Tag Archives: telemarketing

Omaha Steaks, telemarketing brass

Some time back, my wife and I decided to give Omaha Steaks a try. I’m from that part of the country, and what most Oregonians consider a decent steak simply could not be served back home. Plus, Deb loves Nebraska, entirely because some nice people took her and a friend in during a tornado alert near Doniphan back when she was in her teens. I’m partial to the place myself, as I find it one of the friendliest parts of the Great Plains. I’ll never forget the time the Huskies beat the Huskers in a football game in Lincoln, and their fans gave our guys a standing ovation. That’s what a young person might call epic class.

Go Big Red.

As for the steaks and such, we bought a combination pack of different stuff. Came in a styrofoam cooler. The product values ranged from superb (definitely would order more of the chicken fried steak) to no big deal (hamburger patties).

If they didn’t find ways to annoy us, we might well order again. But oh, the marketing.

It began with a notable addition to our junk mail burden. I’d estimate that they send me thick envelopes full of recyclable solicitations twice a month. That can be borne, but the telemarketing can not.

As much as I like Nebraska, don’t ever give this company your phone number. If they say they need it, just refuse. If they insist, and you really want the product, make one up. Do not give them a real telephone number. You will end up having to be abrupt with friendly people who are just doing their jobs, even if their job is a bad one and deserves some negative reaction. That doesn’t make it fun. Just do not give it.

The interesting thing about Omaha Steaks’s telemarketing is its cheerful, self-confident brass. Most telemarketers call with a certain amount of defensive script adherence, seeming to expect and attempt to deflect some verbal abuse. (“Sir, this is not telemarketing; it’s just a courtesy call to let you know about our specials…”) Not Omaha Steaks; they open the conversation as if this is perfectly normal, like your nice neighbors calling to share something like extra tomatoes from their garden, and that no one should classify this as an unwanted marketing call. I see the logic. It conveys: You wouldn’t want to be rude to such nice friendly folks, now, would you?

If they telemarket me after I tell them to stop, oh, yes, I would. Not happily, but get on my bad radar and it’s on for young and old.

The first time I just dismissed it, saying I didn’t want any. The rep seemed bewildered, as though he were returning my call, in which I had requested help with adding Omaha Steaks to my monthly budgeting.

(Okay, it’s true: when I ordered, I did not outright tell them never to telemarket me. Kind of like when people come over for dinner, I do not outright ask them to please not crap in the corners. This is because I presume that dinner guests are not animals, are either adults or supervised by adults, and do not need to be asked not to be barbarians.)

A couple of weeks later, they called again. The same tone the second time, but this time I was blunter: “Don’t ever telemarket me again.” In tones that conjured a puppy punished for no reason, he agreed. I sensed a lack of conviction, though, and was pretty sure that wasn’t the end of it.

This morning, I learned I’d been right. A peppy representative interrupted my morning by briefly asking how I was, and would I like to hear about their specials? She didn’t give me the chance to answer “yes” or “no” before launching in. Clearly courtesy is wasted here, so I butted in. “Well, you didn’t even wait to hear my answer. [Notice how often they do that?] But last time you did this, I told you not to telemarket me again.”

After a brief and pained pause, she tried to debate. “Sir, we’re not a telemarketing agency. You ordered with us before. We just–”

“No,” I said. “Even if you are not a telemarketing agency, what you are doing is telemarketing and I told you to stop it. This is the last time I will be polite about it at all. Don’t ever, ever, ever telemarket me again.”

She leaped on the seeming ambiguity in that sentence. “So do you mean you want to be only on the [monthly/quarterly/holiday…I can’t remember precisely] call list, or none at all?”

I laughed. “Ah, I see how it works. You mark people down for periodic telemarketing calls. The answer is none, never. Do not ever telemarket me again.”

She said they would not, and then signed off with the peppy well-wishes some phone representatives use to say “what a jerk you are.” I always find those amusing in their hypocrisy, but once the situation is as it is, I can’t fault that part even if I find it less than credible. What would I prefer, that she hang up on me? In any case, that was that.

For the moment.

I’m not betting that I’ve had my last telemarketing call from them, though.

Anyone else find themselves getting a steady flow of phone rings from friendly Midwesterners who act as though returning a call?

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My telemarketer FAIL

This needs some backdrop. I am of the following beliefs/persuasions:

  • Non-Christian, and disinterested in reconsidering that.
  • Committed to leaving people alone about that, if they leave me alone. I thus consider all active proselytizing very offensive and annoying, one of the worst social misbehaviors there is.
  • Some businesses and jobs are not legitimate employment, and that practice of a bad job liberates me from social obligations of courtesy and honesty when it intrudes on my life. I’m not moved by ‘they’re just doing their jobs.’ So are drug mules. If your job is to bother people who did not ask to be bothered, that’s a bad job.

So not only do telemarketers annoy me, they are fair game within the confines of law, just as are missionaries who dare bother me on my property. It does not follow that I am always necessarily dishonest or mean to either. It simply means that, within the confines of the law, I may be so if I choose, and I feel I’ve done nothing wrong. They always had the choice not to bother me. I wasn’t bothering them.

The only enjoyment I can get from a telemarketing effort, therefore, is a sense that I made it less worthwhile for the telemarketing company and its employees. To some extent, whether I do that through comedy, annoyance or venting depends upon the conduct. Obviously-read scripts offend me. Scripts that imply insults to my intelligence offend me. Illegitimate questions offend me, and since the querent has no right to ask me anything about my whole life, all telemarketing questions are illegitimate, especially if the individual has not even asked whether s/he may start asking them.

I’ve handled it various ways over the years. I actually got a robocall operation to leave my cell phone alone when, after about eight hangup calls from them, I called back and strongly implied that I had the power and will to traverse the electronic medium and cause grave physical infirmity. (That’s illegal, and not normal for me, but I was pretty tired of what amounted to crank calls. Oh, and it worked.) With males, I have been known to attempt a sultry tone hinting at seduction. I often take charge and say “I’m asking the questions here. How did you get my number?” I’ve pretended to have comprehension disabilities, or to speak little English. I give stupid answers, or make up a bunch of baloney. If I’m feeling lazy, I just say I’ll go get the person they want, pretend to call someone to the phone, lay it down and just not return. A minute wasted, some other person somewhere spared a call, the company’s money wasted, my little good deed for the day.

One time, some twenty years ago, I decided that I had the perfect screw-you planned out. I would preach. I was raised around a lot of that, for my father loved the 700 Club and religion was rammed down my throat by emotional and physical abuse all through my teens, until I (predictably) threw up. I know how to imitate a televangelist. So, next time the phone rang, and it was someone telemarketing me, I had all tubes loaded with canister. This was going to be my most successful, obnoxious telemarketing response ever. This would be for the ages.

“Good evening, sir, I’m Susan with Suchandsuch Co. Who is the main decis–”

“You know, I’m going to give you something better than a sale today,” I blared in my outside voice. “I’m going to give you the truth of your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! It says in the Bible…” I went on. And on. And on. I pontificated for minutes; no hangup, no interruption. I turned up the heat: “…because the alternative is the fires of Hell, and there is a real Hell, and it’s even worse than you imagine…” I quoted John 3:16 and offered interpretation. I began to wonder why she hadn’t just hung up, or butted in to bring the conversation around to what she wanted to sell, or responded in any way. I did this for about five minutes, getting a little curious, but starting to run out of wind.

When I began to slacken, she finally spoke up. “Wow, this is so wonderful. I also am born again, and it’s so great to meet someone who believes as I do and isn’t ashamed of the Gospel. Sir, this has been the best call of my day, and thank you so much for sharing your faith with me. I’m at work though, and I have to get going on other calls now, but God bless you, and have a wonderful evening. Good night!”

*click*

I never did find out what she wanted to sell me. I stood there, blown-out, dumfounded, struck silent, my whole plan having backfired about as back as a plan can fire. It was like the South Carolinians had tried to fire on Fort Sumter, but due to incompetent artillery direction, had shelled downtown Charleston instead.

Then I did the only thing that a sense of justice or humor would allow. I laughed until I was incoherent, red-faced and gasping for breath. In fact I’m tearing up laughing just thinking about it.

I haven’t pulled the preaching stunt since.