Zapping the Telemarketers

Have you seen that commercial for a device called the "Telezapper"? It's a gadget you plug into your phone line that bamboozles the automated call redirection computer that many telemarketers use. It also costs US $40 or so, which seems a bit odd since it probably contains five dollars worth of parts.

Still, that isn't why the Telezapper ads annoy me. I object to the way their commercial misleads people. It says that when you pick up the phone you will hear three tones so you'll know the unit is active.

That, if you'll pardon my language, is deliberate bovine excrement.

Those three tones are what make the Telezapper work. It doesn't take a rocket scientist (or a Bell technician) to figure out that the Telezapper is simply reproducing the usual "Dee-Doo-DEE!" you hear just before you're informed a number has been disconnected.

It turns out that I'm not the only one who has figured this out. One of our fellow netizens has been irritated enough by the Telezapper ads that he has explained how you can create your own for free. Click here to find out how.

I am also cheesed off by the way the commercial lies employs considerable artistic license in depicting how telemarketers react when you have a Telezapper. If I recall the scene correctly, they depict one of the evil telemarketers hopelessly tapping buttons with a perplexed look on her face, then finally pushing back her chair and shrugging expansively as she looks to her fellow servants of darkness for a solution to the mystery.

Of course, the dialing computer would not direct the call to one of the operators, so this scene would never happen. Even if somehow it did, I doubt that anything short of Armageddon would phase a telemarketer. Indeed, I'm sure they're up to date on all the latest curse words, not to mention various descriptions of what they should do to themselves.

I don't own a Telezapper, and I don't think I'll subject every caller to a three-tone symphony every time they phone me. I can already deal with telemarketers pretty darn quick, because it's so easy to identify them and send them packing.

Here's how it goes. It's around dinner time (of course) when the phone rings. My caller-ID display shows "Blocked Number". I pick up the phone and hear the sounds of a busy office just before I utter my standard greeting ("Hello, can I help you?"). My interlocuter ignores my opening gambit and goes straight to the script: "Hello, sir."

Let me tell you something: nobody who calls me refers to me as "sir" unless they want money. Ninety-five times out of a hundred, my tech support and similar calls start off with, "Uhhh ...". The other five times the person will say either "Yes" or "Is this Pinnacle Software?" (or one of my other concerns).

So as soon as I hear the word "sir" I interrupt with the magical phrase, "Put me on your Do-Not-Call list". (Actually, I tack a "Please" in front of that; I'm not a savage.) The usual response from the fiend at the other end is usually, "Oh."

And that's the end of that, because by law they're not supposed to call people who explicitly request to be deprived of their Valuable Service or Product. Moreover, any savvy teleflogger knows that if somebody has bothered to find out about the "Do Not Call" phrase and has clearly used it preemptively before, they're not going to make a sale.

I particularly enjoy hearing that "Oh." Sometimes I can almost hear the caller's shoulders sagging in disappointment.

Ah, telemarketers. Can't live with 'em; not allowed to boil them in oil.

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