Wednesday 30 March 2011

No to 'Outbound telesales'

At home, we seem to suffering a new spate of unsolicited sales calls - spam telephony, if you like (or don't). Even though both of the numbers are registered with the Telephone Preference Service (, the companies that are doing this just don't care. They're calling on what are clearly long distance circuits, with pre-dialling (sometimes several seconds delay after you answer before a human voice comes on the phone), and connect you to someone with a distinctly non-British accent, who doesn't know who they're really trying to contact.

This can be dangerous. Even when the caller identifies the name of the company she or he represents, there's no way to know whether or not this is for real. Someone called me today, she said, on behalf of a company whose services I've used for years. But she got the number of years wrong, and that says to me that she was doing the telephone equivalent of phishing.

I don't want to give any details to an unknown caller to enable them to offer me 'advice'. Nor do I do want to invite a high-pressure salesman into my home just because they happen to have 'someone in the area' next week; what area, planet Earth?

Telephone companies are bothersome at best when they phone to try and sell something. When they ask you at the end of a 20 minute call, "by the way, the contract is for 18 months, is that all right?", that doesn't feel like trustworthy practice. When you say, "I'd like to see the offer in writing", and they say it's only available today over the phone, is that a strong reason buy anyway? And if they send the key details, and they're in grey 4-point on the back of the brochure, is someone trying to hide something?

Frankly, I can find the products I want using Google, a newspaper, or even a flyer through the post. And then visit the website or make the call to Inbound Telesales, knowing who I'm calling, to do the deal. That's exactly what I did regarding buildings and contents insurance recently. Outbound Telesales is only for things you don't really want. Be brave - don't tick the box allowing them to contact you.

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