Turning the tables on telemarketers

Published 9:58 am Tuesday, August 29, 2017

“Hello Mr. Bryant, this is Billy Bob Jones with Friendly Credit Corporation. Let me tell you about our low, low introductory rate of 2.9 percent on our triple gold and platinum credit card,” belts out the caller as he makes his sales pitch.

It’s another telemarketer, or as I like to call them, lifeinterruptus.

There’s a few live voices that still make those dreadful calls. The majority nowadays are recorded messages, prompting you to stroke a number on your phone for additional information….or they’ll give you a complete phone number to call to “learn more.”

In the case of the live call, what they don’t tell you, at least until you ask for certain information, is that this super low interest rate only applies to balance transfers and that the introductory rate is good for only six months. After that, it soars to 20 percent, or higher, and if you don’t send the minimum monthly payment in on time, then there will be a $25 late fee.

Personally, it’s not the sales pitch that bothers me, but rather the fact that these telemarketers are interrupting what little precious time I have to spend at home. Wonder how they would feel if the shoe was on the other foot?

Just the other day, while conducting an interview for a story I was working on, I received a call from what appeared to be a local number (252-209-XXXX). Upon answering, there was a recorded message informing me that my “wellness package” was ready for pick-up. Funny, I didn’t order a wellness package.

Telemarketers call, with their scripted sales pitches, at the most inappropriate times, and at anytime during the day and early evening hours. What’s next….sales pitches on Christmas Day?

There are a few ways that consumers can fight back.

To launch you battle against telemarketers, the first thing to do is to treat your telephone number as it were your social security number. Telemarketers don’t thumb through the phone book in order to target their prey. Rather, they buy lists from junking firms who, in turn, have gained information from sources that are totally unsuspecting to the consumer. Those sources include sweepstakes entries, public and private school groups, and even your own telephone company – if you call 800 or 900 numbers, those calls are “captured” by the phone company, given to the firm you called and are eventually sold to junking firms.

The best way to fight back is to ask the telemarketer to place your number on that company’s “Do Not Call List.” You also need to register your number with the National Do Not Call List. It’s illegal for a company to keep calling you if you’re on this list and you have verbally asked them not to call you at least once.

A man in California came-up with an idea of charging telephone solicitors for the time he spends on the phone with them. After a one-time order of a service pitched by a telemarketer, he mailed his personal check to pay for that service along with an agreement that forbids the company to call him again or for the company to sell his new unlisted number to junking firms. When the company endorsed his check, they accepted the terms of his agreement – one that stated he would accept telemarketing calls on a “for hire” basis of $500 per call. In two years he collected over $3,500.

I’ve got a better idea. Let’s say that Billy Bob of ABC Company calls me pitching a fantastic deal. I tell Billy Bob that I was just headed out the door for a meeting, but his offer sounds great and I would like to get back in touch with him. I then ask for his telephone number, promising I’ll call as soon as I return home. His reply will probably be that he doesn’t give out his home number and doesn’t like to be bothered at home after work. With that, you reply, “now you know how I feel.”


Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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