“I am needing to speak with Mr. Edward”

I get a lot of spam phone calls, and the first line spoken by the caller after I say “Hello” is often something like the above. I probably don’t need to tell you that the esteemed gentleman on the other end of the line invariably sounds a lot like Apu, even though he identifies himself as “Dave” or “Mike”.

It’s remarkable how non-multicultural these phone spammers are. Their cultural region lies roughly within a triangle whose vertices may be found at Lahore, Dhaka, and Bangalore.

Such calls are always about Medicare. Either my insurance company or Medicare itself has sold my phone number to the telemarketers. The dodgy entity doing the calling is usually identified as “Medicare Services” or something similar, in an attempt to fool a geezer in his dotage into thinking that he’s talking to an official Medicare representative — who just happens to have immigrated recently from Mumbai — but without being legally liable for fraud.

If I’m in the middle of something, I just hang up on the guy. But if I’m in no hurry, I might play with him a little bit. Sometimes I say, “There’s nobody on Medicare in this house,” making sure that my voice holds a tone of earnest puzzlement. To which the caller sometimes responds with: “I am so sorry; I will take your number off the list.” Which I really like to hear.

Other times I say: “Mr. May died last week. This is his stepson Herbert. Is there anything I can help you with?” After which I receive the deep condolences of the caller before he hangs up.

Today’s call came just after lunch. I responded to his opening line with: “I’m sorry; my hearing is not good. I’m having trouble understanding you. Could you please put on someone who speaks English as his native language?”

Apu:   “But sir, is this not English which I am speaking to you?”
Baron:   “Yes, but it’s not your native language. Your native language is Urdu, or Hindi, or possibly Tamil. I need someone whose native language is ENGLISH.”
Apu:   “So, you are an American, then?”
Baron:   (Patient) “I need someone whose native language is English.”
Apu:   (Sarcastic) “Ah, then, so you are from England?”
Baron:   (Still patient) “Please put on someone who speaks English as their native language.”
Apu:   (Now angry) “You, sir, are a RACIST! Goodbye!”

And he hung up.

It was a very satisfying phone call.

14 thoughts on ““I am needing to speak with Mr. Edward”

      • Holger Danske just called to tell me about this but all I heard was a very deep guffawing over and over, and something about his beard starting to get untangled from the stone floor.

  1. Me, just let them talk a bit, then excuse myself to answer the door, if they would just hold the line. Funny to listen to the desperate hullooos after a minute or two. 👼🏻

  2. Receiving telephone solicitations from the Subcontinent is my favorite form of live entertainment — and it’s free. The challenge is to engage the solicitor in conversation and get him to talk as long as possible. But these wily wallahs tend to hang up as soon as they conclude that continuing the conversation will not earn them money. Today I too got a Social Security call about the misuse of my SS number, but when I asked the “official”, who said he was calling from Texas, to send two Men in Black to my house to arrest me, he ended the conversation. Before that, I asked him, “What is the capital of Texas?” He answered correctly, but not before the lapse of enough seconds to type into a search engine the string “capital of Texas”. If they start swearing at me, I challenge them to keep speaking for 60 seconds; no telephone solicitor has been able to sustain their billingsgate for more than 10 seconds. Most of them are racists too: Although, by their own admission, they are from Florida, Texas, or some other state, they all put on a phony Subcontinental accent, for which I berate them as racists. I sometimes answer the call with “This is the We Hate Indians Society; would you like to join?”

  3. Getting calls like this or accepting call like this seems so last century.

  4. Isn’ t waysism a lovely concept, it means that if your skin pigmentation is of the correct hue, you have an unchanging Trump card. A bridge to invulnerability and irresponsible oppression of whitey…..

  5. We get them in the UK too; evidently it’s not just retribution for having had an empire! Some have accents so strong they can be hard to understand, but the well-spoken ones can be a delight, using the kind of old-fashioned language which has almost disappered among native Brits.

    The really annoying ones are the silent calls from long numbers with odd prefixes which, if you call back, can’t be reached. They must be using random dialling equipment (I’m ex-directory), which is illegal in the UK, and not have enough staff to pick up all the calls which connect.

  6. A friend of mine uses two techniques to Counter them. But you must be quick-minded.

    1) He: Thank you for calling the Answering Company. How may we help you?

    Thank you, but I Need your credit Card number because you have to pay for our Services.
    Oh, it takes only five minutes? Then I have to charge you double.

    Thank you for reminding me of the time. As this is the main time were we are called we have to charge double.

    And he keeps on insisting of getting the credit card number. After less of five minutes the other side just hangs up.

    2) I am Police captain X.X. Why do you call Mr. Y?

    Mr Y was murdered, so as you call him, I have to detain you and ask a few questions. Maybe you are involved in his murder. So, please, give me your Name and adress so that I can send a squad car to pick you up. I remind you that lying and not telling the truth about your relationship will have severe legal penalties.

    The majority hangs up.

    I once visited him when he received such a call. This guy keeps a straight face the entire time while I was an the floor trying not to laugh too loud.

  7. Another trick is to pretend to be a police officer, and that the person they are trying to reach (i.e. yourself) has just been murdered in his own home, and that every one who has had interaction with the “victim”is considered a suspect, including…the Indian sales agent who is calling…

  8. I once had one trying to get me to install a virus on my computer, pretending to be from my ISP.

    I wasted 20 minutes of his time (I was bored) and eventually told him that his scamming self had been punked. I then told him that I also had his voice print on file and would share it with Immigration so that he would never be allowed into the country.

    The idiot actually believed me and got VERY angry, started swearing about what he’d do to my mother and so on. I kept on telling him: “The longer you talk, the more material I have for the voice print, so just go ahead.” … which got him even angrier.

    I suspect that he actually *was* trying to immigrate here.

    Sadly, I made up the whole thing, but it was very satisfying to have him believing it!

  9. I get a number of calls from Pakistani types informing me that the IRS has unclaimed money for me. All they need is the name of my bank and a routing number, and I will get my money. 
    My scam is to give them a fictitious name of a Kansas bank and a routing number that looks plausible. They usually get very excited at this point. Only a final 3 digit security code is needed. When they ask for this info I say to them, “Would you please repeat the question slowly, I can’t understand your accent?” They repeat, only louder. Now we are in a loop! This process gets their goat every time. They think they are God’s gift to the English speaking world!
    On other occasions I have insulted Mohamad’s mother. This is a shorter scam on my part.
    I am glad to know that I am not alone in this game of “bait the foreign scammer”! I was beginning to worry that I may be a racist!

  10. It gets trickier when these rogues are more sophisticated. You believe you are dealing with a local company when in fact they are in India. One assumed and never checked. That little box checked (online) was the wrong one and the grand manipulation. Nothing I imagine compared to what’s coming ashore via land sea and air.

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