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Strike Back at Pests

November 02, 1986

S. J. Diamond's column "Don't Blithely Support Your Local Pitchman" (Oct. 20) struck a responsive chord in me and, I'm sure, in thousands of others who regard mass telephone solicitations as a pain.

Some years ago, when I lived in Westport, Conn., I managed to strike back at those "boiler-room" pests, and I've not forgotten the resulting glow of satisfaction.

A magazine was soliciting subscriptions by phone and managed to interrupt my Saturday afternoon siesta--not once but twice. After the second call, I grabbed a copy of the magazine and from the masthead got the names of three vice presidents who lived in Westport. My retaliatory phone calls went unanswered. But when I went to the very top, the chairman, the home phone in Fairfield, Conn., was answered, and his wife very kindly called her husband from their bird sanctuary, which he was showing to some guests. Ah, revenge is sweet.

Later, I adopted another defense against telephone solicitations: a shrill whistle activated by a rubber bulb, which I kept close to the phone and directed into the mouthpiece.

It was effective, but I abandoned it after meeting a man who ran a computer-operated telephone solicitation system in Houston. This system called pre-selected numbers, played a recorded sales pitch and taped the prospect's reply. No human beings involved except the victim! Feeling that my whistle may have been partly responsible for this automated horror, I discarded it lest it help spread the plague.

H. W. ANDERSON

La Jolla

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