Maintaining respect with telemarketing

September 28, 2011

I think the role of telemarketers in today’s world is not to relieve us of our money. I think their role is to test our patience and other virtues, such as kindness and compassion. Let’s be fair, most telemarketers are just trying to make money to support their families. They certainly aren’t the ones making the big bucks. They work for those that do. I can imagine that the telemarketers’ wages are barely above minimum wage. I doubt very much if they have opportunities for training or advancement. How can you advance when you are a telemarketer, except to have a different nameplate in your cubicle?

Maybe we resent their role in society so much because they reflect some place where we don’t want to be.  A situation we could realistically be in if we lost the jobs we currently have. The fear of having to do “that type of job” to support our own families translates into intolerance towards the person on the other end of the phone.

My daughter was desperately looking for work and had applied for a telemarketing position. She got the call back and was so excited as it was one of the first call backs she had received. She explained that she lived three hours north of the city, soon to be moving into the city, and asked if she could conduct the interview by phone. After all, this was for a telemarketer position and having a pleasant phone manner was one of the criteria. Unfortunately, they denied that possibility to her. Under any other circumstances, I would have leapt at the chance to drive my daughter to a job interview, regardless of the distance or time. But I put my foot down with this one. I told her quite simply that she “didn’t want that type of job” and to continue looking. I had to support her for a few more months before she was able to obtain another job interview and, what I considered, a “more appropriate” job.

The telemarketers that irritate me the most are those that are trying to sell me the product or service I already have. This is not the fault of the telemarketer. It is the fault of the method used. The phone list that is freely available to anyone does not distinguish those that are already customers of the company being promoted. This fault lies in the company itself. It costs less for them to have their telemarketers call every number, and irritate their current customers, than it does to pay for someone to screen the phone numbers to ensure a current customer is not being called.

I was impressed with one recent telemarketer who, after introducing herself, asked the very important question, “What provider do you use for your internet?” After finding out it was the very provider whose services she was trying to promote, she went on clarify who provided my phone and cable services. When she found out they were all provided by the same company, the one she was promoting, she apologized for taking my time and hung up the phone. She even sounded a bit embarrassed, even though this was no fault of the telemarketer. I would be embarrassed too, if I phoned a current customer trying to give them a great deal on a service I was selling.

What is worse is that the deal she was trying to sell me is even better than the deal I currently have. I have seen the flyers so I know what deal that company is promoting now. It does not impress me that what I have is substandard to what they are now offering. If I had chosen another company when I had needed the service, I would have been better off as I could take advantage of the new promotion. Companies that promote good deals in order to attract new customers would do well to ensure their current customers already have the best deal possible. Otherwise, they will likely lose their customers to the next telemarketer offering a similar service. After all, why should I be loyal to a company that gives a better deal to someone else?

And this brings me back to the telemarketers. They are not the company itself. They are only doing their job, which is to sell a product or service. They actually don’t represent any one company. I would presume that one telemarketer could actually sell a variety of different products for a variety of different companies.

The fault lies within the company who has hired the telemarketers. The fault lies within the company that sells the phone lists to others. The fault lies within the company that allows phone numbers to be publicly displayed the instant the phone service is working, before we even have the chance to phone the “Do Not Call” registry to ensure our phone number is not on any list available to telemarketers. Let’s keep the blame where it should be, rather than directing our anger at the person who has no control over the company’s values.

In order to register your phone number with the “Do Not Call” registry in Canada, go to: You can register as many phone numbers as you want. Phone numbers are placed in the registry for five years, after which time you need to re-register if you wish to remain on the list. The following advice is displayed after registering your number:

“Do not expect calls to stop immediately. Telemarketers have up to 31 days to update their lists and to make sure they do not call you. You could still receive calls within those first 31 days.

Registering on the National Do Not Call List (DNCL) will not eliminate all telemarketing calls. There are exemptions within the Rules that may allow calls from organizations such as charities, those with whom you have existing business relationships, political parties and newspapers.

You can further reduce unwanted telemarketing calls by asking these organizations to place your number(s) on their own do not call list.”

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