Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Is Torturing A Telemarketer Really That Wrong?

Video: Tormenting A Telemarketer With One Word:

As the above video shows, it's fun and very satisfying to play with the mind of a telemarketer. I laughed when I watched the video the first time and I snickered when I thought of it later. In retrospect I realized that torturing telemarketers is probably not the Christian thing to do. But is it really that wrong?

On the "not at all, they deserve it" side let's face it, telemarketing is mostly an evil thing. We get several calls a day from different companies trying to sell us stuff, get our donations, or get our free opinions on things. So often they call at bad times. Often they get my name wrong (or address me as "M. Westman"). They are usually trained not to take your first "no" for an answer. The charities can often be demanding. Very few us ever appreciate a telemarketer yet they can call us at will, interrupting our lives and privacy. In so many ways they are a blight on the North American landscape. Surely having a little fun at their expense is not wrong?

On the flipside, torturing people in any does not really fit into the "love" paradigm that the Gospel preaches. It also goes against the golden rule. I have known people who have been telemarketers - it's a terrible job for all but a handful of high achiever, high challenge salesman types. They take a lot of abuse and it's hard not to take it personally. Would you like to be sworn at, told off, screamed at, or spend your whole day at a desk calling people who don't want to talk to you?

Some people see their torture of telemarketers as a strike against tyranny and there is some truth to this. If telemarketers all got abuse maybe no one would take the job and companies would find other, less intrusive/abusive ways to market their wares. Hopefully Canada will soon get a "no call" list like our American neighbors. How should a Christian respond to telemarketers? I personally have a "no telephone solicitation" rule for myself which I inform 95% of telemarketers of as soon as I can get a word in edgewise. I also think that interrupting their monologue with a "sorry to interrupt but I don't accept telephone solicitation of any kind, please remove me from your list and have a nice day" is acceptable. We have to have our boundaries after all. What's your approach to telemarketers? Ever play around with them?

May Light increase!


Stacey said...

OK that is pretty funny. I haven't "tormented" telemarketers. I have caller ID. I simply do not answer calls with numbers I don't recognize or start with "800"!

However being the privacy officer at my company I'm pretty aware who is abusing the system. I have drilled them on where they got my number if I didn't personally release it to them. I quote the privacy act and then tell them to remove my number from their call list. It doesn't always help, but it made me feel better to get my frustration off my chest.

Anonymous said...

Speaking as a person who used to telemarket for a non-profit organization...

It's really tough being the person calling you. We dread every phone call because we don't know if you'll be receptive, angry, nasty, or nice. We do this job because it's a way to make money for our families. I'm sure most telemarketers will tell you that if they could find another job that paid as well, they would do that job instead. It's not enjoyable, but it pays the bills. We telemarketers aren't trying to make your lives miserable. If you're going to get frusterated with someone, get frusterated with the company. The person who's calling you is just doing what they're told. Interupting their monologue to let them know you're not interested is fine...most appreciate that because it means they don't have to continue their long winded blather. Some companies have policies where they have to try two more times to change your mind once you say "no" but if you request to be taken off their list, they have to respect that and back off. That's Canadian Law. So in conclusion to this long winded comment, be nice to telemarketers...they're just trying to get a paycheck like everyone else. If you hate getting called, write the company and let the people who make more money deal with it.