Here's the Scoop: Feb. 13, 2008

Toner. Cheap
“Yo, listen up!”
If you want to grab my attention, those are not the words that make my ears swivel around and have me eagerly awaiting the wisdom that’s sure to follow.
On the on hand, a perky girl announcing, “Hi, I’m Amber Reilly,” will have me listening intently to her reason for calling. But only once. And briefly.
“Hello, I’m John from…” doesn’t make me want to drop what I’m doing either.
The fact is, I find it hard to believe that anyone would hear these automated telemarketers and actually call what I’m assuming are real people to find out how they can get involved with what I’m guessing is a money-losing scheme. Of course, the money deficit only applies to the caller’s finances.
My first reaction when I pick up the phone and hear these recorded messages is to swear. I do this, on occasion. And I do it well.
I realize that swearing at a taped message is not particularly effective, but it feels good. Of course, cussing at real people isn’t that constructive either.
But these recorded messages have become so prevalent that there’s no option but to offer some choice words aimed at the telephone receiver.
If I had the patience, I would listen keep listening to see what great offers lie ahead from these calls. But I can’t.
On the other hand, I suppose recorded telemarketing messages are superior to having a real person call and try to sell me something I don’t really need. I could be wrong, but I’ve got to think that telemarketers have a bit of trouble sleeping.
With the “Do Not Call” registry in effect, homeowners are pretty much protected from these annoyances. The door has been left pretty wide open, however, from calls to businesses.

Order up
I recently got a call from a real person who asked for “the person who buys the copier supplies.” That would be me, I informed this person who I immediately recognized as a slimy character.
What I failed to tell him was that I don’t even have a copier in my office, letting the fax perform those functions.
Still, when he asked me what model I have, I quickly replied, “Oh, it’s the 390.” For effect, I added, “That’s a smooth running machine.”
What brand was that, he asked, inspired that I apparently had no clue that he was about to sell me a decade’s worth of toner cartridges. And probably inferior cartridges, at that.
“Konica,” I responded.
He knew something did not add up, but he wasn’t sure of the problem.
“Is that the 390A?” he asked, figuring I didn’t know a copier from an impersonator.
“Yes, it is,” I said.
Since the toner was probably crap anyhow (if I received any at all after giving up my charge card information), he was going to proceed with the sale. And still sleep like a baby.
Being an experienced scam artist, he ultimately started sensing that he was on the wrong end of the misdeed.
Finally, tired of wasting my own time, I replied that I really didn’t even have a copier.
“But, thanks for trying to sell me toner for a machine that doesn’t exist,” I remarked.
Then I swore and told him I hoped someone selling a conscience would call him. I felt better knowing that I had his number.

—Brian Sweeney