Dealing with telephone salesmen

You probably know how it is, you're sitting down to dinner when the phone rings...

You probably know how it is, you're just sitting down to dinner (perhaps in front of your favourite TV show) when the phone rings.

Salesman Hello, can I speak to the person responsible for your gas/electricity/telephone/bills, please?

Your heart sinks. Sometimes it's UPVC double-glazing on offer, sometimes you've won a competition (which you hadn't entered) and are eligable for �1000 off a new kitchen. At work the calls can multiply. But rather than just say We're not interested! or hang up, if I've got a free five minutes I like to play games.

This is a real conversation, I promise nothing has been made up.

The telephone salesman

Good evening, can I speak to the person who looks after your telephone bills please? I'd like to tell you how we can save you money on what you're paying now.
I'm sorry, we haven't got any telephones.
What do you mean you've got no phones, I'm calling you now aren't I?
Yes I know, clever isn't it? We use tin-cans joined together with string. It's not perfect but we pay nothing for our calls. (Makes string twanging noise) (Twang!)
You're not serious?
(Twang, twang!) I'm perfectly serious, we've given tin-cans to all our friends and family too. We've even got broadband, but we use rope instead of string for that. (Twang!)
So you wouldn't be interested to find out more from me?
(Twang!) Sorry? (Twang!) It's getting windy outside. (Twang, twang, twang!) I'm losing you.
Fuck off! (Sound of hanging up)


  1. #1 On January 21, 2005 12:24 PM Rob McMichael said:

    The phrase, "I'm a student" often gets them off the phone faster that they can say 10% commission.

    Good story though :)

  2. #2 On January 21, 2005 12:40 PM dotjay said:

    LOL! I love this... nice story.

    I put all my phone numbers on TPS last year after we started getting two calls a day with an unmanned telephone system at the other end which would just hang up after a few seconds.

  3. #3 On January 21, 2005 12:47 PM Andrew Green said:

    Marvellous work! The following is also 100% genuine. Chap calls about double glazing, claiming to have spoken to "Mrs Green" the previous evening. My partner isn't going to be Mrs Green until July, and is just as irritated by these calls as I am and highly unlikely to have said anything to encourage them to call back the following day. So I feel a tad lied to, and get just a touch rude.

    Me: There isn't a Mrs Green, and even if there were, she wouldn't be interested either. Now, please go away. <hangs up>


    <phone rings again>

    Me: Hello?

    Caller: You're a scall-head.

    Me: You called me, you c***!

    ...and so on, in a fashion likely to provoke complaints to the BBC...

    Caller: I'm going to come round there and beat you up. 73 Lassell Street, isn't it?

    Me: That's right. I'll look forward to it.

    <hangs up>

    WTF is a "scall-head", by the way?

  4. #4 On January 21, 2005 01:02 PM Neko said:

    Didi he really tell you to "fuck off"? O_o I feel sorry for him and for you as well, because you got offended. It takes a lot of effort to turn a salesman mad. :)

    If you ever did the salesman (I did for a short time just when I finished school) you know how hard job it is. On the other hand, when I see a couple of my ex-classmates who are now salesmen riding in black BMW M3s (while I drive my red-always dirty-Yaris), I'm wondering if it was better to keep up, instead of embark myself in the communication thingy. :)

    Oh, by the way when they call me I start speaking English or Japanese: this immediately turns them away.

  5. #5 On January 21, 2005 01:05 PM Graham Bancroft said:

    I once had a call from a consrvatory company and I promptly booked them in for a home visit.

    The salesman came but was unwilling to offer a quotation.

    I asked him why?

    He reckoned that they couldn’t put a conservatory on a second floor flat!

    Gutted I was!!

  6. #6 On January 21, 2005 01:26 PM Keith Bell said:

    Ha ha!

    Wish I'd thought of that just two days ago, when some shyster from Codswallop Communications (or something remarkably similar...) called me up "about my BT line" (misrepresentation, or what?). He argued with me when I told him I don't have a BT line, then got stroppy and aggressive when I wouldn't tell him who does supply my telecom services. He terminated the conversation just before I told him to fuck off.

    I'll remember the "tin cans and string" approach the next time!

  7. #7 On January 21, 2005 01:34 PM Tim said:

    When someone from India asked me who I paid our phone line-rental to, I replied "British Gas" (I was confused - it's only partly untrue!). She asked again. I replied in the same way. She then said "So, it's not British Telecom then?". I said "no". She said "sorry - we can only save money for British Telecom customers". Nice!

    Have you seen the CounterScript?

  8. #8 On January 21, 2005 01:38 PM Adrian Lee said:

    Hehe, quality stuff, we used to get some call up and say we'd won a holiday or something, as long as we could answer 'a few simple questions'.

    Caller: What dog do you associate with the Queen?

    Me: um.... Pyranese Mountain Dog?

    ... few more easy questions, few more daft answers...

    Caller: Are you taking the piss?

    Me: Clever girl! *hangs up*

  9. #9 On January 21, 2005 02:01 PM kleida said:

    Top 3 phrases for cold callers:

    I'm not the home owner.
    What colour knickers are you wearing?
    (From canister air-horn) Honk! Honk!

    Must add - great site Malarkey.

    xxx a long term lurker

  10. #10 On January 21, 2005 02:02 PM Malarkey said:

    More to follow, including megaphone, cling-film and BT Manager stories ;)

  11. #11 On January 21, 2005 02:08 PM Ben Darlow said:

    I think your sticky-tape answering machine must be broken though...

  12. #12 On January 21, 2005 02:13 PM Peter J Lambert said:

    I like the telephone surveys.

    Caller: "[after initial blurb]...Do you have a few moments to spare to help us with our survey?

    Me: "Of course. To whom should I send the bill?"

    Caller: "I'm sorry? No we're just carrying out a survey of..."

    Me: "Yes, you said. I charge �25 for surveys. Would you like to pay by Direct Debit? I can take your account details now."

    Caller: "click..."

  13. #13 On January 21, 2005 02:55 PM Robert Wellock said:

    We just don't responsed� leave the phone of the hook normally, we get that many calls per day even after registered long ago with Telephone Preference Service. Since generally you can tell before they begin speaking whether they are telesales.

  14. #14 On January 21, 2005 03:33 PM paul haine said:

    I worked in telesales for, ooh, four and a half days once. It was for a company that sold windows and double-glazing and UPVC frames and all that jazz, and in my whole time there I never managed to get a single person to bite, so I quit before they fired me. It was truly the most miserable job I've ever had - they stick you in a rented room above a cafe with some school desks and chairs and phones and you get on with it, going through lists of people and taking abuse, while some creepy supervisor who genuinely believes in themselves cracks the whip and threatens you if you don't fill a quota.

    I'm generally polite to cold callers these days, because I know that a lot of them are just doing the job because they have to do a job, and not because they're deliberatly being annoying basts. You can have a go at them, but in the grand scheme of things it's about as effective as having a go at Tracy on the tills at Sainsbury's because the price of bread has gone up.

  15. #15 On January 21, 2005 03:50 PM Malarkey said:

    Hi guys,

    Yup, telesales jobs must be a bummer! I certainly wouldn't want to do it either.

  16. #16 On January 21, 2005 04:20 PM Pierce said:

    This is pretty weird. I just got called by a salesman this morning and said "Sorry, we don't have a phone". Never used the line before. Had just thought of it. Now I see you've beaten me to it. Didn't extend it on as long as you did though. He just said "ok" and hung up.

    I have used "We don't use shops. No, none of us eat food." on market surveyors before. You'd think more of them would have a sense of humour. I'd have thought they'd get this kind of stuff all the time.

  17. #17 On January 21, 2005 04:44 PM paul haine said:

    I think the reason they don't have a sense of humour is exactly because they get this kind of stuff all the time. Remember that any time spent on someone who is clearly just messing around with them is wasted time from their perspective, as they'll have commission-linked bonuses, and the children need new shoes.

    Sorry, I know this was meant to be a light-hearted topic and I'm not being very funny. I'll stop now.

  18. #18 On January 21, 2005 05:38 PM Carlos Porto said:

    I had a friend that used to do tele-marketing he lasted for 2 weeks there. Anyway, I always love a good story, keep them coming!

  19. #19 On January 21, 2005 05:47 PM vigo said:

    I got a great cold call a couple of months ago.

    (Names have been changed to annoy the lawyers)

    "Good afternoon, XXX Ltd, how can I help?" says I. Silence. I greet again, and again. There's some background office noise on the line so I know it's connected and someone wants to talk to me. Eventually (after about 30 seconds of nothing) someone comes on the line:
    "Hello, is Mr Briggs there please?", I say yes and ask who's calling (expecting a red hot prospect or the supplier who I'm waiting to call back), "It's Miss X from , we rang you a few months ago and you were interested in advertising in our magazine"

    First mistake, you see I remember the call and I remember not being interested at all, telling the caller this and asking not to be called again. I told Miss X this, to be met with "No, that's not right". "Yes, it is" I responded. Miss X then calls me a liar.

    Second mistake, never, ever, ever insult your prospect. And definately never call them a liar! "I'm not interested thank you, and I never was" - the response from Miss X?

    "Oh stick it up your and die!"

  20. #20 On January 21, 2005 06:29 PM jordan said:

    We lousy USA'ns are lucky enough to have both a National and State Do-Not-Call list. If we're signed up on it and a telemarketer calls us anyhow, we have the right to get 'em fined.

  21. #21 On January 21, 2005 07:36 PM Feaverish said:

    Our son has been trained to screen all our calls. He loves it. His current favorite piss-off is "Aaron was in a car accident this weekend. (pause) He's dead."

    Nothing could be funnier to him. I worry about what he'll say if I actually do die in a car accident.

  22. #22 On January 21, 2005 08:34 PM Jon Hicks said:

    Excellent! Fend off the buggers with good ol' English wit and eccentricity! You can usually tell telesales by the large pause after you pick up, but the latest scourge is these pre-recorded messages that ring you! Whatever will Satan think of next?

  23. #23 On January 21, 2005 09:07 PM Mike Pepper said:

    I had a fun experience with NTL when I queried their errant SMTP server: Thick Customer Support.

  24. #24 On January 24, 2005 12:09 PM Rob said:

    Me at home:

    Them: Is Mr Waring there please?
    Me: Speaking
    Them: *sales blurb*
    Me: *sounding interested*
    Them: So how much do you currently pay for your *insert product here*
    Me: Ahh you want my dad, he's not here at the mo' sorry

    The joys of being over 18 with literal tendancies

  25. #25 On January 24, 2005 09:36 PM JP said:

    One of my mates came up with a few good ones...

    'Would you be interested in UPVC windows sir?"

    �No, I�m not interested in buying windows, however I am interested in purchasing some shoes.�

    'We dont sell shoes sir'

    "Oh. Can i have your shoes?"


    "You heard"

    And so it continues for a remarkably short time!

    Full article from

  26. #26 On January 27, 2005 09:08 AM Jocke said:

    I tried this one just the other day. Just wanted to say thank you, it worked like a charm! This i much funnier then just slamming the phone down their ears.