Saturday, March 21, 2015

ACK! Annoying Telemarketers and Mystery Callers

A politician from a state in the Northeast recently announced her intention to refile a bill aimed at reducing telephone solicitations. Apparently there wasn’t enough interest in the bill when she first proposed it during the last session. Good luck to her in getting it passed this time. I wish a politician would propose something like that here. Unfortunately, in the long run, it probably wouldn’t discourage scammers and other annoying callers.

Last month, I got a phone call from a telemarketer who claimed he was calling on behalf of a legitimate charity. I politely told him I couldn’t take the time to talk right now. He ignored me and went into his spiel. I decided not to be nice and hung up on him. For the past couple of months, I’ve gotten what I suspect are scammer-type phone calls. So although the charity the man mentioned is a legitimate one, the caller might not have been a legitimate representative of that charity.

The telephone was a great invention. However, from what I’ve experienced, telephone sales pitches from strangers generally are beyond annoying. And then there were those phone calls that made me wonder what the heck was going on. When we lived in Arizona, we would pick up calls when we were at home. In 2000, over a period of three or four months, we got an unusual number of hang-up calls that I know weren’t from telemarketers. Maybe several people simply punched in the wrong number, but I really don’t think so.

During that time, we also found mystery messages on our answering machine (I’ve blogged about this previously).We never did find out what those were all about. Maybe we offended a couple of people in 2000, and they decided to annoy the heck out of us. Why do I think that? I guess it’s probably because at least two people left messages asking to speak to Other Half, and one of them asked to speak to me. Oddly enough, no one ever called when we were available to answer the phone.

These days, I usually let the digital answering system screen calls. If no one leaves a message, I know the call wasn’t important. I picked up on the telemarketing call last month because I was expecting a call from someone I wanted to talk to. Unfortunately for me, after telling the telemarketer I was busy, he hung onto the conversation like a piranha fish hangs onto its prospective meal.

I’m convinced that telemarketers are so focused on selling something that they never listen to their "targets." They just hope to wear people down by yakking away faster than an announcer relating the possible side effects of a medical product hawked on TV.

In, I think, 2001, I wrote an essay about telemarketers and published it on the late, but not lamented, Themestream site. Sometime, but not soon, I might revise that essay and publish an updated version on the nonfiction page of my other website.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Show a Little Respect, Customers

Employees who toil at jobs in retail stores and restaurants often leave comments and complaints on a certain online forum. Sadly, sometimes tactless customers point to cashiers, sales associates, or servers and warn their kids, “If you don’t study hard, you’re going to end up like her [or him].”

That’s so rude and disrespectful. It’s nobody’s business if someone chooses to work at a store or restaurant. Some people actually prefer to work at those places. Customers are too quick to assume that the cashier, sales associate, or server isn’t capable of finding a better job.

Yes, it’s true that some individuals might not have the skills to get better jobs. However, many retail and restaurant employees are working their way through college, and that type of employment suits their schedules. And individuals who have retired from successful careers often work at retail jobs because they want to keep active or to supplement their retirement incomes. One woman, who was formerly a hair stylist, recently retired from her job at the cosmetics department of a neighborhood store—at the age of 84.

When I was a cashier/sales associate at Smart Mart, no parent ever pointed to me and told their child, “If you don’t study hard, you’ll end up like her.” Maybe people were just a tad more respectful in that area. Then again, that city was located in a somewhat economically depressed part of the state. Well-paying, full-time jobs were hard to find there.

However, if any parents had pointed me out to their children as an obviously bad example, I would have told them, “I am studying hard, and guess what? I’m on the dean’s list. Furthermore, I’m going to move out of this area and get a better job just as soon as I finish the requirements for my degree.

And I did.