Insider Tips: Beat Telemarketers and Phone Solicitors at Their Own Game

Even with the introduction of the National Do Not Call Registry in 2003, millions of Americans receive unwanted calls from telemarketers and phone solicitors.  Why?  Loopholes in the Do Not Call legislation allow for political candidates, non-profit organizations, and companies with whom you have an existing business relationship to call you.  Nobody likes getting these calls, but fortunately there are ways you can beat the telemarketers at their own game. 

I have worked for a “telephone advocacy company” (a company that calls past donors and organization members asking for donations) and I’m here to share the secrets you need to know to ensure peace, privacy, and uninterrupted dinners for your family. 

  1. As I mentioned above, many telephone solicitors are able to legally call you outside of the Do Not Call registry.  However, most companies maintain their own do not call list.  If you absolutely do not want their calls, be sure to say “Please put me on your do not call list.”  Note:  If you say something vague like “stop calling”, “leave me alone”, or “don’t call me anymore” you may not make it on the list.  My company trained us to only stop calls for 4-12 months unless the magic phrase was said (their logic was you may be having a bad day, and in four months you’ll feel differently – seriously).  Asking for the telemarketer’s 800 number is a great way to ensure your request is fulfilled.
  2. Know that many companies will keep your number in the automatic dialer until an agent has talked to you.  That means if you let the call go to your answering machine/voicemail, tell the agent the person is not there (honestly or otherwise), or simply hang up, you likely will get another call tomorrow, in a few days, or next week.  If you don’t want to talk to them, ask to be added to the do not call list.
  3. Would you like to hear what they have to say, but it is truly not a good time to talk?  Ask to be called back at a specific date and time.  Most companies can accommodate this request, especially if they think you are going to purchase/donate.
  4. Ever notice that when you tell a phone solicitor “no”, they try to spin your no into a yes?  Telemarketers are heavily trained on rebuttals – the art of addressing and countering any obstacle (honest or otherwise) you throw in their way.  They have heard it all, and they have an answer for it all.  A telemarketer uses a mastery of rebuttal phrases and techniques to accomplish their goal:  a purchase or donation.  A great tip to throw a telemarketer off their game, and end the call quickly:  ask them how many “no’s” they need to hear before they will let you go.  My company required two no’s each for time (giving you the pitch), donating, making your one time donation a recurring gift, and not using your credit card.
  5. Insist on what you want.  Do you want to support the cause, but are leery about giving your credit card number to a random caller?  Ask for the organization’s website or a pledge packet to be mailed out.  You will get a rebuttal from the agent (after all, they are judged – and possibly compensated – based upon how much they bring in), but you get the call the shots.
  6. Finally, do not yell, curse, or threaten the person calling.  They are either a volunteer or a person making fast food wages.  They likely did not choose to call you during dinner, an automatic dialer did.  Besides, many telemarketing calls are recorded, so the company may have proof of your curses and threats.


Good suggestions, but the spambot I’m dealing with is completely automated. It’s just a recording and though I have the number blocked on my phone, it will dial 20 or 30 times in a row. There are several different numbers (all out of Washington State) that call me weekly like this. I want to get out of their system, but if I call back, I have to listen to the entire sales pitch.

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