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February 09, 2007

Idiot Telemarketers in Action, Part 13,772

(Phone Rings)

Me: Hello?

Idiot Telemarketer: Hello, I'm calling you from the U.S. Navy Veterans Association and --

Me: Let me stop you right there and tell you to call back later, when my wife is at home. She handles all our charitable giving.

Idiot Telemarketer: We'll, I'm sure that you're the better half, and --

Me: You know what? You've just offended me incredibly by suggesting my wife isn't competent to talk to you. Take me off your list and never call me back.

(hangs up)

The organization, once again: The U.S. Navy Veterans Association, whose telemarketers, apparently, are sexist dickwads.

You know, both my father and my wife's father were in the Navy. I'm not disinclined to support charitable organizations related to that branch of the service. However, now, not this particular one.

Posted by john at February 9, 2007 03:21 PM

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Comments

Diatryma | February 9, 2007 03:27 PM

That wasn't even polite sexist dickwadding. "Well, I'm sure you're the better half," is an insult to her pretending to compliment you. I can't think of a way to keep you on the line that isn't stupid, but I can think of ways that aren't nearly so bad.

John Scalzi | February 9, 2007 03:30 PM

Diatryma:

"'Well, I'm sure you're the better half,' is an insult to her pretending to compliment you."

Yup.

Paul | February 9, 2007 03:34 PM

If you want a laugh, visit their website at www.navyvets.org.

Be sure to click on "contact us".

Kaytie | February 9, 2007 03:35 PM

I wonder if he'd have said the same thing to me if I'd told him to call back when my husband was home. (Just typing that sentence makes me laugh, though, because it's unfathomable.)

I'm guessing not. Now I wish he'd call me, just to see what would happen.

Ian | February 9, 2007 03:38 PM

My goodness, what a horrible website.

****************PLEASE DONATE*******************USNAVY GO NAVY FLY*****************************************************************

Sue | February 9, 2007 03:40 PM

LOL -- yea, we get similar calls -- tho ours are as often from the VA asking to speak to Mr. X, the Vet. When he politlely informs them that Mrs. X is the vet, they either get confused and babble or insist he must be wrong.


It goes something like this:
us: Hello?
them: Hello! We'd like to speak with Mr. X, the veteran in your family?
us (particularly me): I'm the vet, what would you like?
them: Oh, Mr. X?
us: nope. Mrs. X. You'll notice the first name "Susan" on the vet's listing if you're a legitimate organization. That's generally a name reserved for women in the U.S.
them: uh -- oh -- pardon me. I was looking for Mr. X, the veteran?
us: Sorry. Only vet here is a woman. Since you clearly don't wish to speak with women veterans today, we'll say goodbye now.
At that point, I hang up.

It happens just often enough to keep us in stitches -- when I'm not wanting to beat them to death :>.

Ian | February 9, 2007 03:41 PM

My goodness, what a horrible website.

****************PLEASE DONATE*******************USNAVY GO NAVY FLY*****************************************************************

Joe Hass | February 9, 2007 03:41 PM

In the immortal words of Phoebe Buffay, "MY EYES! MY EYES!"

Automatically playing music with no stop mechanism is so 1998.

Ian | February 9, 2007 03:44 PM

Sorry for the double post there, the internet dropped out and sent the comment twice while reconnecting.

Sue, that must be incredibly frustrating. The idea of a woman serving in the military is somehow less understandable than a man named Sue.

Steve Buchheit | February 9, 2007 03:45 PM

Bad telemarketers. No money for you!

Sue | February 9, 2007 03:57 PM

I kind of got used to it while still in -- I was a medic (the real reason I joined), but on the way to medic, I was offered drill sergeant training (and one tries not to turn down training that comes with advanced rank upon completion when one can).

The Woman's DI Hat was (and is) an Aussie Bush Hat (instead of the Smokey Bear that the men wear). Apparently when I was in, it was "new" and most of the older officers didn't recognize it.

Hence, when I was on a base for training (I was reserve, so not so often), I would often run into an older Colonel or General who would see me, turned out in a uniform that you could cut steel with the pants creases I ironed into them and do surgery in the reflection of the boots I was wearing (indicating a non com that clearly was putting time into making the uniform extremely proper) and be asked "Pardon me, sergeant, but is that hat rated for that uniform?" Yea -- cause I went to ALL that trouble and spit & polish just to muck it up by wearing the WRONG hat. To which I would politely answer, "Why yes, sir. This is what the female Drill Sergeant wears. It's new, so you may not have seen it yet."

Not that it *was* new, my drills wore it in 1979 and they looked "lived in" at that point. This would have been as late as 1981 that I was getting this -- but you gotta give a general, even a reserve general, a polite way out of looking like an idiot. It's always to your advantage :>.

Alex | February 9, 2007 03:58 PM

A man named Sue? What, you never saw Swingers?

CJ | February 9, 2007 04:09 PM

My wife is Japanese. (I married an alien)...

When the telemarketers ask me if they can speak to my wife, I love to answer "I don't know. How good is your Japanese?" I get a big kick out of the awkward pause that ensues.

Steve Buchheit | February 9, 2007 04:11 PM

There's also the old Johnny Cash song.

Michael Feldman | February 9, 2007 04:15 PM

That website is unbelievable. It has to be a candidate for one of the worst designed pieces of crud on the internet. Also, in a nice bit of irony per John's conversation with the telemarketer, almost all the people that it claims are staff members associated with communicating with the public are women! Sigh...

Patrick Shepherd | February 9, 2007 04:18 PM

Both my ex-wife and I are veterans, and have the same (shortened) first name. This sometimes led to some hilarious conversations:

"Hello, may I speak to Pat?"

"Speaking" (Either of us answering)

(long pause)

"Uh, I was calling for the VFW (or Victoria's Secret) and wondering if you wanted to join (purchase), but I must have the wrong number - is this xxx-xxxx?"

"You have the right number, but you really didn't do your research, did you?"

"Uh, are you really Pat?"

"Yep"

(click).

Paul | February 9, 2007 04:19 PM

When I first read Sue's comment, I thought, "what's so hard to believe about a woman veterinarian?"

Oops. Sorry, Sue.

Madeline F | February 9, 2007 04:24 PM

Paul: OMGWTFBBQ. Worst. Website. EVAR.

Joe Hass: It plays music, too? Thank god I'm cruising on mute.

Seriously, that website is so bad that I want to offer to help out of pity for my fellow humans... But no, they have dickhead telemarketers.

Fred Kiesche | February 9, 2007 04:30 PM

This sounds like a group we've heard from that claims to be a group dedicated to police chief's and firefighters. Amazing that my firehouse (where I'm the Treasurer) have never heard from them, of them, gotten a check from them, etc.

I had a similar experience when a telemarketer who asked to speak to "the lady of the house". When a telemarketer calls, I get irritated as we are on the do not call list. When they ask for the "lady of the house", I get really irritated as it is clear they have no clue who they are calling. If you don't have my or my wife's name and ask for it up front, you do not have the right to speak to us.

Miscellaneous Steve | February 9, 2007 04:34 PM

Last month I got a telemarketing call from one of the local newspapers on my cell phone while I was at work.

Me: Do you realize that you've called my cell phone and that I'm at work?

Pinhead: Oh, this won't take long.

I was so mad and so rude to the guy that he hung up on me after 32 seconds.

Lis Carey | February 9, 2007 04:44 PM

Not to defend that truly appalling website, but are you sure the call was really from them? And not from scammers?

John Scalzi | February 9, 2007 04:47 PM

Lis Carey:

I did a reverse search on the 800 number that showed up on the Caller ID. It confirmed to whom the number was given.

Bryan | February 9, 2007 05:00 PM

I had to laugh at that site:


"OUR OFFICIAL SITE IS ALSO BANNED IN CHINA
by the Communist government there, Gu Ge (Google), Baidu (the PRC's favorite lap dog, and totally junk, search engine) and Microsoft.
More than any of our other many honors reflected on this site, this one means the most, for now we know we have truly arrived."


How professional.

metahacker | February 9, 2007 05:06 PM

There are an increasing number of 'charities' that solicit money in the name of Veterans, Police, Firefighters, etc., etc. in the wake of the cornucopia that was 9/11 donating. Here in MA, there are too many "Police" funds to keep track of; I tried to check up on a few online, and was depressed at the results. These are "non-profit" companies who end up spending 80-90% of their income on operating expenses, sending a good 5% of actual donation to the purported destination. Sounds like this was one of those, and a dumb one at that.

I never liked the "Better Half" idea, in either direction. To use it like that -- well, let's TM hope that person finds a new job, soon.

cherie priest | February 9, 2007 05:20 PM

Hey Patrick -- more of the same, here. When my father and stepmother were still in the army, they were both Captain Priest and they both worked as nurses in the hospital at Fort Knox. I can't tell you how many times somebody from on post called looking for "Captain Priest" and having no means whatsoever of differentiating them.

And, of course, since I was a snarky teenager back then, I had a good ol' time giving them the runaround. :)

Scorpio | February 9, 2007 05:25 PM

I do mine through Fisher House, which helps disabled vets and their families.

Chris Gerrib | February 9, 2007 05:43 PM

I'm a Navy vet and never heard of them. Judging by the website, it's a handful of hard-right-wingers who found somebody (Nimitz) with a famous name.

There are a lot of telemarketing organizations who will contact these obscure charities and get them to sign fundraising agreements. The charity gets "free money" (since they do none of the work of calling) and the telemarketing firm gets revenue.

The Federal "Do Not Call" act really put a crimp on a lot of "conventional" telemarketing firms, and in order to stay in business they've branched out into this racket. (Charities are allowed to call people who are on the Do Not Call list.)

Jim Wright | February 9, 2007 05:43 PM

Well, as the active duty Navy guy around here, I gotta say it just pisses me off that these idiots are not only pestering people but doing it in a completely jackassed manner. Telemarketers have that affect on me, no matter who they work for, but playing the Navy Veteran card just throws salt on the festering wound that is phone spam.

DC Lawyer | February 9, 2007 05:46 PM

Whenever you get a telephone solicitation, you should make a special point of asking the caller (1) how much of the donation will be spent on fundraising costs, and (2) how much goes to the actual charity. Many charities pay outside firms *huge* commissions on telephone fundraising -- in the 50% to 90% range! (This includes some well-known charities.) The Supreme Court has ruled that States cannot require the solicitors to disclose the commissions unless they are actually asked.
So make sure to ask -- you may very well get two- to three- times the bang for your buck by making your donation directly through the website, rather than through a telephone or door-to-door solicitation.

Lis Carey | February 9, 2007 05:47 PM

The important phrase is "Put me on your Do Not Call list." It's not as much fun or as emotionally satisfying, but it has the huge advantage of having legal and practical effect. Even the nonprofits that are exempt from the restrictions of the federal and assorted state Do Not Call lists are legally required to abide by your request to be put on their Do Not Call list.

These days, I get calls only from nonprofits that I haven't yet uttered those words to. Ah, peace! And quiet!

Anonymous | February 9, 2007 05:51 PM

Not only does the site have music, their "contact us" page plays "We Got The Beat" by the Go-Gos.

Huh??

Jon | February 9, 2007 06:01 PM

Well, I agree that must be the ugliest web site in the world. It is surely an embarassment to every sailor who is literate. And I don't mean computer-literate, I mean just plain literate.

Lisa | February 9, 2007 07:08 PM

One of my two year olds loves to talk (rather unintelligably) on the phone. One time, I got a call from a telemarketer about some kind of car insurance or something. (Since I have an impeccable driving record, being blind and all and having no liscense I've never gotten a ticket--I get calls for car insurance all the time. Fun to mess with people's heads about that). But this particular person asked for the head of the household. I replied that it was me. He then said, oh, well then could I speak to the man of the house? I said sure--and handed the phone to my two-year old who immediately started babbling incoherently about Elmo or some such. I have no idea how long the guy actually stayed on the line.

Simon Haynes | February 9, 2007 08:22 PM

I don't know whether it's possible to castrate someone over a phone line, but the quickest way to find out would be to call my place and ask my wife whether they could speak to 'the man of the house' - implying she's just some kind of kitchen implement.

Kate Nepveu | February 9, 2007 08:32 PM

Lis Carey: Even the nonprofits that are exempt from the restrictions of the federal and assorted state Do Not Call lists are legally required to abide by your request to be put on their Do Not Call list.

Where is this requirement? I got all excited because we have deeply annoying charities who keep calling us, but the FCC says "Tax-exempt non-profit organizations are not required to keep do-not-call lists under the FCC’s rules."

http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/tcpa.html

Kate Nepveu | February 9, 2007 08:33 PM

Lisa: But this particular person asked for the head of the household. I replied that it was me. He then said, oh, well then could I speak to the man of the house?

I think so far you win the jaw-dropping contest.

G. Jules | February 9, 2007 08:50 PM

I've had the head-of-the-household calls too, but the ones I hated even more were the telemarketers who insisted on speaking to a member of my household between the ages of 25 and 54, and kept calling back because they didn't believe me when I explained that my household doesn't have a member between those ages.

Also: No, they can't speak to my parents. They live two states away, and they don't need me referring telemarketers their way.

Tapetum | February 9, 2007 09:44 PM

When asked for the man of the house I usually grin gleefully and hand over the phone to my husband, chortling quietly. The resultant conversation goes something like this.

Him: Hello, may I have a credit card number, please?

Them: Uhh. This is (fill in blank company/charity).

Him: Yes, I realize that. I'm a professional marketing consultant. I'd be happy to help you with your pitch. I charge $2 a minute, and take all major credit cards.

This is usually followed by some sputtering and a quick hang-up.

I'm not so good with telemarketers, but ever since my last MRI, I'm great with the charities. They depend so much on the sob stories (Please think of the poor sick children!) that they just don't know what to do when you can fire back with a better one.

Martin Wagner | February 9, 2007 10:24 PM

The last time John smacked down an asinine cold caller, that person got fired. Don't suppose it'll happen this time, eh?

Dan Bailey | February 9, 2007 10:49 PM

I usually just ask if they can hold on a minute while I go get my checkbook and see what my account balance is like, set the phone down, and walk away from it.

Let the fuckers stew.

Lis Carey | February 10, 2007 05:48 AM

Kate:
Where is this requirement? I got all excited because we have deeply annoying charities who keep calling us, but the FCC says "Tax-exempt non-profit organizations are not required to keep do-not-call lists under the FCC’s rules."

It's in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA). Not FCC rules, but federal legislation. Many states also have state laws with the same requirement. Links to information, including the text of the law here: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d102:s.01462:

Dan | February 10, 2007 12:34 PM

"We Got the Beat" by the Go Go's?

Well, now it all makes sense. When my five year old niece first heard that song, she thought they were singing "We got the beef."

Kate Nepveu | February 10, 2007 05:55 PM

Lis Carey: sorry, still confused. The statute exempts calls "by a tax exempt nonprofit organization" from its definition of "solicitation."

Chap | February 11, 2007 01:19 PM

Used to know someone married to a telemarketer. The firm hired broke people for the boiler room, pitched fundraising to real charities (the police fund, the annual fire dept circus, etc) and kept half the proceeds. Half.

Plus, I've been in the Navy for nigh on twenny years, and I've never heard of 'em.

Chryss | February 12, 2007 08:54 AM

I've never had anyone asking to speak to "the man of the house." I don't know how I'd react, except to possibly say something along the lines of "OK but he's in drag right now, you still want to talk to him?"

Lis Carey | February 12, 2007 10:19 AM

Kate, I can only say I've never had it not work. Skanky little for-profits trying to get around the Do Not Call list have--very rarely--given me arguments about how what they're doing isn't sales so they're not covered, but non-profits, never. Now, there may also be state law involved here--I live in Massachusetts--but "put me on your Do Not Call list" was remarkably effective in reducing the number of telemarketing calls I got even before the Do Not Call lists went into effect.

I take it as a rule of thumb that the rare individual who does give me an argument is certainly a fraudster, and I report the call to the AG's office, but really, I've only had to do that twice, and that was back when the MA DNC list first went into effect.

Sharon | March 28, 2007 05:06 PM

I don't make anymore donations by phone to anyone. You just don't know who you are talking to today, and typically, they don't stop calling. It's best to keep your phone on the national do-not-call list and you can also call the specific non-profit places and ask them to remove your phone number too.

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