When I first moved to Majorca I couldn’t believe the sheer audacity of cold callers – and con artists – who would besiege my phone line late into the evening usually either trying to sell telephone packages or building services.
Since the recession the calls have become more varied – and desperate – and now there’s even a new automated response that is infuriatingly regurgitated as soon as the telephone call is answered. The calls with automated messages are usually from companies selling supposedly cheap rate phone deals and insurance companies looking for easy pickings among expat residents. Now I keep these numbers – all from the mainland – to hand by the telephone and make sure never to answer them when they are automatically redialled.
All the same, about a year ago I decided that there might be sport to be had with cold callers. If you can’t beat them, join them, I decided. So now I have a whole raft of inventive answers to keep these pests on their toes. Here are a few of my recent successes:
-Hola, Can I speak with your husband? (a macho country so they nearly always ask to speak to the male of the household)
Sorry, no, he’s currently on one of the first space shuttles to Mars
Yes it’s a new space programme that he’s signed up for – could be several months, maybe years, before he’s back. That’s if he does get back.
-Are you serious?
Deadly. (Start snuffling) I’m so worried, you can’t imagine what it’s like knowing he’s up there in space….
Hola, can I speak to the señor of the house?
I’m just the cleaner but I’m sorry to say that the señor’s just been arrested and sent to prison. Would you like the telephone number of his probation officer?
-I’m calling from the local gas company. We urgently need to fix a time to pop round to examine your gas canisters. There will be a charge of €100…
-Very funny! Still using that old ruse? Didn’t you realise that every expat in Spain is on to you? Why not get up to speed on Facebook while I alert the cops?
-Hola señora. Is your husband home?
No. He’s in Timbuktu
-Oh. Will he be home soon?
-No it’s in the Republic of Mali. Far away.
-Then a cheap rate international call package might be helpful?
-Probably if only he didn’t rely solely on carrier pigeons
-Que? Correo de palomas?
He only uses birds to send communiqués
-It’s a joke, señora?
If you saw the swarm of pigeons out here, you wouldn’t think so…
Of late cold callers seem to be giving our home a wide berth – spoilsports – so I’m wondering whether perhaps they pool information centrally about weird and unhinged householders. That’s not really playing the game, is it?
It’s particularly irksome as I’ve dreamt up a wonderful new line to unleash on any new, unsuspecting cold caller. I suppose I’ll just have to put out an urgent plea in similar vein to crooner Milli Vanilli – ‘Baby don’t forget my number, call my line, call me any time, I’ll be there for you…’
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