I’m just getting that out of the way because that’s really the entire point of this post.
Well, that and a bit of celebration. You probably didn’t know this but we actually set up an e-mail address for The PO Life (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ve RECEIVED AN E-MAIL! The office is so overjoyed, we’ve decided we want more e-mails. Hence, the pathetic hawking of the e-mail address (email@example.com) and the existence of this post. Hopefully, we can get some of you suckers to e-mail us so we can create “The PO Box” – you guys do half the writing for us and we give shitty responses with terrible advice, half-baked ideas, maybe a coherent thought or two and viola!…a new recurring mailbag post is born. It could go something like…
SAMPLE E-MAIL (it would be to firstname.lastname@example.org):
Hi PO Life,
Are Swedish-Made Penis Enlargers your bag, baby?
– Kristoph, Hamburg
McCannon: Publicly no, privately yes. Like my support of the film Red Riding Hood.
See how much fun that was? If Kristoph from Hamburg was real and sent a real e-mail, I’d probably answer a bit more truthfully and put some real effort into it. Would’ve been fun all around.
So that’s the plan. All types of e-mail are encouraged including, but not limited to: bad advice seeking, hate mail, glowing-adoration mail, questions, observations, storytelling, etc. It’s all good. If things oil up nicely and start turning, you should see PO Box mailbags on a semi-regular basis. If this post comes and goes and the idea is never mentioned again, that’s because it crashed and burned; none of our dozen readers decided to help out (or Fat Tony didn’t retweet us).
Anyway, one e-mail isn’t enough for a mailbag, but luckily it’s long and entertaining. Here it is (in its War-and-Peace-esque entirety):
Dear PO (Ed. note: sent to email@example.com),
I need help and I think you twisted fucks are the perfect ones to provide it. I’ll start with the gist of it to get your creative juices flowing as you read the rest of this. What I need from you are your best, most hilarious, most unbelievably amazing ways to mess with telemarketers.
Now before you utter any cries of indignation (I’m looking at you, Bart) like, “But they’re just trying to make an honest living like the rest of us!” or “Why would you want to make someone’s day miserable when they already have an unimaginably miserable job?” let me remind you – I actually was a telemarketer of sorts, and in the not-too-distant past. So trust me, I know how miserable it is. In my case, I was calling hospital CFOs to try to schedule 90-minute meetings. I know this might come as a shock, but they’re not:
1.The easiest people to get in touch with.
2.The kind of people who feel like listening to what a 22-year-old kid with about 3 weeks job training has to say – especially when it’s to set up a meeting longer than what they probably get with their own CEO every month and they know that eventually we’re going to ask them to buy a several hundred thousand dollar product.
Needless to say, I had some really fun conversations….
Anywho, the people I’m getting calls from are not your run-of-the-mill telemarketers. I actually just feel bad for those guys and try to be as nice as possible to them while crushing their hopes and dreams that they’ll actually get some business from me. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a call from a legitimate telemarketer on my cell phone (oh dear god KNOCK ON WOOD) but I’m sure that’s how I would be.
No, the calls I started getting about a year ago are from Satan in the form of “Rachel from Card Services” – a recorded voice calling from numbers all over the country that tells me that she’s with my credit card company and blah blah blah press 3 to stop getting these calls and press 1 to talk to a representative to lower your interest rate. The kind of recording that in no way has any even remote semblance of credibility.
Now when I first started getting the calls, I (like so many other naive idiots) just pushed 3 and thought that was that. Then I’d get a call the next day. “Well, maybe they need 48 hours or so to get those requests processed.” Press 3 again. After a few days of that, I started asking to be put through to the representative. “Yes hi, no I don’t want a lower interest rate; I’d like my number taken off this list.” Click. Not me hanging up on them – them hanging up on me. The first time I honestly thought that the call had just gotten disconnected. After all, companies are required by law to remove you from they’re call list if you ask them (I told you I was a naive idiot). But when it happened again, and again, and again, I started getting pissed. These people are calling me at work, taking up my time to propagate their scam, refusing to take me off their list, and then hanging up on ME? Are you fucking kidding me?
Now I bet I know what you’re thinking. “Why don’t you just NOT be an idiot and don’t answer your phone when it’s from someone whose number isn’t in your phone book already?” And that definitely sounds easy. But when my phone rings, I answer it – it’s like a reflex. What if it’s from someone I actually DO know who got a new number, or whose number I don’t have yet? (Side note: this has actually never happened to me but WHAT IF?!). I did stop answering for a while, but they’d keep calling and at the time I was interviewing for a new job and absolutely paranoid that any time my phone buzzed it was my potential new employer calling. So it got old.
So I went online and googled “Rachel Card Services,” having no idea what would turn up. Lo and behold, there’s literally hundreds of pages with complaints about these guys, and it made my experience look like a walk in the park. Reps are rude, condescending, verbally abusive; it’s unreal. Seriously, google this shit and read some of the complaints. Or just read this article: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/nov/29/business/la-fi-lazarus-20111129.
Basically they’re in the business of asking for your credit card number and Social Security number if you actually have the misfortune to believe them (no seriously, that sounds totally fine). Thousands of people have filed complaints with the FTC and the Do Not Call list, and it hasn’t done a single bit of good. So I put my number on the Do Not Call list, filed a complaint with the FTC, and then figured that there was really nothing else I could do about it. But that’s wrong – oh so wrong. There is something I can do about it, and that’s make anyone on the other end of the line who is rude and wants to steal my identity feel like a piece of shit. I starting trying to think of ways to mess with them, and then realized that eventually the calls had stopped!
Oh wait, I’m writing to you so it must not be the end. Yesterday at work I got a call from a New York number that wasn’t in my phone. Regressing back to my old dumb ways, I answered it. Oh Rachel, how I’ve missed you. I would LOVE to speak to a representative.
Rep: “Hi, would you like to lower your interest rate today?”
Me: “No, I’d like you to take my number off this list.”
Rep: “…..You’d like me to butter your muffin?”
(pause for you guys to stop snickering)
(seriously, are you done yet?)
Me: “Are you fucking kidding me with this?”
Rep: “Cause I can go get some butter to butter your muffin.”
Me: “Go to hell.” Click.
“Go to hell”? I can do so much better, and these guys deserve so much worse. So can you help me, PO? If seriously no one in this entire country can shut this operation down, then what are the most insane, creative, and twisted ways to fuck with these guys?
– Never ever EVER naming my future child Rachel
McCannon: OK, the only feasible plan I could come up with to really stick it to em involves hiring a private investigator with a certain set of skills, purchasing expensive high-tech voice recognition software, murdering the “butter your muffin” guy’s parents, and then tricking him into eating their bodies (which you’ve cleverly cooked into the chili he is tasting).
For something less morbid (and more original), you could turn on the feminine charm. These callers sound like mouth-breathing, Beavis-and-Butthead types that would probably cream their pants if a woman came on to them. If you get another call from one of these jokers, press your advantage. When he makes a “butter your muffin” type joke, laugh your ass off, tell him how funny he is, and get reaaally flirty. It’ll take some real acting chops but, if you’re convincing enough, you might be able to land some digits or an e-mail address (if you get to this point, close with a good “go to hell!”). Then post it on here, or better yet post it on one of those forums with people complaining about Rachel from Card Services, and let nature take its course.
This option is a bit of a longshot but, honestly, there aren’t many cards here to play. These guys clearly don’t give a shit or have any customer service policy they need to adhere to. This leaves you with very little power, as they have no qualms with just hanging up on you at the first sign of shenanigans. With a regular telemarketer, you could tell them to “hang on I’ll be right back” and continually make excuses to keep them on the line and waste their time. With these shitbags, they’d probably bail at the first sign of trouble.
If all else fails, you can take Al’s suggestion (from when I showed him your e-mail) and download the guy Matrix-style through your phone into your personal torture dungeon.”
E-Mail The PO Life at firstname.lastname@example.org