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Phone Solicitors

I understand that phone solicitors are successful for three main reasons:
  1. People tend to think other people are honest and would not mislead them.
  2. People will not act rudely and hang up the phone on another.
  3. People are greedy and like to believe that they can get something for nothing.

I understand that phone solicitors are poor people working to make a living and support a family. I also understand that the job they have chosen (although it may be the only one available) forces them to be rude and less than fully honest. They call at inappropriate times, refuse to listen, and usually misrepresent themselves and/or their purpose.

Therefore, I consider them fair game. I just ask that they try to have a sense of humor. Our standard approach is to inform the caller that we do not respond to phone solicitation but if they would like to mail us further information with an application, we will look it over and mail in the application if we are interested.

The purpose of this page is to list examples of phone solicitation of questionable ethics and responses that our readers have given or wish they had. Maybe this will give others of our visitors ideas.

People to People - How to be an active participant on this Internet site.

NOTE: Another problem fast increasing is unsolicited email advertisements. At the end of this page are some links to web sites with information about this problem.

AT&T teams up with JCPenney to rip off AT&T's credit card customers. - read the story here.

Also see The Anti Telemarketers Source
The National Fraud Information Center

People who have sent me email and whose messages and email addresses I have posted on this site may have gotten the following spam from the idiot listed. I apologize for this. It seems that this guy had a computer robot read every email address on my pages and send them all this message.
Sender: rhill@thehost.com
Subject: FREE registration in over 400 indexes!
Date: Mon, 14 Oct 96 18:36:22 -0700

Hello, I saw your site at http://www.kyphilom.com/duane/warmind.html/, 
it looks great.  Register it FOR FREE in over 400 Internet
indexes and directories at http://www.CentralRegistry.com/
(just click the "free" button).  I used it for my site and
it worked quite well, traffic soared!

Rusty J. Hill
I have sent complaints to him and to TheHost.com and to CentralRegistry.com but it probably won't do any good because those domains are probably his rather than a service provider.
Most Internet Service Providers will take actions against the customers who engage in Spam. After complaining to the Spammers ISP about another Spam message I received, I got the following message from them.

Thanks for forwarding our moron user's spam. I assure you he's just an idiot who didn't know better, he does now, and he's gotten his one and only warning. Please accept my apologies on the idiot's behalf.

Please send your stories similiar to these. I will put the best of them on this page along with your name and email address.
A lady called and said that since I had been such a good customer of her magazine company (I had never heard of it) that I had won a year's free subscription to 16 magazines. She then named all the magazines, told me how lucky I was, and said that all they asked was that I pay them $3.85 per week for the postage for the magazines.

I said, "Then basically you are giving me 16 free magazines and all you are charging me is something like $200.00 per year which is probably more than it would cost me to subscribe to the free magazines. Tell me, do you really find very many people who will fall for such a crock of bull?"

"Yes, sir, we do.", she said and hung up the phone.

A large state college has students call alumni each year to ask for pledges of money to the college. No matter what you say other than outright "NO" results in the student writing on his form that you pledged a minimum amount, usually $25.00 or $30.00. This will happen if you tell him you would like to think about it or if you ask him to mail you additional information or even if you tell him you do not want to give at this time but may later. Next you will get a nice letter in the mail thanking you for your pledge and asking that you honor it by sending the money in. I think it is interesting that students learn to make money by misrepresenting the facts before they even get out of college.
A saleslady called to try to get me to take a credit card. The deal was that you could have the credit card with no annual fee and a fairly generous credit limit. However, you had to agree to take $1,500.00 cash with the card to be paid off under the card's usual conditions. (e.g. - high interest rates). When I hesitated, she said, "But sir, couldn't you use some extra cash?"

I replied, "Well you see, we have an unused bedroom in the back of our house and we always put any extra cash we have in there. Lately though the damn thing has gotten so full that we have trouble getting the door to close. So, no ma'am, I'm afraid that we just couldn't handle any more extra cash right at this time. Thank you." And I hung up.

A salesgirl called to try to get me to join a book club. I started to say, "It wouldn't do me any good because I don't have time to read any more." Instead I said, "It would't do me any good because I don't read."

She hesitated, then said, "Oh, I'm so sorry." Then she hung up.

Phone rings. I answer.


May I speak with E Bristow, Please?

Who Bristow?


I'm sorry, E is not available right now, but I'm D and we're expecting A, B, and C at any time now.

Thank you. I'll just call back later.

Phone rings. I answer.


How are you this evening, sir?

I'm just fine.

Sir, this is not a sales call. We are not selling anything. We are just taking a restaurant survey. Now sir, the first question is, "What is your age?"

You already missed the first question. The first question is, "Do you have time to and are you interested in participating in this survey?" The answer to both questions is no."

Thank you, sir.


MCI called and wanted me to save 50% on my long distance phone charges.

I said, "I am not interested in changing long distance phone companies."

He said, "Oh, this would not involve changing your phone company, sir. Your phone company would still be GTE just like it is now."

"Do you think I am so dumb that I don't know the difference between my local phone company and my long distance carrier? Obviously, you can't save me money on my phone bill unless I use your company which does involve changing phone companies."

He said, "But sir, why wouldn't you want to save 50%?"

So I asked him how much his company would charge me for a 60 minute call to Los Angeles after 5 pm this afternoon. He calculated the charge and came back with $8.09. He said AT&T would charge me $10.80. I told him I would check that with AT&T. When I called them they said $10.80 but with my phone savings plan 25% discount if over $10.00, my effective cost would be $8.10.

So $8.09 with MCI, $8.10 with AT&T. He promised me 50% savings. MCI not only thinks I am pretty dumb in knowing about phone companies but they must think my math ain't so good either.

A door to door sales woman stopped by the other day. She was selling cancer insurance. We, of course, don't buy insurance unless we decide it is needed and make the contact of the insurance sales person ourselves rather than vice versa. I explained this to her.

When I told Eva about the visit she said, "Why didn't you just tell her that a guy stopped by here last week selling shots to prevent cancer and we paid him $500.00 for the shot. So now, we don't have to worry about cancer anymore and won't need the insurance."

Sender: Andrea Miller

Thank you for taking the time to list information on phone soliciting on your website. I appreciate your efforts and have found some good advice.

When my husband and I moved into our new house and got a new phone number, we requested an unlisted number, which we pay 75 cents a month for. But the phone company gave us a number which had been previously published, and for the last year, we have been receiving anywhere from 10-20 unsolicited calls A DAY for the previous "owner" of the number. When I complained to the phone company, they offered to SELL me a service that would block unsolicited calls.

Anyway, we've managed to take the situation with some humor. While we usually don't even pick up the phone anymore, if we are expecting a personal call and end up on the receiving end of a solitation call, we generally answer the phone by greeting the caller in a foreign language, i.e. "Hola," followed by "No habla Ingles" when they begin speaking. If they persist, we begin to shout at them in Spanish, which usually results in them hanging up.

This approach probably doesn't reduce the number of calls we get, but it does keep us amused. I just don't have the time or the energy to personally answer every unsolicited call and spend several minutes with them requesting they put my number on their "Do Not Call" list.

From a web visitor:

I simply no longer answer the home phone. It's only used for outgoing calls and data. As cell phones proliferate from being less costly, that will end up the trend. A closely related peeve of mine is the phone system being a veritable sea of answering machines. I had to reach someone in an emergency at work, and he's never at the phone, so I took the number XXX.XX07 and starting at XXX.XX00 started manually wardialing to find a person to pick up or the fax. (e.g. XXX.XX00, XXX.XX01, XXX.XX02, etc.)

Has the phone system gotten pathetic or what? All becuse some scum with wardialers have caused everyone to ignore the phone.

Sender: CrystalNSons

I just wanted to say how glad I am that you and others are speaking out and informing the publick against these rude, annoying, greedy, persistent telemarketers. I used to feel bad about hanging up on them, because "aww, they were just trying to make a living", but not any more. After about the fiftient mthrfking call from MCI trying to "save me money", I think "geez, can't you just work at McDonald's"??
They call at all hours, they do NOT respond to "I do not accept these types of calls, please put me on your DO NOT COMMUNICATE WITH " list.

Sender: Terry Wheeler - California

I just tell them: "I never discuss money over the phone with strangers." Anything they say after that, I reply, "That sounds like money to me." Bye.

From a web visitor:

I handle phone solicitation in a different way. I have an answering machine which always picks up (I never answer the phone right away). Instead, I have told friends and family this. What most people do not seem to realize is that while the outgoing message is playing, the line is open on many answering machines. My friends and family start speaking right away and I pick up the phone. I will also answer the phone if someone starts to leave a message. Only 2 times in over 7 years have I talked to a telemarketer. I estimate 80-90% of the times my phone rings each week, no one leaves a message, and thus was probably a telemarketer. While this is not appropriate for all persons, it has worked fine for me.

Sender: Kenneth Jansen

I found your site today while looking for the words to Witchita Lineman. Thank you very much. I then saw the telesales page and really enjoyed the comments. I have a favorite tactic that I use I wait until they answer and I say can you hold a sec. I then set the phone down next to whatever I am doing, typing, eating, working in the shop. I pick it up avery couple of minutes and if they are still the I say one more sec, and set it back down. THe record is 6 minutes as of now. The other thing I do sometimes if I am feeling mean is ask them what time they get off work and tell them I would be happy to call them back after that time.

Sender: S. Wood

After finally realizing that many solicitation calls were often preceeded by me having to say hello twice before someone answered, I realized these companies were boosting their productivity by using auto-dialers that pre ring a number. The call isn't passed to an agent unless it is answered. You'll know because there is always a brief pause after you say hello before someone answers. I call it the double hello, "Hello", no answer, "hello" again, then an answer and the pitch. Sometimes you'll hear a faint "click" just before the answer-- the machine passing the call to the agent. Since no immediate answer is my hint that the caller is a phone soliticator, I've learned to hang up if I don't get an answer on the first Hello. Of course caller ID might be easier, but then I'd have to give more to the phone companies that enable solicitors to harrase me.

Sender: Joseph Bristow

I received the following from Bob Pollock:

There must be another phone scam going around. I received a telephone call from an individual identifying himself as an AT&T Service Technician who was conducting a test on our telephone lines.He stated that to complete the test we should touch nine (9), zero (0), the pound sign (#) and then hang up. Luckily, we were suspicious and refused. Upon contacting the telephone company we were informed that by pushing 90# you give the requesting individual full access to your telephone line, which allows them to place long distance telephone calls billed to your home phone number. We were further informed that this scam has been originating from many of the local jails/prisons. I have also verified this information with UCB Telecomm.

Please beware. This sounds like an Urban Legend - IT IS NOT!!! I further called GTE Security this morning and verified that this is definitely possible. DO NOT press 90# for ANYONE. The GTE Security department requested that I share this information with EVERYONE I KNOW!!! Could you PLEASE pass this on. If you have mailing lists and/or newsletters from organizations you are connected with, I encourage you to pass on this information."

Sender: jfljaxfl@aol.com

I understand how you have negative opinions about telephone solicitors. However, this is the livelihood that I have chosen. It supports my household, puts food in my child's mouth, clothes her, pays for her education as well as the other material things that children enjoy. I don't make much more than the average "Joe'". I do not consider the vocation as an negative one. In every vocation there are those who can cast a negative impression upon the rest. "Boiler Rooms" and similar practices are ones that I personally abhor as they cast the negative image that many are accustomed to reading or seeing on Television. However as titillating as television is, they aren't interested in those who can provide a valuable service to their customers. We have become the Door-to-Door salesman of the 90's. As an industry, we generate BILLIONS of dollars in a lawful and upright fashion. In addition we provide tens of thousands of jobs. Even in states such as Kentucky! My corporation employs hundreds of Kentuckians. We market products and services for Fortune 500 companies. Unfortunately the situation as you experienced does occur and I would be the first to condemn it. However All telemarketers are not subject to lies, deception or other wrongs. Only those who choose to do so, as is the case in other industries such as Auto Mechanics, Taxi Drivers, Even those in the FORESTRY industry. I have personal knowledge of this in my home state.

Answer from Duane:
I only wish that all the pages I have on my web site which have two sides would get intelligent responses such as yours. I do not think that I am always right but I am always hopeful that when I am wrong someone will point that out to me so that I can learn. Unfortunately many people, unlike you, simply curse me without trying to intelligently discuss ways in which I might be mistaken.

Although I respect your point of view I do think that in many, not all, cases the telephone solicitors I come in contact with are rude in the number of times they call me, the time of day they call, and in their approach.

I get calls from "Sports Illustrated" usually twice a week wanting me to resubscribe. That besides reminders in the mail. Its kind of ridiculous. The truth is that your profession probably turns people off more because of the number of people engaged in it than anything else. I get an average of one call a day and sometimes two or three in the same day of this kind. That predisposes me to have a negative reaction even before I hear what the salesman has to say.

From: Dot

I believed a telemarketer when she told me long distance phone calls for me would be 10 cents a min. 24 hrs. a day plus I'd get an hour free LD calls each month for the next 6 months if I'd switch to AT+T. I did --I didn't. When I verified with AT+T 2 weeks later, they said I was being charged 15 cents a minute plus an extra $5.00 a month for an hour "free" for one month. I canceled immediately and will never trust any of them again.

From: Charles Catlett

One of the best responses I have ever heard works..I use it.

Soliciter-Hello, I would like to introduce you to an excellent opportunity.

Me - I'm sorry I am extremely busy right now, but if you will give me your home number, I'll call you tonight about 10:30pm when I am done.

Soliciter - Well, umm, uhh I can't do that.

Me - What do you mean. You don't want me calling you at home and bothering you.

Soliciter - Well....No.

Me - Then you surely understand how I feel. (Click)

I get a phone solicitor calling almost every day! If you ask they will take you off their list. My classic response to them now is "How did my number get on your list?" and then "Please take my number off your list." and "Who sold your company the list that includes my number?"

From what I have found by writing:
Telephone Preference Service
Direct Marketing Association
P.O. Box 9014
Farmingdale, NY 11735-9014
you can request that your number get off their lists.

I'm told the typical way you get on the list is if you give your phone number to win a prize or when buying something through the mail.

Once a phone solicitor was offering financial planning. I told him I was a welfare mother and didn't need any right now. (All true)

I have no credit cards, no magazine subscriptions and I am in college. I wonder if another way that they get my number is from internet. Could this be true?

Sender: Lots42@aol.com

One MCI stooge got me out of the shower (I take showers at weird times so of course he called then).

All that the said stooge wanted was my name and address and he could switch me to MCI right away! And it's cheaper. He did assure me that my bills would still come from Bell Atlantic, which I am sure is a bold faced LIE. Anywho, I hung up on him and felt happy the whole day through.

I did feel like screaming, "The walls! The walls are covered with blood!" But I didn't . Maybe next time.

Web Sites with Information about Spam

Unsolicited email

Fight Spam on the Internet!
Tips on fighting SPAM
Junkbusters Home Page
More tips on fighting SPAM
Blacklist of Internet Advertisers
More info on how to combat junk mail and phone solicitors
Broadcast Fax and Junk Email Illegal
Scathing indictment of junk E-mailers that includes several links to others sites and "anti-spam" programs
Get that Spammer
Useful tips and tricks for identifying and responding to junk E-mailers
The positive side of spamming and
A rebuttal to this article
Information Filtering Resources
Links to free and commercial software, research projects, news and Internet sites
Become familiar with some ISPs that exist solely to deliver bulk E-mail
Stop Junk E-mail
A kind of Frequently Asked Questions site, covering the hows and whys of spamming and how to deal with it
Rover - a robot to get email addresses
This is a discussion page of pros and cons on the Rover site.
Yahoo's Junk Email
Links to Anti Email sites on the Internet

Contact Direct Marketing Associations
to get off the majority of unsolicited phone call and snail mail lists

Check the Web pages below for more information about the DMA's Telephone Preference Service and Mail Preference Service, and the CDMA's "Do Not Mail / Do Not Call Service." They really work.

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Last revised May 8, 2002.

URL: http://www.kyphilom.com/duane/solicit.html

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Duane Bristow (oldky@kyphilom.com)

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All contents copyright (C) 1996, Duane Bristow. All rights reserved.