Hey Telemarketers, If You Hadn’t Already Noticed, Australia Hates Your Guts

Hey Telemarketers, If You Hadn’t Already Noticed, Australia Hates Your Guts

So this is the statistical proof that telemarketing companies should give up now: two-thirds of Australian households with a landline are on the Do Not Call Register, and the numbers continue to rise. According to the Australian Communications and Marketing Authority (ACMA), almost nine million numbers are now listed on the register, with one million of those signing up within the last 12 months.

Picture: Getty Images

Of the numbers listed, five million are for landlines, and around 3.85 million for mobile phones. Earlier this year, the registration period was extended to eight years.

Do Not Call isn’t a perfect solution — it doesn’t eliminate charity calls, politicians, or unscrupulous offshore auto-dialling scumbags who tell ridiculous lies about how they are calling from Microsoft or Telstra because a virus has been detected on your machine. But it sure beats being called up endlessly by people trying to convince you to switch power companies.

We’re very much in favour of being nice to people who work at inbound call centres — it’s generally a stressful and unrewarding job. But outbound calls bite. Companies using them should pursue different marketing strategies.


  • I don’t understand why companies still do this? How have they not gotten the hint? Even if I was seriously considering switching to a company, getting a call on their behalf from a telemarketer will just make me dig my heels in and never, ever give my business to that company. Just out of principle, because I hate it so much. So…. Very… Much.

    • I’m exactly the same. If I want to switch to another company, then I’ll research them and contact them myself. Calling me out of the blue only pisses me off and makes them look bad.

      Another thing that pisses me off is when companies I’m already with harass me. Telstra constantly send texts about their latest offers, while my credit card company keeps sending me spam about their latest cards. You already have my fucking business! Hounding me about other things only makes want to switch to get away from you. >_< But then again, switching wouldn’t stop the spam. Many companies seem to do that to their customers.

      • Agreed! Telstra and Foxtel have both called me a couple of times this year (which isn’t really that much, but still) and I want to say “you know I’m already your customer, right? What more do you want from me?”

        • A long time ago in a Galaxy far far away, I had free 8mbit DSL from my company. At the time, Telstra retail had yet to move to 8mbit DSL – still servicing 1.5mbit
          Got a call from Telstra, offering me “the fastest and cheapest internet”. I told him I had Free DSL2 from my work, and he said they could beat that.
          When prodded, he said they had the latest 1.5mbit connections – telling me 8mbit was impossible.
          When asked if he could beat “free” he told me yes!!! “for just $89 per month…”
          “You will pay me $89 per month?”
          “No sir”
          “then how can you beat free?”
          “Well for just $89….”

    • I agree completely, hate is not a strong enough word for how I feel about receiving telemarketing calls. However the problem is that they still work. Even if it’s a small percentage of sales, companies that use this technique are obviously still making enough money to make it practical for them to do it, and they will probably continue until it’s no longer financially feasible 🙁

    • They do it because it works. I used to work in one of those places when I was a starving, struggling youth who didn’t know any better.

      I still had enough dignity to try and make sure that the product being offered (mortgage brokering type deal – mostly just providing lines of credit) would actually be of significant benefit to the person being called and that they’d be OK with the intrusion.

      That’s not how you make sales.

      There was a guy nearby to me who followed the script religiously. And it worked for him. He had an annoying voice and sounded ridiculously insincere, but he followed the script 100% and it worked. Something in the wording must have been short-circuiting peoples’ brains. If he hit a certain point of resistance he simply hung up without another word, no niceties or politeness, no, “Sorry to have taken up your time,” or, “I hope you enjoy the rest of the day, anyway,” like I would… just terminate call, dial next number.

      He smashed the sales. They do it because it works. It’s that simple. It might not work on you, it might not work on 90% of people called, it might not work on 95% of people called… but it works often enough that it’s better value than any other advertising to the companies who do it effectively. That’s the terrible reality. They don’t want to be liked. They want to make sales.

      • Thanks for saving me writing something similar.

        If Australia really hated telemarketers then these campaigns would be shut down very quickly.

        As of last month my outbound campaign to exisiting customers is almost twice as profitable than my inbound one. The more people we call, the more people who buy.

        What is interesting is that we’ve contacted over 100,000 people, and had only two DNC complaints.

        Everybody whinges, but they still buy and they still don’t complain.

      • I agree if it’s relevant and of interest and benefit to me I will listen, I would be mad not to. It’s the complete cold calls which annoy me. Charities and govt. are the worst culprits which make the Do Not Call register a complete joke. If people have agreed to a call or requested information about saving money or switching provider then that works!

        If it didn’t work it would stop……..I find TV ADS more annoying and irrelevant these days and the ads which I hit by mistake on my iphone when trying to read something else….now that is annoying

  • The Do Not Call register is an f’ing joke. My number is not listed in the directory. It’s not listed on the DNC register either, and I get 20 calls a day from charities. I’ve NEVER had a landline that gets this many calls. Thankfully I only have it connected for DSL and the occasional outbound work call – so my ringer isn’t on.
    It’s unfortunate though that these charity calls often are timed perfectly for when I want to MAKE a call.

    Signing up to the DNC tells charities, political parties (never ever received a call from one) and international telemarketers that there is indeed an active line here, with real people.
    My parents got MORE calls after signing up than they did before, suddenly every charity wants a piece of them.

    The DNC register needs to be expanded to allow people to say “you know what, let me make up my own mind who I donate to, and block charities from calling me.”
    I’d also love it if we could block mailbox junk and door-to-door sales people

    • Read the website next time before registering. If you had you would have seen this

      “Some groups can still contact you after you register. These include charities, research companies, political parties and educational institutions.”

      • That’s obviously the clause the reviewer is referring to. It should be possible to block them too.

      • @DJBear “Read the website next time before registering.”
        As I mentioned:
        My number is not listed in the directory. It’s not listed on the DNC register either
        *I* am not on the DNC. My parents are, and yes – they should have.
        And yes @thom, it should be possible to block them too

    • If anyone calls you once you’re on the list it’s about a $10,000 fine.. So.. Seems like bullshit, or you should make a complaint and take the bastards down.

      • As I said, my number was getting phone calls the day it was activated – which means it was recycled – but also means it wasnt in use for 6 months. I am NOT on the DNC, and won’t be.

        The DNC only effectively limits companies within Australia from calling you. My parents get a significant amount of calls from charities and scam calls from overseas. The DNC does not stop this.

        There are fines – but not for charities.
        https://www.donotcall.gov.au/faqs.cfm outlines who can and cant call you and when.

  • Working in a Telstra Store I get countless customers complaining and lodging complaints with myself and Telstra about how they were not notified that a cheaper alternative or more value plan had been released. This is a daily occurrence. Having worked in a call centre as an INBOUND we would cop so much abuse because we were the first line that people yelled due to their bill.

    It seems like people don’t have common courtesy for their fellow worker or human being when they’re suddenly on the other end of a telephone :[

    • Are you trying to tell me that my excessively large bill or wonky internet connection isn’t the fault of the first person who answers the phone on the Telstra help line? Who’d have thunk? 😉

      But yeah, it’s not that hard to be polite to the person on the other end of the line, especially if you’re calling them to resolve an issue.

      • Speaking of politeness on the phone… I used to work for a company that sent nurses and care staff out to aged care homes as needed, so we’d have a lot of nurses and carers on our books that specifically signed up with us.
        The thing was that even though someone would call them every week to ask them what days they’d be available for work and what times they’re able to be called in the morning for short notice jobs, when you actually DO call them at the times they’ve agreed on, 80% of the time they still answer the phone angry or surly.
        That’s to get them to go to work because you’re their employer.

        I gave up that job. It was super easy work, but having to deal with surly people over the phone every day is just not worth it. I can’t imagine what customer service people have to deal with.

        • Geez, you’d think they’d be happy seeing as the phone calls were about work, and thus money. And you said they were being called on agreed upon times, so it’s not like you were calling right in the middle of dinner. Some people really need to pull that stick out of their arse. It’s clearly making them grumpy.

          • Yeah but not many people really want to work, even if they appreciate the financial outcome.

          • Yeah, I know enough people grumble in the office when Monday rolls around. I guess @ozoneocean’s job basically turned them into the living human embodiment of Monday. Unfortunate. 🙁

    • I’m happy to receive a text explaining the plans have changed and I’d be best served by new plan ‘x’.
      Don’t call me for this type of shyte.

    • It’s true of any time there’s a layer of abstraction between two people. I’ve seen so many arguments on Facebook that would never have occurred if the two people involved were speaking face to face.

  • Do people fall for those Microsoft scams?

    Of course you then read stories about how people in India all think we’re rude, and are told how horrible we are in the call center training. It’s like F*** OFF.

    I guess if no one responded they’d eventually give up. I understand how it’s cheap but surely there’s a point where the lack of responses makes it not viable.

  • They are all forms of harassment – phone calls, emails, door knockers – even forced advertising (where you are forced to see an ad before watching something else). They are deliberately intended to make you do something you don’t necessarily want to do then, or ever. They want to deny you the freedom of choice!

  • It’s commercial world invading the space you usually reserve for non-commercial things like eating dinner or hanging with the family/friends. I detest it.

    Last time I got one of these calls I patiently and politely explained to the Indian telemarketer that I don’t hate her personally but I hate what she does for a living. I suggested the work isn’t done in aus anymore as people want higher wages to deal with the emotional drama of being a telemarketer and that the work has gone to her country due to our high wages (relative) and our cultural disgust at the career she has chosen.

    I then suggested she look to do something else with her career ( I know I know – in India it’s probably considered a classy job) and she wont end up hating the nations of the world that abuse her career (not her personally). I also suggested she may find more personal satisfaction doing something people like and the karma she would receive would outmeasure any dollar reward her career as a marketer would earn her.

    Any you guys seen “Mumbai Calling?” awesome if a little offensive and indignant.

  • I was constantly getting called by Galaxy Research, 4 times a day, at almost exactly the same time every day. I let my answering machine answer all our incoming calls, generally after a week or so most Telemarketers/Call Centres give up, not Galaxy Research, this went on for weeks and weeks (I used *10# and the reverse phonebook online to figure out who it was) I finally answered, let the woman identify who they were and why they were calling, I replied and said “Do not call this number again” and hung up. Job done. but damn, they were determined to speak to someone.

  • I’m waiting for the “Do Not Knock” register to appear. Cause the now the power companies are sending people round to knock on the door to sell me crap.

        • though, the about the do not knock sticker..
          Fair enough if it said no door knockers or door to door people. That makes it clear for everyone.
          But if it says no door knockers who are selling or sales person, or religious person, that does not include charities though,, charities are pretty much canvassers, they don’t sell stuff, they get people to jump on board to help donate..
          So then charities are allowed to go unless it says no canvassers or no door knockers or no door to door people, some people get a wee bit confused with that

          • Even if it says ‘No door knockers’, not just ‘No sales people’, I don’t think it is binding. That is, I don’t think that any sign you put on your door can make it illegal for someone representing a charity to knock on your door.
            If you look at this press release from the ACCC then it specifically talks about salespeople (but so did the sign that led to the case).

            It’s like the do not call register: there are a bunch of exemptions to it and there is nothing you can really do to avoid those exemptions.

            Edit: the reason that I responded so long after your message is that I only just got the notification from Lifehacker and didn’t notice the date. I swear, Gizmodo/Lifehacker sites are buggier than Windows ME was.

    • I’m tempted to change the “no junk mail” sticker on my mailbox to say “no seriously, that includes ads from Real Estate companies and political parties”
      Saw a delivery guy the other day actively going through his pile of junk to make sure he only left political and RE ads. Douchebag.

      • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U35owyua0AE

        I just shrug and recycle now, I’ve stopped caring. Those guys get paid to deliver that shit somewhere, and throwing it in landfill isn’t an option. Better in my recycle bin than the guy having to pedal/drive on to the next mailbox. Him actively taking the time to go through them was probably his way of saying, “Fuck you just accept them and toss them like a NORMAL person instead of making my job harder.”

        • Normal people accept junk mail? And then toss them? Better the junk mail doesn’t get printed than end up in landfill.
          My block of units has “no Junk Mail” stickers on them by default. So do a lot of units in my area. There’s even a block where the letterboxes are behind a locked door and Austpost have access. I would say in my area that is the norm.
          Instead of moving along, he’s wasting time going through junk looking for specific things he thinks can be dumped in my mailbox. I’d say he’s making his own life harder, and at the same time, pissing people off to the companies that he is trying to help promote.
          By extension should I just turn my ringer on and start picking up telemarketer calls and buy things from them to make their lives easier?

          • I shred it and add it to my compost. It helps to have goodly amount of paper and other easily rotting dry material in compost to get good output.

            I’d like to have the time to follow one of them if they have put junk in a ‘no junk mail’ box and take the stuff out of every mailbox to dump on their doorstep. Unfortunately, my vindictiveness isn’t sufficient to stake out my mailbox for the purpose.

          • Nah man, read again.
            I was saying what I imagine the delivery guy is probably thinking, not what you should be thinking is normal. Rationalization. Remember, very few people ever actually think of themselves as the bad guy in any scenario, because they can see how whatever it is that they’re doing as having good reasons. Even if those happen to be selfish or inconvenient to others.

            I change my behaviour to just toss those things in the recycling, because it’s easier for all of us, instead of trying to fight some passive-aggressive war of principle which will never be won.

            Normal people accept junk mail? And then toss them? Better the junk mail doesn’t get printed than end up in landfill.
            Well duh. And it’d be better if we used solar, hydro, and wind power – renewable energy sources instead of massively-polluting, finite-resource coal power. It’d be better if the folks with so much money that they only use it as ways of keeping score could more evenly distribute that wealth to those who can’t afford better goods and services to the point that it’s reducing their life spans. It would be better if there wasn’t war, and we could all agree on equitable distribution of natural resources to ensure global prosperity, turning our gaze to the the stars instead of stressing our fragile planet. Wouldn’t it?

            Not going to happen. As I mentioned above with the outbound telemarketing – as long as it continues to be effective, people will keep doing it. That’s the ugly truth we have to put up with. You can rail against it ineffectually getting all pissy about it, or you can find ways of going with the flow in ways that affect you minimally.

    • Exactly! Why the f**k do i have to signal my intention to opt out? It should be opt out by default!

  • On the DNC register, only get occasional calls from charities, and had the pre-recorded Abbott on the phone on election eve, nothing major. I guess it works for me.

    I do get the scammers calling though. Being an Apple fanboy, I don’t have any machines running Windows, so there is zero doubt about the validity of the call. I play with them, pretend that my computer has a really serious issue (suddenly develops BSOD), make them wait until it reboots (which takes FOREVER!), and start crying and begging them to fix it. Longest call was 13 minutes 42 seconds.

    I must be on their list of numbers to not waste time on, because I haven’t had a call in six months.

    • I was at my parents once and said I didn’t have a computer, and they must be mistaken – he tried to tell me no no – I really had a computer somewhere, it might be a laptop. Nope, I’m a simple country person, but I was really really concerned that he had the wrong information and some poor neighbour of mine might have this problem – could he tell me more about where he got the details from?

    • I had the call when I was staying with my parents once, for some reason I was in a bad mood and decided to fuck with him.

      I played the illiterate and followed all his instructions, got my laptop, booted it up and then did the whole “I don’t see a start button!” routine.

      Took him about 5 minutes to figure out I was on a mac and then I got bored and basically told him his job was bad and he should feel bad.

      For the non scam calls I usually do the generic “No thank you” three times in as quick succession as I can manage since I’ve had many friends who’ve worked in those centers. But once that third no thank you is ignored I can get vindictive.

      My favourite one I eventually said ok I’ll buy what he’s selling and asked him if he could just hold a second. Then I put the phone down and went about my day.

      20 minutes later he hung up and redialed said there’d been a connection issue, I apologised said I hadn’t noticed and asked him to hold again, put the phone down and went about my day.

      Another 10-15 minutes later I get another call, laugh in his face and told him he couldn’t take a hint then hung up.

  • I had to see this as I was starting to consider a telemarketing job because of my lack of funds. Ugh.

    • ignore the trolls. Sales is an essential life skill. One of the best things I did when I was in Uni was work in an outbound call centre. Sales the foundation to leadership and helps you learn important life skills.

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