Stardate: April 1st 2005

[UPDDATE 7th April] I have captured a few stills from the video. They are included below. Meanwhile, must improve my "getting video from camera to PC" skills, there is a big section of black where the payoff happens. Will do it again this weekend.

[UPDATE 6th April 1:19PM] Just had a call from someone at Queensland Communications, which is where Tech Guy and Boss Man are from. He was trying to get to the bottom of what happened. It seems they can't understand why people object to their marketing techniques.

He wanted to know why I couldn't have just said "no" when they called and I (once again) explained that that they wasted my time so I wasted theirs. "But it would have only been seconds of your time and you wasted 30 minutes of Tech Guy's" (damn, I had hoped he came down from Brisbane). I pointed out that that would be the easy thing to do,but since I am a comedian this was funnier. I made it quite clear that I am not apologetic and they should change their marketing tactics if they dont like it.

Apparently he has showed everyone in the office this website and they all thought it was lame. Clearly that is only because they were the butt of the joke, every email I have had has thought it was hilarious.

good prank - Andrew
very very cool Steve! thanks for the giggle! - Carly
Oh.. I loved it!!! Revenge is so sweet!! - Kate
Well done Steveo, Shit on their heads - Juilen
Made me laugh … you have SERIOUSLY too much time on your hands. - Di
You have made my day. Absolutely brilliant! - Steve
Fantastic work, - Nick
Thanks Steve for todays laugh - Anne
Great stuff Steve ... - Jill
Great story, great strategy, there should be more of it. - Victoria

As I say on the bottom of my emails: People without a sense of humour are at the mercy of the rest of us.

[UPDATE 6th April 10:30AM] Just received a phone call "Hi, This is Boss Man, I just got your residential address from High Finance, we'll be seeing you soon". Apart from confusing the characters, I thought it a strange thing to do since I have the mobile numbers of both High Finance and Tech Guy in my "received calls" and know that Tech Guy works for Queensland Communications. But at least it means the cold callers are telling people about it.The Plan went off - thanks to Nick, Chris and Anthony for coming along...I think they had a ball.

The Plan had been in place since early November: Get a whole bunch of people to the same place at the same time to waste their time as pay back for cold-calling me.

The set up was that whenever I received a call to sell me something I would make an appointment for 11:30AM on the Friday after Easter the delay being because “I am going overseas for a couple of months”.

It just so happens that this year the Friday after Easter is April 1st, but only one person picked up that it was April Fool’s day.

I arrived very early and discovered that the venue wasn't the building I had pictured when I gave out the address. No matter, it still fitted the plan.

     The place for The Plan

I stuck a sign "11:30AM Appointments wait here" to the wall at the top of the stairs (red circle) and placed an envelope containing the "Certificate of Participation" behind the screen door - behind the roof to the left a bit.

Then we retired to the park over the road and plotted. Tech guy called to confirm the address - this was encouraging. But I figured he might call me while we are there and a ringing phone would be a give-away. I swapped phones with Anthony and gave him instructions to call me on his phone at 11:35.

Just before 11:30 someone wanders up the stairs and looks around a bit, I decide it is time to make my move and head over. I was wearing a suit and had a folder to look like I was there for an appointment too.

It was the Painter who had spammed me yesterday. How cool to be able to actually contact a spammer, I had called him and asked him to come and give a quote on painting my office block. At least he was reliable.

We had a bit of a chat after I clarified that I was there for a meeting as well and didn't own the building.

chatting to Painteron April Fools Day 2005

Then I spotted Tech Guy in his computer t-shirt with his computer bag and his computer.

Tech Guy arrives for April Fools Day 2005 gag

As he started up the stairs I said to Painter "this must be him" and when he reached the top, to Tech Guy "you must be Steve".

We had a bit of a chat after I clarified that I was there for a meeting and we all settled back to wait.

Waiting for April Fools Day 2005 payoff

Then the phone in my pocket rang:

Me: (making up a name quickly) Mark Hutchings, Oz Technologies.

Anthony: Steve it's Anthony, calling like you asked

Me: yes, I am here waiting for you, it's 11:30, are you nearby?

Anthony: haha what's happening?

Me: yes, I can see the envelope...sure...uh huh...OK, bye.

and hung up.

Me: That was him, he told me to look in the envelope behind the screen

I opened the envelope, pretended to read the certificate, chuckled and said "I think we've been had" and handed a certificate each to Painter and Tech Guy.

Painter was bewildered, he didn't seem to have any idea what had just happened. Tech Guy was not happy. I laughed it off as we walked down the stairs saying "ah well, I must tell marketing not to make cold calls, I didn't have anything else to do anyway" waving my arms and playing to the video camera.

Painter was still scratching his head walking to his car as the team met up laughed and then wandered to the local watering hole for a beer and more laughs.

It would have been fun to that point, but not really spectacular. Spectacular came as we were walking to the pub and my phone rang, it was Tech Guy.

This is the best I can do from memory:

Me: Steve here.

Tech Guy: What was that all about?

Me: Well, you guys cold called me and wasted my time, I just wasted your time.

TG: You could have just said "no".

Me: I could have, but I am a comedian and this was much more fun.

TG: I suppose you were hiding behind a tree, playing with your little dick, laughing.

Me: Actually, no. That was me who was up there with you.

TG: (silence) what?

Me: You know the guy who received the call and handed out the certificates? Sucked in, it was me, I don't hide.

TG: Well we make millions of dollars a year..(.rant rant rant to let me know I hadn't really won, which I had) .

This was good. he was pissed off. We settled for a beer or two, the phone rang again. I was expecting Tech Guy, but much to my surprise, it was High Finance.

He had totally screwed up and gone to my house instead of confirming with me and coming to "the office". I fobbed him off with "we'll talk next week and set it up again" but he wasn't easy to get rid of, so I did the fake static noise thingy and hung up on him.

By now we are laughing, watching the video, drinking beer. The phone rings:

Me: Steve here

Boss Man: I just wanted to check that my fellow showed up for his appointment

Me: Yeah, sure mate. Come on, you know exactly what happened

BM: No I don't, what are you talking about

Me: Crap, your bloke has called you and told you what happened

BM: No he didn't

I could just tell that he knew exactly what had happened. Since when does someone call to find out if their rep has shown up for an appointment?

Me: (audible sigh) OK, nice try, but I will go through it again. It was an April Fools Day gag because you had cold called me and as revenge I wasted your guy's time.

I am not sure if he was serious or trying to out April Fool me with this next exchange...

BM: We didn't cold call you, we only call selected numbers

Me: I am not a customer of yours, so where did you select my number from?

BM: a list we have

Me: and where did the list come from?

BM: a database on our computer

Me: and where did you get the database

BM: (I assume he kept a straight face) We bought it

Me: My point exactly, you cold called me

BM: I suppose you think your stunt was funny

Me: Hang on, I'll check with the others...was it funny?

Nick, Chris, Anthony: (loudly, lots of laughter) YEAH!

Me: We are sitting laughing and looking at the video, believe me it's funny.

BM: Do you have a release signed to use him in the video?

Me: I only need a release if I publish it

BM:(something inaudible - I hope it was 'you'll hear from our lawyers') beep beep beep

OK, now let's enjoy that beer. The phone rings. It is High Finance again, though I don't realise it at first, expecting it to be Tech Guy or Boss Man.

Me: Steve here

High Finance: We got cut off

Me: No you hung up on me

HF: No, there was static and we were disconnected

Me: (twigs who it is) oh yeah. Look mate, I have to come clean. You fucked up and went to my house instead of my mythical office. You missed a great morning. It was an April Fools Day gag, you and others who cold called me all had an appointment at the same place at the same time. You wasted my time...etc etc etc

Him: Thanks a lot - beep beep beep

There is a video, but it is pretty shaky because it was shot from the park over the road. I will have look at it over the weekend and see if I can get a couple of minutes - blurring Tech Guy's face of course since I don't have a release.

Thanks to Nick, Chris and Anthony for coming along and playing. Thanks to all of you who have been keeping track. Planning this has been half the fun.

Thanks to Painter and High Finance for being part of it. Thanks especially to Tech Guy and Boss Man, it was your follow up calls that made the day.

Keep an eye on this place - the plan is for recorded fun with telemarketers and to post them here.