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Telemarketers should take the hint and not annoy customers

In the wake of the national Do-not-call list, telemarketers have been scrambling for methods to keep their companies from going under, while still performing within their legal boundaries. Since then, telemarketers have found many loopholes, which legally allow them to contact consumers in spite of the list that went into effect Oct. 1. These methods have telemarketers using guerilla-style tactics to spread their word, such as bombarding consumers with “spam” e-mail and direct mail as well as chatting with potential customers online.

These businesses should be allowed to turn a profit, but when Do-not-call lists are put into effect by the consumers’ request, then it should be clear enough that people do not want to be bothered.

Editor of the trade magazine Customer Interaction Solutions, Rich Tehrani, told The Washington Post that firms that once specialized in telemarketing are adapting to the Do-not-call list by reversing the focus of their call centers to inbound calls –inbound meaning from the consumers. Why would the consumers call the very company that they are trying to avoid? Possibly because they want the bombardment of mail or e-mail concerning free DVDs and vacations that they have received in the past, or the door-to- door salesmen who won’t stop coming around to stop.

William Sokol, senior director for strategy and marketing at Tampa-based Sykes Enterprises Inc., told The Post, “You may see a burst of spam. You may see a burst of direct mail.” Once the customer calls to complain about the amount of mail, the telemarketers are then allowed to work their magic.

InQ, a California based telemarketing company, told The Post that they will be calling existing customers of their online retail partners and trying to sell them products for another company. According to InQ chief executive Steve Nober, in addition to the calls, customer representatives will “pop-up” in a chat box on a customer’s computer screen as the customer is checking out of online stores. These chat boxes “thank” customers for their purchases, and will then proceed to attempt to sell the consumer a different product from another company once a connection is established. If the customer ignores the chat box, InQ is allowed to then call the customer directly within 48 hours “representing customer relations.”

The Federal Trade Commission told The Post that they received 15,000 complaints this week alone in regard to unwanted telemarketer calls. Even under the new guidelines telemarketers are legally allowed to contact the public with surveys, charity information and matters concerning political groups, as well as follow up on existing customers. However, with sly inbound calling methods like the ones that have been recently developed, the FTC can expect the number of complaints to rise. Telemarketers will remain a much-hated nuisance, and it is doubtful that they will sell much to clients who hates them enough that 50 million of them signed up to a list promising to stop unwanted calls.