April 28, 2005

Having fun with telephone representatives

Once in a while, I look in on the site Jesus' General which is a parody website that is hard to describe but is often hilarious. It was the most recent winner of the Koufax Award for Most Humorous Blog.

Recently, the General posted an item about a telephone conversation that someone named Eugene Mirman had with a representative who was trying to get him to switch to her Christian long-distance phone company. As part of her sales pitch to Mirman, the phone rep first made sure that Mirman was opposed to same-sex marriages and then proceeded to allege that rival phone companies AT&T, MCI, and Verizon were all involved in promoting hard-core pornography, child pornography, and homosexuality, thus making them unworthy of God-fearing people.

The recording has Mirman becoming increasingly scandalized by the revelations he hears about these companies. The telemarketer seems oblivious to the fact that he is putting her on. His over-the-top outrage at the sins of AT&T, MCI, and Verizon, which seemed to me to be such an obvious leg-pull, seemed to appear genuine to the phone rep, which makes me wonder if they routinely get calls from people who actually think and talk like that.

Such pranks as the one Mirman pulled usually give me mixed feelings. On the one hand, the people who answer the phones are usually low-paid employees, reading from a script provided by their employers and may not be true believers themselves. They are often just doing what they are told, and I feel a bit sorry for them. I try to be polite to them (even to telemarketers), even while I am annoyed at the companies they represent. (It is interesting that this particular company's website does not have any overt religious or anti-gay message so that aspect of its business must be done through other channels that pre-screen to contact those people already sympathetic to their views.)

On the other hand, using pretty wild religious messages (at one point she agrees with Merman that "God hates AT&T, MCI, and Verizon") and vicious anti-gay rhetoric as a sales tool struck me as particularly despicable and so I had no qualms laughing out loud as I listened to Merman's ranting. It was also amusing to hear the efforts by the phone rep to keep him angry but not enough to prevent him from seeing the main point, which was to switch his phone service provider to her company.

Listen to the mp3 audio clips yourself, especially the link to "Anti Gay Phone Company II." It's a riot.


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When I lived in the dorms at Case we would get at least one call from telemarketers a day. My suitemates always gave me the phone because I liked to play pranks on them. Instead of just hanging up on them, I'd try to see how long they would stay on the line before hanging up on me. I told them knock-knock jokes, asked them what they were wearing or just made up some rediculous story why I couldn't buy whatever they were selling. It's fun to turn something annoying into a source of amusement. The worst part of this whole story is that university students get their dorm room phone numbers on the telemarketing call lists.

Posted by Joe Felix on April 28, 2005 07:53 PM

I report all telemarketers online and look up the unlisted telemarketer's Caller ID numbers on the database. Also, reup for the Federal DNC list in 2008 since the 5 year limit is up.


Posted by Jesse Houlihan on October 4, 2007 03:25 PM