"No, thank you... No, I'm not really interested... No, I don't think I need it... No, I'd rather not receive it... No, I don't want it... No. I don't want it."
"Okay then, I'll call back at a more convenient time."
Huh? I think I said no. In fact, I think I said, "No." Several times. What's not to understand?
When I was a kid, people didn't own their own telephones. They used big, heavy black phones provided by the phone company. (They also had dials, and prefixes with pretty names, but that's beside the point.) There was some satisfaction in slamming the receiver into its cradle. This was mostly a personal matter, as today's pesky telemarketers hadn't been born yet. Still, bang! Conversation over.
It's not as fulfilling to take the phone away from my ear and push the little "off" button. It has the same effect at the other end, but the physical act of hanging up on someone has changed. It's changed so much that I don't do it. I've never hung up on a telemarketer. I've gotten loud and shrill and whiny with them, but only after several versions of "no" haven't got the message across.
Ninety percent of the time, I know after the first sentence what they're trying to get me to agree to, even if it's a misdirection like, "We want to show you how much we appreciate you as a customer." Yeah, by doing me the big favor of taking more of my money for something I don't want or need. Thanks a heap.
"We'd like to thank you for your past support." That was then, baby.
These days I often don't even know what I'm rejecting. Last night it was some sort of credit card protection ("keep in mind that this isn't the same insurance you turned down last time") and tonight it was free CDs ("keep in mind that you'd probably be buying these CDs anyway"). No, no, and no thanks just the same.
It might not be true, but I like to think that the more times I tell them no, the more likely they are to believe it. Maybe next time I won't have to say it as many times. Maybe some day they'll stop calling me altogether. At the very least, it gets me into a good habit. The more times I tell them no, the easier it is to do it.