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October 20, 2002
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"Through your vision, creativity and dedication, you'll be able to reach for the stars and help your customers reach for the stars," she encouraged them. "You are at the forefront of a revolution in understanding the way people use their imagination and creativity to interact with information and interact with each other."

Source of this quote:
(a) CEO Carly Fiorina giving a pep talk to HP employees.
(b) Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao addressing striking west coast dockworkers.
(c) Former gubernatorial candidate Janet Reno speaking to Florida election workers.
(d) Hillary Clinton channelling Mother Teresa at a bible sales meeting.
(e) Astronaut Sally Ride providing encouragement to a convention of telemarketers.
(via Washington Post)
posted by Wet Spot (57 comments total)

 

After her hour-long speech, as she headed out of the hotel, a reporter asks Ride what she thought of the telemarketers.

"Their image is something that needs to be tended to," she says diplomatically.

So they drive her nuts, too?

Naw, she says: "I have a blocked phone."
posted by Wet Spot at 10:16 AM on October 20, 2002


After reading this and seeing those idiotic Office Depot commercials, I kind of wonder if Sally has run up a large gambling debt.

You'd think she would at least be endorsing some kind of sugar water.
posted by 2sheets at 10:29 AM on October 20, 2002


"You'll be able to reach for the stars ..." Actually, if there's one group of people I wouldn't mind seeing shot into space, it's telemarketers.'
posted by carter at 10:36 AM on October 20, 2002


And this is a suprise? Celebrities will do anything as long as the money is right.

Even Bob and Jakob Dylan will play to a room full of silicon valley execs if you can match their price.
posted by PenDevil at 10:53 AM on October 20, 2002


I don't know why I find this so depressing, but I do. Astronauts used to be magical figures, heroes, but nowadays they're just as banal as anything else in our corporate pseudo-culture.
posted by RylandDotNet at 10:58 AM on October 20, 2002


In our world, almost everyone will perform if the money is right. However, the majority of us have a much lower selling price than most "celebrities."
posted by ?! at 10:59 AM on October 20, 2002


i make telemarketers cry. but only for a fee.
posted by quonsar at 11:11 AM on October 20, 2002


Ok. I've had enough of this metafilter astronaut bashing. Property values may go down when an astronaut moves into a neighborhood, but still, they're decent people.
posted by foot at 11:21 AM on October 20, 2002


another candidate for (corporate) pseuds corner?
posted by asok at 12:07 PM on October 20, 2002


I used to work as a telemarketer. Well, not as a telemarketer per se, but I used to call people and ask them annoying questions. I guess I'm the scum of the earth.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 12:09 PM on October 20, 2002


i make telemarketers cry. but only for a fee.

No telemarketer wants to be a telemarketer. Sure, there are students working to go through school, but in my experience it's been a bunch of mothers trying to get their children fed. Telemarketing is where people go when McDonald's won't hire.

Telemarketers don't like calling you. It is their job to be rejected upwards of 500 times a day. They're not evil, they're only trying to get by. Please give them a break. Just politely say no.
posted by Homeskillet Freshy Fresh at 12:15 PM on October 20, 2002


Homeskillet Freshy Fresh: Yeah! And please don't try to be Seinfeld. The episode where he shuts up a telemarketer by asking him for his phone number was broadcasted (in Sweden) while I was working. But I got back at all those wannabes by happily providing the information they requested.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 12:20 PM on October 20, 2002


Telemarketers don't like calling you. It is their job to be rejected upwards of 500 times a day. They're not evil, they're only trying to get by. Please give them a break. Just politely say no.


Plantation owners don't like whipping you. It is their job to be slavemasters and get the cotton to market. They're not evil, they're only trying to get by. Please give them a break. Just politely say no.


Burglars don't like breaking in your house. It is their job to be parasites on society. They're not evil, they're only trying to get by. Please give them a break. Just politely say no.

Take a look at some of the justifications quoted by the telemarketer Searcy in the article:


What about complaints that telemarketers invade people's privacy, calling at bad times in the evenings and on weekends?

Searcy says that argument is overblown. "I don't see it as an invasion of privacy," he says. "The line of privacy is not as bright or clear as people think. I find it offensive when I see billboards that offend me or when I hear an ad on a radio station that offends me. We're at a point now that when you watch the Disney Channel, they've got commercials! And you're paying to watch it! I find that to be intrusive."

People don't have to look at billboards and they can change the station on their radios, he says. "People have remedies to stop these phone calls, too," he says, referring to the DMA's telephone preference list and do-not-call lists in some states.

"People's ideas of what's intrusive changes all the time," he adds. "Someone calls you with something you don't want? Well, how do you know you don't want it unless they offer it to you?"

But what about dinnertime calls that are the defining moment of the tempest in telemarketing?

Searcy says some people eat dinner at 5 p.m., others at 8. "How do you know when it's dinnertime?"


Give them a break? How about, breaking both their legs
posted by Wet Spot at 12:30 PM on October 20, 2002


Wet Spot. Maybe you should go back and read Homeskillet Freshy Fresh's comment again. He's not talking about the owners, the businesses who pay telemarketing companies for this service, or the "highly regarded Indianapolis-based consultants" in the Telemarketing field.

He's talking about the divorced single-mother of 3 making $20k/year putting up with people screaming at her on the phone. People who would rather be doing anything other then that, but do it to put food on the table and clothes on the kids.

People work crap jobs because they need to, don't take it out on them, take it out on the people who setup those sorts of businesses. In case nobody has learned by now, being rude to the people calling you doesn't accomplish anything.

Just do what I do. Just hang up. Accomplishes the same thing, and doesn't make you as angry as yelling, and doesn't crap on someone who is doing what the have to.
posted by dirt at 12:51 PM on October 20, 2002


Give them a break? How about, breaking both their legs

How about crawling back underneath your bridge?
posted by Hildago at 12:51 PM on October 20, 2002


Just do what I do. Just hang up. Accomplishes the same thing, and doesn't make you as angry as yelling, and doesn't crap on someone who is doing what the have to.

Best thing to do, actually (speaking as a former telemarketer) is to cut off their salespitch by politely saying, "Thank you, but I'm not interested. Please put me on your do-not-call list". If you just hang up it gets logged as a technical error, and they'll just call you again later.
posted by Hildago at 12:53 PM on October 20, 2002


Telemarketing -- specifically cold-calling -- is unquestionably invasive, yes. Anybody who says otherwise is deluding themselves.

But Homeskillet and s.o.suburbia are right: this is not a cabal of evil, wrong people. Telemarketers, in general, are a very diverse and largely rock-and-hard-place folks who need a job and got that one.

Right now, I'm sitting on a B.S. in Computer Science and working for a market research firm. I don't even try to sell shit, I just conduct surveys (of debatable merit) for humongous tech-industry clients (Microsoft, AMD, BEA, Toshiba, etc). I have not met a single person at my workplace who considered market research an occupational goal. Most people are, like me, needing a job to fill in for the job they're looking for but can't find right now.

I empathize strongly with people who don't want to get called. I don't jerk people around, I bend the company policies a bit by taking people off the call list even if they haven't given me the chance to be refused politely -- this is the sort of judgement call that gets made by a lot of folks at the job because we're just decent human beings.

I don't like says. I don't like hard-sell bullshit. I get off the phone with telemarketers promptly and with very little ceremony. I don't, however, treat people like shit just because they're doing a job that involves a phone and a lack of interest on my part. Do they need to have that much shittier of a day just because I've bought into the public scapegoating perception that telephone folks are worthless? Shit no. Being a shithead to a cold-caller isn't okay, unless they -- the specific caller, the human being to whom you are actually speaking -- are nasty first.

Just please, please try to consider that.
posted by cortex at 1:00 PM on October 20, 2002


Also, what Dirt and Hildago said.
posted by cortex at 1:00 PM on October 20, 2002


Back when I was living in a college dorm, our numbers would be given away to telemarketers (Or maybe, they just figured it out being 347-1000, 347-1001, etc.). On average, we would get about 3 telemarketers a day, and that's only when we were around to answer the phone!

Some things I did for the kicks:

- After awhile, I learned the sales pitch for the credit card marketers, and enjoyed pitching them word for word as soon as they said, "Is Stanley Chin there?" (Dead telemarketer giveaway)

- "Hold on one second, I have to finish something." Then put the phone up to the PC Speaker, and put on "Virtual Jenna Jameson" or some other random porn.

- "Hold on one second." Put the phone down while he's still on the line, and go to class. One time I came back an hour later and he was still on, so I was impressed and let him pitch me before hanging up.
posted by Stan Chin at 1:01 PM on October 20, 2002


Stan, what we have here is an unnatural violation of wholesome porn.
posted by stbalbach at 1:16 PM on October 20, 2002


I too have once done the telemarketer thang. It wasn't a plum job by any stretch of the imagination. You don't do it because you enjoy it that's for sure. I respected those folks who politely told me at the start that "they were not interested".

However my Grandmother was once being harassed by a telemarketing company and she found a unique way to deal with it. No matter what they said she would respond "I have new shoes.....I have new RED shoes." It was quite funny see how many times she would have to repeat that line before the caller gave up. Of course they thought she was nuts...but it did provide us some great laughs together.
posted by SweetIceT at 1:35 PM on October 20, 2002


I used to work as a telemarketer. Well, not as a telemarketer per se, but I used to call people and ask them annoying questions. I guess I'm the scum of the earth.

I worked as a telemarketer for a summer in college, and I usually tell telemarketers who call me that I did, & I know how much the job sucks, but that there's no way I'm gonna buy anything, & good luck finding another job. This sometimes elicits very friendly, open responses. Other times not.

But when I worked as a telemarketer, I absolutely never blamed the people hanging up on me for hanging up on me - in fact I was generally depressed by how much I could sell in a day, that so many people were so stupid as to buy death and dismemberment insurance, or overpriced children's toys, or whatever it was we were selling that week, over the phone from a company they knew nothing about, on the pitch of some 18 year old kid in NYC reading from a script.
posted by mdn at 1:42 PM on October 20, 2002


Can't say I blame her too much. These gigs pay very, very well. I worked for an event planning (doing IT), but I did get a good feel for the business by talking to the employees. People you and I would consider washed-up or c-list celebrities can easily pull 10k to 50k by giving a speech or performance at some trade conference. A few of these a year and there's no need to do any "real" work.
posted by skallas at 1:53 PM on October 20, 2002


because I've bought into the public scapegoating perception that telephone folks are worthless?

i thought people hated them because telemarketers are annoying, not worthless.

who's scapegoating? no one blames anything on telemarketers except for the annoyance of being solicited, often repeatedly, at home, something telemarketers do. they are not made to bear the blame for others. therefore, it's not scapegoating.

telemarketers are pop-up ads.
posted by tolkhan at 2:15 PM on October 20, 2002


He's talking about the divorced single-mother of 3 making $20k/year putting up with people screaming at her on the phone. People who would rather be doing anything other then that, but do it to put food on the table and clothes on the kids.
There's no excuse for spam. Politeness comes before making a living.
posted by holloway at 2:17 PM on October 20, 2002


There's no excuse for spam. Politeness comes before making a living.

Oh man, are ivory towers as nice as they say? I'd love to live in one.

Christ, folks, how hard is this to figure out? Do you honestly think telemarketers say to themselves, "Gosh, that person was really mean. Maybe I should stop this insane business of calling people, because they obviously don't like it"?

The only thing being mean to them accomplishes is to make a person (who didn't want to call you anyway) feel bad, and to make yourself angry. It won't make the telemarketing industry go away. The only way to make them stop calling is to make it unprofitable for them to call you. The way to make it unprofitable is not to buy anything, and ask to be put on their "do not call" list if there's one available in your state.
posted by RylandDotNet at 3:38 PM on October 20, 2002


I should add that since I started doing that (asking to be put on the "don't call" list), I get maybe one call a month, if that. It seriously works. All you have to do is interrupt them, politely but firmly (sometimes very firmly, if they're persistent) and tell them you don't want it, whatever it is, and tell them to put your name on the list. 99 times out of 100 time I do that, they've said, "OK, thank you" and hung up. The 1 time out of 100 that they didn't, I hung up. Easy. No muss.
posted by RylandDotNet at 3:46 PM on October 20, 2002


Telemarketers have mothers too but I thought this was pretty cute.
posted by furiousthought at 3:53 PM on October 20, 2002


Oh, right. Not pestering people for a living means I have high standards.

Good grief.

The telemarketers job is not socially acceptable to anyone here. Like all spam, it shouldn't be opt out.

furiousthought: I have mine printed out and I'll put it beside the phone tonight. Bliss.
posted by holloway at 4:21 PM on October 20, 2002


More to the root of my dislike is that they're not pleasant people. They're pushy. All of them. They don't immediately ask "do you want to buy some scones?" because it wouldn't work. A pleasant person would ask immediately ask if I had time to complete a survey rather than going into a minute-long introduction speech before letting me get a word in. That's just rude.
posted by holloway at 4:31 PM on October 20, 2002


The telemarketers job is not socially acceptable to anyone here

Nobody's arguing with that. Given an option of receiving a solicitation or not, the choice is obvious.

The profession of telemarketing is deserving of spite. Not the telemarketer. If you really want to get mad at someone, get mad at the group who sold your phone number. Get mad at the company making the phone calls, and the business they represent. Get mad at the supervisors, who get paid based on not how many sales are made but on how many phone calls connect.
posted by Homeskillet Freshy Fresh at 4:36 PM on October 20, 2002


There is a very simple, albeit not free, way to virtually eliminate telemarketing calls (at least in areas served by Verizon). They offer Call Intercept for $5.00/month. Best investment I've made all year!

Disclaimer: Just a very satisfied customer, not an employee of Verizon...
posted by garypratt at 4:38 PM on October 20, 2002


The profession of telemarketing is deserving of spite. Not the telemarketer.
I guess that's where we disagree. I don't consider just doing your job an adequate excuse. I think that sort of distinction isolates the managers behind too many layers. Some of you are making the factless generalisation that employees are desperate and couldn't go elsewhere. I'm making the factless generalisation that they could.
posted by holloway at 5:05 PM on October 20, 2002


Call Intercept for $5 per month vs. unpublished number for about one ninth that. Hmmm, hmmm, which to choose...

Get the unpublished number. If necessary, change your phone number first. I get one telemarketing call per week, if that.
posted by kindall at 5:07 PM on October 20, 2002


The telemarketers job is not socially acceptable to anyone here.

Speak for yourself, please. I've spoken to telemarketers conducting surveys before who were very coridal and respectful whether I wanted to complete their survey or not.

Maybe it's a Canadian thing.

Some of you are making the factless generalisation that employees are desperate and couldn't go elsewhere. I'm making the factless generalisation that they could.

I'll make the not-so-factless, not-so-generalized comment that if it's legal, people can do what they want to pay the bills, including tearing you away from your riveting home-life for the ten seconds it takes to hang up the phone.
posted by The God Complex at 5:17 PM on October 20, 2002


I'll make the not-so-factless, not-so-generalized comment that if it's legal, people can do what they want to pay the bills, including tearing you away from your riveting home-life for the ten seconds it takes to hang up the phone.
I'm glad someone's finally said it: If it's legal, it's also acceptable behaviour.

Steping by your understatement of inconvieniance and insult, I'll just say that if a tele-marketter ever gives me the immediate chance to respond and say goodbye I'll be polite in return, but as they do not I won't be pleasant to them. They follow a script that's designed to abuse my good nature. I find that offensive and I hope you do too.
posted by holloway at 5:30 PM on October 20, 2002


Some of you are making the factless generalisation that employees are desperate and couldn't go elsewhere. I'm making the factless generalisation that they could.

I'll go ahead and make the factless generalization that just because someone else is acting like an ass, it doesn't mean that I should as well. Abusing a telemarketer is still abuse. Even if if it were provably true that all telemarketers are evil jerks, two wrongs still don't make a right.
posted by RylandDotNet at 7:03 PM on October 20, 2002


Hey now, I said I would be polite if they were. However as their job practically dictates breaking into an unfaltering speech they have no chance of being polite so I'll respond accordingly.
posted by holloway at 7:07 PM on October 20, 2002


I've tried turning the tables on them. I have an ex-housemate who owes me a lot of rent money and left a lot of stuff, which I've been selling. So far, none of the telemarketers have bought a damned thing, not even the iPaq with the 1 gig microdrive. I even offered to leave the Alyssa Milano porn that my housemate had left on the hard drive.

"Reach for the stars"? Hah! They're not even reaching for a nice PDA with some bonus soft-core.
posted by AccordionGuy at 7:40 PM on October 20, 2002


When I was trying to get a job the local (government sponsored) job agency's preferred method of attempting placement was cold-calling.

I refused to do it.

Similarly, I would like to encourage anyone thinking of becoming a telemarketer to refuse, just as I would rather anyone thinking of becoming a pimp or drug dealer didn't do that either.

You have to draw the line somewhere. A while back it was drawn just above slavery. It needs to be moved up again.
posted by krisjohn at 7:40 PM on October 20, 2002


telemarketers are pop-up ads.

No, telemarketers are people. The more we remember that, the better off we'll be.

However as their job practically dictates breaking into an unfaltering speech they have no chance of being polite so I'll respond accordingly.

How are they being impolite? They call, you say hello, they say hello and begin saying what they have to say, just like anyone who calls you. They're not your friends, no construct of politeness requires that they (falsely) inquire after your health or the status of your day before they say what they need to say. How would it be better if they wasted even more time by adding a bunch of fripperies to their calls just to be "polite?"

Similarly, I would like to encourage anyone thinking of becoming a telemarketer to refuse, just as I would rather anyone thinking of becoming a pimp or drug dealer didn't do that either.

Are you really ready to draw that kind of parallel? Telemarketers aren't hurting anyone. They're not exploiting anyone. They're not merchants of death. They're not criminals. A little perspective, honestly.

I've known a few people who have worked as telemarketers because they weren't physically capable of working in fast food or in retail, which are about the only other kinds of jobs available to someone with limited education or work experience. In telemarketing you get to sit down in an office and the only physical requirements are the ability to speak, read and hear. (I'd say see, but I've known a couple of blind people who've telemarketed too.)

Everyone is on their high horses about people not taking these jobs, but not a single alternative has been suggested. What job would you advise a mobility impaired mom with a kid to feed to take if she thought that telemarketing was the only job she could find that she could do? Maybe you'd prefer that she go on welfare?

Telemarketing is not immoral. It's an annoyance to some people, to others it's not. No one has ever been harmed because a (legitimate) telemarketer called them. The ten seconds it requires to interrupt their script, tell them that you're not interested and to add your name to their do not call list isn't going to make or break anything crucial in your life or you would've just hung up the phone -- or not answered at all. And don't talk about your time, because if your time were that important to you, you'd get Caller ID or someone to answer your calls for you.

You have to draw the line somewhere. A while back it was drawn just above slavery. It needs to be moved up again.

Moved up to where? When there are other jobs which don't require physical labor, which pay better than minimum wage, which have flexible scheduling and can help people with limited work ability earn the money that they need to survive, people won't choose to be telemarketers anymore. When the job market doesn't leave 60% of the MBAs from the top 30 business schools out of work, let alone the single moms and the kids who just graduated with their bachelors and now have a boatload of debt to deal with, people won't choose to telemarket anymore.

When there are options which are better, people will take them. They currently don't exist, that's why people telemarket. What would you have them do instead? "Anything else" is not a legit answer here. These are people's real lives - platitudes don't serve people in the real world who are looking at bills that need to be paid and a truly frightening job market.

Most importantly, when people stop buying what telemarketers have to sell, companies won't choose to telemarket anymore. The method obviously works, or businesses would have abandoned the model. So as much as the complainers complain and presume that everyone hates sales and survey calls as much as they do, there are still people who take the surveys happily, buy the services, accept the trial offers, ask for more literature/information and want the products. That's the simple truth.
posted by Dreama at 9:41 PM on October 20, 2002


Call Intercept for $5 per month vs. unpublished number for about one ninth that. Hmmm, hmmm, which to choose...

Get the unpublished number. If necessary, change your phone number first. I get one telemarketing call per week, if that.


To me, the extra cost greatly outweighs the major inconvenience of changing my phone number and notifying everyone that needs to know the new number. The thought of having to do all that boggles the mind....

I have received 4 telemarketing calls this whole year.
posted by garypratt at 9:49 PM on October 20, 2002


For just $6.50 I signed on for a year of the good ol' Oregon No Call List. Peace reigns in the household, and I no longer have to feel badly about hanging up on someone who's just trying to make ends meet. Don't other states have this?
posted by apollo at 10:11 PM on October 20, 2002


Astronauts used to be magical figures, heroes, but nowadays they're just as banal as anything else in our corporate pseudo-culture.

Neil Armstrong gave a motivational talk at a convention of independent grocers my father attended in 1973. The fact that he was paid what I'm sure was a princely sum to speak for half an hour or so to an industry that has a relationship to space exploration that's marginal at best doesn't -- for me, anyway -- diminish in the least the magic and heroic nature of his accomplishments as an astronaut.

Plus my dad got to shake hands with someone who walked on the moon. I got to see two American heroes shaking hands, which is pretty heady stuff for a five year old.
posted by bradlands at 10:38 PM on October 20, 2002


Another former telemarketer/survey taker here. The way the job was set up made it more irritating to the people we called than necessary. It was like this. For every phone number on your list, you had to note if they a) weren't home, b) completed the survey or c) if they refused talking to you. If you had a couple of refuses your supervisor would like to have a little talk with you and you had a little problem. Because of this, some people wrote "not home'' instead of "refused" on their lists, which meant that the next night some other kid was given these lists and told to call the people who weren't home. Results: the guy who has already refused to take the survey gets twice as angry and the telemarketing kid comes across as a stupid jerk.
posted by Termite at 11:01 PM on October 20, 2002


>How are they being impolite?

What, are you serious? I thought I'd made it quite clear. OK, for example,
Phone: *ring* *ring*

Me: Oh, I hope that's my mother with news of my father's operation. Hello!

Tele-marketer: Hi my name is Rachel and I represent a company for sale I noticed your home is for sale and I'd like to introduce you to some effective ---and free--- advertising tools for those homeowners who are selling their home on their own but we're not real estate agents and there is no commission or fee for this service because our business partners at GPSBC have agreed to pre-pay for every listing on our site for a limited time which is good for you because here at WAZOO we offer some tools such as creating a listing that sheds the best possible light on your home or uploading up to ten flattering photos of your home's exterior, interior, landscaping and views or even once you've completed we can make professional looking flyers and offer them to potential buyers such our friends at GPSBC who may access the site to amend your listing at any time and it's worth mentioning that the site also offers free standard sales contracts and earnest money contracts you can print out when you're ready to enter into an agreement with a homebuyer or WAZOO will be launching a steady print and online ad campaign directing potential homebuyers to this site throughout the coming months so your home will get proper exposure and because of our partnership with GPSBC and Fark.com can direct potential buyers to pre-qualify for a mortgage prior to making an appointment to see your home assuring you that a potential homebuyer shopping for a home on this site is seriously in the market for a home and understands what price range they can realistically shop translating into an increase in the number of SERIOUS buyers walking thru your home and GPSBC will pre-qualify potential homebuyers and will reimburse the homebuyer for the appraisal fee upon closing on any home purchased thru them.

Me: I hate your soul.
I mean, you do realise this doesn't occur in nature right? People don't just walk up to you and start talking without finishing a sentence. Unless they're mad, that is.
posted by holloway at 11:24 PM on October 20, 2002


Dreama, the fact that some people buy proves nothing. Embarassed citizens give coins to beggars, too. I know that some companies require their employees to be refused explicitly twice before they are allowed to end the call, and I am also sure that a significant portion of sales are saps who say yes simply because their good manners are being exploited. Geez, lots of marginal enterprises exist because there's a return for the sleazoid running them, but that doesn't make them ok. Prostitution provides much needed work for otherwise penniless young women, and there's a demand for the services that pimps provide, but many people feel that those facts do not constitute a valid defence of prostitution or pimping.

The lack of politeness comes from their exploiting my normal courtesy toward strangers in pursuit of my money.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:37 PM on October 20, 2002


I'm going to suggest something:

1) Telemarketers are people too, and they don't deserve to be treated so badly

2) Telemarketers should realize their job puts them in a position to be treated badly

Ta da! Everybody.... loses.
posted by Stan Chin at 11:39 PM on October 20, 2002


Dreama wrote: Maybe you'd prefer that she go on welfare?

Yes, I would. I have no problem with my tax dollars being use to support somone in unfortunately economic circumstances until they're able to find a real job with a future.

Or complete some form of study.

Personally, I like the concept of apprenticeships. Not the indentured servitude bit, but the training for a real job that really exists bit.

I've seen an educational system happy to teach people skills that society doesn't need. I've seen an unemployment system that forces people to take jobs they're not suited for or have legitimate moral problems with. I am more than happy for my money to go towards helping these people avoid depression and/or being right back where they started 3, 6, 12 or even 24 months later.

Telemarking firms are bottomfeeders and take advantage of people the same way that pimps take advantage of young girls. A caring society does not force someone into a demeaning, dead-end job just to keep the unemployment numbers down. There should be legistation to prevent this sort of abuse.

I have no problem with people on welfare. Even the people that get called "bludgers" -- people who've more or less given up on work. Unemployment benefit is so little in the grand scheme of things that if you think you can live a happy life on it, then good for you. What I do have a problem with are rich polititans further lining their own pockets with my tax dollars. Free cars, junkets, $1million superannuation after 4 years in office. Ugh.
posted by krisjohn at 11:58 PM on October 20, 2002


Dreama also wrote: The method obviously works, or businesses would have abandoned the model.

The method works because, like spam, it shifts costs onto unwilling victims. It fails to properly compensate all the parties involved for their time.

The only reason it's still around, apart from being allegedly profitable for the telemarketers, is that it's extremely profitable for the telecommunications companies -- who, of course, are politically powerful and are able to easily block any thoughts of legistating against the abuse.

Same goes for bulk (smail) mail outs and the post office -- they love it and in fact will happyily sell you systems to make it easier for you to send out 10,000+ letters at a time whenever you'd like to, say, flog some crap property "investment".
posted by krisjohn at 12:04 AM on October 21, 2002


Woo, I'm about to go out on a limb here, but....

There are times when I enjoy a chat with a telemarketer...I got a call recently from some poor gumby calling on behalf of Adidas about brand recognition and had a chinwag that made me smile...

Him: "What professional sportsmen do you remember being sponsored by Adidas"

Me: "Ummm, I don't watch much sport.....Run DMC?"

Him: "I'ts not on my list...but everyone says that. "

He's just doing his job and I'm just being polite, but I sensed the note of relief in his voice when he realised I was taking the piss in a friendly way.

I'm no spam apologist, but it's a real person on the other end of the phone. Manners aren't fatal.
posted by backOfYourMind at 4:47 AM on October 21, 2002


For just $6.50 I signed on for a year of the good ol' Oregon No Call List. [...] Don't other states have this?

Indiana does, but it doesn't cost $6.50 outright -- it's covered in the tax budget. Our no-call list has been challenged in court but such suits have been soundly trounced so far. From personal experience, I can say it works like a charm. Went from 2-3 calls a day to about one call a month.

A quick Google search shows that other states have similar measures, including Kentucky, Texas, and Missouri. I'm sure a more extensive search would show that many more states have similar measures either already in place or in the works.

I personally have no sympathy for the feelings of telemarketers. If you are going to take a job like that, you should realize and fully expect that people are going to be rude to you.

One has only to drive on any street in America to realize that people are, on the whole, inconsiderate, ignoble asses. And it's not like popular loathing of telemarketing calls is a hidden secret or something.

So as much as I'd like to feel sorry for those people that take such jobs, I just can't. If you are a telemarketer and are surprised and hurt by the responses you receive -- well, as they say, 'duh!'
posted by moonbiter at 7:23 AM on October 21, 2002


We have no-call lists in Kansas, too. Free, good for 5 years, and you can register online.
posted by donnagirl at 9:51 AM on October 21, 2002


You, too, can hire Sally Ride to speak at your convention -- of telemarketers, greengrocers, or whomever. Her fee is in the $15,000-25,000 range. For that kind of money, I imagine she isn't too picky about her clientele. If you get just a little notoriety as an astronaut (Alan Bean), adventurer (Bertrand Piccard), aviator (Scott O'Grady), and so forth, you can enjoy a secondary career as a motivational speaker.

It's really not that remarkable. Doubtless Ride wrote little original material for this particular speech; she probably has a mostly well-practiced stump speech that forms the core of how she'll "motivate" any group. As a physicist and astronaut, her stump speech probably focuses on technology to begin with.
posted by dhartung at 10:07 AM on October 21, 2002


To me, the extra cost greatly outweighs the major inconvenience of changing my phone number and notifying everyone that needs to know the new number.

When you change your number, you have the option of posting a recording saying what the new number is. This recording begins with the same "out of service" tones that an unused number uses, so a telemarketer won't actually get the new number. In fact, you're doing the next person who gets the number a big favor, because all the telemarketers who used to call you have taken the number out of their call list due to the out-of-service tones. (This is why a new number is virtually telemarketer-free as well; the phone company generally keeps disconnected numbers out of service for several months before re-assigning them.)
posted by kindall at 10:34 AM on October 21, 2002


there are still people who take the surveys happily, buy the services, accept the trial offers, ask for more literature/information and want the products

...so reserve your hatred for people who buy things from telemarketers, people who click on pop-up ads, and idiots who buy LA Times subscriptions from the chatty guy hovering around the entrance to the local supermarket, look, I was tired, and he seemed like a nice guy, and besides, I shop there regularly, and y'know, it was pretty cheap, and I do read it sometimes

sorry

posted by inpHilltr8r at 2:10 PM on October 21, 2002


I get calls from telemarketers at least once a week. They ask if X is home. I don't answer their request, but instead immediately ask them, "Is this a solicitation?" More often than not they do not seem to know what that means. They ask again for X. I ask them, "Is this a solicitation, are you trying to sell something?" More consternation, followed by a feeble "Yes." I then say, "Please do not call again and remove me from your lists." Know what? I still get at least one call a week. Telemarketers are scum. How do I know? I worked as one, even trying to sell something I thought was worthwhile (orchestra tickets, if you must know). The whole time I felt scummy doing it. The guy running the little sweat shop was scummy too, but in a smarmy way. I took the job for the same pathetic reason anyone would take such a job - I thought little of myself at the time and needed money right away. But I soon listened to the little voice inside and left that indecent job, and got by in retail instead. Sure, it was a move from one sucky job to another, but I started to feel a lot better about myself right away. And as for Dreama's request for what these poor unfortunates could do besides telemarketing, may I recommend working at an inbound call center. Central Florida has got butt loads of them. The nice thing about these operations is that one receives call from interested customers, ala QVC/Homeshopping, instead of making calls to disinterested non-customers. Seems to me that the qualifications for both jobs would be similar.

BTW, Spell Check suggest "horsewhipping" as a replacement for "Homeshopping."
posted by piskycritter at 6:03 AM on October 22, 2002


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