Monday, May 19, 2008

Fun With Scammers Pt. 1

A few months back I started getting phone calls, from a variety of numbers and names(turns out Automotive Warranty Service is the actual name), all out of state, that informed me there was a problem with my car's factory warranty. Well, this was puzzling, because at the time of the first call I did not have a car in my name, and I've never bought a car from a dealership(in fact, all the cars I've owned have been decades old). So naturally I just hung up. I got the same call a week later, and a few days after that, and so on, until finally I listened to the entire message. I could press 1 to talk to an operator, or I could press 2 to be put on their 'do not call' list. I pressed 2, which, it turns out, was a big mistake. Instead of getting a call every week or so, I began getting a call every day. Sometimes more than once a day. This has continued now for the past few weeks, and so eventually I pressed 1 to talk to an operator.

During my first talk, I was frustrated, and a little bit angry in the way I was speaking. I wasn't rude, or cursing at the operator, but I was noticeably agitated, so I could halfway excuse the person for hanging up on me. Not so the next day, when I calmly asked the person why I was getting calls when I don't own a car. She hung up on me too.

It's obvious this is a scam. I knew that from the time I got the first call. Anyone interested can follow this link to find a description of the scam and some really outrageous stories from people who unfortunately succumbed to the salespeople(including alleged retaliation for making a complaint with the BBB). But that's not the point of this post. From the moment I spoke to my first operator I knew complaining about this business would do no good. As soon as the bureaucracy catches up and begins to go after these people, they'll have changed their numbers and mailing addresses several times over. Phone/Internet/Mail scams are here to stay, it's up to us to be the ones to say no. So I've decided to have some fun.

I got two calls today. The first, asking to speak to a supervisor, I was sent to some bogus voice mail maze. The second surprised me, and I didn't have much prep time, but here's how it went down.

I was put on hold after asking to speak to an operator, and I got to hear the first two lines of Willie Nelson's On The Road Again several times before Mike picked up and asked for the make, model and serial number of my car. I, in as good natured a manner as I could, came back with 'Wow, I was on hold for awhile. Business must be good.'

There was a pause, and then 'yeah, we're doing pretty well.' It should be noted that during my previous dealings there was no pause, they quickly hung up on me or transferred me. I can only imagine that the pause came because politeness and joviality went against their programming. Like those robots in old Sci-Fi movies whose heads would explode when faced with some simple illogical riddle.

Still keeping the same jovial,purely-making-idle-chatter tone; 'ah, good. Stealing loads of retirement checks, then?'

Another pause; 'Sir? I don't think I understand you.'

'Well, how about you transfer me to a supervisor. Maybe he will.'

Another pause; 'What did you say? I couldn't understand you.'

'Well, I'll speak slowly; CAN. I. TALK. TO. A. SUPERVISOR?'

No pause this time, but a shitload of sarcasm; 'yeah, I understood that. Hold on.'

A click, some muzak, and then a dial tone. He'd transferred me, and then hung up on me.

It wasn't entirely clever, but I had no prep time. It did get my frustration out, and waste a few moments of their time, which kept them from earning anything. Tomorrow I hope to be better prepared, and I'm going to be keeping a log of my transactions. I'm going to see how long I can keep them on the line until they hang up in frustration.

So, anyone have any ideas? I know most of my friends are much better at screwing with telemarketers than I am(particularly Eric, who could go on for hours), but if anyone has any ideas I should use, I'd be much obliged. Check back tomorrow for more.

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