One of the annoyances of living in China is the flood of daily spam calls from telemarketers. Most are in Chinese and I just pretend that I don’t understand a single word of the language (‘hello? hello?’) and hang up on them. The English language ones are mainly trying to ‘help to manage your money’ or they have some ‘special offshore investment opportunities’. Also these ones I would normally hang up on without wasting any further time, angry that they interrupted my work: telemarketers got hold of my direct office phone that I normally don’t give out – it was probably listed on some official form and then a government employee sold it.
But now I found an excellent way to get back at them through “the counterscript”. Dutch company EGBG prepared a telescript just like the telemarketers use, which you can apply to fool the telemarketer. Today a Chinese person called me to to invite me to some investment forum but before he could tell me more I already cut him off by asking his name. I then followed the script by asking him to spell it for me (twice, I told him I could not write it down so quickly) and then asked him how he got my phone number (his boss gave it to him). I followed the counterscript precisely and now have his mobile number, his salary (a full-time job for about RMB 5000/month) and I even know that he is not allowed to go to the dentist during work hours. He couldn’t tell me his favorite toothpaste brand though.
At a certain point he got annoyed and asked me why I was asking him all these questions, so I asked him whether he ‘had problems answering questions for which he did not know the purpose, from a stranger on the phone’. He didn’t see the irony I guess, so I told him we had to continue the interview because I didn’t have a lot of time. He obliged and kept on answering the rest of the questions without further questioning me. In the end I thanked him for his time and hung op.
Two minutes later he called back. I told him I was happy that he called back because I still did not have his toothpaste brand. He said he didn’t know the brand, so I replied that he should look it up first before calling me again so that we can finish my investigation. Then I thanked him once again and hang up. He didn’t call back anymore.
Too bad I could not record the call, I found it hilarious. I now put the script next to my office phone, so if any more people call they will have to go through the interview process as well. I am actually looking forward to the next spam calls.
The counterscript can be downloaded here (pdf). You can also read it through here first. Make sure you read it through before your first interview, especially the right side is important in case the caller gets annoyed (‘I can appreciate your concern, but aren’t you calling me? Let’s continue with the next question’).
This is hilarious! a recent Sinica podcast reminded me of your blog and I paid a visit. I have known the counterscript for a while but never tried it. What a fantastic job you did! Spam calls can become a highlight of the day 🙂
So much easier for me to visualize this because I can hear your voice in my mind as I read through the counterscript!