Sunday, November 12, 2006

Strategy for Dealing with Telemarketers

Economist Andrew Samwick has a novel strategy that he uses to deal with unsolicited phone calls. It is definitely an economic approach to the problem, factoring in the cost and benefit decision of the telemarketer:
Second, hanging up immediately is the non-cooperative response to this problem. When the Samwick household receives unsolicited phone calls (and I'm talking about you, Car Store), we employ either of two strategies that have a common element. If the VoxSon is feeling punchy, we let him answer the phone and have a little fun. Otherwise, we answer the phone, possibly responding that we will "go get" the person in question, and then just put the phone down.The common element here is that we keep the offender on the line as long as possible. This prevents the offender from bothering the next household on the call list until the offender terminates the call. This is the way to tax the resources (i.e. time) of the offender, making the enterprise less profitable and thus less likely in the future. If we all cooperated to employ this strategy, we would all be better off for it.
The key is increasing the cost of making unsolicited phone calls, thereby affecting the cost-benefit decision of the telemarketing company. Now, the main problem that I see with his strategy is that it also imposes a small cost on himself because he cannot receive or make any calls while he has the phone off the hook (but if you are having your dinner interrupted by the call, then that is probably not a problem).

Any other strategies that you think would work to prevent the phone calls?

(Source: Vox Baby)


Anonymous said...

After reading the article, I immediately thought of a commercial I saw once on tv advertising a new phone connection that screens any telemarketers calls. My houshold has a screen on any restricted numbers, but as long as the number is not blocked, the call goes through. So, telemarketers do get through, but then I do just as Samwick says not to do, just hang up. I feel that keeping them on the line does not prevent them from calling other. Once they get off the phone with you, they will pick up the phone again and call the next person. I believe that a certain call screening like the comment on the article would be well worth $5 dollars a month, and be completly beneficial to you, and telemaketers would have to stay on the phone long enough to complete the screen to talk to you.

-Sara Diehl

Anonymous said...

Even if it doesnt prevent them from calling other people after they hang up, making them wait (if incoming calls isnt a priority) is good enough just to annoy the telemarketers. I also like the idea of messing with them until the point which you must hang up and sometimes it can be as simple as requesting your name being removed from a list. Hanging up is a quick solution but sadly it doesnt stop future calls. I agree with Sara that its worth it to have a screening service to weed out all those annoying calls. Its ridiculous that you have to pay more to have people NOT call you...but if they hassle you that much, its better than constantly answering to a sales recording.

Anonymous said...

I really don't think its possible to keep the calls from coming. The telemarketers are just doing their job and no matter what you do, they still have to make the calls even if you ask them to remove your name, you still receive the initial call. The screener is a good idea, but annoying to have to pay for so I guess it just comes down to which is more annoying. I agree with Lauren bothering the telemarketers if amusing. They really arent interested in you unless you can help them and if you keep them on the phone longer than they can afford if you really aren't interested, they hang up on you.
-Danielle Lunetta

Anonymous said...

I agree with everyone elses strategies, the most so with sara's screen for the phone. But if you truely want them to stop bothering you, just have fun with it and bother them back. Not like leaving the phone just sitting there while they wait, but actually talking to them and getting them to think a little bit about what they are doing. This way it can be a family fun time. Everyone gathers around the phone and someones gets chosen to do something funny during the certain incident. My favorite example was when I got to talk to the guy when he asked for the man of the house. When he asked if i had time to talk to him, I told him no but if he could give me his home phone number i would call him back around dinner time the next day.
He told me he'd rather not be bothered on his day off, especially at dinner time because thats almost his only time with his family. I said thank you for understanding how i feel... CLICK... funny funny.
-Ryan Schoettler