Most of friends and family have gotten the message – if the answering machine picks up, just start talking. If we’re home, we’ll answer. (which means, we occasionally get a vm that goes like this: “hey guys, it’s me…[pause]…hello?…[longer pause]…hello? Are you not home or you just avoiding me?”).  We don’t have call display so this has become our passive-aggressive way to avoid tireless telemarketers.

They are a tenacious bunch, calling at odd hours or meal times. That stony silence when you first pick it up until a tiny voice asks “how are you today, ma’am?”  Um..I was great until you interrupted my dinner AND called me Ma’am! Do I sound like a Ma’am!?!

Usually, if I was dumb enough to answer in the first place, I hang up before they can start talking. Only once, did they call right back…for the next 5 days at 6 p.m. precisely just to swear at me and hang up. Talk about tenacious!

But in the event that my reflexes are slow that day and I do get a live person, I’ve compiled a list of 22 tips to test telemarketers. Maybe they’ll get the message!

  • keep repeating “what?”
  • ask personal questions like, “does my voice make my butt look fat?”
  • put them on hold, and don’t come back
  • stay silent and see who hangs up first
  • keep interrupting them (especially if they’re determined to stay on script)
  • ask dumb questions – they may be unrelated to the product/service being promoted
  • ask them what they’re wearing
  • try out a new accent…or two…or three…
  • break out your cheesiest pick up lines


  • interrupt them and try to sell them something instead
  • ask them to marry you
  • pretend to be your voicemail box, even if they catch on
  • say you’d like to join/donate/buy, but…and then “spin a yarn” like a hurtin’ country song!
  • speak only in ig-pay atin-lay
  • play along – keep them on the line as long as possible
  • practice that new language you’ve been learning
  • feign multiple personalities
  • tell them you have to check with your leader, Megatron
  • scream and then apologize for not using your indoor voice
  • phrase everything in the form of a question
  • interrupt them to explain your terms and fees for listening

And last but not least, take a hint from Jerry Seinfeld (Season 4, Episode 3):

Telemarketer: Hi, would you be interested in switching over to TMI long distance service?

Jerry: Oh, gee, I can’t talk right now. Why don’t you give me your home number and I’ll call you later?

Telemarketer: Uh, well I’m sorry, we’re not allowed to do that.

Jerry: Oh, I guess you don’t want people calling you at home.

Telemarketer: No.

Jerry: Well, now you know how I feel.

(Jerry hangs up)

I had a friend who had to work as a telemarketer. She hated her job as much as people hated hearing from her. So try a little humour  -and always…


Happy Weekend!

p.s. Sometime I’ll share my sure-fire way to avoid slimy sales reps soliciting at my front door!