Practical jokes to play on pushy vendors

An IT pro's frustration with annoying vendors yields creative ploys to fend off salespeople -- with a few exceptions

Vendor-dodging -- we've all done it. If I stopped to talk to every vendor and answer every survey or questionnaire, I would get nothing done all day, especially because our company has one receptionist and only very basic call routing. A vendor's job and ours will always intersect, and some conversations will be respectful, and others not so much. At least we can find some humor in the situations.

These days with caller ID, it's easy to avoid taking phone calls you know will be less than productive. But sometimes I'm busy with something and pick up the phone without looking, or the call appears to be legit. Then I'm stuck in whatever type of call the proverbial dice has rolled.

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Some vendors are polite and listen, keeping the conversation short. Then there are the more annoying ones who don't listen to what you say, get your name wrong, and tell you it's not a sales call -- but who can eventually be dissuaded with sarcasm.

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Me: "Well, we are actually in great shape right now, we have a budget freeze, we are in the middle of restructuring, and our parent company is in the Ukraine. So we really can't do anything."

Them: Click.

Sometimes, a very pushy vendor manages to acquire every extension for our entire department and systematically calls each one of them. In our cozy confines, one quickly becomes aware when a vendor is making the call rounds. By the third or fourth call, all productive work has ceased and it's time to resort to guerilla tactics. Here are some of the best ways to quickly get your name removed from the offending vendor's phone list.

  1. Transfer them to the fax line, every time.
  2. Immediately ask for a credit card number to begin billing them for your time.
  3. Answer and speak in a foreign accent -- a really thick, unintelligible one.
  4. Send them back to the switchboard and tell them to ask to be transferred to Sven, who doesn't really exist.
  5. Simply state that you are not allowed to speak to vendors and you have no idea who is. This tactic can often baffle them into silence, as they have no idea what to do next.
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