Tuesday, January 28, 2014

212-NON-ONON Extension 000

Recently the telephone rang at the Reef

Sharque:  This is Janet

Caller:  Hello, this is Felix Buttonweazer. I'm calling because we've had some server issues recently and we can't tell if a query was sent to you or not. Normally we'd see the email in the outbox but we can't find it.

Sharque: Ok, I can help you with that. Do you have your credit card handy?

Caller: What? No. Why do I need a credit card?

Sharque: You want me to perform a job for you, right? You want me to stop what I'm doing and do something for you that will take time, right?

Caller: well, yes, I guess so but....

Sharque: Do you normally expect people to do jobs for you for free?

Caller: well, no, but

Sharque: Did you think you were calling the library perhaps? An institution supported by your tax dollars?

Caller: no

Sharque: did you think you were calling a retail establishment with a customer service question?

Caller: I guess.

Sharque: Are you a customer?

Caller: YES!

Sharque: exactly. Now let's talk about how you intend to pay for the transaction.

Caller: wait, what?

Sharque: you're a customer. Will that be cash or credit or check?

Caller: I'm hanging up now.

Sharque: Thank you for doing business with Sharques R Us.  Have a nice day.

If the moral of this blogpost is not clear, let me spell it out: there is NO reason you will call a literary agency unless invited to do so if you are not a client.  You will, in particular, not call ME.  I maintain an active electronic presence and if you've got questions there are a myriad of way to get them answered, NONE of which involve you calling me on the phone and interrupting me.


JeffO said...

Remind me to try this the next time I get one of those 'phishing' calls where some guy in Sri Lanka starts asking me about my computer.

Janet Reid said...

we have a lot of fun with the folks who call to give us advice on our "business"...without knowing what kind of business we are.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

This story is true:

Library opens at 9 a.m. and the phone rings promptly when it is taken from forwarding. I answer with our appropriate greeting.

Caller: Yeah, I have a humidifier that I kept on a wooden table and I guess it leaked because when we moved it, the table had white rings on it! What do I do about that?

Me: Uh. You know you called the library, right?

Caller: Yup. I called over to the bus station first and they gave me your number.

Me: Please hold.

(I Googled an answer, told the patron, then went home and took a drink. All right, that last statement isn't true.)

Loretta Ross said...

Walmart story!

Guy came in wanting to do a complicated exchange involving used merchandise not purchased at our location and for which he had no receipt. The service desk associate,a truly lovely lady named Teresa, couldn't help him, so she called for a manager and told him someone would be right up.

Unsatisfied, he pulled out his phone and demanded the store's number.

She told him.

He dialed.

The phone on the desk in front of her rang.

She looked at him.

"You do know that I'm the one that answers that, right?"

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Okay, so this would have been really funny if it worked.
Picture a beady black shark's eye staring at you, the deep dark dead center surrounded by a glint of white, framed by the patent-leather slick silver skin.
Got it?
Caption under the picture.

Sharque's I-phone.
Don't call me or I krill you.

I found the coolest picture and either I have ambergris for brains or you don't allow pics. Either way I spent have my morning trying to make you laugh. Maybe I'll give you a call to see if it worked. And then again...maybe not.

Bill Plante said...

What's your number?

Melissa said...

I was standing in line at the library and the woman in front of me wasn't able to checkout books because she didn't have a card or the needed credentials to get one.

She proceeded to yell at the poor librarian. "I am a rich European." The woman had no accent and stomped off after this statement.

Jane Lebak said...

"Gee, she must get thousands of query letters, especially since she takes the time to help writers hone theirs. But how important can they really be? I know! Instead of sending a query letter, I'll call and pretend I sent a query letter. Surely she'll ask me to just pitch her over the phone, and she'll love my idea so much, she'll sign me on the spot! This is the way to stand out! She'll remember me forever! She may even blog about my cleverness! Now, where's her phone number…?"

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

At the library, people also frequently say "I PAY FOR THIS LIBRARY", meaning their taxes. I smile serenely and say "I do too." My library taxes would pay only a fraction of the resources I take advantage of yearly (in addition to, y'know, working there)/

Joyce Tremel said...

I used to be a secretary for a police department. One of my jobs was answering the phone. Enough said.

Shawn said...

First, I would have totally given you my credit card number.

Secondly, I'm working with an agent that hasn't offered representation yet but her phone number appears under her signature in our email correspondence.

I'm quite sure this is a test and I fail if I use it.

CaroChel said...

This is sooo entertaining! My first response was...oh yeah, the next doofus who calls is in for it. The comments are (almost--just to be very careful here) as amusing as the blog. Thanks to all!!

As to the proving I'm not a robot--egad! Even >> I << can't read the blasted text. But apparently I'm not to put a space between the two "words." Are the numbers going to succeed...watch this space to find out.

The Writer Librarian said...

Preach it, Jennifer! Working in libraries, we get everything from "Can you help me find a mail-order bride" to "Do you have a pair of toe-nail clippers I can use?"

A lot of the time, people simply don't know what institutions (or businesses) are for, or what their intent is. Makes for a lot of miscommunication and frustration.

To clear up, the library is not:

Your playground (to the guy who left spilled white-out out to dry, I'm looking at you).

The place where you undress (I think this guy was stoned).

Your porn source (though some libraries have a really weird stance on this).

Unknown said...

I used to do something similar (sans credit card request) to the toner scammers who used to call.

Except that I would say my name was Bubba and would affect a very downhome accent, extolling at length the various virtues of the many printers and copiers we had onsite, being careful to give them all quaint, vernacularly heavy names, and never divulging any make or model info.

They would listen to my spiel, slavering at the prospect of selling me pallet loads of toner that we had never ordered, and reams of paper to go with, until I'd get to the end and thank them for so graciously allowing me to waste so much of their time.

I never got second calls.

middle grade ninja said...

I don't have a reason to call you anyway, but now for sure not:)

Anonymous said...

Our way of dealing with unwanted callers?

I answer. I put the phone down, and hit the speaker button. We resume doing whatever it is we were doing. And I mean..., whatever.

Kregger said...

Every businees model is different, but my answer to inappropriate calls is to never answer the phone. I have a gatekeeper for that. No one gets through the gatekeeper. Well...that was before my wife complained that my secretary wouldn't put through her call. Of course, this was years before cellphones. Now I'm trapped.
So feel free to call me, I've got people for that.

Elissa M said...

I don't have any trouble answering phones, but I'm terrified of making calls. Even to people I know. Even to people who are expecting a call. Yeah, it's a weird phobia, but at least I know I'll NEVER make the mistake of calling the Shark.

Michael Seese said...

My friends and I play this game... stringing them along. We call it "slime-baiting."

And to speak to the comment by JeffO, the best solution I've heard was to play totally clueless. "A problem with my windows? They're a little dirty. But they're OK. We just had them replaced last year. Hang on a sec. Honey? The windows... are they Andersen or Pella..."

KayC said...

I'm afraid I'm not nearly so polite as most of the commenters seem to be (even if it is for their own entertainment).

My standard response to unwanted 'English is my second language' callers is "Do you understand English?" When they enthusiastically reply "Yes", I follow up with "So you understand what F**K OFF means?" They usually hang up!

I am a little more polite for obviously English speaking nuisance callers and - would you believe - I ask them of their credit card number so I can charge them for my time!! They usually hang up too. Was it something I said??

french sojourn said...

Kregger....i laughed out loud at yours.
Living in France it's a forgone conclusion that any calls between 12:00 to 2:00 (lunchtime) are sales calls. I answer in English and they just hangup. Eh-voila!

Foxcreek said...

Might be time for another train ride.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

1. I work in a library, so I completely understand.
2. When I get sales calls, I pretend I don't speak english very well (ie pretty much not at all). However I did get caught out by a bilingual telemarketer once. That's what I get for speaking Spanish instead of Klingon.
3. Legitimate question about such a situation. Say I did have server issues and I suspect my query didn't get emailed. Would the best etiquette be to send it again, with a brief line of an apology at the bottom: "Sorry if this is a duplicate. We recently had server issues and I'm not sure if this was sent the first time"?
4. So many marketers cold-call us, yet as writers, we are required to go out and market. What a PKB scenario. Alas.