Battle Looming Over Do Not Call Register

Businesswoman Plans to extend the national Do Not Call Register to business might seem a good way to cut down on telephone spam, but telemarketing businesses are already planning to fight the move.

The scheme proposal to extend the Do Not Call register (which already has 2.3 million Australians on it) to cover businesses (and fax numbers) might seem like one of the less controversial budget proposals, but it's already being argued that it could be ruinous for companies that rely on telephone marketing. Simon Canning and Lara Sinclair at The Australian report that the Australian Direct Marketing Association is seeking to have the proposal canned. ADMA chief executive Rob Edwards didn't hold back in arguing against the proposal:

The ability of people in every Australian business to pick up the phone and discuss ideas and products and services with potential customers is the lifeblood of commerce in this country.

One company likely to be affected by the plans is Telstra's Sensis division, which produces the White and Yellow Pages (remember them?). Of course, complaints from telecommunications companies might be taken with a grain of salt; telcos are already the worst offenders when it comes to ignoring the existing consumer register.

If business customers are more likely to seek services through less intrusive means (such as, oh I don't know, looking online), then perhaps companies should get with the program rather than just relying on telemarketing. What do you think? Is everyone entitled to protection from unsolicited telesales calls, or is it just part of the existing business culture? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Sensis risk as telemarketing list expanded [The Australian]


Comments

    maybe if telemarketers weren't such pains in the ass to begin with then people wouldn't put themselves on the damn register. Telstra etc. have no one to blame but themselves if this avenue of advertising is shut down to them. Try respecting your potential customers for a start.

    I've worked in businesses where canvassing other businesses was mostly done via telephone. I am aware of some businesses who take things too far (i.e. calling businesses at least on a bi-monthly circuit and being quite pushy while doing so), however the best salespeople usually was empathetic towards potential clientele and would call maybe once or twice a year to see if anything had changed etc. and if the business was open to discussing our services.

    Without telephone canvassing, our industry would have been devastated in it's current form. I agree, there are other ways, however if you're a genuine person and actually have something worthwhile (e.g. VOIP services which can save hundreds a month) the easiest way was to call and book an appointment to discuss further. Simple mail-outs just don't work.

    Of course it can be annoying. I am personally against home telemarketing - but business to business is perfectly acceptable to most people (a majority of salespeople do it) and it is only annoying if it's pushy and potential clients wishes not to be called are ignored. Sweeping legislation such as this is dangerous, especially in this economic environment.

    We're on the Register, but we keep getting calls from some (02) number but the people are based in India. They use the internet to hide behind local numbers and there is no way to find out who those people are. There should be a reverse phone number search so people can report the caller.

    Opposition to the scheme has exactly no merit at all. People and/or businesses that go to the trouble of adding themselves to the register are hardly likely to be the kind of people who will react warmly to a cold-call seller.

    The ADMA should be begging for this to be set up so they can avoid wasting their time calling people who DON'T WANT TO BE CALLED.

      Hear hear

    I think it’s a matter of just hanging up or listening, what does it really matter and what has it cost the listener? The consumer is already protected by the DNC register and the government pulls in an enormous amount of revenue each month for washing this data that the business pays for, per phone number (I believe it’s about 4 cents per number, so this is quite a significant sum when washing 1 Million+ numbers per month) however if the government moves with this as I think they will because Rudd needs to make back the money he spent on the stimulus package and lower the national deficit, this will really hurt the small business and in turn hurt Australia, especially in this economic climate. I want to receive the telemarketing calls, as a business, it informs me of supplier offering and new products/companies and as I market to other businesses with new business calls, my hands will be tied in terms of costs involved for advertising… all we’ll have left is Direct mail, Television and Radio… way too expensive for a lot of businesses. I would support this move if the government produced the DNC register for free to businesses, if they really had our best interests at heart, then they would follow the UK and provide a service that doesn’t cost them anything for free to Australian businesses.

      But as a business that didn't object to telemarketing calls, you wouldn't put yourself on the register. If the argument that "most businesses don't mind" is correct, then the impact won't be that great. And as far as I can see the government is going to spend money implementing this, so how that qualifies as a money-making activity (as you suggest) I really don't follow.

        I see what you mean and my apologies, I wasn’t very clear - it's not so much about the businesses that are happy to receive the calls, but more about businesses that use Telemarketing services and having to pay to wash these data lists against the DNC register and the costs involved. It will also affect the average small business making 10 – 15 new business calls per week, you can’t just pick up the phone and call a business… you’ll have to have a pre-washed list to use. In terms of the DNC register, the cost to set one up is quite minimal and based on the same philosophy as the email unsubscribe facility that is required currently, the maintenance of this site is also minimal, however the government earns record revenue for basically hosting the site. If we do it the way the UK does, I believe they have over 4 Million numbers registered on their DNC register with only about 450k businesses that allow telemarketing – the washing of the data is free to all businesses while the fines involved are significant for breach of this process. If it really is about excessive complaints and not about revenue generation for the government, then why not provide free access to the DNC register and obtain revenues from businesses that breach this process? No doubt, I could be wrong, but I do have a personal adversity to catering for the minority as we so often do (I do believe the complaints in no way compare to the amount of marketing that does go on… not sure of figures here) And as we’ve already seen with email under the SPAM act, with no way of the government to police these measures with international companies breaching our legislation, people on the DNC in Australia do still and will continue to receive unwanted marketing calls.

          I'll admit I'd never looked up the fees before, but having looked them up I haven't really changed my mind.

          If you were making 10 business calls a week, then the applicable subscription fee is theoretically zero (up to 500 numbers a year), so I can't see that as an impost on small business. Of course, that's for numbers submitted, not washed numbers you can call, and the list is only valid for 0 days, so the actual number of usable numbers will be lower -- but just how much lower would depend on how actively businesses register.

          The next level of subscription - $74 to process 20,000 numbers a year -- would cover 400 numbers a week. Anyone who is relying on making even half that many unsolicited business calls can certainly afford $74, I'd think. And indeed there's a business benefit: what's the point in calling people who have already stated they don't want to be called? Having a list without those people is a better use of telephone sales staff, I'd have thought.

      You seem to have overlooked "Word of mouth". It is my most valuable marketing tool.
      Cheers,
      Dave

    The "Do Not Call Register" should never have been created. Instead the Communications Minister (at the time) should have created a "Call Me Anytime" register. With such a register anyone who wanted to receive these "spam" calls could register their number. The numbers that WEREN'T on such a register would have been off-limits to telemarketers, etc. It would have saved a whole lot of administration nightmares as there would have been so few numbers on it, I am sure :-).

    ...so is (and faxes) for businesses only or for everyone? Because if I get one more faxed piece of fucking junk mail emptying out my black printer cartridge I'm gonna have to choke a bitch*.

    If it is businesses only I'm going to get an ABN and send in a BAS form full of zeros every quarter.

    *by 'bitch' I mean whoever pressed 'send'.

    I think the DNC register is great for those who want to use it, and as business is the main target of telemarketers, their phone numbers should definitely be included. (facsimilie numbers on the other hand, are not even used by modern businesses -- people still using those antiquated things probably haven't heard of the internet yet).

    for my part, I love getting telemarketer calls every once in a while -- say hi then put the phone down while they go through their spiel, put their supervisor on hold for 15 minutes, then transfer them to my business director and make up different voices, almost endless pranks -- you could miss all this good fun when you sign up to the DNC register!!

    What about a DO NOT FAX register? It would be nice to use my fax ink for faxes I want to receive and not for unsolicited spam faxes.

      It seems likely that the extension of DNC to faxes won't solely relate to business fax numbers, and that personal fax numbers will also be eligible. (Though I personally struggle to see why anyone would have one in this day and age!)

        Not so much a desire to have a fax as wanting to use the "all" of the "all in one printer".

        Thanks for the update too, Angus.

    Why not just use and answering machine and don't pickup unless it's someone you want to talk to. This way the spammers still have to pay for the phone call and you're not inconvenienced.

    There is no industry apart from telemarketing itself which needs telemarketing to stay afloat.

    While individual businesses may have chosen to dump their advertising budget into deliberately annoying and driving away as many potential customers as possible, their smarter competitors will be more than happy to take up the slack when such antisocial practices are cracked down on.

    The Whinger:
    Boo hoo, a telemarketer called me and I listened to his/her twenty second speech and now I feel my rights have been violated. Waaahhhh, he offered me cheaper rates. Sniff, sob, why can't they just take no for an answer?

    Salesman learn how to sell a product and "no" is often an opening, learn how to politely and decisively decline. "No, thank you" and hanging up is not smart, because they have your number and will call again. Try, after listening, calmly stating, "we recently upgraded, maybe you can call me next year around the same time and we'll discuss it further then when this system has had a chance to prove its worth."
    Who knows, next year you might want to discuss it. Being hotheaded about it will only frustrate you.

    The Prankster:
    You know what I do when a TM calls, I'm heaps original ay, I put the phone down, then I pass them round the office, then I hang up on them. Or I ask them for their number then I don't call them back. I am a business Genius.
    Or, this one is good guys, I made it up, you tell them to call back in two weeks, when they call back, you tell them to call back in three weeks, when they call back tell them to call in a month and then when they call back, tell them you are not interested and hang up. Its HEAPS funny. You know, because they were going to waste twenty seconds of your time so you get them back by wasting heaps of theirs.

    This is what a loser does to feel like they have power. Oh, how good it must feel to put one over those faceless telemaketers who are probably doing this thankless job as it is the only one available to them due to the flexible hours while they study!

    I am a good respectable TM:
    I have something good to offer, here is what it is..............
    Obviously this is a difficult thing to describe over the phone so would you be interested in learning more about it in an appointment, or with some further information to peruse at your leisure?

    Here is a reasonable response:
    Wow, that sounds too good to be true, yes I would like to know how it works, I am available next week OR can you send me some more information?

    Or its alternative:
    I can see the benefits, however, currently we have a system in place that operates SIMILAR (use similar as opposed to "same", as many companies usually have "unique" products and this might cause them to have an opening, if they are a good TM) to what you are describing and we would like to give it the chance to prove itself, however, your call is appreciated, if you would like to send some information for our files so I can give you a call. It would be good if you could call me in a year to see if anything has changed.

    People who do not take TM calls are doing themselves a disservice. Twenty seconds and you can make an informed decision as to whether the service or product is worth more of your time.

    Telco's are to blame for this attitude towards TMs, with their incessant calling. A good TM gets results from working with you, not throwing stuff at a wall and hoping it sticks, which is the technique of the bad TM.

    I am employed as a liaison between my Director and other companies Directors in order to promote a system that is internationally recognised to reduce a major mandatory cost to business. We do not advertise in traditional mediums due to the system being effective for companies with ten or more employees. Our word of mouth business is strong and I am the only "telemarketer" in the company.

    There are many occasions where I have been told someone was not interested one year, only to be our client the next due to a well timed call that ignited interest in a time when interest could be ignited. My follow up method has been refined and perfected over 15 years, granted it is one that other TMs could only dream of, but it allows me to organise my calls to have maximum effect.

    The Do Not Call Register for business' will kill this opportunity not only for me, but for potential clients who could save money from our system and others. All it would take is one phone call from an Indian call centre trying their best to sound Aussie offering something without listening to the needs of the client and that client might feel it justified to wipe all marketers through that medium off the list, to his detriment. Is that right? Better, is that smart?

    Vote no on this register.

      Smartest thing iv'e heard all year!

      I also use the phone to introduce myself to businesses and offer my sevices. In the last year alone I estimate I have saved businesses about $300,000 that they didn't know they didn't have to spend. These people simply wouldn't have searched for me online (like is being suggested by people with their head in the clouds) because they didnt know my services existed. It took a simple 30second call to ask for an appointment and now they wish they met me 5 years ago.
      Its very easy to put every telemarketer into the box that is reserved for Sanjeev and his Indian friends, but when you do that business in this country will suffer...
      And if the worst thing in your life is you have to cop a call from Sangeev every now and again be thankful thats the worst thing in your life

    My big concern is that has been picked up as a way to curtail unwanted telemarketing calls by companies that are well known for it. In fact the proposed changes will create some very interesting side-effects that are not in anyone's interest. It will make it harder for entrepreneurs to make their first sales, it will entrench big suppliers who have deep pockets who can afford other channels to market like advertising, direct mail, event sponsorships etc, it favours organisations who already have big opt-in lists of prospects and customers, it potentially reduces the attractiveness of overseas companies setting up in Australia who will need to employ more expensive ways of going to market other than just ringing to introduce themselves, and companies who actually seek out new technologies and want to stay ahead of the game are not necessarily going to hear about them as quickly. This short summary from Incnet (a list broker) is quite good and reflects on the UK experience. http://bit.ly/8KLjBX

    Re: Sam and Mike's comments.

    I run a small business and receive on average 1-2 telemarketing calls per day to my mobile. Being a reasonably freindly person, until recently I usually listened to the first speil before trying to politely end the conversation.

    Since my work is hands on by nature, it can be a considerable inconvenience to stop what I am doing to answer the phone, and this is costing me money on a daily basis. Sam, If I went through the dialogue in your second paragraph when I clearly have no need for the product on offer whatsoever, It would be costing me even more.

    Due to the sheer volume of calls I receive, in the last week or so I have turned to saying "we're not interested, thanks anyway" and hanging up as soon as I realise it's a telemarketer.

    I am sure that there are a few legitimate operators such as yourselves who are polite and have valuable services to offer.
    (Perhaps small companies with less than 5 telemarketers could be exempted from the legislation?) However, after years of listening to the sales pitch, I can only conclude that you are a tiny minority of those who make these unsolicited calls.

    Why shouldn't I have the choice to opt out of receiving these calls just because I have a business number? You can always send me an email. If I am interested, I will read it when convenient. If not, one click and it's in the bin. That I can deal with. Bring on the register for business numbers!

    If you are getting spam faxes, I encourage you to lodge a complaint with ASIC. It's not yet illegal to send spam faxes, but maybe we can hurry up the legislators by lodging complaints:

    This is the ASIC complaint form:

    https://www.edge.asic.gov.au/008/complaintV006?get/complainant/t=6ae0d748309f3eedd1d8d637378517a879b26f5e

    I just lodged one today against Big City Promotions, who must be one of the worst serial pests in Australia right now. Hopefully they'll soon be shut down.

    And if you'd like to be part of the war against spam faxes, how about copying this comment and pasting it on the protest sites so that as many people as possible can have a voice?

Join the discussion!