I got a fairly advanced phone scam call at work today!
The call started with a female representative from “the YellowPages” with a very thick Indian accent. She said this call was in reference to the cancellation of our online Yellow Pages advertisement.
Right off the bat, I knew this was a scam because I’ve never ever advertised online with Yellow Pages.
A “copier ink” phone scam had already crossed my path late last year. A “supervisor” from a “copier ink” company called me and demanded payment of $499 for ink an employee ordered from one of our store locations. If I couldn’t pay the $499, $250 would be acceptable.
When I told them to get stuffed, the “supervisor” then played back a recording of the employee saying “YES” to the salesman’s prompts on whether he was authorized to order ink and “YES” to the final $499 amount.
I knew the employee’s “yes” replies were a cut-and-paste job because they sounded like they were part of a larger conversation. There was a continuing breath after the workers’ “yes” replies and not a period-ending kind of breath. It’s the difference in hearing a “yes” as in “Yes I like coffee” and just a flat “Yes.”
I also knew for a fact this particular employee the “copier ink” supervisor named in the recording doesn’t speak one word of English. OK, maybe one or two words. But a full sentence? A conversation? Hell no.
Once I mentioned that little linguistic tidbit to the “copier ink” supervisor, he quickly decided “all charges will be waived this time. Thank you. Goodbye.”
With all that in mind, I didn’t want to waste my time navigating a “yes” minefield with this “yellow pages” call, so I said “We are not interested in any offers at this time. Please remove us from your phone list immediately.”
CLICK. I hung up.
That should have been the end of it.
The “yellow pages” woman called back!
YP: “Sir! I was calling you back to confirm the cancellation of the Yellow Pages.”
ME: “We are not interested in any offers at this time. Please remove us from your phone list immediately.”
CLICK. I hung up again.
2 minutes later?
YP: “Sir! I was calling you back to confirm the cancellation of the Yellow Pages. You must speak with our supervisor department to approve the cancellation or you will be auto-renewed!”
Fine. Playtime it is.
ME: “I am not interested in any offers at this time. We do not wish to renew anything.”
YP: “Sir! You must accept the cancellation of the contract.”
I didn’t say anything.
After a brief pause, the Yellow Pages woman continued.
YP: “Sir? You are having a final invoice of $499. This will be sent to the address of (GIVES THE WRONG ADDRESS) of your company.”
I didn’t say anything and let her continue.
YP: “Can you confirm this is indeed the address of your company?”
ME: “If you did business with us, you have our address on file.”
I heard her ask someone something in the background. After a brief pause, she continued.
YP: “If you are having a problem with this bill, you must please be using the number provided from the cancellation department and the invoice number to be contesting this bill. I am going to transfer you now sir…”
ME: “No. I refuse to accept any bills. We have no service with you.”
YP: “You MUST say YES sir. To answer in anything not affirmative with the supervisor will cause the cancellation paperwork to not be sent! You are aware there is a bill invoice due, yes?”
ME: “Send the cancellation paperwork. Cancel the contract.”
YP: “Sir! You must agree to the cancellation!”
ME: (PAUSE) “Cancel our account.”
YP: “Sir! You must be agreeing to the cancellation with the supervisor! I am transferring you now!”
After a moment on hold, I got a male “Yellow Pages Supervisor”, but with a similar thick Indian accent.
YPS: “Hello. Are you wishing to cancel your account with us?”
ME: “Cancel our account.”
They hung up on me! No hesitation at all!
I thought that would finally be the end of it.
3 minutes later, the same female “Yellow Pages” agent called me back!
YP: “Sir! You must accept the cancellation of the contract with an affirmative. Would you like to be getting the cancellation number from the supervisor so we may cancel your account?”
ME: (after a brief pause to think about how to make a YES sentence without a YES) “Send the cancellation paperwork. I will not answer an affirmative when I am uncertain of the question or if I know the question being asked is a lie.”
YP: (after a moment of hushed conversation with someone) “Sir! I am with the yellow pages! The yellow pages! I wish you to say yes when I transfer you that you are aware of the $499 bill. Then if there is a problem you can contest the bill with the phone number that will be provided with the cancellation number!”
ME: “I do not accept this bill. I do not accept your proposal.”
YP: “You must accept the cancellation! I have been advising you of the $499 due. When they ask if you are aware of the bill, you are to say you are aware of this to be processing the cancellation. You can always contest this bill with the phone number they will be providing you. Please hold while I transfer you!”
After a moment, I got the same male “Yellow Pages Supervisor” with the thick accent.
YPS: “Hello. I am with the customer cancelation department. Are you aware there is a balance of $499 on the account sir?”
ME: “News to me! Who are you?”
YPS: “Sir. Are you aware of the pending balance due on your account?”
ME: “Explain it to me. Why am I getting charged?”
Once again, the “Yellow Pages Supervisor” hung up on me!
Some collections department!
I was somewhat amused and annoyed at this point. On the one hand, they were completely wasting my time and I honestly have a hundred other things to do. On the other hand, I was having a little bit of fun trying my damnedest not to say YES to questions that were very YES based.
About 3 minutes later… the phone rang again!
Same. Damn. Rep.
YP: “Sir! I need you to proceed with the cancellation! You must answer that you are aware of the balance for the cancelation to continue! This is the last time I will be calling you! The last time! You must agree to the cancellation to receive your cancellation paperwork in the mail!”
ME: “I am not aware of any balance. I will not accept any bill. Send the cancellation notice. Cancel our account.”
YP: “Sir! Sir! Sir! Will you agree to the cancellation?”
ME: “Cancel our account.”
YP: “Sir! Will you agree to the cancellation of your account with Yellow Pages?”
ME: “Cancel our account.”
There was a pause and a LOT of muffled conversation in the background.
YP: “Sir, I am going to be transferring you to the supervisor. I have advised you of the balance due which you must confirm with the supervisor. I have advised you of the balance! You must answer in the YES that you are indeed aware of the balance.”
I didn’t say anything.
YP: “I am transferring you now!”
After a moment, I got a very different male “Yellow Pages Supervisor”, but with a similar thick accent as all the others.
YPS: “Hello. I am the supervisor with the Yellow Pages customer cancellation department. Are you aware there is a balance of $499 on the account?”
YPS: “The previous agent did not explain the balance to you?”
ME: “Nope! Can you explain it? Why do I owe $499? For what service?”
And that was the last time they called.
I actually think I learned something from all of this.
First, it’s actually difficult not to say YES in a conversation when you are given questions purposefully designed to elicit a YES response. Linguistic manipulation can be profitable, especially when it’s recorded for use later on.
And second? There’s a bunch of punk-ass scumbags out there wanting to steal $499 from you. (But $250 would be acceptable!)