Michael Roloff, 6/30/2014

Current Occupation: Writer, Translator, Scholar (Handke specialist  ex visiting scholar Department of German University of Washington, Member Seattle Psycchoanaltic Society and Institute.
Former Occupation: publisher Urizen Books, long time NY editor.
Contact Information: My resume can be found at:     http://www.roloff.freehosting.net/index.html Twitter @mikerol69

"Telemarketing Lingo" is the introduction to a book entitled "WRITE SOME NUMB'S, BITCH!" (a famous marketers incentive to his salespersons!)



Instead of an introduction: TELE-MARKETING LINGO


Like any subculture, Telemarketing has a lingo of its own, and it makes its very own contribution to "the language." As a purely electronic undertaking, Telemarketing, however, reduces its operatives as well as those it operates upon to ciphers, and perhaps for that reason alone T.M.'s linguistic contribution is cipherous as compared to that of any real trade or an industry that grew out of a trade or craft. Compared to either fishing, say, or the automobile industry telemarketing, which with the advent of predictive [that is, “automated”] dialing reached its maturity some twenty years ago, is merely an offshoot of marketing, of selling. It is built entirely around and on telecommunication, and most of its usages do little else but add a wrinkle or a double-entendre to an already widely used word.

Telemarketing depends upon the wizardry of some fine sleight of voice artists, especially its "badge deal" aspect [see below] does, many of them criminal or living in that gray zone between the alleged legitimacies and illegitimacies, certainly in a zone of comparative financial impotence, and you would expect such wizards also to be verbally more inventive – but there is little to invent in as materially and experientially poverty-stricken a domain as telemarketing. "Predictive dialing," or anything approximating it, is a grind, a chaining of human beings to electronic machinery and to "pitches” that would be better off delivered by an unbroken record, as of course they meanwhile are. Imprecations, such as Troy Emerson's "Write some numb's, Bitch," to his "day" and "nite" men, to get them to "produce," signifies that that part of the trade's language, at its best, is of the world of David Mamet's "Glengarry, Glenross." The poetry is meager and desperate; in Troy's case, that of an ex-prizefighter, it also smacked of punch-drunk grandiosity.




A.G. = The "Attorney General," and its office, the bane of telemarketers, at least in most states.


A.M. on a "Tap" [see below] = answering machine.






"BADGE DEAL," raising money for the uniformed services of all kinds, done, best as this writer was able to ascertain, by criminals! A shakedown for police unions, benevolent associations veterans associations. From this develops what is called the "badge book," journals that either do or not print the advertisements solicited and voice- wrested from businesses to support allegedly civic-minded police & fire unions, search and rescue operations.




"CALLBACK", as in callback line… As you will learn, it is essential to your success as a purveyor of badge pledges, if at all possible never to identify your affiliation to your service company, the "benevolent association" for whom you are calling, on the messages that you leave, especially not that you are calling for the cops: the business folk sense an arm-twisting in the making and never call back; though eventually, at the right blind moment you of course must, but only when you have the mark on line.    Being polite, they will only return a call if they think there is a business proposition attached to that name that their secretary gives them or that they hear on their voice mail. "A Bob Casey called." "What's he want?" "He wouldn't say." It is a telephone hold up, a blind siding. "Once a year we call…" And once you have the mark on line, you do all you can not to let it get off the line, you keep the fish hooked for dear life, you give it no more than the requisite slack as you, grudging-obligingly, beg your potential catch to, preferably, find the exact amount they can swim with happily thereafter on their own. You start with a full page, or if you are milking a steady supporter to a similar amount to last year's [“you’ve given anywhere between 100 & 500.”] ever so gradually allow yourself to be worked down into the standard abyss of the [appr. $ 125.00] business-card sale; and occasionally, especially if you are extraordinarily talented, greedy and vicious, manage to get the catch to commit themselves to a bigger hook. A "call back" line is a number reserved exclusively for those call-backs, not for out-going calls. And all you say when the call back line rings is: "Good morning, after noon, whatever – how can I help you?" The answer to which, to any business, or police-affiliated organization which fails to identify itself, ought to be: "By never calling me again."


A CLOSER, good or bad, in telemarketing is the same kind that he or she is in any other kind of business transaction that ultimately demands a commitment, "earnest money," a signature, strength of personality of will to overcome trepidation, ambivalence, indecision, passivity, to nail the sucker to the cross of his idiocy.


COLD, cold calling, predictive dialing, Cole Calling, Coles… 451 below zero calling. Some of the finger-do-the walking methods employed by telemarketing

are what is called cold-calling; that is, calling straight out of the telephone book or from the yellow pages, or from lists, or Coles Directory which lists telephone #s by street addresses and neighborhoods. Coles is based on the census, and it ranks households by income. There can be a real confusion between Cold calling and Cole calling. With Coles you know the name, have the address and neighborhood, and have a hunch of how much that name can afford, with absolute cold calling you are flying blind. When COLD-calling you concentrate your telemarketing efforts on a single neighborhood; four-digit suffixes tend to be geographically concentrated; and some operations have hawks cruising populated four digit regions to do near instantaneous pickups of checks and to drop off the receipt for whatever lie has been bought. Absolute zero cold-calling is cold in every universal 451 below Fahrenheit respect: the potential customer is as nameless and frigid as a corpse that is washed down a glacial stream, and the telemarketer who tries to warm up that body, to buy whatever, is just as anonymous or pseudonymous and frigid, no matter his or her siren song, as the coldest intergalactic traveler.

The crudest but by no means least profitable absolute ice-cold-calling is done from permutation lists. In this instance, either the one-fingered cripple or the nimble electronic centipede walks down the list of numbers of a single exchange, beginning, say, with 777, and systematically scurries through every possible of its permutations after the first fixed digits, from 777-0000 to 777- 9999, and the many thousands inbetween. In that manner the frighteningly cold anonymities are sorted into potentially warm and acquisitive customers, fax and answering machines, businesses, domiciles, disconnected numbers, and the rigid finger of the systematic, electronic centipede does so from pre-printed lists or from electronically encoded disks sold to them by a telephone company. A successfully permutated list is color-coded during the course of the cold caller's hunt, and such a completed list can be as pretty if not more so than the most ancient tablets and than many forms of abstract art. The accidental conjunctions of blacks and reds and green mixed in with those many other day glow shades that highlight bring these finished lists into a somewhat systematized direction of Jackson Pollack’s work, or as thumbnail sketches for Rothko’s to come. It all depends on how you look at one such product, whether you know that it is the result not of aesthetic considerations but of one or of several marketers' labor, and of course it depends on what color ink the telemarketers who "work" that list employed.

Once a team of telemarketers has beaten the last fax machine and the last dead-beat out of just one of the many sheets that make up one of these prefixes, what remains are small white rectangular that then, courtesy of yellow highlighter, are turned into what are known as "gold taps" – the idea being that all chaff has been eliminated and that there are real live potential customer at the end of a "gold tap" once you reach it – the telemarketer’s Eldorado. Once sorted into the living and the dead, such a sheet’s leftover nuggets, as to be expected, is expressed in the sublime anal form of the expression "gold lists." Those who have never been reached, who are not fax machines, voice mail boxes or the like remain… as potential nuggets whom the telemarketer, appetite whetted, will try to cull on a fine Saturday or Sunday when they might finally be home! And be there, ready to be picked clean, for years to come.

Bloody-mindedly yours.

With so much Cole and Cold calling going on you would expect its opposite, having to do with "hot” calling, to have a T.M. wrinkle of some kind, and of course it does: "This is a warm tap," "This list has been burnt to a cinders." "That's a dynamite pitch you got there, Reverend." "This is a smoking office." "We were smoking." – However, because the telephone, the distance and evanescence of the medium – combined with both its instantaneity, anonymity and estrangements – is so essentially cold no matter how hot under the collar that recipients of telemarketing calls can become at the sound of the warm siren songs, T.M. is by and large a cold- hearted business except to the extent of the heat produced by greed and competition amongst the marketers, and the occasionally incandescent overloaded circuit boxes at the TM offices.


COPS, as in "are you dialing for cops or fire?" on a "badge deal."


COXY, a greenhorn in the trade, possibly related to the British "coxie" which is pretty much the same as the American "cocky" – telemarketing is an art, and just because you can pick up and use a telephone…


CUT-OFF refers to the person who was contacted and made the "commitment," the buck stops at the cut-off; the cut-off, the same sucker, is whom you try to reach on the next go around.




"DAY MAN" or "DAY MEN" see under "Pros" below.


DEAL, in these instances, can refer to a promoter's operation… Hector's is a "strong deal" for it enables the marketers to write” good numb's"… There are "Badge Deals", 501 [c] 3 – e.g. charity deals [see below], vet [e.g. veteran’s] deals, etc etc., and each of them mines one or the other human soft spot.


DUPE does not stand for the sucker on the other end of the line who is so unspeakably duped, to whom something unspeakable is done or sold, whose ears are suckered into this or that good cause. To dupe refers to the so frequent occurrence of having his or her name duplicated on a list, be it paper or computer, and thus being called to the point of distraction, TV-media-God-instructed obscenity rudeness "just hang up," from just one telemarketing operation. Unless you be a fly-by-nite operator, who hits town for half a year and then moves on, it will be in your interest not to unduly annoy your mark, and so duplications between lists, between taps and lists, are meant to be "duped out,” meaning to eliminate replications – a telemarketing client such as a police department will be responsive to complaints, so are some Attorney Generals Offices, thus endangering a telemarketer’s deal. E.g.: "This list has not been duped out" = it has not been double-checked. "Too many dupes" = i.e. the marketer is wasting her or his time calling those who have been called once too often, who are “burnt out.” This hurdle fails to inhibit the true scam artist who will invent as many “causes” as a mangy dog has fleas.



DRIVER – in the parlance of telemarketing refers to the "picker" [see below], frequently also described as a “volunteer,” – as in, “We will have one of our volunteers stop by to pick up the check and deliver the [original, tax-deductible] receipt". A courier of that kind who appears once too often at one and the same office, to "drop off" one of these receipts for one too many deals can be shown the door, can have the cops called on him; but a good driver will have ample identification, "Search and Rescue” obviously being the best of them. If you wanted to get a good idea of the businesses of a city you would find yourself such a driver and have them show you the ropes.



To FAX, as in "we will fax you a copy of the invoice…" The introduction of facsimile transmission has been a huge boon to telemarketing, if only because the backside of the invoices of legitimizes scams, which show disclaimers and Secretary of State or Attorney General devised percentage figures, are not faxed with the front. How the advent of e-mail will affect the profession remains to be seen, none have reached me so far among the other junk.


FIVE-O-ONE-THREE-C DEAL [501 {c} 3] = a deal where the buyer has the option of a complete charitable deduction for the contribution; e.g. not just apparent but real legitimacy, a good cover, like Newt Gingrich's Lincoln Brigade! A scam artist with a 501-c-3 certification can get rich quick.




A KICK-OUT on a badge deal is not a mule of some kind but means that the sucker changed his mind, for whatever reason. Kick-outs produce temper fits, sorrow, tears, depression in telemarketers; and is marked as K.O. on a computer readout where it can mean that someone either didn't pay, that the receipt came back marked Wrong

Address or was returned, the invoice saying they had changed their mind, had said no in the first place; that is, that it had their name and an amount put down by a telemarketer on an hourly salary who is writing "wood" [see below], had only wanted to look over the information, or were over-billed; usually it means that they didn’t pay. At CTs computer readout of the 1.2 million "resie" base in and around Seattle K.O. $ 1.00 meant a wrong address.




LISTS are list of "taps"… good and bad… burnt to a cinder, dead, beaten lists… live… A "tracking list" is where and how a tele-marketer, of whatever legitimate or illegitimate deal, keeps track of her or his "sales", so as to, possibly, keep the promoter honest. “Tracking” lists are the sales-persons’ property, and have considerable value – anyone who bought something once is a potential second or third sale. Lists, like individual "taps," are traded, just as, say, magazine subscriber lists among magazines; or Title Companies sell the lists of mortgages to mortgage refinance businesses.




"MATTING” is how the check in an envelope is left under a mat and a driver-dicker-picker-courier-volunteer picks it up from under the mat in exchange for the receipt; metaphorically speaking, a "mat" can be a mailbox, a milk bottle, any place where you leave a check made out for deposit only.


MOM AND POP operations, easy hits for a badge-deal telemarketer, their specialty, Mom and Pop, as compared to companies with complicated “human resource” officers and charitable giving” boards, are genuinely, humanely, civic-minded, have genuine sympathy for firemen, cops, vets, and so are eminently exploitable.


A MARK is either a "resie" or a "biz" in the cross hairs of a telemarketer.




In telemarketing a "NUMBER” does not come without a name! – unless you’re "calling" someone absolutely "ice cold." Hector's refrain, "Write some numbs, Bitch!" refers to dollars.


N.A. on a "tap" = No Answer.




To "PICK” does not refer to cherries but to checks, which are "picked up" in exchange for the receipt, the driver of the vehicle is the PICKER…


PITCH, the; or "to pitch"… He's got a lousy pitch does not refer to the frequent smoky timbres of these voices, but to the line they are pitching, to the written pitch that is meant to get the dolt on the other end of the telephone to "buy" the deal… "This is a dynamite pitch." "Billie's got a great pitch." "I pitched him cops last week and popped him for a buck-and a quarter, and this week I got him to go for a quarter page ad for the fire fighters." The art of the profession is in the pitch, and its delivery.


A "PRO” in this line of work refers to someone who knows the ropes of a badge or scam charitable deal. When encountering the words "pros" or "day men wanted” in the wanted ads for telemarketers you can be certain that the deal is a scam, which is easily confirmed by calling the number that goes with the ad. If all that the person answering the telephone says is "Good day, what can I do for you," you can be certain that they are eager to conceal who they are and what they are up to.




"RELOAD” in this instance is the metaphoric use of a term from hunting, which ought, actually, be "re-shoot", or "kill again;" for what is being "reloaded" in this instance is not a gun but the bank account of the telemarketer, not by means of reselling the mark on the deal into which he bought once before, but by simply saying, a la Dave Barnett: "We thank you for your past support for X. As we did last year, we will send you your pledge and ask you to mail it to us with your check within seven days." RELOADING is the nearest thing to simply saying, "Send money." It helps to have a gentle, pleasant, laid-back, richly sincere voice, a la Dave Barnett, to be a successful reloader.


RESET in T.M. lingo means to re-schedule a pick-up of a check that for whatever reason was not ready, or that, frightful thought, is about to "kick out" [see above].


"RESIE" – short for residential, i.e. victims of nighttime or weekend telemarketing solicitation, the abbreviation says it all.

To "ROUST" is a variant on to rouse, in telemarketing it applies to rousting a potential deadbeat to pay up. This kind of "rousting” is not done by a roust-about, a cowboy of all trades, but by a driver. An attempt is made at the end of a deal to "roust" all unpaid invoices.




SALE is a sale is a sale… even when all that occurs is an exchange of money for nothing but a receipt & “feeling good.”


SMOKING, as in "smoking office" which not only refers to the fact that 99 % of telemarketers smoke, but that this is a "smokingly" hot deal, it's hot as in hot shit.




"TAPS” does not refer to what is blown at the end of a hard days work but, usually, to an individual slip of paper, frequently a receipt or paid invoice, with name, address and telephone number and a previous sale recorded on it, and, preferably, with the name of the "cut-off," the person who makes the decision whether to "buy" or to "t. d." the proposition. A tap of that kind has bought something once, and anyone who bought something once is a potential sucker for a second go around. Taps, being "proprietary", are the "gold” mines that telemarketers hoard, trade, sell… it is their livelihood… the coin of the realm… and like old mines, taps bear the various adjectives that

describe their worth: taps from hell, gold taps, mediocre taps, taps that never paid, fresh or burnt warm taps…Taps burnt to a cinder. Taps are stolen, traded, copied….




TD means a turn down, usually marked according to what was turned down. TD cops, BT Fire BT S&R [Search & Rescue] TD Vets… etc. ad infinitum. Plus, sometimes, the name or initial of the sales person.




A VERIFIER is someone who makes sure that the sales person isn't writing "wood," confirms the address and telephone # on a written sales slip or invoice, and the time for the "pick-up," or who tries to ascertain the credit card number.




WOOD, as in "he/she writes a lot of wood" does not mean that the marketer is a good lumberjack, but is on salary and writes fictitious sales, collects salary for two weeks, and then moves on to another stop along this particular easy street. Which is why operations with salaried employees have verification processes; and thieving promoters prefer employees who work exclusively on a commission basis! What they do unto you they do unto each other!








Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


three × two =