In the past couple of weeks I have received numerous calls from an outfit that claims to be associated with Microsoft and wants to send me a refund because they are going out of business. At least, I think that's the story, it really is not very clear. The voices always have a strong accent and certainly don't sound North American. The first few times I simply hung up, feeling irritated by the interruption but when the calls kept coming, I decided to change my strategy.
There is always a few seconds of silence, before the caller sees a line is open and announces himself or herself, so I know what is coming. If I am not actually in the middle of something else, I respond warmly and tell him or her how pleased I am by the call. They then proceed to tell me that they want to send me a refund. I thank them for their generosity and tell them to send me a cheque. That isn't possible for amounts under $1,000, and I am supposed to turn on my computer. At that point I start badgering them with lots of questions, most of them silly. One of my favourite lines is to tell them that my computer has a screen and not a window, which requires them to explain at length to a computer-illiterate what they mean by "windows". I also explain that I have spoken to lots of their colleagues and if only they put their heads together all the various amounts they have promised me would add up to over a $1000 and they could send me a cheque. I ask them where live and where their office is and some of them have given me a phone number (it's a 800 or 877 number or a USA area code) and an address. I ask them all sorts of personal questions, showing a great deal of interest in their puzzled responses. They get exasperated when I don't seem to get the point of their call but they are reluctant to give up on a "live" target so they keep trying to get back to their set-piece while I keep interrupting. At some point they begin to realize they're not going to get anywhere and their exasperation starts getting the better of them. At that point I tell them I enjoy wasting their time and that I see it a as sort of social service: as long as I am wasting their time they cannot be harassing someone else, possibly more vulnerable.
I've actually come to enjoy these marketing calls.