A marketing rant…

Marketing, in general irritates me. But I positively can’t stand telemarketers.

Many types of Marketing I view as innocuous. Sure, When I browse to a site to look over an item, my browser will now show ads for that site, or item. Big deal. More of a reminder to me really. I’m in the Scott McNealy camp – There is no privacy, get used to it. And while I detest pop-up ads, generally they appear because the content I want to view is free. I also can switch windows or computers while they play out. Easily ignored. I like that. Browser ads, and those on Facebook, are but wallpaper to me. There are a couple great tools available like “DoNotTrack” that work well.

Even spam isn’t all that bad. True, it’s clogging up the internet to some extent, but my filters catch it and what makes it through can be deleted. No Sweat. It is an irritation that many sites simply add you to their pester lists if you’ve bought something and unsubscribe can be a crap-shoot. Many times, by clicking that link you’ve merely confirmed you have a valid email address. But Gmail has awesome filtering, and I have dummy addresses that I give out to people I don’t know or like.

Telemarketing is right up there with begin accosted on the street. Or rather, paying to be accosted on the street. Consider that thought for a moment. Telemarketing is about the only type of marketing that occurs on a vehicle that the victim pays. This reminds me of a sales guy-farmer joke.

One day a traveling sales guy is giving a pitch to a farmer. During his pitch the farmers phone keeps ringing. And the is ignoring each call. When it becomes too much for him, the sales guy asks “Aren’t you going to answer that?”
The farmer responds, “Nope. I installed that for MY convenience.”

Everyone in my family has a cell. My home phone exists because it’s on a plan. Rarely does it get answered. And we’ve been known to go months without checking the voicemail. The only reasons I haven’t jettisoned the thing are that a Verizon account un-moored from a phone line will probably result in account misery and my Skype has stopped sending touch tones to conference bridges that I need for work.

Unlike the farmer in the joke, I end up the one picking up the phone and 90% if the time it’s a telemarketer.

Now I also get the old-school spam – Junk Mail. There is a list to be taken off of junk mail lists that for the life of me I can’t remember. But I did it, and it cut the volume of crap in my mailbox down at least 75%. And like browser ads and email, I can junk that crap without hardly looking at it. Although on some level, it’s the only type that has any effect with me. Junk mail is the one reason the USPS is still in operation. I get maybe 10 legitimate pieces of mail a week, If that.

From time to time, I’ll scan over a flyer or even sit an read one entirely if I’m eating a meal and want something to look at. And some aspects of flyers work, like coupons. Take Harbor Freight Tools, for instance. They send me emails and flyers all the time, usually with coupons or better yet – a picture, a description, and a price in huge font. In an instant, I can judge value. Lets try an example for comparison.

Harbor Freight sends a flyer, in it a picture and a price – Allen wrenches – SAE and Metric set, in a holder, $3.99. Handee-Dandee! I need that. I have sets that are like pocket knives that don’t work everywhere I need them and finding single allen wrenches in my toolbox is like picking the cashews out of a bucket of mixed nuts. But call me up and tell me that same information, and I’ll hang up.

The no call lists are a joke, and are a classic example of politicians passing a law that on it’s face looks good, but in practice does nothing. I’m on a both a Texas list and a federal one. Apparently, the list doesn’t apply to political calls, charities, or anyone remotely related to anyone else you’ve spent a nickel with. It’s galling that the default is anyone is allowed to call, unless you tell them not to.

Maybe, this is my purgatory for installing the systems that enable this activity. I’ve seen the underbelly of the telemarketing beast and it’s disturbing. For most operations, a telemarketer only needs the ability to read, speak, and use a mouse. And I can tell you they troll at the lowest depths of the labor pool. I once sat at a desk, programming the machine while listening to a live version of the Jerry Springer show happening 10 feet away. The owner of that august facility told me he’d spend $10 a name for those that spent money on the phone. Nice. I had to hit the hotel for a shower after dinner with that dude.

It’s a racket, pure and simple. Send out a crapload of mail, or call a ton of people, and if, say 10%, give you money, you make a killing. A simple matter of numbers. Seeing the belly of the beast, and knowing how they work, I also know how to limit the pain.

Make your number less valuable.

First, never ever buy something from anyone that calls you. Would you hand a stranger on the street money site unseen? No. Second, tell them to remove you from their list. This is a pain, but by law they have to do it. They call you again, and they have to write you a check. Third, Simply hang up. It’s not rude. The machine will deliver another call to them 30 seconds later. They don’t care. Once, one of the callers called me back and asked if I hung up on him. My reply? “I dunno. Did it sound something like this?” and hung up on him again.

Or lastly, mess with their heads like I do sometimes when I’m in the mood. In the past I’ve made myself sound like an old-timer, babbling to them as long as they can stand it.

“Eh?…are you calling from the nurse compn’y?…Eh!….What!…Lissenhere..I crapped myself an hour ago and no ones come by to change me. Do you know when they are coming? I cain’t set here like this all day….”

I’ve made turrets type grunts and snarls in the middle of their rap. As the election season spools up I’m guessing these calls will be incessant. So I’m working on a new set of responses that will be certain to offend and horrify the caller. Victory for me will be a telemarketer that hangs up, screams, or cries.