tips for telemarketers and junk mail

These tips for telemarketers and junk mail are all in good fun. The claims they make (like hitting # several times will remove your number) are probably false but I found them entertaining nonetheless.

1. Three little words that work.

The three little words are: “Hold on please…”

Saying this, while putting down your phone and walking off (instead of hanging-up immediately) would make each telemarketing call so much more time-consuming that boiler room sales would grind to a halt.

Then when you eventually hear the phone company’s beep-beep-beep tone, you know it’s time to go back and hang up your handset, which has efficiently completed its task. While the telemarketer is on hold with you, they can’t bother anyone else. Think of the time it consumes, think of the impact it could have if everyone did this.

Those three little words could help eliminate telephone soliciting.

2. Do you ever get those annoying phone calls with no one on the other end?

This is a telemarketing technique where a machine makes phone calls and records the time of day when a person answers the phone.

This technique is used to determine the best time of day for a real sales person to call back and get someone at home.

What you can do after answering, if you notice there is no one there, is to immediately start hitting your # button on the phone, 6 or 7 times, as quickly as possible. This confuses the machine that dialed the call and it kicks your number out of their system. Gosh, what a shame not to have your name in their system any longer.

Tips for coping with junk mail

When you get ads enclosed with your phone or utility bill, return them with your payment. Let the companies throw their own junk mail away.

When you get those pre-approved letters in the mail for everything from credit cards to second mortgages and similar type junk, do not throw away the return envelope.

Most of these come with postage-paid return envelopes, right? It costs them more than the regular 37 cents postage if they receive them back.

It costs them nothing if you throw them away. The postage was around 50 cents before the last increase and it is according to the weight. In that case, why not get rid of some of your other junk mail and put it in these cool little postage-paid return envelopes?

One of Andy Rooney’s (60 minutes) ideas is to send an ad for your local chimney cleaner to American Express. Send a pizza coupon to Citibank. If you didn’t get anything else that day, then just send them their own blank application back!

If you want to remain anonymous, just make sure your name isn’t on anything you send them.

You can even send the envelope back empty if you want to just to keep them guessing. It still costs them 37 cents. (Editor’s note: I thought they just said it cost 50 cents)

The banks and credit card companies are currently getting a lot of their own junk back in the mail, but folks, we need to overwhelm them. Let’s let them know what it’s like to get lots of junk mail, and best of all, they’re paying for it…twice.

Let’s help keep our postal service busy since they are saying that e-mail is cutting into their business profits, and that’s why they need to increase postage costs again. You get the idea.

If enough people follow these tips, it will work. I have been doing this for years, and I get very little junk mail anymore.


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  1. I’m not sure I like the idea of putting them on hold. Telemarketers are usually paid by commission, so just putting down the phone denies them access to other potential customers. Also, as far as I know, most telemarketers use terminals that have ONLY the telemarketing software on it, so they can’t even play Solitaire while they are waiting “on hold.”

    Also, your individual entries are majorly funky-looking in Netscape 7.02! There’s two of everything.

    Comment by Meredith on April 15, 2005 @ 9:04 am
  2. Meredith: The idea is that telemarketing is not something to be encouraged, so you’re doing other people a service by not allowing the telemarketer to call them.

    As for the double entries, could you send me a screenshot? I don’t see anything strange about them.

    Comment by dan on April 15, 2005 @ 9:17 am
  3. From what I’ve heard, the phone calls with no one on the other end are actually from a mass-dialing technique used to maximize the time the caller spends actually talking to someone. The computer dials several numbers at once, and the one that answers first gets connected. All the others get a dead line. It may also record the fact that you picked up, but that’s not the only reason the call is made.

    Comment by Levi on April 15, 2005 @ 9:19 am
  4. Levi: I’ve heard the same explanation. It’s a dastardly thing to do to people. It’s akin to prank calling.

    Comment by dan on April 15, 2005 @ 9:24 am
  5. I actually like the idea of returning junk mail, especially sending the mortgage company a coupon book.

    Comment by jason on April 18, 2005 @ 1:38 pm
  6. That junk mail idea was great — I’m almost ashamed I didn’t think of it myself. As far as telemarketers go, we just usually hand the phone to our attention-deprived 3-year-old middle child — he enjoys telling anyone who will listen all about Thomas the Train, tractors, Go-gurts, dinosaurs, The Wiggles . . . and he calls the person “Grandma.” I’m sure they enjoy that.

    Kids are great.

    Comment by Karalyn on April 22, 2005 @ 2:12 pm
  7. Two words: Peanut Butter

    Spread a thin layer of peanut butter inside the junk mail before you return it, especially the credit card offers. This accomplishes many things: First, you’d be suprised how much denser peanut butter is than paper, adding weight adds to their return mail costs. Second, many credit card companies use automated machines to open and scan the documents. Peanut butter is bound to slow the machines down. Third, they were nice enough to offer you a credit card you didn’t ask for / want, you could at least be nice enough to offer them some peanut butter!

    Comment by JazzLad on March 17, 2006 @ 12:45 am

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