We live in a fantastic age. The age of smartphones, instant communication and virtual mailboxes. But with every development comes the annoyances. And with modern technology – it’s spam. The rise of the spammer has been a gradual dripping tap to everyone with access to communication. But here in 2016, it’s a bit less of a dripping tap and more of a torrential downpour of plain horse excrement. It is the juicy un-popped pimple on the face of modern technology. As an owner of quite a few web-based businesses and manager for many more, it’s something I have to deal with on a daily basis. Sometimes hourly. So my patience for spam is all but gone. As an 80’s sitcom once put it “I’ve got one nerve left, and they’re leaning on it..!”.
Let’s start with online spam. Instagram is ripe with spammers. “Get 1000s of follows”; “Wow! This really works”! Are usually the culprits. They’ll mention your Instagram tag in a comment beneath a post to that effect. Well I am the worst person they could possibly do that too. I will troll through thousands of comments, just to find my mention. I will then make the comment as spam, mark the commenter as a spam account and mark the original picture a spam post too. I’ll just report every person involved before blocking them.
Then there is email spam. This is a tough one to counter without investing serious time and a false email address. So there’s not much I can do here. But I do take great pleasure in others’ responses to spam emails (see the video at the end of this post).
But here’s a spammer we can all relate to. The landline spammer. Pretty much the only use for landlines in this day and age! As an outward facing business, our number is featured in a number of locations – making it prime material for spam callers. You know the ones. ‘You’re entitled to PPI’; ‘We’ve heard you were in a car crash…’; ‘You’ve won the lottery’; ‘This is Microsoft tech support…’ and so on. So I will always answer the phone politely. But when the realisation comes that I am talking to a spammer, my demeanour changes dramatically. You see, I have tried the nice-guy approach. I have asked home nicely to remove my number from their lists. I have asked them to stop calling. But do they listen? Nope. If anything the phone call frequency increases!
So with the phone call spammers, depending on the particular spam they are trying to fry – will depend on my response. But nothing is out of the question. They wanted to interrupt my day? Then I will interrupt theirs. Their accent is usually the first thing I go for. I call this the ‘regional language barrier’. I try and copy their accent as best I can and as loud as I can. I will then slowly dial it up, getting more and more incomprehensible as the phone call proceeds. This usually keeps them on the line for a bit, but they will hang up before long.
The next game I play with these jokers is ‘the nail on the head’ gag. I act like I’ve fallen for their product or service. My personal favourite is the ‘Microsoft Support Team’. For those living without a phone over the last few years, this spammer calls up the unsuspecting household and claims to be from Microsoft Support. They will then get you to visit site where they gain full control of your computer. They’ll then add malicious software and steal information. So these guys totally deserve it. Once they announce their cover, I start mine. I’ll play along acting so grateful for their services. Aside from the fact I run Mac, their guidance is frankly abysmal but I will pretend that they are winning. They’ll list a URL to type in, so I will get them to spell it out. Between three and four times is about the limit before they hang up. If I still manage to keep them on the line, I will claim that the website doesn’t load and ask them to put me through to the Internet Explorer department (since, you know, they work in Microsoft support). If that doesn’t put them off, I’ll try and get them to recommend a faster machine to use. Or even better, I’ll ask them why my computer only has a timer and a cook-temperature setting. That usually ends the call pretty fast.
The ‘nail on the head’ also works well for the ‘I hear you were in a car crash’. String them along for a bit and then explain that actually the accident was your own fault. Watch them squirm as they try and work around a way of making you say it wasn’t your fault! Hard to argue when you paint a picture of a 10 car pile up on the M25. 5 fatalities because you were driving down the wrong direction of the motorway. Credit to the spammers, they try and find a way. And just for the record, I haven’t actually ever been in a car crash. Which makes these phone calls that much funnier.
The other tactic I like to use is a quick and easy one ‘the poor connection’. Pretty simple, really, just claim you can’t understand them. Say the line is bad and get them to repeat everything a few times. They’ll hang up soon after, but it’s good fun to hear them get frustrated.
I’m sure there are more that occur ‘in the moment’, but these are just some of the fun games I like to play with spammers. But as promised, here is a guy who takes email spam to another level. Thank-you sir, we salute you. You make spam fun.