Politely Deal with Telemarketers

Telemarketers are people with feelings who are just doing their jobs. It is the telemarketing companies who are really harassing you, not their employees. The best way to deal with these calls is to know your rights and fight the company, not the voice on the phone. Try to be a bit nicer to them when they call, even if they call during dinner.


Maintaining a Kind Demeanor

  1. Prepare yourself before answering the phone call. If you have caller ID, you may know that a telemarketer is calling before you pick up. If that's the case, try to be as Be Polite if You Hate Talking on the Phone as possible right from the start. If you know you can't be nice, just don't answer.
    • Although it might be tempting to simply ignore the call or to answer and hang up quickly, that is not how you should handle telemarketing calls. If you don’t answer or hang up before giving them a firm no, the telemarketer will just add your name to the call back list and you will continue receiving these calls.[1]
  2. Stay calm throughout. Being bothered at home by a telemarketer can be very annoying, especially if the call interrupts an important activity. However, try to remember that the person calling you is a human being too. They are simply fulfilling their job requirements.[2] So don’t take it out on them immediately by getting upset, yelling, or losing your temper in general.
  3. Use kind language. Don’t be afraid to say no to a telemarketer. But don’t be sarcastic, rude, or offensive. If they are persistent and won’t accept your kind refusal, be stern with them but remain polite. Say, "I'm sorry, I've told you, I am uninterested."

Interacting Politely

  1. Allow the telemarketer to complete their initial speech. Cutting them off before they are finished is very rude. Imagine how many times they have to recite the same speech every day and how often people are probably rude to them. The least you can do is give them the courtesy of hearing them out.
    • However, if the telemarketer’s initial sales pitch is very longwinded, feel free to politely interrupt to tell them that you aren’t interested and you wish to be added to their do not call list. It is a better idea to politely interrupt them than to hang up out of frustration because this will simply make the telemarketer think you were disconnected and get you put on the list to call back later.
  2. Tell them you aren't interested. A good way to do this is simply by saying, "No, I'm sorry but at this time I am not interested in your product/services."[3] Don’t give the telemarketer hope that you might be interested because this might get you sucked into a longer unwanted conversation.
  3. Try practicing the “three nos” rule. Most telemarketers won’t hang up until they’ve heard you refuse them (say no) three times.[4] Be kind, but firm and clearly say no to any of their inquiries.
  4. Let them know they are not welcome to call you in the future. Be firm, but clear. Tell the telemarketer calling you that you do not wish to receive solicitation calls from their business in the future.
    • You can say something like, Thank you for your offer and your time, but I would appreciate it if you remove me from your calling list. I will not be needing your products/services in the future.
    • Remember, it is much more effective for you to firmly say “Please put me on your Do Not Call List” than to ask them a question: “Can you put me on your Do Not Call List?”
    • Make sure they provide you with a Do Not Call Confirmation Number. They are required to do this by law.[5]
    • Write this confirmation number down as it ensures that they will have added you to their list and will not be calling you back.
  5. End the call politely. Try to politely excuse yourself by making it clear that you are not interested. However, if they refuse to end the conversation, then you should just hang up.

Knowing Your Rights

  1. Know when telemarketers are allowed to call you. You will be able to respond appropriately if you know what telemarketers are and are not allowed to do and what your rights are in the situation. For example, telemarketers are not allowed to contact you before 8am or after 9pm.
  2. Use their own rules against them. Part of the marketer's job is to prune their calling lists. Tell the marketer that they are calling a "data phone" or "fax line" and they should remove that number from their lists. The same is true of cell phones. If a telemarketer calls you on your cell say "I'm sorry, this is a cell phone," and hang up. Telemarketers won’t want to call fax lines because it wastes their time and they aren’t allowed to call cell phones.[6]
  3. Register your number on-line with the Federal Do Not Call List (http://www.donotcall.gov).[7] Since 2005, telemarketers are required by law to register their lists here and check their lists against consumers who have used the list to opt-out.
    • Note that it takes up to 31 days after you register to stop receiving telemarketer calls.
  4. Be wary of fraudulent calls. If you get a call outside of the allowed hours or if the telemarketers asks you for personal or financial information, the call may be fraudulent. In cases like these, you should simply hang up without giving out any information. Don’t worry about being rude – just get off the phone as quickly as possible.[8]


  • Answering and saying something rude can actually make them want to call you again. Being polite will make not only you, but the caller, feel better and if you make any requests while being polite they are more likely to be taken seriously.
  • If you get a rude marketer, remember you can call the police on the person if he or she calls back three (3) times. After the third attempt, it is harassment and is illegal.[9]
  • If you believe a telemarketer has violated the law by calling you report them to the Better Business Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).[10]
  • Talk in foreign language, if possible.


  • Do not threaten or say anything else inappropriate on the phone, as this can subject you to prosecution, even if they called you and no matter how rude they may be.

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