Published May 2004
I suppose telemarketing must work, or it the practice would have ceased. But it is beyond me how it can possibly be profitable. Based on my sample of one, it costs companies my business if I feel harassed by their phone calls.
In the mid-seventies, I lived in Ottawa. The city supported two broadsheet newspapers at that time, the Citizen and the Journal. As a news junkie, I subscribed to both. But they were locked in a circulation war, and one of their weapons was phoning everyone in the Ottawa phone book seeking new customers. And every Saturday, one paper or the other would call asking me to subscribe.
Each time I would say, "I am a subscriber, please don't call any more." Yet the calls continued to come in.
Finally I said to each, "I am a subscriber. One more call and I won't be."
And each of them called again, and was rewarded with a loss of my business. The strange thing is that once I cancelled my subscriptions, they both stopped calling.
Perhaps they got the message that telemarketing was not cost effective, but the message has not got out to other companies.
Sears is another company I no longer deal with. I got tired of endless calls from contractors they had licensed their name to offering me rug and furniture cleaning.
Most recently CIBC lost me as a customer for their Visa card. They hired a telemarketer to call me offering to upgrade me to a pricey gold card. ($100 a year instead of free.) This company used computer dialling, which then hung up if they did not have an agent ready when I answered the phone. Unbelievably, they called me 15 times over a two week period before they finally had an agent at the other end. Having call display and seeing it was the same number, I know it was the same promotion. The only reason I picked up the phone was to find out who had hired this incompetent company.
What is the point of this type of marketing? Don't they realize that they are alienating the customer base? And who is going to do business with a company that hired someone to phone them 15 times, and hang up?
It is pure business insanity.
The only answer is for consumers to fight back. And that means not doing business with these companies. And telling the relevant companies exactly why they have lost business. The message has to get back that lost business outweighs the possibility of new business.