Monday, June 11, 2012

On Handling Telemarketers

"Oh joy, oh rapture! A telemarketer!"
When I was first rich in spirit but poor in pocket (read: the year after I graduated college), I held a variety of part-time jobs to make ends meet. I was a part-time English teacher for a group of home-schooled high school kids. I worked at Panda Express for a while, until the manager told me that I wasn't smiling enough. I seriously considered dumpster-diving with my roommate for bottles and cans to recycle until someone pointed out to me that I probably shouldn't take personal finance/lifestyle advice from homeless people.

But the job that I liked the least was when I spent a couple of months as a telemarketer.

It was too simple to get the job; I just had to show up to a training meeting. I don't think I even interviewed with anybody, which probably should have alerted me to the fact that this job wasn't going to be pleasant. I was payed a base rate (minimum wage), but I could also get bonuses if I got a certain number of people in a single week to show up. Spoiler alert: I never made more than minimum wage.

I worked for a company that tries to set up appointments for people to get hard-sold on timeshares. Basically, if you see a car at a mall or a county fair or something, and you fill out a form to win it, what you're actually doing is giving your contact information to the company I worked for.

That brings us to step number one of handling telemarketers: don't give your personal information out if you don't want to be called.

In my company's defense, if you showed up to the timeshare presentation, you were bound to "win" something for your time. I think the top prizes were a Hummer or $50,000 in cash, but there were a plethora of lesser prizes as well (from what I heard, most people ended up with a free weekend at the timeshare). The fact that my company wasn't a scam is what kept me working there as long as I did, even though, for me, the work was miserable.

I'll let you in on a little secret: people hate telemarketers. I don't blame them. I hate telemarketers. And this ended up being my problem with the job. Some people have the constitution to be forever friendly and gracious while trying to sell people on going to timeshare presentations to people while being met with rage at being inconvenienced.

I just don't. I can only take so much anger and vitriol directed at me. My last shift at the telemarketing position had me just staring at the phone, petrified at being on the receiving end of somebody's wrath again. After that, I just stopped going.

However, my time telemarketing taught me how to get off of calling lists, and it's simpler than you might expect. As stated above, the first step is to not give out your number to contests and drawings.

Assuming you already fell for the first step, the next step is to calmly state to the telemarketer that you want to be taken off of the calling list. At least in California, the telemarketing agency is required by law to remove you if you ask.

The third step is to document for your own records when you asked to be removed. To be honest, the telemarketing agency may call you again (my agency was fairly low-tech, and so our "leads" were in the form of 3x5 scraps of paper with names, phone numbers, and whatever other information had been given. These "leads" were in a huge box in the middle of room, and the same person might be in the box multiple times). If they do call again, ask to speak to a supervisor, and state that you already asked to be removed from the calling list, and remind them that it's against the law for them to keep calling you.

After that, you'll probably never be called from that agency again. Unless, of course, you enter another contest.

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1 comment:

Dannielle @ Odd Cents said...

Goodness! Businesses in Barbados have not gone that route and I hope that they never will. It sounds annoying.