Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Market Research, Do Not Call

Almost every day I am called by off-shore telemarketing companies, mostly Telcos, trying to push their product on me. I actually don’t mind responding to surveys because I value my opinion and want it counted, but I’m never going to buy something being hawked over the phone line at dinner time.

The callers are invariably Indian-accented women with a very un-Indian name like “Cindy” or “Katie”. The phone calls started the day we had the phone line connected. When I tried to explain I’d only just set up the phone line and wasn’t interested in changing my service, the caller actually got angry at me.

Some days there isn’t even a person on the other end of the line but a recorded voice with an American accent. “[long delay]Hi there[long delay]my name’s Tracy …” and then I hang up.

I noticed they always ask to speak to “Mr Smith”. This is either the previous owner of my phone number or a generic name for anglo-Australians.

I have explained that I am not Mr or Mrs Smith but this did not deter them. “Perhaps you are interested in our …” beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.

I’ve taken to saying “No sorry, you have the wrong number” and hanging up immediately. It hasn’t stopped the calls, but it prevents unwanted chit-chat.

I’m thrilled, therefore, at the prospect of the new “do not call” register that may soon be introduced in Australia (SMH, June 21 2006). It will be illegal for any telemarketing agency to call a person who has added their name to the list.

The US and the UK have had similar registers for many years. Why Australian hasn’t implemented this yet is anyone’s guess. I have heard other people complain they get these calls every day, but I didn’t believe it until it happened to me.

But, as I mentioned these annoying daily calls come from offshore companies. Will the laws stop call centres in India or recorded messages from Tracy?

Apparently the debate continues. What debate? What is there to argue about on this issue?

2 Comments:

At 4:10 am, Blogger Jeremy said...

What is there to argue about on this issue? Just this: If you use the government and laws to try to stop anything, it won't. Here in the U.S., companies have quickly found the loopholes in the do not call law.

For some reason, recorded messages are not included in the law, so they send those constantly, and if you show any interest to the recording, they can apparently call you legally. Also, there are many things people sign up for, such as contests, etc., which say in the fine print that the company is allowed to call you, or possibly even to sell your name and number to others who can call you.

Sure, the government can create a new law that closes these loopholes, but trust me, innovative salespeople will come up with new loopholes you and I and our lawmakers will not think of until its too late. Then the beauracracy will have to take a few more years to slowly plod through and make a new law and on and on it goes.

So what is my solution? I have to admit, I haven't thought it through much. I suppose letting business take care of it (i.e.--the phone company here in America has many different services that combat unwanted calls) is the best way. For one thing, they come up with services quite quickly, not having to go through the beauracratic process that government does. For another, they charge only the people who care enough to pay, unlike government which sets up a new office of people to take care of this do not call list and charges every working person.

 
At 11:35 am, Blogger Eliza said...

Having taken these annoying calls on a daily basis, I say any action is better than nothing.

I s'pose business has influenced recent offshore call centre activity with many Australian companies deciding against renewing contracts with Indian call centres, due to the fact that most people find them annoying and refuse to respond in a positive manner. Some smart businesses have realised that potential customers are put off by the aggressive nature of callers and sales have been adversely effected.

So it's a lucky thing, really, that Indian call centre operators are consistently rude, like the one who got angry at me, and have scared Australian businesses away. But, you can't always rely on luck.

 

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