Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Stopping those telemarketers

Nearly everybody is familiar with the scenario: you have sat down to your evening meal and the phone rings. On the other end is someone with an Indian or Philipino accent: "Good evening sir, we have got great deal for you on the Gold Coast. For only one hundred and fifty dollars you can stay a week in any apartment you choose..." Sometimes what is being sold is legitimate and sometimes it isn't. Sometimes it is reconnaissance before the approach: "We are Acme Research and we are doing a survey on energy companies ... what don't you like about your present energy company?" You may say something like "they don't offer Fly Buys points". A week later: "Good evening, we are XY Energy and we have got great deal with Fly Buys points for our customers..." People hustling on commission for charities was common, but after word spread that only about 10c in the dollar went to the charities and the rest to the hustlers, those calls diminished.

Business to business salesmen play an important part in the economy but mass consumer telemarketing using cheap third world labour has to stop. One way to avoid it may be to have an unlisted number although these operators probably have computers dialing every number and see who answers. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs needs to maintain a mandatory "do not call" list which every telemarketing operation needs to consult and when they don't they or their hirers are committing an offence. That won't stop those based in other countries but people will automatically know (if they don't realise it already) that these are scams.

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