People

How to Get Rid of Telemarketers

How to Block Telemarketers

Thanks to the Federal Trade Commission’s National Do Not Call Registry, you can make salespeople calling your home phone a thing of the past. (Exceptions are calls from, or on behalf of, political organizations, charities, legitimate telephone surveyors, or companies with which you have an existing business relationship, or those to whom you’ve provided express permission to call.) In the unlikely event there are some telemarketing calls you don’t mind receiving, you can provide those companies written permission to call you. You may include all of your personal phones, including mobile phones, and the service is free! Your registration is effective for five years.

You can put yourself on the Registry list at https://www.donotcall.gov/ or call toll free at +1-888-382-1222 from your home phone. Once you have been on the register for 31 days, should a telemarketer call, you can file a complaint at the Registry’s Website, the same place where you registered your personal numbers. To file a complaint, you must know either the name or telephone number of the company that called you as well as the date the company called you.

Be alert for scams involving the Registry. You might be contacted by someone by phone or email offering to put your name on the Do Not Call Registry for a fee. As the Registry is a free service of your federal government, the FTC does not allow this. Websites or phone or email solicitations that claim they can or will register a consumer’s name or phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry — especially those that charge a fee — are almost certainly scams.

Some things to remember:

  • You will have to re-register whenever you get a new phone number; the system automatically removes numbers that have been disconnected and reassigned
  • Should your current number be disconnected for any reason, you will have to re-register it when you are reconnected
  • Changing calling plans or the billing name on your telephone account could have the same effect as having the number disconnected, and you will have to re-register.

There is a persistent rumor that a database of personal cell phone numbers is being released to telemarketers. Even if it were true, which it isn’t, the No Call Registry can also put your cell phone number off limits to telemarketers.

How to Prank a Telemarketer

Some people, though, prefer confronting telemarketers rather than blocking them. Here are a few ideas:

  • Talk incoherently.
  • Play deaf or say that you have a bad connection.
  • Talk gibberish.
  • Try to order a large pepperoni pizza.
  • Repeatedly dial the phone. Mutter that it isn’t ringing
  • Try to sell the telemarketer something.
  • Pretend to be really interested, then say “no”.
  • Keep crackers near the phone. When a telemarketer calls eat the crackers. Chew loudly, make slurping noises, and talk with your mouth full.

Go ahead and share your pranks using the form at the bottom of this page.

Are Telemarketers People Too?

The caller may be a single mother who is barely managing to keep it together with the only job she could find or a guy who’s trying to support a family on the lousy income a telemarketer makes. It’s a rough world out there for the wage slave, and it keeps getting rougher. So please have a heart. Don’t be a jerk, try to get rid of bad manners. Telemarketers would prefer that you simply hang up on them than have you mess with them.

Click here for more information about how to get rid telemarketers

About the author

Nicole Harding

64 Comments

  • Usually i just try and talk them out of their job.

    Ask them about their personal life, confront them on whether they ACTUALLY want to be calling people up for a living. Most of them seem to want to quit after talking to me.

  • its really dumb how most of the telemarketing calls i recieve are from a recorded voice, not an actuall person. this is of topic but its funny to go to a retail store like walmart of academy, go to a empty register and hit the page button and say something like “attention customers please get in an orderly file and get the ^&^$^ out of the store”.

  • Say, “One moment, please.” Then set the phone down and leave it there for a long, long time. When the tape recording announcing, “If you’d like to make a call…” comes on, you’ll know they’ve hung up.

    Another: Wait for the first break, and if the monologue goes on too long, interrupt with a polite, “Excuse me, I must tell you, I am honored that you called ME. Clearly you;ve told me about something very important to you, and that’s a fine personal commitment

    “I appreciaye that out of the humdreds of names you must have listed, it was YOU who called ME. It is thoughtful of you and I won’t forget your kindness. I am deeply sorry not to be able to participate. Convey my feelings to your staff, won’t you? And again, thank you.”

    Then, hang up the phone.

  • when they get through with there pitch, ask them for their home number so you can call them while they have just set down to a hot meal so you can ruin their meal.

  • Ok these always work
    – act like a kid crying (snuffel) and say im very sorry but my parents just died plez **scream–NEVER** call back
    – act like ur in a jungle say –hello omg i got reception..im in the jungle…(scream)ah theres a LION then crack sumtin close to the phone and yell HELPP then hang up

  • This one’s to Carrie… thoes are the most retarded suggestions iv ever herd of! If u dont want a tellemarketer, all u have to do is call their number and tell them to take u off their list! Fred’s right, why do u have to be a jerk?! Just be polite!

  • You can tell it’s an unwanted call if you have caller ID. What I do is answer “Harrow(sound chinese) when they ask for you or whoever tell them ” (name they asked for) no here you stop calling( again sound chinese)” absouloutly hilarious especially when they apologize for bothering you LOL

  • Pretend to be a Detective and that your at the scene of a Murder and ask the telemarketer how he came to know the deceased. Ask for his details etc.. and that he’ll be contacted in a few days.

  • Ask them if they are saved, tell them Jesus loves them and if they can hold on a minute you will get your bible because you want to read them a few chapters in it and promise them that you will listen to them right after they listen to you! — if they agree, good luck, your on your own!

  • There is a foreign pharmacy that calls our business daily. I have tried everything to get rid of them. Examples: “Jamie is no longer here. Jamie does not work here anymore. Please take us off your call list. PLEASE take us off your call list. Jamie died. Jamie says you’re the worst boyfriend she ever had and she hates you. I want to order birth control pill, I’m Jamie (I’m a man) I want to order female hormones. Please stop calling here. Jamie is not here any more. There is no one here named Jamie. Let’s say her name together and summon her spirit. Incoherent noises and screeching.” You name it, it doesn’t work. Never order from an online pharmacy, they will hound you to your grave.

  • go to http://www.whocalled.us
    once there enter in the phone number that called. you can file a complaint there if you are on the dnc list. you can also see how many others and for what the number who called you is calling other people for. that way when you answer the phone to tell them to stop calling you know what they might have to say and can let them know to not call you again.

  • use a language that they might not understand, most people know Spanish, so that doesn’t work anymore. OR, you can just say “hey do you know that I’m on the Do Not Call list? and its a federal offense to call me?” I don’t know its a really a federal offense, but it will shake them up. Say it with a big goofy smile on your face so it sounds as if you are being nice to them. Irony is a funny, funny thing.

  • my mom told one that I ran away- the lady appologized and my mom said “I am glad the witch is gone”. I was right there. If they are looking for my dad, she accuses they of being my father’s girlfriend- it works

  • I’ve got a simple solution at work. I don’t answer outside calls. I get one or two business related calls per week from outside the building. They leave a message and I call them back. Inside calls display the person’s name or extension so I answer all of those calls.

  • Pretend you are an FBI agent and that “this is a hostage situation” and say something like “OK, where do you want to make the exchange?” They will be confused, and then say “You know what I’m talking about! Where do you want us to drop the money? You said you would call back at [current time] and would give us further instructions on where to drop the money in exchange for their freedom! Please, we all just want you to release that family!” If they havn’t hung up already, hold the phone about arm’s length away from you and shout “Sir, I’ve completed the trace!” Then put the phone back on your ear and say in a smug joice “Weve got you now [optional adjectives]! In a few minutes there will be SWAT teams surounding the building! And you’re going to be put away for a long, long time!” Then hang up. Unfortunatly this only works for poeole calling from inside the US. It might be adaptable….

  • Perhaps the easiest way to get them off of your back and never call back again is to simply tell them that they have the wrong number. Usually it’ll go something like this.

    You: Hello?
    Operator: Good Afternoon! May I please speak to Mr… Doe?
    You: Oh I’m afraid you have the wrong number.
    Operator: ….oh, well is this 555-555-5555?
    You: Yes, but Mr. Doe doesn’t live here.
    Operator: Okay, well I’m sorry, thank you and have a good day.
    You: Goodbye

    Sometimes they might say, well this offer can still apply to you! In which case, I’ll usually just tell them straight up that I’m not interested and if persistent, I’ll say something like “I realize that the offer is very nice, but I’m just not willing nor interested enough to make the commitment.

    If I’m avoiding a call that I ultimately need to answer, aside from not picking up the phone, I’ll answer and tell the operator something like this.

    You: Hello?
    Operator: Hi, this is Dave from (Insert company here; such as a credit card company). May I talk to Mr. John Doe please?
    You: Oh well he isn’t here at the moment, can I take a message?
    Operator: No that’s fine, but do you know when he’d be available?
    You: (Keeping in mind when you feel like dealing with it) Well, he’s away until Friday, but he should be able to answer the phone then.
    Operator: Alright, thanks for your time. Have a good day!
    You: Alright, goodbye.

    Pretty much, that’s how I avoid those.

  • I don’t hate on people making a living. But when Joe Call Center Telemarketer calls at 9:30pm or 8:00am. It’s time to bring out the guns. See pranks above.

  • The most hilarious one I’ve witnessed was by my co-worker:
    Mike: Hello?
    Telemarketer: Hello, is this (insert name)? I have a great offer for you…..
    Mike: Thats great, listen, I’m going to put you on speaker phone, we’re having poker night, I want you to bark like a dog for one minute and then tell us what you’re selling and we’ll discuss whether or not it’s a good deal. You can listen if you want. (puts the phone on speaker) Ok say hi to everyone….And you can start…Now…
    Telemarketer: Hello???
    Mike: Go ahead, bark….
    Telemarketer: Sir, I don’t have time for this…
    Mike: Will I guess I don’t have time to listen to you either…CLICK

  • Do these all three of these things and you will not receive any calls from telemarketers, politicians or charities:
    1. Eliminate your land line service. Call AT&T,SBC or whomever it is that sends your monthly bill and get completely rid of it. You will no longer get a bill from them.
    2. Get a cable INTERNET (not phone)line. (You will now be getting a bill from them, and it might be about $60/month.)You cannot use DSL or a FAX machine because they require a land line, you will have a cable connection instead, which is faster.
    3. Either: A.)Get Vonage and ask for a new number and DO NOT PUT IT ON YOUR CHECKS. (Of course you do not want the old number anymore, everyone already has it!)(You will now also be getting a bill from Vonage. It’s $25/month for unlimited calls.) Don’t forget to tell your friends and family, school office…anyone you actually want to hear from, that your number has changed. They will not get a message when they dial the old number…
    Or: B.)Make do with only cell phones.

    If you do all of this, you will not have to register with a “do not call list” or anything else. Just be smart, obviously, don’t give out your phone number on prize entry forms or stuff like that.

    OK…I did all this and it worked for me. But I knew my mother would not be able to do all this and I was worried about her as she is elderly. I got her a little device known as a “tele zapper”. I don’t remember the price anymore, I bought it years ago, but it was pretty affordable. It eliminates calls that are computer dialed. This is most telemarketers. That means you will still be bugged by some calls but she told me she got far less unwanted calls with it.

  • here is what you should REALLY do……. as soon as they start talking … interupt and YELL in the phone for about 20 seconds nonstop…… VERY LOUD.

    Repeat as nessesary if they do call back.
    YOU’RE WELCOME IDIOTS !

  • actually all you have to do is call your phone provider and tell them that you do not want your phone number listed at all and you want it private name private number..By doing this they cannot look your number up and you are telemarketer free.. My number has been private for three years now and I have not gotten one call from telemarketers and or surveyed…

  • well lately hanging up when you here the second ringing has worked. for the other ones, i’ve actually listened to a full call and said sorry no lol. another one, i pretended to be really young or not well and said that daddy and mommy are not here yet,they bought it lol.

  • A couple of weeks ago, at around 9 pm I got a call from a telemarketer that had this amazing deal for me: 2 nights in a 5 star hotel + meals and enterteniment for 2 people.
    It sounded like the telemarketer was in total ecstasy as he spoke, as this was the most wonderful thing that could happen in my life. So I asked him if he had received the same gift as he was offering me, she said no, but that I was very lucky.
    So in a very exited voice I told him that I was giving HIM that gift. I told him I would be honored to have him and a date of his choice go to the “no-catch-2-nights-in-a-5-star-hotel-plus-meals-and-enterteniment-for-two” in my place.
    There was a moment of silence and then he proceeded to tell me to go “F” myself and tell me what kind of a “B” he thought I was .
    What an ungrateful individual… lol

  • I appreciate that telemarketers are only trying to make a living like the rest of us, so this is what I say,

    Me: Interrupting their pitch…Thank you, I’m not interested
    TM: Continues pitch
    Me: Hello, Hello (This has never failed to get their attention as they seem to think I can’t hear them LOL)
    TM: Hello?? Yes???
    Me: First, please remove my phone number from your list. Second, I’ve told you I’m not interested. I don’t want to be rude to you so I’m going to ask you to say good-bye now. If you continue I’ll forget that I don’t want to be rude and I WILL hang up on you.
    TM: if they continue, I simply hang up the phone. If they say good-bye, I wish them a nice day.

    I think this has to be one of the worst jobs in the world. I can’t imagine how desperate a person must be to work in the TM industry.

  • I try to start “phone sex” with them by saying, “So then…. tell me…. what color socks do you have on?”

    If I’m feeling more sensible, I just tell them from the beginning that I never agree to, nor buy anything from unexpected callers… “so let’s not waste each others time, eh?” Then wish them a nice day/evening.

  • i know telemarketers are just trying to earn a living like the rest of us, and i DO feel sorry for them, cuz if u think about it, they sorta have to put up with a lot of ****, u know?

    but when they start calling at 6:00 AM on a saturday? u bet ur a$$ i’m going to be a little bitchy. I suggest any of the above pranks, i’ve tried most of them and they are quite effective

    My personal fave is just hanging up before they say anything….or telling them that u know where they live and if they ever call back, they’re in for it.

  • I only prank obvious scam artists (i’ve been called by them before) and those that call really bad times. Anyway my personal favorite is as follows…

    TM: Hello, may I speak to Mr. Smith?
    Me: Mr. Smith isn’t here right now. In fact no one’s here right now.
    TM: Well then, may I speak with you?
    Me: I don’t live here, I’m just here for the Stereo and the
    silverware and I’m out the door. (CLICK)

  • Um, just hang up .__.
    you don’t have make up stupid things or stories or anything just say
    “please stop calling, thanks, have a nice day.”
    Problem solved :]

  • well, the being nice and telling them not to call again doesn’t work… I have been REALLY rude to then, as in racist and sexual offensive and they keep calling, same guys. they seem to like it

  • Being nice does nothing at all when it comes to some. drugs america calls a minimum of 5 times a day saying the same thing. Have asked nicely to stop calling and they just hang up and call again later.
    I just try to have fun with them, keep them on the line as long as possible, get them to talk dirty to me, give them fake info. Nothing will stop them from calling so make it fun. I talk in my best India accent(that is where they are calling from) Last one asked me what meds I am taking. I responded with “Nothing but weed, can you get me some?”

  • i am a telemarketer so this isnt funny but its factually correct. If anyone calls you just say you are not the decision maker (ie: you are tenants) so you are not in a position to make any decisions. You will be closed down on the database as not eligible and as we all share data off the whole circuit in 3 months. its an insiders trick of the trade- i guarantee you that no telemarketers get calls at home!

  • I realize Telemarketers are just trying to make a living. However, what you do for a living is disruptive and intrusive. While Telemarketers are working, people are at home enjoying the privacy and peace of their own homes, only to get a call (well, several sometimes in a day by different telemarketers). People are people, and most cannot ignore it, so they answer, or check the caller ID. But that interrupts people when they are eating, sleeping, using the toilet, having sex, etc. Telemarketers don’t know what it’s like because they are not at home getting these calls.

    Also, I am offended that the phone service I pay for is abused in this manner. I did not get a phone for telemarketers, I got it for MY USE.
    Telemarketers are stealing when they use my phone for profit. Or a paycheck.

    After getting on the donotcall list the second time, and spending money to block those exempt from the list, or those that ignore the list, I finally have peace. Not 1 telemarketing call for over a week. But I put up with constant calls daily for over a decade, and I despise telemarketers for that reason. They are relentless.

    If you are a good person, please get out of telemarketing and get a job that does not intrude on people’s homes, privacy, and peace. Or continue to be hated. Thank you.

  • The quickest way to get rid of a telemarketer:
    As soon as you realize who is calling, yell “OHH MY GOD!!!!” and hang up.
    If you want, you dont have to hang up, just listen to them without talking and wait for them to hang up.

  • My husband was in solitary confinement for about 8 years & he’s the most nuts/aggro/sweetheart guy I ever met. but he can cut u verbally like a scalpel. I had 2 laugh @ some of your remarks, but being Christian myself, I suppose sharing the Gospel is probably the very best response. I just usually hang up though. my hubby is much more creative.

  • I feel sorry for the poor telemarketers that have to go to work every day and persuade people to buy absolute nothing in particular, but then again, they know what they are doing and should find another j ob. when they pick up and ask for me, i act very interested, saying “yes” and “oooh, i’d love that!” and then when they are finished all of there miniscule details, i say “im sorry, lost connection there, can u repeat that?”

  • also, i always listen on and on and on and on, not saying a word, until they can say no more and say “so how does that sound?” and i go:
    “bonjour?” or “hola?” then you hear a “CLICK”

  • normally i just tell them i’m not interested, but for the stubborn ones, i mess with them really bad

    like for the free trip questions, i ask them if the booze is free. sometimes they say yes. then i ask them if the cocaine is free. i get a “uhhhhhhhhhhh what?”

    normally, i just ask if i can have their number and call them back. they try to give me a 1-800. i say “no, your house number. you see, i work nights, so i usually get home around 3 am, can i give you a ring back on your cell, and we can talk about it then?”
    CLICK.

    worst comes to worse, i tell them i worship the devil, who has personally advised me to not associate with anyone who does not do the same. CLICK.

    other times i tell them i’m amish. they don’t get that amish ppl don’t use phones!

  • I have done most of what everyone else has here, the funnest was telling one guy that I would buy his drugs if he gave me his home phone number. He had a number of arguements why he could not give it to me but I easily countered each one. In frustration he finally said “I think you are full of c**p!” I said, “Now THAT would be too much of a coincidence!”

    But, growing weary of the incessant calls to refill my non-existant prescriptions, I came up with another solution. I connected a fax machine to the line. If the caller ID shows the call coming from one of my favorite pharmacies, they get to listen to fax music. What is amazing is the same people still call my fax almost daily.

  • I am also a telemarketer, so here’s a tip to get rid of them; tell them to put you on their do not call list. This is different than any other call list, this is their specific call list so that specific company does not call you back. Don’t worry guys- I’m quitting my job.

  • When I get that highly anticipated phone call from some guy with a New Delhi accent named “Lance”, I’ll let them get a few lines in then I just start blurting out phrases in Spanish… “Como estas? Buenos tardes! Como se llama?” You know, stuff like that. A couple phrases in, and the guy pauses. “Do you speak Spanish?” To which I’ll rely, “Si!” “Do you speak English?” “Si.” You can keep these morons occupied for two or three minutes, just interrupting them with some first semester Spanish. One time “Lance” stated, “I will get you someone who speaks Spanish.” So I continued this silliness with her, she immediately sized up what was going on and hung up… on me!

  • See i am creative when it comes to telemarketers ill jsut randomly start talking about a tv show or ask them how there day went and if that dont work i just turn on the radio (really bad music that no one likes) then leave the phone there till the song is done and they normaly hang up by the time its done.

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  • In a 2 week time span I received a call DAILY about some hydro deal…Every time I would tell them to take me off their list…Finally I decided enough was enough. I politely told the broad that couldn’t even speak English that I was going to leave my phone off the hook for the rest of day and tie up HER line!!! AND I DID IT!!! Hopefully I’m off their list now…(lost time is lost business for them)

  • I had a guy that called every day for about a month, what seemed to work for me was telling they guy that i was on the do not call list and asking him not to call again. But i did have some fun with him, once i answered the phone posing as a 7-11 clerk and asking him if he wanted a slurpie he got really mad and i just hung up on him.

  • This industry needs to go the way of the dinosaurs. It is fraught with fakers, criminals, ID thieves, and personally I don’t see that it serves an purpose for the good of humanity. Those people in the industry need to get another job. Preferably an honest one. I want you to hang up. If you get a prerecorded message that has a fake business name and no call back phone number, it is a dishonest business. If you have caller ID, file a complaints with the FCC, the FTC and your state attorney general. Now, I want to propose a law about the setting up of boiler rooms, where these obnoxious phone calls originate. I wrote my local congressperson that legislation should be drawn up so that companies that set up boiler rooms either with phone lines or equipment must have several items from the entity that wants a boiler room:
    1, the entity must have an IRS tax nubmer 2. the entity must be a licensed business in the state that the boiler room is set up physically, 3. the entity must sign an agreement with the supplier not to violate FCC regulations and that the purpose of the business is not fraud or ID theft and 4. the entity must put up a hefty bond for say at least a million that will be forfeit if it violates the written agreement. If you think this is a good idea, please pass it on to your congressperson. The reason that I came up with this idea is that I contacted one of those suppliers and they told me that they take no responsibility if their equipment is used for criminal purposes and that tells me that these suppliers are also unethical. They told me to go get a subpoena. I also talked to the state attorney general’s office and they said only legislation could change things. So let’s change things. Let’s make it harder for the bad guys. Pass on the word and remember to hang up Don’t mess with folks. If they are criminals they could be dangerous. AND or heaven’s sake don’t let them have your address. You don’t want want them in your house. HANG UP!

  • Yea as my name says i am an ex telemarketer… i sold xm radio subscriptions for people coming off there trial period now the best thing for you to say to THEM is put me on your dnc (do not call) list they HAVE to read you a dnc closure then you can hang up… sometimes it takes about 30days for them to stop… don’t ask why i think it’s kinda retarded but yea so be it…. but i still LOVE to mess with telemarketers like for instance have a room mate pic up another phone in the house so he or she is on the line then contradict person A with person B it all gets really confussing and they get really mad… person A has to act like they don’t know what is going on or who that person is… just have person A get mad at the telemarketer and accuse HIM of being the person on the other line… just tell them that the person B’s voice sounds like them regardless of gender or race… it’s really funny…. either that or you can always add … your accent isn’t fooling me i know your from zimbabwea or how ever you spell that haha there are alot of fun things…. me? i would LOVE to get calls everyday from telemarketers but unfortunatly it only happens everyonce in a while

  • I work as a Receptionist in an office, and I get the same telemarketing call about three times a month (something about “yellow pages online…scam, turns out). These people wanted to know my name, month/date of birth, job title, and age. The first time I spoke to them, I actually gave them that info…yep, like a moron! And stayed on the line with them for 20 minutes for who-knows-what. Eventually, once they put me on hold (and being confused and young, I held) I hung up on them, and they called right back and asked, “[my name], what happened there??” OMG.
    Anyway, now I hang up immediately once I recognize who it is. I can’t screw with telemarketers while at work, unfortunately. But I discover that if they find out you’re underage, they don’t want to deal with you. So maybe that’s worth a try to keep them away.

  • There are several good pranks at RUFKM that had me rolling on the floor on how to get rid of telemarketers. My favorite was the “Do you like cheese?”

  • (evil grin) The best and easiest way to get rid of them, I found out from working at a call center, is to pretend you are with a pizza company. Or fast food chain. Just pick up the phone and in your happiest voice say: “Thank you for calling ____! This is (insert random name, not yours), how can I help you?”

    This confuses the FK out of them everytime. I usually get a hang up, a confused telemarketer, or an apology when I answer the phone that way. This will work also for any businesses out there- because it’ll make the operator believe the number is no good anymore and will purge it out of their system.

  • Simply ask them to “Please Hold” and put the phone down for 5 minutes or so then hang up… Your telemarketer calls will quickly diminish…

  • I’ve been dying to do this- answer the phone and when they start talking sing the chorus of “You’re not Sorry” by Taylor Swift… “You don’t have to call anymore, I won’t pick up the phone. This is the last straw, don’t want to hurt anyone. And you can tell me that you’re sorry but I won’t believe you baby like i did, before…”

    I’m also going to try to sell them insurance

    Another fun one- Yo, Ima let you finish in a minuet, but the insurance company who called me last night had one of the best salsman of all time. The best salsperson of all time..

  • Always, ALWAYS, when they ask to speak to (you or whoever) just say ‘Sure, hold on,’ and put the phone down. Use THEIR time. About halfway through, when they are about to hang up, pick up the phone, say hello and they will say ‘Is this (whoever) and you say ‘Oh hold on’ and put the phone down again. USE THEIR TIME!

  • Tell them you are on a budget and cancelled all the credit cards and are having a hard time paying bills, and ask for a donation. they will hang up the phone so fast!!!

  • I am registered on the do not call list but still received calls…for 5 days straight Synergy Corp called @ least 5x’s a day.

    On Saturday, I answered putting on my most distressed voice , and told the telemarketer (speaking in the third person that I had passed away). Guess what no more calls only an apology….

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