Entrepreneurial Harassment

Here is a tip: If you are getting a call from an unknown phone number that is a Utah area code (385, 801, or 435), there is a really good chance it is a telemarketer or pollster. Utah and Idaho are both really, really popular with call companies. If you call customer support for any number of major commenters, there is a good chance the person on the other end of the line – if they don’t have an accent – are from one of those two states. People are willing to work very hard for very little money. They tend to come out of high school with a solid grasp of English. They are probably smart enough to be able to get a better job, but they just can’t find one. Also, the Mormon work ethic.

They do a lot of outbound calls, too. Polling firms love them due to their neutral accents. There is also an entrepreneurial spirit out there which means you have a lot of small companies that are contract-based. That means that they are contracted by a polling firm. Or they are contracted by a fly-by-night company that will go underground again and pop up under a different name and therefore don’t want to go to the trouble of hiring their own.

What they don’t do as much of, however, are outbound calls from companies trying to reach people with whom they have a business relationship. I don’t know why, but of all of the phone bank people I’ve known since moving to the mountain west, I have never met anyone for whom this is their job. The calls I get from my bank are from Arizona and Kentucky. If I call the satellite company, my call will often go to Utah. But if they call me, it’s probably coming from Florida. I really don’t know why. But if you are getting a call from a phone number you don’t recognize that appears to be from Utah (particularly Ogden, West Jordan, or Orem), don’t bother answering.

Unless, as you will hear below, it’s the difference between a sleeping baby and a crying one.


I have a dislike/hate relationship with telemarketers. I disliked them until somewhat recently, when we got a series of handsets so I am not running up the stairs to find out how much some credit card company can save me on interest rates. Before that, when I had to make the sprint, I hated them. I also hated them when they were inundating my cell phone with telemarketing calls.

That last one really drove me nuts. And nothing worked. Press 2 to be taken off the list, and I wasn’t taken off the list. Press 1 to talk to a representative and ask to be taken off the list, and I wasn’t taken off the list. I’m not proud to admit what I did that finally worked: I started harassing them. Rather, I started berating the person behind Press 1. I don’t like being anything but nice to working schlubs. But these guys people do work for a disreputable company (or series of companies) offering bogus deals on auto reinsurance.

Berating them worked. It was the only thing that did.

I am considering doing something like that again. We are on the do not call lists, and they are blatantly disregarded. Now, because we have a phone within reach, this didn’t bother me all that much (hence, dislike rather than hate). What changed? The baby. When some telemarketer calls and wakes her up from a precious nap, it makes me livid. It takes a lot to make me livid. But that does it.

Rather than berating them, I think I might record my baby’s loudest cry. Then, when they call, rather than talking to them. I just stick an audio device in front of the phone so that they can hear.

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.