September 12, 2004

· Misc

I recently got a new cell phone after being out of the U.S. for a year, and now I routinely have a problem with telemarketers. The odd part, though, is that the people who call me, whoever they are,[1] seem to have fused the two most irritating aspects of dealing with companies on the phone. Telemarketers are annoying because they phone you up unannounced and try to sell you stuff. Customer service departments are annoying because when you phone them up you get put on hold right away. The guys bugging me at the moment call me up and, when I answer, immediately say “All of our agents are currently busy serving other customers” or “For quality purposes this call may be monitored.” I don’t know what they say next, because I hang up. Which marketing genius dreamed up this approach, I wonder? Is it a common phenomenon? Is it a ruse to get me to stay on the phone for some reason? And how can I make them stop?

fn1. Nine times out of ten they have strong Indian accents.

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I am Associate Professor of Sociology at Duke University. I’m affiliated with the Kenan Institute for Ethics, the Markets and Management Studies program, and the Duke Network Analysis Center.



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