Note To Companies Who Do Business With Me

It has become an increasingly common practice for companies that are making calls, say from a customer service center or the accounts receivables department, to use a computer auto-dialer.  If the customer picks up, they give the customer a recorded message to hold for a real person with an important message.  Sometimes the holds can last a while.  The idea is that the company is not paying people to waste time waiting for people to pick up, or worse, not to pick up.

I despise this practice.  The implicit assumption is that the time of the folks in their call center is more valuable than mine, such that it is better that I hold rather than their employees waste one second of time.  Well, all you companies who do this (Do you hear me Frito-Lay?  Coca-Cola?) are never going to get me, because I hang up the microsecond I get a recorded message.  I would do this even if I was sure it was a real business call, because I find the implicit assumptions insulting, but I am even faster to hang up now that telemarketers have latched onto this practice.


  1. Rob:

    >>>I hang up the microsecond I get a recorded message.<<<

    Amen! I do the same thing. If a company wants to talk to me bad enough, they can have a real, live human being call me, not some damned machine.

    I also do not return phone calls from total strangers who leave a number and tell me to call - without even bothering to tell me why they are trying to reach me in the first place. If you want a call back, leave an intelligent message.

  2. Larry Sheldon:

    I'm to the point that if I don't recognize a number, I don't answer it.

    If I recognize it as a nuisance caller (Share Group Inc being the current nuisance), I put them in my telephone system's "block calls" table.

    If I do answer it, abough 1/2 a second after I say "hello", I hang up unless I hear what I am sure is a live human. (See also the preceding 'graph.)

  3. Kelly Norton:

    Preach on, brother!

    When they do finally realize that they never get me because of this awful practice, and have a real person call me, I let them know how I feel. And I'm usually not very nice about it.

  4. Tsiroth:

    It can be even worse than that. At least you have gotten put on hold. Some companies auto-dial more people than they have reps for, to make their calling process more efficient, just as you say. But many of those telemarketers don't have any kind of hold message and queue, so any "extra" people who answer their phones are simply disconnected.

    Right before the National Do Not Call Registry was put into effect, I was getting a dozen or more hang up calls a week. All of which stopped once I got my number registered.

  5. ici chacal:

    ahhhh, yes, tsiroth, but rest assured they're working diligently on the problem. not by - you know - not by hiring more people or anything like that, but by coming up with better & better excuses for their rudeness.

    several times over the last month i've answered the phone and gotten THIS gem: "just as you answered your phone, we experienced a call surge, and all of our representatives are currently busy. PLEASE stay on the line, we'll get to you soon!!"

    which ya gotta admit is a fair amount of gall for THEM having called ME.

  6. Peter:

    I used to delight in giving these guys the run around myself. I'd ask them to hold while I got the person they were after. I'd then just put the phone down for a while. Sometimes I'd pick it up again and say the person was just coming and really wanted to talk to them but they would have to wait a minute or so. I kept someone on hold for over 5 minutes once before they gave up in disgust. I've even got them to ring back - after being on hold for a while - and repeated the process. Sadly ( yeah, right ) here in Australia they now have a do not call list.

    You should try it - its fun.

  7. SunSword:

    Just FYI -- I work for a major corporation and my phone number used to be held by someone in public relations thus it is easily scanned from the Internet.

    Therefore I have adopted the following practice. I NEVER ANSWER THE PHONE unless I actually recognize the incoming number. Because of course, if the incoming call is actually important to the caller, they will leave a message.

    In my personal life, I haven't answered the phone for years. I have the phone ringer turned off. I figure if it is important, they will leave a message. If they don't -- better for both of us.

  8. Streaker:

    Ha, that's what I've been doing for the past several years. If you call me, you should be ready to talk to me the moment I answer the call.

  9. Technomad:

    When and if I become an Evil Overlord, the first people up against the wall are going to be the ones who came up with those automated-dialing systems, as well as automated answerers. I've had to stay on the phone for half an hour to get to speak to a Real Live Human Being.

  10. EvilRedScandi:

    @Technomad - I'm right with you on that.

    In the mean time, I'm geeky enough to set up an Asterisk system that recognizes inbound callers based on Caller ID, and important customers / vendors have a Priority Code they can enter if they're calling from a different line. It helps me screen out the unwanteds, and the "important" people seriously love hearing "Welcome priority caller from Acme Company!" at the beginning of the menu system.

  11. Mesa Econoguy:

    1) Get a real job, so you’re not at home, 2) get an answering machine which screens out those calls; 3) Get a call center job, which involves calling people who sporadically answer their home phone, but don’t have….

    Aww, shit. I thought this was the new economy, as defined by Bill Clinton.

  12. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA):

    Business lines are ineligible for d-n-c registry AFAICT. Most robo systems, however, are programmed to engage upon hearing "hello." Consequently we always answer the phone -- which is also the home phone -- with our company name and "this is Bart," or whatever. That defeats about 60% of the robo calls.

  13. Google Voice:

    This problem will be solved by Google Voice.

    Call screening - Announce and screen callers
    Listen in - Listen before taking a call
    Block calls - Keep unwanted callers at bay
    Phone routing - Phones ring based on who calls
    Taking calls - Answer on any of your phones

  14. david foster:

    Unbelievably, there are *political candidates* who use autodialed recorded phone messages. I can't think of a better way to lose votes.