I'm working at home because I don't feel very well - since I can't think imaginatively, I'm doing mundane catch up work, like filling out my expenses form, replying to some e-mails I'd put to one side and sorting out a bunch of Powerpoint. Oh, and upgrading my laptop to Mountain Lion.
Phone rings. A pleasant sounding woman asks to speak to Mr. Birch.
"I am Mr. Birch", I tell her and she starts to ask me something about my energy supplier. So I say "Can I put you on hold you on hold for a moment" and put the phone down and go back to work. I always do this when I get an unsolicited commercial call. After a couple of minutes the phone beeps because the call centre has hung up. I put the phone back in the cradle.
My wife thinks this is rude, but I think if you just say "no thanks" and hang up, you are not costing the culprit enough money. They'll just hang up at their end and a few seconds later their outbound call distribution software will connect them to next call that's been picked up. If you get them to hang on for a minute, you are wasting their time and money and if enough people did this then the economics of their call centre would tip - they'd need three times as many staff. But my wife thinks I'm being rude to the people who work in the call centre, people who are just doing their jobs.
I've also noticed that the majority of the calls I've picked up recently seem to come from people with bizarrely vanilla Anglo-Saxon names like "Christine Peters" but noticeably South Asian accents. And when they tell you that they are from the "Maintenance Department of Microsoft Windows" and that "your PC is sending us warning messages" they know that they liars and conspiring in a fraud to get hold of your credit card number. So I'm unsympathetic - when people start a call by lying, I'm released from any moral qualms.
By the way, if you would like to talk to Christine Peters from the Technical Department of Microsoft Windows, she's on 033 3000 11234.