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The Hidden Side Of Telemarketing

As a fairly new WordPress blogger, and e-book author, I have yet to make a living at writing lately.
Although my ghostwriting in L.A. used to pay my bills, including a trip to Europe, blogging has not lately, so I sometimes have to give in and do other jobs. I am pretty well educated and really don’t like serving burgers. So instead I serve up conversations.

For some reason, it’s usually easiest for me to get a telemarketing job. Mainly I suppose because people like my Chicago metropolitan voice. Anyway, I have a very different perspective on telemarketing than most people because of this. True, it can be annoying for unknown people to call you to sell you something, but even in this economy it still provides jobs. I usually get hired immediately. Keeping the job is the hard part. Management sales quotas are usually somewhat unrealistic, even though I do my best.

I try to find telelmarketing jobs that are somewhat interesting so they don’t bore me. I’ve telemarketed timeshares, real estate,film investments, pension funds, business telephone systems, cellphones, satellite TV investments, non-profits including political campaigns and charities.

The last charity I worked for was called “California Council For The Blind.” We were supposed to call people from a computer database who had a history of charitable giving. We explained that we were helping blind and underprivileged children attend a local variety show that is held every year. When I pitched people, I got some rather wild answers. One guy said he was so sympathetic with our cause, that “he donated his mother’s eyes.” Another lady said she was so broke, she “couldn’t even afford to pay attention.” Alot of people I called just said they couldn’t hear me. Apparently, we were to call the deaf in order to help out the blind. Obviously, this doesn’t quite work over the telephone. Since the “do not call list” went into effect, we also end up calling about 65% non-English speakers. Yet we are told not to speak Spanish or another language to them. We get mostly answer machines. So this make it even harder to make quota to keep our jobs.

Some answer machines are pretty funny too. One said “We’re either watching television at the time or doing something stupid, so if I don’t end up in the hospital, I’ll call you back.” Other prospects got mad when I asked them for a donation: one lady said “I’m on disability, Mother f..cker!” What a way to talk to a charity! She acted as if her disability was my fault. One client hung up on the California Council for the Blind was, believe it or not, named Helen Keller. Still, I did end up calling a local fellow writer, who read my book, “Naked Skydiving” online and said she would give it a rave review.” That made my day. Another guy named Tom Heaven turned me down. People’s names are funny in telemarketing too. I think that’s one of the best parts of the job. I remember my first telemarketing job calling businesses. One of the prospects was really named Bonnie Beaver and she was a gynecologist! I’ve also called Susan Tambourine, Mrs. Goshe, who was, and Mrs. Goodhead. Hmmm.. Wish I could say I knew she lived up to her name.

Some people really don’t listen to what your offering when your telemarketing. I told this other lady that we were raising money to help out underprivileged children and she said sorry, I already have children, as if we wanted her to adopt them or buy one or something.

It looked like I got quite of few pledges for this job. However, management told me that people who actually paid were of course not enough for me to keep my job. As if it was my fault. There are a few rules in telemarketing. One is when something bad happens, always blame the telemarketer. Then, there’s the 2nd rule of telemarketing. Fire the telemarketer. A lot of times in telemarketing the only people who can verify the telemarketer’s success are in management. So it’s usually a case of the fox watching the hen house. They tell you you did poorly, keep most of your commission for themselves and then you get fired and you have to find another job, telemarketing or otherwise. So, next time, a telemarketer or as my dad likes to call them “dinner interrupter” calls you, be kind and polite. You don’t have to buy what they are offering just politely say no, and hang up. Or if you really don’t want to hear from them again, just say “please take me off your list.” If it’s a private company in the United States, they are legally required to delete you, or the telemarketer could be personally fined up to $11,000. I remember one company made you sign an agreement to that effect. Yet, they still sent you those calls by accident sometimes. Puts the telemarketer in a bad spot. Particularly because he is not usually being paid enough to ever pay that kind of fine and may be broke otherwise. Interestingly, non-profits and political campaigns do not have to obey the do not call list. Apparently, politicians from both political parties do not like private company telemarketers. Yet ironically it’s still legal for them to be able raise money this way. Even with the internet, telemarketing is still with us because when it works, it works very well.

After I was fired from the children’s charity, I went to see if they indeed did use the money to put on a show. They did but it was sparsely attended. Apparently, in this economy there really were not enough donations to send the kids to the show this year. Sad. I recently got called myself by a telemarketer in India selling male enhancement stuff. I told them I don’t need it, no thank you and hung up. Even after I told them to take me off there list, they still called me a few times till I talked to the manager about it. I feel like I would be biting the hand that feeds me if I try to sue them for $11,000, but…

In order to transcend my telemarketing past, I am currently in a certification program for interactive media. I have just finished the print module and we are now working on motion graphics, making animation and videos. Many people believe even though it’s a lot of work, telemarketing is not a real job, and being just a writer doesn’t seem to be enough these days. so I am enhancing my communication skills to get a professional job utilizing CS6 with benefits. Since this blog isn’t quite doing it for me yet, got any leads or ideas?

By Jordan Schaffner

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