What I love most about caller ID is being able to avoid telemarketers, except when we answer by accident. By “we” I mean Rick, because he’s more of a risk taker than I am. I operate under the belief that if the person has a legitimate reason for calling me, he or she will leave a message.
I wouldn’t mind Rick answering so much if he didn’t have a habit of then saying, “Um. Hold on. I’ll have you talk to my wife.”
We then spend thirty seconds tossing the phone back and forth like it’s the proverbial hot potato and hissing at each other why the other one should handle the call.
I usually play my trump card as I walk away. “Don’t give it to me. You were the one stupid enough to answer the phone.”
But sometimes the call seems legitimate enough that Rick really wants me to take it. Like what happened the other night. “It’s something about Alec’s PSAT scores.”
I was 99% certain it was a telemarketer because we had already received Alec’s scores in the mail. But the Italian mother in me feared that one day if Alec’s first-choice college rejected him, it would be all my fault for not taking this call.
The man’s very first sentence confirmed he was a telemarketer. “I’m calling because Alec expressed an interest in improving academically.”
Alec is a typical fifteen-year-old boy. By that I mean, “improving academically” doesn’t top his list of interests on any given day.
The man went on to tell me that he could guarantee a full point increase in Alec’s GPA and a 300 point increase in his SAT scores. Ah. Now I understood. Alec had “expressed” this interest merely by taking the PSATs.
Turns out, it was my lucky day. For just $599, this concerned man was willing to send me books and DVDs with assignments Alec could follow to accomplish this amazing increase in his grades.
“Or, for zero dollars Alec could just do his homework and study harder,” I said.
The guy chuckled. “True, but our program makes it FUN.”
I wasn’t buying that my son would consider extra homework on top of his normal school work “fun.” I also wasn’t buying this product, especially without an endorsement from Alec’s guidance counselor.
“Is there a website where I could look at this more closely?”
His voice turned cold. “There is…but if you go through the website it’s at the full price of $999.”
It was my turn to laugh. “You don’t really think I’m going to hand over six hundred bucks without knowing more about the program, do you?”
“There’s a thirty day money back guarantee.”
Of course there was. I knew how that would work. They’d send me a hundred pounds of books that would cost me $595 to mail back, so in the end it would be easier just to keep everything.
“Well, I’d need to think about it. Is there a number I could call you back on?”
The man sounded bored when he answered. Not to be sexist, but if he were a woman this is the point where I’d expect to hear the scraping of a nail file. “Nope,” he said, popping the P as if it were a wad of chewing gum. “The only incoming line is on the website. That price is $999.”
“If this were a reputable offer there would be a number I could call you back on. Or you could call me again…” I stopped and shook my head to clear it. Did I seriously just invite a telemarketer to call me back? Mommy guilt had amazing consequences.
He got angry. “Listen, I have thousands of other parents to call. I can’t waste my time calling you back.”
I was too stunned at his abrupt attitude to respond. During my silence, he continued. “You know what? Sure. I will call you back. Maybe in another year.” Then he hung up.
I stared at the phone in amazement. I’d actually gotten a telemarketer to hang up on me. And despite what he said about calling back, I was pretty certain he scratched my number off his list more permanently than the Do Not Call Registry ever could. Priceless.