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November 4, 2014
Posted at 1:46 pm
 

Apolitically dealing with Political Phone Calls

In honor of Election Day (U.S.), I thought I'd share the typical response I've been using whenever I receive a call from a pollster, robo-pollster, campaign, robo-campaign-ad, or GOTV drive. For most people, I suspect these calls are a minor inconvenience, and it's possible to deal with them in a civil manner.

Unfortunately, I'm registered as an independent. And I'm in a swing state, which always has close elections. And it's a very small state, so there aren't that many voters to actually call. Bottom line, there are about a hundred different groups who are inordinately interested in my opinion.

I've been getting three to four calls every freaking night for the last two months. I'm well past 'minor inconvenience' and deep into 'fuck every last one of them' territory.

(Oh, we have the first presidential primary in the nation, as well. That's an additional nine month campaign season every four years. That campaign will be jammed in my face from Spring '15 to Winter '16.)

So, here's a sample of how I've handled these calls lately:

<<Ring-Ring>>

Groan. Drop whatever I'm doing to answer the phone.

"Hello?"

Dead silence.

Sigh.

"Hello?"

More silence.

Wait 3 to 5 seconds while I wait for the organization which called me to actually begin the call.

Faint click, background noise.

"Hello?"

'Oh, Hello [voter name] I'm calling ...'

"Stop."

'... to conduct a quick 10 question survey ...'

"Stop. Stop talking, stop reading your script, and listen. We're working off of my script now."

Awkward pause. 'Ok.'

"Thank you. Now, I'd like your name, and the name of your organization, please."

'I'm Clarence, with Redundant Research Group.'

"Thank you, Clarence. You should know, if I'm disconnected when I make my next request, I will take the time to call Redundant Research Group and tell them about it. Now, would you please connect me with your supervisor?"

Short to intermediate wait.

'Hello, this is Thomas. How can I help you?'

(Optional dialogue, depending on my mood: "I should let you know off the bat that this complaint is a reflection on your organization, not Clarence -- he's only doing his job, and he was perfectly polite.")

"However, there are two issues I wish to bring to your attention. First of all, when you call someone, there is a delay of several seconds after they pick up the phone before your auto-dialer connects them to anyone. It is incredibly rude to interrupt someone's day, only to greet them with dead air."

'Oh, I'm terribly sorry, that should not happen, we'll look right into that.'

"Secondly, I'd like to give you a preview of all future calls to this number: I will never, ever, provide you with a data point, or change my vote because of a phone call, or decide to go to the polls just because you called me. I vote in every election, but I refuse to encourage a culture of democracy-by-pestering."

"There is one thing I will do, every time Redundant Research Group calls. I will get my call transferred to the highest ranking person I can find, and I will waste as much of that person's time as possible."

"If I receive three or more calls from Redundant Research Group, I will make it a point to call your office, every night, for the next two months, and -- say it with me -- I will waste the time of the highest ranking person I can find."

"And every night over those two months, I'll let them know that you could have prevented it, just by losing my number. Good bye."

I've been doing this the last couple weeks, and I've noticed the number of calls has started to taper off.

Oh well, off to vote. Voting is the price we pay for the right to complain.