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What to Say to Telemarketers, and my brush with Jerry Seinfeld.

Updated on March 24, 2016

No Need to Get Angry: Just mess with their heads.

Do you answer the phone and find you're either too polite or too creative to just hang up on those crafty telemarketers?

Do you ever:

  • Impulsively answer Out of Area or Caller ID numbers that you don't recognize as friends or family?
  • Answer calls from numbers on your cell phone that you've never seen before? Why do we do this? Are we hoping that it will be a long lost love who tracked down our number to once again declare his/her feelings?
  • Answer phone calls in the car using your Bluetooth, which can mean that you don't know WHO the flip is calling?

Read on, dear telemarketer victim. Empower yourself, and be a victim NO MORE!






Scenario One - At home - The phone rings after dinner when it seems too late for a telemarketer to not be at home with his own family (if they have families).

Telemarketer: "Is this Mrs. Blah Blah Blah?"

Mrs. Blah Blah Blah: Says nothing, but instead calls the kids to the phone with the secret "telemarketer alert hand signal." (Points wildly at the phone with an expression of disgust and irritation on her face). She hands the phone off to her kids. They grab for the phone with glee (the emotion, not the show). They mischievously rattle off all of the Spanish phrases they aren't allowed to say in Spanish class at school, thus letting off steam. They get it out of their systems and don't ever prank call the neighbors. It's a win/win.



"Our Daily Life" has a great idea!

Scenario Two

Mr. Telemarketer: Is this Mr. Blah Blah Blah?

Mr. Blah Blah Blah: Just a moment, let me get him for you...

Your kids aren't old enough to talk yet? No problem! Put them on the phone anyway. Mr. Telemarketer is sure to give up when he doesn't get a coherent response.(Timing this just before a burp would be even more fun).

Daddy's having FUN, Baby's having FUN, Mr. Telemarketer? Not so much...

That's my dad's sign in the background. My dad was not a telemarketer:

 Front Row from left: Ellen DeGeneres, Bobcat Goldthwait, Franklyn Ajaye and Jerry Seinfeld. Back Row from left: Sinbad, Rosie O’Donnell, Paula Poundstone, Jake Johannsen and Barry Sobel.
Front Row from left: Ellen DeGeneres, Bobcat Goldthwait, Franklyn Ajaye and Jerry Seinfeld. Back Row from left: Sinbad, Rosie O’Donnell, Paula Poundstone, Jake Johannsen and Barry Sobel.

Scenario Three

The Jerry Seinfeld approach:

Telemarketer: Is this Mr. Seinfeld?

Jerry (very politely): Yes! It is! (immediately hangs up)

The telemarketer asked a question. Jerry answered. No one's feelings were hurt. Easy.

Digressing and bragging about my dad, James R. Griffin, 1939-2011. My dad's sign on the outside of the comedy club:

Me and the boys in the band - Robin Williams suspenders (like his, not from him)

This digression has nothing to do with telemarketing, but a lot to do with Jerry Seinfeld


I worked at The Ice House Comedy Club from 1980-'82. I wrote press releases and took reservations. I was eventually promoted to Promotions Manager (which should have meant that I could then promote all of my fellow employees). It actually meant that I promoted the acts that performed at the club. I was also a singer and performed in the music room on two occasions. (See pic of me and band members - I'm the one in the Mork & Mindy style suspenders).


My dad, James R. Griffin, a wonderful and amazingly gifted artist, designed the Ice House Polar Bear logo. I had a dream one night, and told my dad about my idea. They weren't using the Polar Bear logo prior to 1980.


Working at The Ice House was my dream job. Bob Fisher, my boss and the owner - was the best boss on the planet - but he admits that he didn't think Jerry Seinfeld was that big of a deal. Oops. I loved his act and would sneak in to see him because he was the only comedian that was really funny without being crude. Bob only hired Jerry twice, I think. OOoops! The rest is comedic "Seinfeld" history.


Now back to those pesky telemarketers. Johnny Depp actually once was a telemarketer. He sold pens. If you ever get a call from Johnny - disregard this blog.

The Fourth and final scenario for now - Giving the telemarketer a lesson in empathy

Telemarketer: Is this "Insert your name here"?

You: I can't talk right now. Could I please have your home number and I will call you back later?

Telemarketer: Uh, no...I really can't...

You: Oh, so you don't want a stranger calling you at home?

Telemarket: Well...uh...no

You: Now you know how I feel. (hang up)

This is another Seinfeld trick, actually. It works best with the surprise cell phone attacks!

Thanks for reading! Let me know if any of these ideas work for you - or amused you - either way.

Dedicated to my Dad. Gifted Artist, Loving Father, James R. Griffin (April 9, 1939 - July 5, 2011)

My beautiful sister Kristal, Dad (with one of his portraits printed on T-shirt) and me.
My beautiful sister Kristal, Dad (with one of his portraits printed on T-shirt) and me.

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    • heavenleigh707 profile image
      Author

      Heaven L Burkes 4 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

      Thank-you GoGreenTips! So glad you enjoyed it - and find your own funny ways to deal with telemarketers! :)

      My husband was just watching the Seinfeld episode yesterday when George and Jerry are pitching their "show about nothing" to NBC.

      I caught the scene when Jerry picks up his phone and knew that line was coming. (My husband has watched Seinfeld episodes enough to memorize them). Fun to see it again after writing this. Kramer drinks the spoiled milk and ruins Susan's clothes just after Jerry gets off the phone with the telemarketer who refuses to give him his home number. :)

    • GoGreenTips profile image

      Greg Johnson 4 years ago from Indianapolis

      One of my favorite times is to mess with telemarketers....It is the highlight of the month. I like to pretend I don't speak English and mess up every word they say. Wish I had a baby, that one sounds like fun too! great hub!

    • heavenleigh707 profile image
      Author

      Heaven L Burkes 4 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

      Nikki Major - Thanks for your comment! I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

    • Nikki Major profile image

      Nikki Major 4 years ago

      Funny!!!! great hub

    • heavenleigh707 profile image
      Author

      Heaven L Burkes 4 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

      Grace Whites - Thank you so much for your comment and the compliment on the pictures. :)

    • Grace Whites profile image

      Grace Whites 4 years ago from Manalapan, New Jersey, USA

      This is true and correct idea about telemarketers. Also, good pictures of your family here.

    • heavenleigh707 profile image
      Author

      Heaven L Burkes 4 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

      Chen Suen - Thank you for commenting. Didn't want to offend. I once did some telemarketing jobs myself. Not fun on that end either. Just wish life would find a completely different way of selling things and let that approach go. :) I honestly never made a telemarketer think I was going to buy something, but hung up on him instead. That's cold. Sorry that happened to you!

    • Chen Suen profile image

      Chen Suen 4 years ago from Arcadia, California

      This hub brings me back to my own telemarketing days. I remember sitting on the other side of that phone and being that pesky telemarketer. People did have creative answers for me all the time. Some even kept me on the phone for 10 to 15 minutes letting me think that's I sold the product! I quickly found out this wasn't the case after they hung up abruptly. Thanks for the hub!

    • heavenleigh707 profile image
      Author

      Heaven L Burkes 4 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

      Moneytoplist - Thanks so much for the tip! Thanks for taking the time to read. I appreciate it!

    • moneytoplist profile image

      moneytoplist 4 years ago

      Android has very useful feature -- you can block phone numbers. Since some telemarketing companies call us again with other offers every few months it is a good idea to block them after the first call.

    • heavenleigh707 profile image
      Author

      Heaven L Burkes 4 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

      Dr.Mark1961 That's brilliant! Can I borrow it? LOL Thanks for you comment and the "followship." Following you 2. Did you actually live in Springfield? I grew up near Springfield, IL. - Jacksonville, actually.

    • heavenleigh707 profile image
      Author

      Heaven L Burkes 4 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

      A Happy Man - aka AHM - So cool! Didn't have a DVR back then or I would've recorded that Tonight Show debut! Keep Shining!

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      My roomate in college used to answer our phone "Springfield Police Department may I help you" in a bored voice. The telemarketers (and sometimes our friends) used to hang up immediately.

    • A Happy Man profile image

      A Happy Man 4 years ago from Washington State

      You are WAY to kind, heavenleigh707. Yeah, I have found, as many of us do through these years, that happiness is, by and large, a choice.

      And, hey, every single one of those comics "made it". Who knew back then though, huh? Except for you when it came to Seinfeld. ;o} I remember his "Tonight Show" debut, too-watched it with my whole family-and we all laughed ourselves silly!

      Best

      AHM

    • heavenleigh707 profile image
      Author

      Heaven L Burkes 4 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

      A Happy Man: I put the names in the caption for you. :) Thanks for the question! :)

    • heavenleigh707 profile image
      Author

      Heaven L Burkes 4 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

      A Happy Man: I am much more impressed with "A Happy Man" than with celebs. LOL Glanced at your profile - wonderful to see someone so genuinely complimentary about his wife and happy with his life. I want your autograph! ;) Yes - these are the peeps I worked around! I didn't meet and greet because I just never had the "stars in my eyes" feelings - and I wanted to be careful to keep my job - so I acted very nonchalant around them. I was standing just a few feet away from Jerry while my boss was chatting with him. I was putting his picture up in the display window outside of the club. I glanced. I smiled. That was about it. LOL ALSO - they weren't big stars back then. They were just struggling comedians trying to get discovered. :) The Ice House is famous for being the catalyst for many now-famous people. When I worked there, I would look on the wall in the hallway with the pics of all the big stars that started at The Ice House: Steve Martin, Robin Williams, David Letterman and more. I was impressed, not realizing that the ones I was working with (writing press releases for) would someday outshine even those greats. Look around you - you may know some GREATS in the making right now! Might be YOU! :)

      P.S. Jerry was my favorite! Nice, polite guy. I remember telling people when he was first on The Tonight Show - that he was going to be a HUGE star! They believed me later. LOL

      I wish I'd gotten to know Ellen better! Such a nice person.

    • A Happy Man profile image

      A Happy Man 4 years ago from Washington State

      My Gosh!

      Seinfeld, DeGeneres, Poundstone, O'Donell, Sinbad (I think?)-are you KIDDING me?!

      Did you meet all of them? See their shows back in the day? Who was the coolest/nicest in your opinion?

      Great Hub "hl707"!

    • heavenleigh707 profile image
      Author

      Heaven L Burkes 4 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

      T4an Thank you so much for your comment and thanks for reading! Thank you so much for your kind words about my dad too. :)

    • T4an profile image

      T4an 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      Very good hub and I love the dedication to your Dad. I am so sorry for your loss.

    • heavenleigh707 profile image
      Author

      Heaven L Burkes 4 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

      GreenLotus Thank you so much - I'm happy you have some new things to try on Telemarketers - Have fun! LOL

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 4 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Congrats on your Hubnugget win and welcome to HP! I love your style and thanks for the tips. I am plagued with calls from telemarketers and now I have some cool ammunition! Cheers!

    • heavenleigh707 profile image
      Author

      Heaven L Burkes 4 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

      SueLynn, Thank you so much for your comment - and your kind words for my dad. :)

      Yep, comedy has to be more creative when they aren't relying on "blue humor" as we used to call it at The Ice House. I also went to see Rich Little there. Man of a thousand voices. That was fun!!!

      My favorite joke of all time:

      1st guy:

      "I once knew a man with a wooden leg, named Smith."

      2nd guy:

      "What was the name of his other leg?"

      ;) I love your taste in comedy - and movies!

    • heavenleigh707 profile image
      Author

      Heaven L Burkes 4 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

      PopCultureWorld, Thanks so much for your comment. I wish I'd thought of the baby approach when my kids were babies. :) Also wish I'd kept those suspenders! LOL

    • heavenleigh707 profile image
      Author

      Heaven L Burkes 4 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

      AlexK2009 Thank you for your comment - and the tips about just walking away for awhile. :) The person that could invent a way to effectively block telemarketers would make a mint. OR if the telemarketers had something wonderful to sell that actually made it worthwhile to listen to them... :)

    • Suelynn profile image

      Suelynn 4 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Heavenleigh707: LOVE your hub! I hadn't seen that youtube video of baby and telemarketer... had me giggling all the way through! :)

      I also love your suggestions. I was particularly caught by your comment: "I loved his act and would sneak in to see him because he was the only comedian that was really funny without being crude." I lament the days gone by when comedy was like that. The likes of Carol Burnett, Dean Martin and hosts of others from that era, were really funny. I could weep at what is considered funny today - where every bodily function or body part that should be private is thrust under the viewer/listener's nose, eyes, ears... and it makes me cringe!

      Your Dad looked like a wonderful man and I'm sure you are the richer for it. May he RIP. Thank you for a thoughtful and insightful hub. Voted across the board.

    • Pop Culture World profile image

      Pop Culture World 4 years ago from United States

      I love the idea of putting a little kid on the phone when a telemarketer calls. That is too funny. I also like your suspenders picture from the late 70s/early 80s. Very cool.

    • AlexK2009 profile image

      AlexK2009 4 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      I appreciate that Telemarketers are merely employees, often exploited, but they seldom have anything I want or need. THeideas here are nice. I normally put the phone on the desk, and walk off leaving them to talk to thin air. After a comfort break and putting the kettle on for tea I simply put the phone back on the hook.

      In the UK there is a preference service that prevents marketing calls. But is doesn't work well so I will have to waste time raising complaints.

    • heavenleigh707 profile image
      Author

      Heaven L Burkes 4 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

      Natures47friend Thanks so much for your comment and kind words about my dad. :) I promise I won't put a toddler on the phone if you ever call me. LOL

    • natures47friend profile image

      natures47friend 4 years ago from Sunny Art Deco Napier, New Zealand.

      Brilliant ideas! Also good for annoying Indian callers trying to get your pc passwords.

      My friend was busy and left the phone with her then toddler...for ages...i hung up...that was rude!

      Have you noticed telemarketers often call around tea time in the evening?

      Congratulations...well done...you are an excellent writer and have a great sense of humour. You Dad looked like he was a really great guy. Voted up, awesome, useful....

    • heavenleigh707 profile image
      Author

      Heaven L Burkes 4 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

      Thank you Billybuc! Surprised and grateful. It's taken me 49 yrs and 10 months to ever get 1st place in any contest. I used to enter singing contests and best I got was 2nd. LOL My dad always told me, "You should have gotten first place." :) Dads are great that way. Well - it only makes sense that I got my first "first place" on something I did about my dad. Can you tell I loved my dad? LOL Thanks again for the congrats. :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Congratulations on winning the HubNugget Award!

    • heavenleigh707 profile image
      Author

      Heaven L Burkes 4 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

      ShinKicker - are you actually Kurt Russell? The name reminds me of his bit part as a kid who kept kicking Elvis in the shin in "It Happened At The World's Fair." Thanks for your comment! Please vote - if you feel like it. :)

    • heavenleigh707 profile image
      Author

      Heaven L Burkes 4 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

      Mike! I think I missed thanking you. Thanking you! :) I truly appreciate your comments! :) I need more pancakes too! Or at least coffee! Doesn't every writer need coffee? I even thanked "coffee" in the acknowledgements section of my fantasy novel. LOL

    • Shinkicker profile image

      Shinkicker 4 years ago from Scotland

      Great idea HeavenLeigh and the video was hilarious :-)

    • heavenleigh707 profile image
      Author

      Heaven L Burkes 4 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

      Thanks Billybuc! The Hub gods - haven't been formally introduced to them yet. LOL Actually, I thought you were one of 'em. ;)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      The Hub gods are not liking me today; I tried to comment twice and both times the comment went poof! Anyway, I loved this hub and your sense of humor. I'm so happy not to be reading another recipe! This month and this contest cannot end soon enough!

      Great job of writing!

    • heavenleigh707 profile image
      Author

      Heaven L Burkes 4 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

      Self-absorbed: Thanks for reading! Yes, I think that's my favorite too. I will have to wait for grandchildren to be able to do the baby one. :) Thank you for your comment!

    • self absorbed profile image

      self absorbed 4 years ago from Canada

      The last Seinfeld one was my favorite, great hub!

    • heavenleigh707 profile image
      Author

      Heaven L Burkes 4 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

      Thank you Ripplemaker! Just read your profile. Excellent! Thank you for your wonderful intentions of spreading JOY throughout the world. :)

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Being a telemarketer is sure a challenging job. But being on the other of the line, it can also be a hard time. I esp. dislike it when they force me to loan. :(

      Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination heavenleigh! Check it out today https://hubpages.com/community/Mannequin-Monday-An... Have a wondrous Hubnuggety day!

    • heavenleigh707 profile image
      Author

      Heaven L Burkes 4 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

      Thank you Cam8510! I really appreciate it. :)

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Congratulations heavenleigh, you deserve it. Look forward to many more hubs by you

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Don't you just love how these editing programs "correct" us and make it look like we are drinking good rum?

    • heavenleigh707 profile image
      Author

      Heaven L Burkes 4 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

      I thought it looked cool, Cam! But my favorite spelling would be "deppfinitely." LOL I just thought you were drinking good rum. :)

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      *did I really type demffinitely?*. Yes I did. My apologies

    • heavenleigh707 profile image
      Author

      Heaven L Burkes 4 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

      Gosh Telemarketer, I would thank you for your comment, but that would go against everything I've said here...are you Johnny Depp? Then I can talk to you. ;)

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 4 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Cute hub. Telemarketers: Just Say NO

    • profile image

      Telemarketer 4 years ago

      I used to be a telemarketer, and talking to kids is one of the most irritating or one of the most funny situations to be in. Depends on the kid really. Great article, made me chuckle!

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      I can see Johnny Depp saying that. He is demffinitely unique

    • heavenleigh707 profile image
      Author

      Heaven L Burkes 4 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

      Thank you KwameG!

    • KwameG profile image

      KwameG 4 years ago from MS

      really great hub, keep it up

    • heavenleigh707 profile image
      Author

      Heaven L Burkes 4 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

      Hey Rick! Did you ever see a picture of Dad's sign for The Ice House before? I was so happy to find it on Google! :) Thanks for your comment. Have an awesome day and Happy Father's Day 2morrow! Give your dad a big hug for me. :)

    • profile image

      Rick Surratt 4 years ago

      Love the picture

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