LindseyFriedmann
Telemarketing
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Lindsey Friedmann

Eng 102 

2-16-02

 

The Invasion of Telemarketing

 

            It’s six thirty on a Wednesday night, you’re just getting ready to sit down for a nice meal with your family and the phone rings.  You wonder if you should answer it, and decide to pick it up.  You say hello two times and a harsh voice on the other end asks for a Ms. Friedmann except pronounced completely wrong.  The voice then begins talking a mile a minute about some insurance policy you cannot live without.

            Does this situation sound familiar to you?  I know that this has happened to me many times, and not only at dinner, but at all times of the day.  I’m talking about telemarketers.  They are always calling to sell everything from insurance to garbage bags.  Unfortunately, this has become a way of life in the past few years.  You have a few choices: pay for caller ID, don’t ever answer the phone, or listen to some spiel for half an hour.  I think telemarketing is a way of advertising that is an invasion of privacy and has started to cause many problems with fraud, misconception, and harassment. 

            Although telemarketing is a disturbance for me, I do realize that it is a applicable way for companies and non-profit agencies to advertise their product and make a sale.  It is an easy way for unemployed persons with little skill to get a high-paying, decent job.  Telemarketing is also the perfect flexible job for college students or people looking for extra work on the side of their career.  But even then, I can’t imagine having a job where nine out of ten people who answer the phone hang up on me.

            My best friend Erin, a full-time college student, noticed an advertisement to make nine dollars an hour and work a flexible schedule.  The office was also in a convenient location.  Since Erin needed some cash, she saw it as the perfect opportunity.  She was hired immediately, and recieved a list of names that she had to call by the end of her shift.  The list of names was actually alumni of the University of San Diego which she was attending.  Some of these people had only graduated a year earlier.  Once she was able to get a person on the phone, she was required to ask them if they would like to donate money to the school for construction that was halted due to a shortage of money.  Most of these people hung up on her or started laughing in disbelief.  The average person, if they attended school for four years, spent about ninety thousand dollars on tuition.  Why would they want to give the school any more money?  The only people Erin did get money from were the very well off, who would pay you to stop bothering them.    She would come home around nine every night, frazzled from hearing so many dial tones and angry voices. 

            I have never had to work one of these jobs, but I am always the person on the other end of the line.  Most of the time the phone rings, I will answer and if there isn’t a response within the first five seconds, I will hang up.  I don’t have the time to spend thirty minutes on the phone with someone just to say, “No thanks, I’m not interested.”  Even when I am very abrupt and stern in saying this, the person on the other end won’t listen to me and will persist on selling another product.  Fortunately, I am not so gullible and won’t fall for their sales pitches.  It is other not-so-lucky people who have given into the deals and promotions made by these telemarketers.

            My father is a person who will actually listen to telemarketers and has even given in once or twice.  My family knows that we should never allow him to answer the phone, and when he does, we keep interrupting him to hang up.  I don’t know if he does it out of guilt or curiosity, but I feel sorry for the man.  Maybe he thinks that he will get a great deal on re-mortgaging his home or that the new Visa Super Platinum card is the way to go.  But one instance tops them all. 

            It was a Monday night and he had just gotten home from a long day at work.  The phone rang and the person on the other end turned out to be a veteran’s charity telemarketer.  He probably thought the telemarketer sounded sincere and in need of a customer, so of course my dad was polite and chatted her up.  About an hour later, he had purchased forty dollars worth of garbage bags.  We all wondered what was going through his head at the time.  “Honestly Hermann, Garbage bags?  What do we need so many garbage bags for?” screamed my mother in disbelief.  Had an illegitimate company just taken advantage of my father? 

            How can you know for sure if a person on the phone is from a credible source?  It is easy for telemarketers to say they are calling from a certain company, which may very possibly be a lie.  There is no eye contact, no type of uniform or logo you can see, and nothing you sign.  Sure you may get a great deal on a product, but once you give out your credit card information, anything can happen.  With the growing technology of today, it is becoming easier to commit identity fraud and credit card fraud.  Telemarketing is just another way to get vital information to commit these crimes. No one can consider themselves to be safe anymore.

            Not only do companies target you at your home, they have also started to contact you in the office.  It is becoming common for workers to receive numerous calls each day from different kinds of salesmen.  Not only does this constant phone ringing contribute to higher levels of stress at work, it also decreases productivity.  It is hard enough for some employees to concentrate on their work without interruptions.  Another challenge for these people is not being able to shut their phones off during the day.  Each call that is received may be just as important as the next.  Ignoring the phone calls is not an option for the workplace.  Therefore, many discouraged workers will continue to be interrupted needlessly throughout the day . 

            I am discouraged with the way many companies have decided to advertise and inform the public of their products.  I am tired of leaving the dinner table to listen to lame promotions, many of which I am not eligible for.  It hurts me to know that even those people I love the most can be taken advantage of.  Although telemarketing can be an effective way of advertising, I see it more of a hassle and invasion of my personal space.  It is a way of manipulating you into false beliefs that will only benefit the company.  I have no way of knowing whether or not the telemarketer is selling me a valid product, or if my personal information is safe with them.   It is also never a pleasant experience to hang up on someone only trying to make a living, but I must also go on with my life as I please.  If I have rudely hung up on them the past five times they need to realize I am not interested, and that I will never be interested in some sales pitch that will cost me valuable time and money. 

Lindsey Friedmann