I get a call almost daily from ‘Microsoft’ (i.e. not Microsoft) and/or its ‘Windows technical department’, from a very Indian-sounding person with a very not-Indian sounding name. These calls annoy me, because it’s a well-known scam, and one that does sadly sometimes work with people who don’t realise they’re being scammed.

Generally speaking, I just hang up. Occasionally, I rudely brush them off. But I’ve had people say these callers are just doing their job. They’re making a living. So with today’s call, I tried a different tactic: I thought I’d reason with the person. I just wish I had a recording of it, because it was astonishing.

The call started off in the usual way, with someone trying to convince me about a problem with my ‘Windows PC’. When I asked for clarification (given that I don’t actually have a Windows PC running—not that I revealed this), I was told various vaguely technical things about my computer apparently sending messages to their server and having malicious software installed.

I figured I’d try to reason with this person, and asked which company they were calling from. I then asked if they were using a randomised auto-dialling system or actually have a specific list of numbers to call. Because the caller was getting increasingly frustrated, the mask slipped—and how. First, he called me stupid. He then added, for good measure, that I was “talking too much”. I suggested that if he was wanting someone’s business, insulting them probably wasn’t a good way to go about it. Oddly, he still tried selling, but I continued to push, very politely, about the list the company is using and why it was calling.

I was then informed that I was “mental”, and a “mental patient” and that I should go and kill myself. The method was to “go to your nearest train station and jump in front of a moving train”. Classy.

Frankly, I was never under the impression these scammers were good people, but even if you find yourself in a frustrating position and doing a horrible job, inviting someone to kill themselves when you don’t get your way is going a bit beyond the pale.