with a decidedly unAmerican accent was on the other end.
"Hello. Are you to be speaking of English?"
"Nolo mackarie inno English a besai moba," I said in an excited voice.
"Ahhh, you speak Djabootie! Mola wamba tu meko alska!!"
I was on vacation in a rental beach house early in June when the phone rang, and I knew it couldn't be for me, so I decided to have a little fun with the telemarketer. You can imagine how stunned I was when the guy on the other end apparently understood my gibberish. Not wanting to waste anymore time on the call, and afraid that I might accidentally say something to offend the fellow, I hung up.
The phone rang again, not 2 minutes later.
I picked it up.
A recorded voice, filled with concern for my well being, said, "Hello, my name is Rob, and our research shows that you have over $10,000 in unsecured credit card debt and you are about to go delinquent, which will cost you thousands of dollars in penalties, and negatively affect your credit rating. Fortunately, we've caught this in time. Give us a call at 1-800-555-1234 and we can take steps now to correct this situation for you. Again, the number is 1-800-555-1234."
The recording ended and the call disconnected.
I was alarmed. I mean how did they know I owed over $10,000 in credit card debt? How did they know I was about to default? How did they know that the man was coming for me and it was only a matter of time before my life was ruined? More importantly, how did they know which beach house in which Florida city I'd rented for that very weekend?
These guys must have been living in my pocket.
I called the number, and when the young fellow picked up, I said in a very urgent tone, "I need to speak to Rob right away!"
"Do you have a case number with us?"
"I don't know! I just got a call from Rob that says I owe more than $10,000 and I'm about to default on it and I need to find out what's going on!"
"Well, Rob's not here right now, but I might be able to help you."
"OK, well somebody needs to help me. I have no idea what is going on!"
"That's alright sir, my name is Neal, and we're here to help. So, how much to you owe?"
I replied in a puzzled tone, "How much do I owe who?"
The young man seemed confused. "How much do you owe in general."
I gave it right back to him. "Hey, you called me first and told me I owed more than $10,000. That's why I called you. You're the ones who know what I owe. Ask Rob about it. He seemed to know more about my finances than I do. Don't you people talk to each other there?"
The young man was even more confused. Apparently we were way off script so he decided to try and reboot.
"Sir, how much do you owe on your credit cards?"
I wasn't going to give him anything. "What credit cards?"
"The cards with the debt you are calling about." He sounded even more unsure of himself.
I put an edge in my voice. "The card I am calling about? You called me first! Rob said I owe more than $10,000 and I need to find out what he was talking about. Look, he called not 5 minutes ago, so I know he has to be there, so put him on the phone. He seems to be the only one there who knows what is going on!"
"Sir, nobody named Rob works here in this call center, but I'm certain I can help you if you'll just answer a few basic questions..."
"Nobody named Rob works there? Then who called me five minutes ago to tell me I owed $10,000 and that I'm about to go into default, and why would he give me your phone number? Come to think of it, a few minutes ago, you told me he was gone for the day! Are you lying to me? Does he work there or not?"
The guy is obviously ratttled now. "Sir, that call you got was an automated call sent out as a service by our company to help people who are overwhelmed by debt and..."
I interrupted. "You mean that that call goes out randomly?"
"Yes sir. It's provided as a free service to our customers."
"So if it goes out randomly, then you really have no way of knowing what my financial situation is do you?"
"No sir." I could almost see him beaming as he thought I was finally seeing the light. "That's why I need to ask these questions to see exactly where you stand financially."
"I see, so I really don't owe $10,000 right now?"
"I have no way of knowing that sir, until you tell me."
I was through toying with him. "So what's really going on here is your marketing team is sending out recorded phone calls designed to scare the crap out of people in hopes that they will use your services, is that about right?"
He stammered more than Barack Oba'ma when speaking without a teleprompter, "Err....uhmmm...well...." click.
Who says you can't have fun with telemarketers?
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