Sorry, my kitchen is on fire

Date:March 4, 2004 / year-entry #83
Orig Link:
Comments:    21
Summary:The other night my phone rang just as I discovered that I overheated my pan and the oil was starting to burn. I rushed to the phone, thinking it's the people I had invited to dinner, but no, it was some telemarketer. "Hello, is this Mr. Chen?" "Sorry, can't talk now, my kitchen is on...

The other night my phone rang just as I discovered that I overheated my pan and the oil was starting to burn. I rushed to the phone, thinking it's the people I had invited to dinner, but no, it was some telemarketer.

"Hello, is this Mr. Chen?"

"Sorry, can't talk now, my kitchen is on fire."

"Oh my God, sorry!" <click>

I'll have to remember to use that again in the future.

(P.S., there were no actual flames and I managed to open enough windows so my smoke detector didn't go off.)

Comments (21)
  1. Larry M says:

    That’s funny I usually try to talk to telemarketers for a while… i ask them how the weather is, act like I am realy interested in there product or service give them a bunch of fake info and then when I think I have them going I tell them that I am really not serious and start laughing… It’s fun you should try it…

  2. Raymond Chen says:

    That’s my normal plan, but my kitchen really was on the verge of catching fire. One of my favorites was somebody soliciting donations for Billy Graham to help train "Muslim Christian evangelists" (that’s a direct quote), but I "accidentally" thought they were talking about Bill Graham. Hilarity ensues.

  3. Don says:

    I find it far more fun to file a complaint at It takes less than a minute and the $500 fine makes their business highly uneconomical. (Draw your own parallels to the anti-spam measures that MS is proposing…)

  4. Having fun with them is just fine. But being cruel and laughing? Poor guys are just trying to make a living :). Although, AFAIK, they like when you sit and chat, since sometimes they do get paid for keeping people on the line longer.

  5. Raymond Chen says:

    I don’t make fun of them; I just act really stupid but interested.

    Note that the do-not-call list does not apply to political groups or nonprofit organizations.

  6. Wes Brown says:

    I worked as a telemarketer as sorts for a couple weeks as a summer job once and I always had the most fun with people who would 1) Get mad

    2) Chat with me

    3) Just joke around

    (in that order)

    Of course I was just getting paid by the hour so I could care less if I was getting any sales.

  7. Or as i say, "He has passed away"..that get them off the phone and off their list

  8. My personal fave trick if I don’t recognize a number (or it’s blocked) is to wait a few seconds before speaking.

    If someone really wants to talk to me (ie. it’s a human being), they’ll start talking pretty quickly.

    If it’s an autodialler, it’ll hear the click of me picking up, not hear any Human Voice Noise (ie. no frequencies in the right range), and think it got line noise, or that the line at this end is disconnected. It’ll then hang itself up for me.

    The trick is to see if you’re getting any noise from the other end of the line before you start speaking – if you’re not, it’s a machine.

    That doesn’t help with the "non-profit debt consolidation organization" though. My credit score’s stupidly high (it wasn’t always that way, because I immigrated and needed to start from scratch and it was a rocky ride for a while), I have little debt – none that I carry from month to month – and these guys keep calling and leaving messages on the answering machine.

    And as they’re a non-profit, it’s legal to do this. I already reported them to the FTC.


  9. Reza A says:

    That is pretty good. It’s a anti-spam method.

  10. Mike Dimmick says:

    "No thanks, I get my windows from Microsoft…"

    We’ve been plagued by double-glazing salesmen recently.

  11. Actually, if you are in a hurry or dont want to talk to them AND want them to stop calling you, these six words work like magic: "Please take me off your list".

    In my experiece this phrase stops them in their tracks ALL THE TIME, INSTANTLY. They then give you a canned phrase like "It will take 4-6 weeks" and hang up. There is legislation that forces them to honor that phrase on the spot.

    Works for me.

  12. And, I should mention, has cut down on telemarketing quite a bit.

  13. Norman Diamond says:

    3/4/2004 7:58 AM Don:

    > (Draw your own parallels to the anti-spam

    > measures that MS is proposing…)

    MS got lots of press for its anti-spam proposals, but the facts are the exact opposite.

    Every time that I reported to Microsoft’s abuse addresses about Microsoft providing redirection services to spammers’ web sites, Microsoft always replied that they will not take any action towards stopping because the services that they were providing to spammers were not Hotmail accounts. One exceptional time a Microsoft server was actually hosting the spammer’s web site instead of just redirecting, but Microsoft’s reply was the same.

    The phrase "pink contracting" is used for providers who serve spammers as long as the spammers (ab)use other providers for the actual sending. MS got lots of press for proposing anti-spam measures, but MS is a pink contractor.

    Microsoft’s replies also tell me to send the message source of the spams including full headers. A few times I repeated with the same full messages sources including full headers as I had sent the first time, but it made no difference, so usually I don’t bother with followups any more. (Though there was an exception by coincidence yesterday, with a reason for a followup.)

    Speaking of message source, in Outlook Express about 97% of the time you can get the full message source by going to the message’s properties, details, message source, select all, and copy and paste. Exceptions include Japanese spams which are about 2% of the spams I get. Copying and pasting copies most but not all of the message source. This is with the Japanese version of Outlook Express 6 SP1 but it was the same with earlier versions of OE. Other exceptions included somewhere around 1% of the spams I got which were mostly in English. Around a year ago there was a discussion of possible exploits in OE, and I wondered if this bug in the code which is supposed to copy message source might be exploitable, but no one knew. Someone suggested saving the spam to a disk file and opening it in Notepad to get the complete message source, and that works.

  14. byron says:

    i get a lot of calls from telcos asking if i want to switch carriers.

    my favourite response is "sorry, but i don’t own a phone".

  15. Anonymous says:

    I generally get maybe 4 calls per week from telemarketers, selling everything from timeshares to conservatories; Which is especially funny given we live in a top floor flat.

  16. Serge Wautier says:

    I’ve got the ultimate solutions for you guys ! Ask your telcos to charge for local phone calls, as they do here in Europe… ;-)

  17. Norman Diamond says:

    Microsoft has changed the wording of their form response to complaints about MSN servers providing redirection services for spammers’ web sites, but has not changed the facts. Microsoft still refuses to take action when the spammers’ web sites aren’t MSN accounts ending in, so Microsoft still continues providing pink contract services.

    On the other hand, Microsoft doesn’t always say that. Send two reports in one day, about two spammers’ web sites who benefit from MSN’s pink contract redirection services. Microsoft replies as above to one report, but nullfiles the other one without even a form reply.

  18. Raymond Chen says:

    Um, what does this have to do with my kitchen being on fire?

  19. Norman Diamond says:

    3/9/2004 5:47 PM Raymond Chen:

    > Um, what does this have to do with my

    > kitchen being on fire?

    Other than the fact that spams are delivered postage-due in most of the world and telemarketing is billed to the caller in most of the world, spamming and telemarketing have quite a lot in common.

  20. Raymond Chen says:

    Um, okay then, you could’ve mentioned that in your message. It seemed like an out-of-the-blue comment. Note that I don’t work in the MSN division, so all I can do is commiserate.

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