How to Sue a Telemarketer—And Turn the Tables on Them
CNBC.com News Editor
Fewer things get your blood boiling quicker than a telemarketing call.
You smash the phone down, kick something, and feel deflated.
Well, you don't have to be a victim anymore. Now, there's a how-to guide for suing telemarketers, plus, dozens of one-liners for effectively — and hilariously — turning the tables on annoying telemarketers.
“The phone is mine! I should have the right of privacy. I should determine who calls me,” said Steve Ostrow, an attorney and celebrity impersonator (He does look like Seinfeld's Kramer, doesn’t he?!)
“I think we’ve lost control over that,” Ostrow said.
To help frustrated consumers turn the tables, Ostrow wrote, “How To Sue A Telemarketer — A Guide to Creating Peace On Earth One Telephone Call At A Time.”
In it, he outlines the criteria for suing a telemarketer — such as if your name is on the “Do Not Call” list, if they block their number or if they call before 8am or after 10pm. He also includes the forms you need to file a lawsuit — and, as an added bonus, he combined his two careers and wrote it in a Kramer-esque tone — that is, if Kramer went to law school!
Most people won’t sue but even if you don’t, he says, you’ll feel better knowing your rights.
“When that phone rings and a telemarketer is on the line — you’re excited about the telemarketer calling you!” Ostrow quips.
You can also prepare lines for turning the table on the telemarketer — asking him or her questions, instead of them asking you.
Comedian Tom Mabehas a hilarious telemarketer prank he pulls when he gets one of those calls.
After a few questions are exchanged, it becomes apparent that something weird is going on.
“Hang on, hang on. Hey guys, Make sure you get really good pictures of the body,” he says, then back to the telemarketer: “Let me bring you up to speed here — You’ve actually just called a murder scene. Mr. Mabe is no longer with us. I’m Officer Clark, I’m conducting a homicide investigation. I want to ask you a series of questions.”
The telemarketer begins to get nervous. When he tries to get off the phone, Mabe says, “No. I’m going to have to ask you to stay on the phone. This call has already been traced and we may need you to come in for further questioning…”
Now, the telemarketer is trying desperately to get off the phone. Mabe gets more forceful: “You don’t understand. Unless you want to be charged with obstruction of justice, it’s imperative you keep your a— on the phone …”
Next time a telemarketer calls, try turning the tables.
The site FunWithTelemarketers.com offers dozens of ways to distract, confuse and frustrate the telemarketer. For example, if they’re trying to sell you something, try to sell them something back — like a vacuum cleaner. Or, ask them a question like, “Do you like cheese?” and just keep asking until the answer — no matter how hard they try to get you back on script.
One of the site’s best lines is to say whoever the telemarketer is asking for is not there but that you would be interested in the product. When they say they’ll call back later, get really angry and demand to know why (name they ask for) is better than you.
Who knew telemarketing calls could be so fun!
Questions? Comments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or drop a line in the comment box below.
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