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[P]
The Salesman as Social Pirate

By IHCOYC in Op-Ed
Wed Dec 11, 2002 at 11:31:17 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

Sales cold calls --- calling on strangers and proposing that they buy something --- are in every case immoral.  They break the Golden Rule, every time.  More importantly, they are parasites on our willingness to read email, answer the telephone, or open our doors to strangers.  Salesmen1 rely on offensive personality and manipulation of their marks, seeking to create a situation where the mark feels that more face would be lost by backing out of the "deal" than by buying, and where he must justify his refusal to buy to the salesman. 

Perhaps as a defence against their social offences, salesmen have generated a large body of literature, seeking to bolster their faltering self-esteem.  The leitmotif of these texts, translated into plain English, is that if they hope to successfully deceive others, they must first deceive themselves.  In these texts, we are also instructed in the art of never taking 'no' for an answer.


Prologue

During the darkest days of the 1970s recession, I was a college student desperate to find a summer job.  I answered an ad that seemed to be looking for sales staff for water filtering systems.  What I actually found was a fraudulent operation.

We were required to get a week of "training" before being turned loose on our friends and neighbours.  Perhaps half of the training consisted in learning to operate a demonstration set, and mastering the patter of the sales script.  The script involved alarming people about the amount of chlorine in their tap water by the use of testing chemicals, familiar to anyone who has worked on a swimming pool, that turned the water an unsightly yellow in the presence of chlorine.  We were expected to talk up the chlorine revealed by this method as an impurity and a health menace.  This didn't work well on the local well water, which had very slight levels of chlorine, not enough to reliably change the colour of the water. Our water was probably more menacingly impure than the water that made the tests work well, but this was the script we were given.

This part of the training, though deceptive and manipulative, at least had to do with the product we were supposed to be trying to sell.  The rest of the training concerned absurd motivational tapes that we were made to listen to.  The entire operation was saturated with this version of the "positive thinking" theology. When we called back to the office after a sales call, they would ask us how we had done.  We would say we were doing "fantastic" if no one bought it, and "super-fantastic" if we had suc cess fully found a mark. 

The most obnoxious part of the programme had to do with the unpaid labour the scam operators reaped.  We were expected to round up ten of our friends or acquaintances and test the spiel on them first before we could actually join the operation and draw a paycheque.  This requirement of unpaid labour as a precondition, together with the obnoxious motivational tapes, caused severe attrition among the applicants.  Of around fifteen applicants who showed up at the first session, only two stuck around to something close to the finish.  It seemed obvious that nobody was ever actually going to get a paycheque, that the "job offer" was in fact a way to recruit marks who would try and peddle the filters to their neighbours for nothing.  I concluded that these people were running a con job and quit.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission urges consumers to always be sceptical whenever they get a "cold call" from a salesperson.  This is unusual, if only because the U.S. government is, of course, notoriously "pro-capitalist" as a matter of policy.  But sales proposed by cold calls are even now recognised by the U.S. government as posing particular problems.  It is recognised that cold-call salespeople often sell overpriced, perhaps even deceptive goods and services. 

But why does this method of selling raise these issues? To grasp the moral problems raised by these techniques is to start down the path of a general critique of the moral problems of capitalism itself. 

The Golden Rule

This is a no-brainer.  The Golden Rule, often cited as "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you" is a moral precept adopted by all of the world's major religions.  It is fundamental to Immanuel Kant's moral philosophy. 

Every sales cold call breaks the Golden Rule, period.  A person who occupies someone else's time for the purpose of pitching a product is not treating their time and privacy with the same respect he would have for himself.

The Salesman as Social Pirate

The fact that a cold caller is obliged to daily break the Golden Rule underlines the fact that cold-call operations prey on human social conventions.  They take ordinary human decency into account by imposing on people to deliver pitches.  Their collective activity imposes costs on that decency.

If all the e-mail you ever got was spam, you'd never read it.  If every time the phone rang, it was somebody pitching insurance, lawn care, or subscriptions, you'd never answer the phone.  If everybody who ever knocked on your door wanted to hustle a donation or sell you soap or Mormonism, you'd keep a shotgun handy.  You only read your email, answer the phone, or open the door because of the chance that it's somebody you want to talk to, not a cold-caller.

Cold-callers, therefore, are social pirates, preying on the social conventions that make human intercourse possible, turning them into opportunities to hustle their marks.  They can only exist to the extent that they do not overwhelm the legitimate human contacts and make too many people close off that avenue. 

Spam is starting to swamp email and seriously burden the usefulness of the email network.  Cold calling has seriously undermined the usefulness of the land-line voice telephone system.  People pay extra for answering machines and Caller ID services to defend themselves against the cold-callers subverting voice telephony.  Or they simply use their cellular phones and ditch their land-line phones, a waste of valuable electromagnetic spectrum.  In either case, the social costs of cold-calling goes beyond fraying the social fabric of human courtesy: they cost you real money, just by doing their "jobs."

Just Price and the Cold-Call Operation

The current notion that prices in a "marketplace" are set by processes free from moral implication is a recent and deleterious innovation.  St. Thomas Aquinas would have none of it.  Aquinas specifically condemned the notion that it was morally permissible to sell something for a higher price because the buyer urgently needed it and would be willing to pay extra to have it now.  To charge extra in this situation was a sort of theft in Aquinas's eyes:

Si aliquis multum juvetur ex re alterius quam accepit, ille vero qui vendidit non damnificetur carendo re illa, non debet eam supervendere; quia utilitas, quæ alteri accrescit, non est ex vendente, sed ex conditione ementis: nullus autem debet vendere quod suum non est.
    Theologia Moralis 2-2, q. 77, art. 1.
[If someone would be greatly helped by something belonging to someone else, and the seller not similarly harmed by losing it, the seller must not sell for a higher price: because the usefulness that goes to the buyer comes not from the seller, but from the buyer's needy condition: no one ought to sell something that doesn't belong to him.]

These traditional moral principles are, of course, lost on U.S. conservatives.  The art of salesmanship is specifically that: it seeks to create artificial needs, and to manipulate people into a social situation in which the marks feel that they have less 'face' to lose by buying than they do by backing out. 

What Aquinas's principle would do to the advertising industry, with its endless marketing of 'cool', its creation of new worries to create new demands, and its eternal cycle of increasing intrusiveness as the minds of your fellow citizens become numbed to the last outrage, is pretty obvious.  Nothing that you have to be sold on is worth buying.  The satisfactions such goods offer are the apples of Sodom, seeming red and ripe on the tree, that crumble to dust when plucked. 

Any time you pay for an advertised product, you are paying for the ad as well as the product.  Any time you buy from a cold-caller, you are paying the cold-caller's wages.  What's worse, by doing so you are giving the cold-call operation a subsidy that enables them to continue to harass your neighbours.  Finally, if you wanted whatever they're selling, you'd be looking for it already.  Anything sold by cold-calling is automatically overpriced because of the cold-call operation. You paid too much, and you harmed your fellow man. 

Cult of the Psychic Manipulator

I have sacrificed the well-being of my immortal soul.  I have looked a book by Zig Ziglar.  May my soul's peril be turned to your profit, however: let's examine the principles that Mr. Ziglar teaches:

Many times your very best prospect will almost adamantly refuse an appointment because he doesn't want to "waste your time or his time." He is often the best prospect for the simple reason that he knows he either wants or needs --- the product, goods, or services you are selling.  However, at this particular time he doesn't want to be tempted by viewing the demonstration or listening to your presentation.  He gives you the excuse that he doesn't want to waste his time or yours by looking at something he knows he can't buy. --- Secrets of Closing the Sale (1984), p. 16
Let's deconstruct this a bit.  How, exactly, does Mr. Ziglar propose to distinguish those who do not want to be tempted from those who really do not have any interest? I cannot tell from this.  What this particular bit of sophistry actually does, of course, is justify the salesman continuing to waste the time even of those who have told him up front they aren't interested.

Mr. Ziglar claims to be a Christian of some sort, and acts as a motivational speaker, travelling round the country with his positive-thinking circus of guest lecturers.  His books are full of avowals that salesmen work to serve their prospects; this, apparently, is how.  I submit, very simply, that here we have proof that salesmen train themselves to intentionally violate the G olden Rule.  They rely on obviously fallacious reasoning to justify their behaviour to themselves.  Here are some other brief excerpts from his 'closers':

"Premiums! Man, I can't pay any more life insurance premiums now!" You've heard it a thousand times, "I'm already insurance-poor!" To begin with, I would say, "I've never met a widow who felt that her husband carried too much life insurance. . . ." --- Secrets of Closing the Sale, p. 98
-----

The comment most frequently made by the prospect is, "I'm not interested." Voice inflection and tone will determine whether this is a mild objection, moderate objection, or strong objection.

If the objection is mild to moderate you say, "I'm a little surprised to hear you say you're not interested, Mr. Prospect, because this would [state your product's major benefit].  However, I'm sure you have a good reason for your lack of interest.  Would you be willing to share that reason with me?" Once again, the ball is back in his court.

. . .

If the prospect's tone is harsh and dogmatic when he says Not Interested, you should adopt the policy of the late Charlie Cullen and be a little audacious.  Repeat the words not interested in such a way you are making a statement and asking a question. . . . By handling it this way you effectively force your prospect to deal with your statement. . . --- Secrets of Closing the Sale, p. 284

How are you supposed to get rid of this asshole?

Let your Nay be Nay

If there is one practical bit of advice you can take from studying this twaddle, it's how to get rid of the cold caller as quickly as possible.  Americans habitually waffle.  A firm and decisive 'No' is heard as abrupt and rude.  The salesman takes advantage of this courtesy, and uses your waffling 'no' as an excuse to keep talking.  His goal is to turn the tables: to make you feel as if you have the burden of explaining why you do not wish to buy.  Fall for this gambit, and you will be confronted by his glib and memorised response to most of the objections he will challenge you to come up with. 

The dreaded Alumni Association solicitor has the worst trap here: he asks you first about your house, your job, your income. . . and then hits you up for a donation.  You of course have no obligation to disclose any private information to this stranger.  Fall for the trap, and you have to justify to them why you aren't giving, or if you are, why not more.  If you want to have some fun here, remember you aren't under oath.

Your initial 'No' must therefore be conclusive, unmistakable, airtight, and stop the conversation.  "No, I'm not interested" is perhaps good enough, but "I don't think so" offers too much room.  You do not have to explain why you're not buying.  If he challenges you anyway, turn the tables and take the sales talker out of his patter by calling attention to his method and "closers."

Let your refusal be unrelated to the product, and logically airtight.  Try this:

"I don't buy anything from cold callers, because if no one bought anything from them they'd stop bothering me.  I owe this much to my neighbours and my country."
Or this:
"You're trying to make me justify why I don't want this, rather than the other way around.  I don't owe you an explanation."
If this achieves nothing else, it will be interesting to see if the salesman is fast on his feet enough to think of a glib and convincing response. 

For further reference:

You have to believe in yourself, because nobody else will.

What's Wrong with Multi-Level Marketing?

---

1Salesman, I know, is a word marked for gender.  Words like salesperson or members of a sales staff are so undesirable from a stylistic point of view that it seems preferable to continue to use salesman.  Besides, given the tenor of the article I doubt anyone will mind.

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Related Links
o Federal Trade Commission
o Golden Rule
o marketing of 'cool'
o Zig Ziglar
o motivation al speaker
o You have to believe in yourself, because nobody else will
o What's Wrong with Multi-Level Marketing
o Also by IHCOYC


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The Salesman as Social Pirate | 133 comments (129 topical, 4 editorial, 1 hidden)
Salesman Pirate (3.87 / 16) (#2)
by xriso on Wed Dec 11, 2002 at 04:12:48 PM EST

YAR! GIVE ME ALL YER MONEY!
--
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)
Har! (2.50 / 2) (#50)
by Rocky on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 09:55:37 AM EST

Talking like a pirate is fun but annoys people...

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
- Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)
[ Parent ]
Aye, the landlubbers cannot stand our speech, arr. (1.00 / 1) (#61)
by xriso on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 04:27:47 PM EST

[nt]
--
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)
[ Parent ]
What's the 18th letter of the alphabet? (1.00 / 1) (#73)
by aonifer on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 04:25:11 AM EST

Arr!

[ Parent ]
International "Talk Like A Pirate" Day (1.00 / 1) (#118)
by phliar on Mon Dec 16, 2002 at 03:34:04 PM EST

May I take it that there are others here who also celebrated International Talk Like A Pirate Day?

For those who might not know: it falls on Sept. 19, and was started by John Baur and Mark Summers. As Dave Barry says,

Every now and then, some visionary individuals come along with a concept that is so original and so revolutionary that your immediate reaction is: "Those individuals should be on medication."
Yarr!


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Freedom of speech ... (3.66 / 3) (#3)
by pyramid termite on Wed Dec 11, 2002 at 04:34:17 PM EST

... does not apply to my doorstep, my telephone line and my email box and I'm damned sick of hearing from people who don't understand that. Of these three, telephone salespeople are the most obnoixious to me.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
Or try hanging up the phone (4.00 / 5) (#5)
by Fon2d2 on Wed Dec 11, 2002 at 04:51:04 PM EST

Or leaving the phone off the hook while you go do something else. Or give them false information. Tell them they have your name wrong. Correct it so it becomes incorrect. Give them a fake credit card number. Say you don't know why it won't go through. Or tell them you just became the new owner of the residence and the previous owner no longer lives there. Or hand the phone to somebody else and say "it's for you". Or start asking the caller questions. You know, about his family, his income, his love life. Ask if he'd like to make a donation.

Anything, as long as it's not trying to justify your no.

Yeah, but (4.20 / 5) (#31)
by trane on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 02:16:18 AM EST

Then you're condoning the practice of lying...sure, they might have started it, but for some of us (well okay maybe for no one else but me) lying degrades and beats down the human spirit.

[ Parent ]
Here here (4.50 / 4) (#34)
by Gromit on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 03:05:24 AM EST

Doing the sort of thing Fon2d2 suggested contributes to a cynical, negative culture (except, of course, his/her main suggestion of simply hanging up). Granted, in a minor way we all probably would kinda like (wasting these people's time), but it's a corrosive effect, which I think is (partially) IHCOYC's point. Besides which, I don't have the time or energy to play games with them.

In the U.S., the First Amendment certainly protects these people door-to-door, doesn't protect them where the target of the sales effort loses material possession to receive it (fax), and hopefully soon won't protect them even when the cost of receiving the sales pitch is fairly small (email). But nothing can protect them when we all simply say "No, I don't buy from cold callers, period." and hang up, close the door, etc.



--
"The noble art of losing face will one day save the human race." - Hans Blix

[ Parent ]
Say What? (3.63 / 19) (#8)
by virg on Wed Dec 11, 2002 at 05:22:38 PM EST

Well, you entirely failed to sell me on this story. Your premise is based on so many faults that I'm unsure even where (or whether) to start on them.

> "Cold calling has seriously undermined the usefulness of the land-line voice telephone system."

What? Where did you pick up this gem?

> "People pay extra for answering machines and Caller ID services to defend themselves against the cold-callers subverting voice telephony."

Again, hunh? I didn't get an answering machine because of telemarketers, nor Caller ID. I've never met anyone who has.

> "Or they simply use their cellular phones and ditch their land-line phones, a waste of valuable electromagnetic spectrum."

Third time, what? Did you consider that people use their cell phones instead of their land lines because of other reasons, like perhaps that they pay for their minutes whether they use them or not, so it's cheaper to use a cell phone than let the time lapse and pay again for land line tolls?

> Aquinas specifically condemned the notion that it was morally permissible to sell something for a higher price because the buyer urgently needed it and would be willing to pay extra to have it now.

Wasn't Thomas also the fellow who exhorted women to be ashamed of being women? T.A. specifically condemned many things that were well beyond the scope of rationality.

> Nothing that you have to be sold on is worth buying.

I guess you slept through "market diversity" if you studied anything about economics at all. When I want to buy a laptop, I'm looking for certain features and costs. There are a number of companies who can provide a machine in that range of specifications, but your contention is that none of these companies should do anything at all except hope that I find them in my search for a laptop. Just because I have to be "sold" on an IBM instead of buying a Compaq, they're committing a moral failure to tell me about it?

> Any time you pay for an advertised product, you are paying for the ad as well as the product.

So what? If product A that I know about costs more than product B that I don't, if the cost of advertising that company B tacks on doesn't bring the cost up to more than product A I still win, even while paying for the advertising.

> Any time you buy from a cold-caller, you are paying the cold-caller's wages. What's worse, by doing so you are giving the cold-call operation a subsidy that enables them to continue to harass your neighbours.

See above.

> Finally, if you wanted whatever they're selling, you'd be looking for it already.

See above the above, in the paragraph about market diversity.

> Anything sold by cold-calling is automatically overpriced because of the cold-call operation. You paid too much, and you harmed your fellow man.

Bad assumptions often lead to bad conclusions, but you demonstrated it here better than I could hope to.

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
Battle of the anecdotes! (4.80 / 5) (#9)
by Pikachu with an Axe in his Head on Wed Dec 11, 2002 at 05:57:40 PM EST

I keep my phone unplugged because more than 50% of my calls were from cold callers, and I'm tired of being nasty or nice or anything else to them. I use a cell phone when I must make calls, and email otherwise.

The only reason I know of to get Caller ID is to decide whether you want to answer the phone based on who is calling. That is, not exclusively to stop cold callers, but primarily to do something that is likely to mostly involve stopping cold callers. Maybe it's only 25% of their reason, but it's a reason.

I am irritated by ads. They get in my way when I'm trying to find the information I need to make a decision about a product. Often I will give up and find another manufacturer because the marketing clutter on a web site is such a pain. The only ads I have ever found useful have been the fairly closely targeted ones on Slashdot and the tightly targetted and randomly fun ones on Kuro5hin.

Anything sold by cold-calling is automatically overpriced because of the cold-call operation. You paid too much, and you harmed your fellow man.

You have said nothing to refute this, because you can't. Cold-calling, spamming, and direct marketing are all insanely wasteful because their hit ratios are so low, and consequently the few suckers pay for the high overhead costs even if the product itself is not a con. I have received many cold calls at home, and not one has been for a product I considered worth the price. (I used to let them talk.)



[ Parent ]
Lucidity of Response (4.00 / 3) (#53)
by virg on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 11:40:02 AM EST

I have time to respond intelligently to only one of the replies, and yours is the most lucid and persuasive, so here goes.

> I keep my phone unplugged because more than 50% of my calls were from cold callers, and I'm tired of being nasty or nice or anything else to them. I use a cell phone when I must make calls, and email otherwise.

I agree that a lot of cold sales calls come to my telephone, and I'm sure most people get the same thing. The issue I have is when the original author makes claims to the effect that cold calling has destroyed the effectiveness of land line communications, which is a gross exaggeration at best.

> The only reason I know of to get Caller ID is to decide whether you want to answer the phone based on who is calling. That is, not exclusively to stop cold callers, but primarily to do something that is likely to mostly involve stopping cold callers. Maybe it's only 25% of their reason, but it's a reason.

Agreed, but again my dispute was with his overextension, not the point itself. He didn't say it was a reason, he said it was the reason, and that sort of extremism annoys me.

> I am irritated by ads. They get in my way when I'm trying to find the information I need to make a decision about a product. Often I will give up and find another manufacturer because the marketing clutter on a web site is such a pain. The only ads I have ever found useful have been the fairly closely targeted ones on Slashdot and the tightly targetted and randomly fun ones on Kuro5hin.

I am also irritated by ads, especially ads that are obviously not going to be of any use to me. The other side of that is that you yourself say that properly targetted, properly written ads are useful to you, so it's not necessarily ads that bother you, it's badly-executed advertising (which, admittedly, is most advertising). If the ads on a web site were such that they gave you the information you needed when you needed it, you'd likely not be upset by them. Again, it's the fact that the original author says something to the effect that all advertising of any kind, under any circumstance, is somehow immoral and a violation of whatever social tenet he cares to apply, and that's just overarching and dumb.

>> Anything sold by cold-calling is automatically overpriced because of the cold-call operation. You paid too much, and you harmed your fellow man.

> You have said nothing to refute this, because you can't. Cold-calling, spamming, and direct marketing are all insanely wasteful because their hit ratios are so low, and consequently the few suckers pay for the high overhead costs even if the product itself is not a con. I have received many cold calls at home, and not one has been for a product I considered worth the price. (I used to let them talk.)


Actually, I did refute that point. My point is that if the cost that's added to a product/service by the marketing campaign still leaves its final price lower than a competing product, he can't rationally say I paid too much. Whether he can say I harmed my fellow man depends on the definition of "harmed" and he demonstrated throughout his post a tendency to overreach that definition, so I put little stock in that statement.

In conclusion, you're quite right that advertising can be a big PITA, and with that point I heartily agree. What I don't like is Chicken Little style grandstanding, even if I agree with the point being made. Yes, ads can be an annoyance, and yes, they can be misused, mistargetted and otherwise made to do bad things. But no, I don't believe that this means that every ad I ever see should be considered the scourge of my existence.

Virg

P.S. Your nick is possibly the most imaginitive I've seen here. Good work.

"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
The decline of the voice telephone (4.75 / 4) (#56)
by IHCOYC on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 12:20:19 PM EST

The issue I have is when the original author makes claims to the effect that cold calling has destroyed the effectiveness of land line communications, which is a gross exaggeration at best.
What I said was that cold-calling has "seriously undermined" the usefulness of the land-line voice telephone. I know that my eagerness to drop what I am doing and respond to a phone alarm has declined since the spread of telemarketing. My mother is now the same way.

When people are more reluctant to answer their phones, when they are happy to let the machine get it, screen their calls, or refuse to answer if the caller ID box is not in sight, the odds rise that your real calls cannot get through as well. This "seriously undermines" the usefulness of the land-line voice telephone.

My point is that if the cost that's added to a product/service by the marketing campaign still leaves its final price lower than a competing product, he can't rationally say I paid too much.
Even if the advertiser's price turns out to be the lowest (which seems unlikely; compare the price of the store brand citrus soda to Seven-Up or Sprite) you still paid more than you ought: without the cost of the advertising the price to you would have been even lower.

Advertising does not work in an Adam Smith world. Advertising only works in the American form of state capitalism, which is the creation of the government as much as a "free market."

Adam Smith wrote of a world full of fungible commodities like barley and beans, where no one could use law to muscle out a potential competitor, and where there were many small producers of each. It would not pay here to hire a bean salesman. Even if the bean salesman managed to persuade people to buy beans, they're going to buy the cheapest equivalent beans: and those beans are unlikely to be cheapest from the producer whose overhead includes paying the bean salesman. In the world of fungible goods, producers who would hire salesmen must form a cartel, like the one that made the "Beef: It's what's for dinner!" ads, and punish defectors (as that one does.).

The salesman seeks to persuade you to buy -his- goods because they're better than the other fellow's. This requires various franchises that prevent the other fellow from making his the same as yours. These franchises are currently called by such names as "trademark" and "patent," and their creation is an act of the State. Government intervenes in the economy to make sure the salesman's labour is worthwhile. Aren't you glad to be done this favour?
--
"Complecti antecessores tuos in spelæis stygiis Tartari appara," eructavit miles primus.
"Vix dum basiavisti vicarium velocem Mortis," rediit Grignr.
--- Livy
[ Parent ]

careful, slugger (4.50 / 2) (#70)
by DrSbaitso on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 11:00:06 PM EST

While i would wholeheartedly agree that products marketed by spam are almost by definition more expensive than their competitors marketed in more traditional channels, you're going too far to say that advertising by default raises costs. I just took my Industrial Organization exam today, one of the topics of which was advertising. Advertising that conveys information frequently lowers the final cost that consumers pay, though it might raise the producer's costs.

This phenomenon is especially true in the computer industry, which are "search goods" for the most part - once you learn of a computer, you can (mostly) know all aspects about its quality: the processor speed, the video card and GPU, the amount of memory, etc. Look at places like pricewatch - companies pay for listings, yet the result is incredibly low prices. I liked your article a lot for the most part, just don't carry it further than it will go on its own inertia :)

Aeroflot Airlines: You Have Made the Right Choice!
---Advertising slogan for the only airline in the USSR
[ Parent ]

More Points of Validity (5.00 / 2) (#90)
by virg on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 03:23:45 PM EST

> What I said was that cold-calling has "seriously undermined" the usefulness of the land-line voice telephone. I know that my eagerness to drop what I am doing and respond to a phone alarm has declined since the spread of telemarketing. My mother is now the same way.
When people are more reluctant to answer their phones, when they are happy to let the machine get it, screen their calls, or refuse to answer if the caller ID box is not in sight, the odds rise that your real calls cannot get through as well. This "seriously undermines" the usefulness of the land-line voice telephone.


Again, you start with a valid argument, but again you've overreached what your data supports. You must tighten your arguments if you don't wish to invalidate your points. In my example, your point must be that cold-calling has had a significant effect on personal use of the land line telephone system. Since the vast majority of land line use is for businesses, saying that cold-call telemarketers keeping your mom away from the phone equates to "seriously undermined" land line effectiveness is, as I said before, gross exaggeration.

> Even if the advertiser's price turns out to be the lowest (which seems unlikely; compare the price of the store brand citrus soda to Seven-Up or Sprite) you still paid more than you ought: without the cost of the advertising the price to you would have been even lower.

Two invalid defenses. First, one cannot compare store brand soda to Seven-Up or Sprite because they are functionally different (they taste different). I drink Pepsi because I like it better than Coke, RC and any store brand I've found, but I drink a store brand Dr. Pepper clone because I like it better (and in reality, they often cost the same for two-liter bottles, so price point is not a concern). The second point is invalid because if I never hear about the lower-priced product, I pay for the higher priced one, since the only reason I know that there's a cheaper alternative is because of the advertising.

> Advertising does not work in an Adam Smith world. Advertising only works in the American form of state capitalism, which is the creation of the government as much as a "free market."
Adam Smith wrote of a world full of fungible commodities like barley and beans, where no one could use law to muscle out a potential competitor, and where there were many small producers of each. It would not pay here to hire a bean salesman. Even if the bean salesman managed to persuade people to buy beans, they're going to buy the cheapest equivalent beans: and those beans are unlikely to be cheapest from the producer whose overhead includes paying the bean salesman. In the world of fungible goods, producers who would hire salesmen must form a cartel, like the one that made the "Beef: It's what's for dinner!" ads, and punish defectors (as that one does.).


The world Adam Smith wrote about is referred to in the modern world as the commodities market. You're right to say that advertising is meaningless in the commodities market, but again you've hyperextended that to the rest of the world, which doesn't fit that economic model. I buy Levi's jeans because they fit me better than any alternative I've found, so I cannot refer to jeans as a commodity. I buy the cheapest gas I can find, because gas is functionally a commodity. And so on. It's true that advertisers try to convince the public that their particular brand of a commodity is somehow better than everyone else's, but one cannot reverse that to say that all ads are about commodities. As a last note, the beef ads are not really an attempt to sell one particular brand of beef, but to convince people that they'd rather have beef than some other meat. Therefore the ads do not define a cartel, nor can their existence be used to prove that the beef industry is a cartel (it is, but the ads don't prove that point).

> The salesman seeks to persuade you to buy -his- goods because they're better than the other fellow's. This requires various franchises that prevent the other fellow from making his the same as yours. These franchises are currently called by such names as "trademark" and "patent," and their creation is an act of the State. Government intervenes in the economy to make sure the salesman's labour is worthwhile. Aren't you glad to be done this favour?

Actually, I am, because the function it serves outstrips the annoyance of advertising. When I go out to buy a car, I don't want to choose from "blue car" or "red car", I want a bunch of companies competing to provide me with the best car they can. It's easy to say that patents and trademarks simply add to the cost of my purchases, but that ignores the very real motive force that it provides; namely, the promise of exclusive right of profit for innovation. If I know that I can build a better mousetrap and sell it for a lot of money, and I know that my patent will prevent others from copying my work and underselling me, I have motivation to build that mousetrap, and society is better off as a result. One more time, you extend patents and trademarks to commodities and then try to use that to prove that they're a flawed business model, when all you really prove is that they're a flawed business model for commodities. Most of the world is not made up of commodities, and most non-commodities are not simply commodities with a particular logo stamped on them.

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
Actually, he's right (5.00 / 2) (#108)
by pyro9 on Sat Dec 14, 2002 at 04:43:20 PM EST

"seriously undermined" land line effectiveness is, as I said before, gross exaggeration.

Ignoring the fact that your complaint is a nit-pick, there are more homes than businesses in the U.S. and those uses of land lines have been compromized for many. I have had the phone removed from my office (clearly a business use) so that I could actually get some work done. There are times when that is inconveiniant, but over all, I'm more productive without it. The problem wasn't people who call with a product they have some confidence I will want or need. The problem was people calling to sell toner, MCSEs, residential long distance and hosting services to an engineer at a Linux company that does hosting! They were deliberatly ignoring the extensions identified as being appropriate and dialing others at random in order to get through. Their calls outnumbered legitimate calls (from customers, personal calls, and sales people transferred through appropriate channels) by a factor of 5. Frequently, even after I told them that I had nothing to do with purchacing, they kept at it. That includes the person trying to sell me residential long distance on my business phone.

At home, the solicitor to desired call ratio is more like 10 to 1. I tend to take the phone off the hook and give friends and reletives a pager number for emergencies. Since that's a function that the phone itself should serve, I'd call that a significant degradation.

I understand well that there is a need to get out the word on products and services. That does not remove any obligation to be polite and at least attempt not to bother people who have no concievable use for their product or service.

The problem is, the vast majority of telephone solicitors these days take a shotgun approach and just call every number out there rather than actually attempt to find a market and work it.


The future isn't what it used to be
[ Parent ]
Anecdotes Aplenty (4.00 / 1) (#117)
by virg on Mon Dec 16, 2002 at 10:42:15 AM EST

> Ignoring the fact that your complaint is a nit-pick, there are more homes than businesses in the U.S. and those uses of land lines have been compromized for many.

What does this matter? The number of lines doesn't hold a candle to the amount of use. According to the figures from Bell Atlantic, time spent on business lines exceeded time spent on residential lines by around fifteen to one in 2001.

> I have had the phone removed from my office (clearly a business use) so that I could actually get some work done. There are times when that is inconveiniant, but over all, I'm more productive without it. The problem wasn't people who call with a product they have some confidence I will want or need. The problem was people calling to sell toner, MCSEs, residential long distance and hosting services to an engineer at a Linux company that does hosting! They were deliberatly ignoring the extensions identified as being appropriate and dialing others at random in order to get through. Their calls outnumbered legitimate calls (from customers, personal calls, and sales people transferred through appropriate channels) by a factor of 5. Frequently, even after I told them that I had nothing to do with purchacing, they kept at it. That includes the person trying to sell me residential long distance on my business phone.

You have had some bad experience with your business line. So what? I support hardware and software over the phone, I spend nearly 6 hours a day taking and making calls, and in eight years I've never received a cold sales call (or any other sales call) on my business line. See how anecdotal evidence is meaningless? Considering a 94% completion rate for business calls and the fact that survey after survey reports business callers getting "negligible" rates of sales calls, I have to say that you're still exaggerating based on personal experience.

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
re: Say What? (4.33 / 3) (#10)
by dr k on Wed Dec 11, 2002 at 06:01:58 PM EST

"I didn't get an answering machine because of telemarketers, nor Caller ID. I've never met anyone who has."

I know people who have bought these devices because of telemarketers. Your lack of experience does not make an argument.


Destroy all trusted users!
[ Parent ]

What makes an argument. (2.66 / 3) (#21)
by owenh on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 12:21:29 AM EST

I'd haveto say that his "lack of [an] experience" makes just as good an argument as your experience.
-- Observations of the world we live in
[ Parent ]
No it doesn't (3.00 / 1) (#78)
by Jyda on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 09:48:40 AM EST

Eg. If I know someone that claims to have seen snow but you don't, I'd say that the the probability that snow really exists is higher than that it doesn't exist. If I trust that person, that is.

[ Parent ]
telephones and telemarketers (3.66 / 3) (#12)
by aphrael on Wed Dec 11, 2002 at 06:17:15 PM EST

I do not answer my home telephone. I would get rid of it if I could; I need it for DSL. Why do I not answer it? Because the only people who ever call me are telemarketers, and I don't want to talk to them.

The land-line voice telephone system is entirely useless for me, because of telemarketing.

[ Parent ]

Re: telephones and telemarketers (4.00 / 1) (#71)
by stormie on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 11:02:17 PM EST

If the only people who ever call you are telemarketers, then your land-line voice telephone system would be useless even without them - because nobody calls you!

[ Parent ]
Not exactly.... (3.00 / 1) (#120)
by phliar on Mon Dec 16, 2002 at 03:52:53 PM EST

I'm in exactly the same situation: I never answer the land-line unless I recognise the CallerID; I can't get rid of it because of DSL. I use my mobile phone for all my personal calls. Just like email, I have two phone numbers: one I hand out because there are people who insist on having a phone number and another for people I know.


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Get some friends (4.00 / 1) (#131)
by QuantumG on Thu Dec 26, 2002 at 10:36:59 PM EST

Maybe both of you should get some friends.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
Proof? (4.83 / 6) (#14)
by godix on Wed Dec 11, 2002 at 06:48:36 PM EST

The following is all hearsay and not real proof, so make of it what you will.

My current job is to answer inbound calls about telephone service for a major company that offers both long distance and local service. This isn't what the public would percieve as a sales job, I basically am the guy you talk to when you want to bitch about your phone bill. I should point out that despite the fact people call up to ask questions (or bitch) my job performance is evaluated on how much product I sell rather than how many people I help, a clear case of sales intruding and harming customer service right there.

Anyway I agree with the basic 'gem' behind the article. People do buy caller id to filter out telemarketers, it's one of the biggest selling points. There is a service called Privacy Id that refuses to connect any blocked call and the ONLY selling point of it is telemarketers. People frequently disconnect their land line in favor of cell phones mainly because of telemarketers. I deal with this stuff on a daily basis, the author isn't just making it all up. Telemarketing has largely destroyed land lines. Usually it's older people who are concerned about telemarketing, perhaps that's why you don't know anyone like this.



Getting an education was a bit like a communicable sexual disease. It made you unsuitable for a lot of jobs and then you had the urge to pass it on.

[ Parent ]

Caller ID, features. . . (3.00 / 2) (#15)
by IHCOYC on Wed Dec 11, 2002 at 06:53:03 PM EST

My mother, among others, got Caller ID so that she could screen out the telemarketers. It isn't at all uncommon in our neighbourhood. Myself, I just let the machine speak unless I am actually expecting a call. You want to actually reach me, use e-mail.

Somebody is going to have to explain to me what the features are that make Pepsi so much livelier and hipper than Coke. Or maybe it's the other way around. There's probably a good story angle right there.

Choke the last Santa with the guts of the last reindeer!
[ Parent ]

You bought into the water filtering thing? (3.75 / 8) (#11)
by the on Wed Dec 11, 2002 at 06:02:43 PM EST

Sales is scummy work. But you're motivated by the water filter scam, I'm guessing in the UK, which is something different. I found it a bizarre phenomenon, something closer to a religious scam than a real business. My very own brother became caught up in it. He's a normally rational being but one day he was suddenly begging people to take one of these filters. He was phoning up people he wouldn't normally contact and begged my father for an initial investment which was duly given him. But his whole behavior was weird. I'd never seen him acting like this before. It was trivially obvious to everyone that this would fail and that there was no hope of selling these devices and yet he was completely oblivious. He has a perfectly sound business sense but somehow this particular scam was making him act weird. What's more, I've heard the same report from other people. So it seems to me that this particular business is actually a cultic religion cunningly disguised as a business. In fact, his behavior was weird enough that I was tempted to thing someone had put something funny in his water. Luckily he recovered!

Nice article otherwise.

--
The Definite Article

Water filtering thing (4.66 / 3) (#13)
by IHCOYC on Wed Dec 11, 2002 at 06:46:30 PM EST

I didn't actually buy or invest any of my own money in the water filtering thing; I was a college student looking for a summer job, and I had none to sink into it even if I did.

I am pretty sure it was an MLM operation, and these things often take on aspects of a religious cult. The Amway organisation, especially, has been so called; and I suspect it is named most often because it is the largest MLM.
--
"Complecti antecessores tuos in spelæis stygiis Tartari appara," eructavit miles primus.
"Vix dum basiavisti vicarium velocem Mortis," rediit Grignr.
--- Livy
[ Parent ]

This one time... (4.00 / 2) (#25)
by Spendocrat on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 12:51:06 AM EST

I went to a meeting for the online version of Amway once to humour a friend.

Those people are terribly scary. I have semi-fundie friends who are less intent on converting me.

[ Parent ]

Amway (4.00 / 1) (#49)
by gidds on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 09:53:25 AM EST

A couple of friends of mine were into Amway for a while, so I got to hear a bit about it.

My impressions are negative, but not for the same reasons.  As I understood it, they're not a fundamentally dishonest organisation; unlike other MLMs, the successful folk don't make their money at the expense of those lower down, so there isn't the parasitic aspect.  And although I didn't look at the goods too closely, my impression was that they weren't particularly bad value or quality.

Yes, their meetings and literature are vaguely reminiscent of certain religious organisations, but then so are those of other businesses too.  I guess they all use the same motivational consultants!

I just think it's more difficult to get new sucke^H^H^H^H^Hpeople into the business than they like you to think.  (Especially here in the UK, where I think we're naturally more reticent and suspicious than the USA.)  For example, if you're introduced to it by a friend, they'll already have spoken to all your mutual friends, so that's one major source used up before you even start.

So I don't think all the criticism it gets is entirely justified... but you won't find me joining!

Andy/
[ Parent ]

Your friends just didn't see it (4.75 / 4) (#54)
by Phelan on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 11:54:08 AM EST

unlike other MLMs, the successful folk don't make their money at the expense of those lower down, so there isn't the parasitic aspect.

Sure they do. A large portion of the wealth made in the Amway business is in the 'tools trade'. This is the sale of tapes, catalogs, books, seminars, rallies, special order forms, etc. All of these things are extremely over priced, and directly benefit the direct distributor above you. He pays less for them than you do, and the profits roll uphill. One of Amway's top distributors has admitted to Forbes that 2/3 of his income comes from the 'tools business'.

Enter "tools business" amway into google and you'll get a couple hundred hits talking about it. I'm sure you could get more by using a less restrictive search.

So, yeah, your friends were preyed upon..they just couldn't see the tapeworm.

[ Parent ]

Yeah, this is well-known. (3.00 / 1) (#41)
by tkatchev on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 06:35:35 AM EST

The "selling-things-pseudo-religious-cult" thing goes by the general name of "MLM". (Stands for "multi-level marketing", I think.)


   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

I don't know what crawled up the collective (1.45 / 35) (#16)
by Hide The Hamster on Wed Dec 11, 2002 at 08:57:30 PM EST

arse of this kuro-five-hin (huh?) website and died, but it is apparent that there's a putrid, anti-trade attitude in the air.

I am irritated by ads.

I can't get it up without slapping it for ten minutes straight, and my wife stopped putting out five days ago because of an ad we saw on TV.

My son has asthma and a learning disability because of the ads they show on Nickelodeon!

Oh CRY ME A RIVER. You panty-waists sicken me. How do you propose that your favourite television, radio, and/or website entertainment avenues provide the wonderful services that they do? It's called the Golden Rule: at least break even if you want to stay afloat. Selling you (the telephone subscriber, television watcher, internet user) goods and services is the best way to make a huge fortune. Let's leave the topic of corrupt non-profit organizations to another, more suited article.


Sales is scummy work.

I have an uncle in sales. Please refrain from insulting my uncle, you dirtbag.


This 'article' makes me even more furious, because I'm forced to recall a certain anecdote which happened at an outdoor caf roughly 18 months ago, which I had the horror of witnessing: A man at the next table begins to eat his lunch, when his cellular phone rings. He answers the phone. After five seconds, he begins to berate the caller. "This is a cellular phone, asshole. You'll be reported to the proper authorities as soon as humanly fucking possible. You shitbag telemarketers should know better than to call a cellular phone! Now your ass is in the deep fryer! Booya!" I am, of course, in complete and utter shock. Fearing for my life, I decided not to reprimand the man. He may have been under the influence of marijuana or methamphetemines. This brings light to my final issue. It is your DUTY to accept incoming telemarketing calls on your cellular phone, even if you are charged for incoming minutes. Furthermore, there's no law on the books which prohibits the telemarketing of a cellular number. In America, where Americans pay for what they use, one should not be irritated by paying for minutes they spend on their cellular phones. Failing to politely decline a telemarketer is a real social faux pas; it is unfortunate that current laws prohibit the telemarketer to call the subject on several occasions.

In conclusion, jerks, why do you insist on being complete societal dregs? While you provide no lasting solution to your 'irritation', you'd choose to bring the productive persons of this world down with you.


Free spirits are a liability.

August 8, 2004: "it certainly is" and I had engaged in a homosexual tryst.

Setting the record straight (5.00 / 5) (#19)
by Lord of the Wasteland on Wed Dec 11, 2002 at 10:56:25 PM EST

Furthermore, there's no law on the books which prohibits the telemarketing of a cellular number.

Actually, there is a law against it. (US Code TITLE 47,CHAPTER 5,SUBCHAPTER II,Part I,Sec. 227).

[ Parent ]

Haha (4.60 / 5) (#23)
by Spendocrat on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 12:48:13 AM EST

You almost had me, then: "He may have been under the influence of marijuana"

Good work, though.

[ Parent ]

Dumbass (2.00 / 1) (#42)
by Zathrus on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 07:04:15 AM EST

If you can prove to me that marijuana use can trigger violence then I'll eat my big green shorts.

I saw a guy fall over onto the person next to him, but thats about the worst I seen.

Get a clue.


"like a Mazda commercial with that creepy "zoom zoom" kid that goes on too long." - Filthy Critic
[ Parent ]

Oooooh! that's soo sweet (4.50 / 2) (#45)
by squigly on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 09:05:25 AM EST

You tried to troll us!  and you did reasonably well too.  You just overshot when you got as far as "I decided not to reprimand the man. He may have been under the influence of marijuana or methamphetemines".  

You just overshot.  Any talk about drugs, War on Iraq, or libertarianism just sets off the alarm bells.

[ Parent ]

You're smarter than I am... (4.00 / 2) (#62)
by magney on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 04:40:13 PM EST

I didn't catch on until "It is your DUTY to accept incoming telemarketing calls on your cellular phone", a sentence that clearly cannot be seriously thought by anyone in their right mind.

Do I look like I speak for my employer?
[ Parent ]

I think that one would have got past me... (4.00 / 2) (#74)
by squigly on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 04:59:57 AM EST

I, and possibly other people might have replied just to refute that point.

I think the guy just oversold.  Taking out that last paragraph would have worked rather well.

[ Parent ]

Capitalism (4.00 / 9) (#17)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Wed Dec 11, 2002 at 09:44:14 PM EST

It's true that cold callers are pretty useless, but this article seems to go further than that. It suggests that all advertising is not just useless, but immoral:

Nothing that you have to be sold on is worth buying.  The satisfactions such goods offer are the apples of Sodom, seeming red and ripe on the tree, that crumble to dust when plucked.

The counterexamples here are too numerous to mention. In our society everything is advertised. I'm not sure if you're referring to advertising in general or cold-callers specifically, but their purposes are the same: to convince you to buy something you didn't know you needed. Whether it's a telemarketer or a billboard, it is still 'selling you.' I don't agree that all advertised products are worthless.

The current notion that prices in a "marketplace" are set by processes free from moral implication is a recent and deleterious innovation.

Yes, the idea is around 200 years old. That doesn't make it worthless. Others may not agree, but I think that capitalism's track record speaks for itself. The article's rejection of the notion of a free market is no different than a rejection of capitalism.

Aquinas didn't live in today's service-based economy. Progress in technology and industry is turning more products into commodities - this is a good thing - and shifting the focus to services. So what is a service? It's convenience sold as a product. Is this what Aquinas was against? For the most part we don't need services, and by definition it involves selling you something you urgently need - or at least you don't want to waste your time on it. I can do my own laundry for a dollar a load or I can bring it to the laundromat and they'll wash it for 85 cents a pound. I need clean clothes, and because there are other urgent things I need to take care of I'm willing to pay them to do it for me. How is this morally wrong on their part?

This is a no-brainer.  The Golden Rule, often cited as "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you" is a moral precept adopted by all of the world's major religions.

And it can easily be proven that the Golden Rule isn't a good measure of moral correctness. It's a simple, ancient, rule and the fact that it is religious in origin means nothing to me. The golden rule can be used to justify acts that are clearly not morally right.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.

The problems of advertising (4.66 / 3) (#18)
by IHCOYC on Wed Dec 11, 2002 at 10:53:17 PM EST

It suggests that all advertising is not just useless, but immoral. . .
I read recently that the European parliament had voted to restrict cigarette advertising to black and white text ads, no pictures, no movies, none of the other diversions that advertising usually carries.  I'm enough of a capitalist libertarian myself that I don't buy into the anti-smoking ideology.  I don't favour restricting tobacco ads while letting the others run unfettered.  But tell me: how do these restrictions --- which seem severe, given the licence we allow other products --- interfere with what you (and others) have suggested is the legitimate sphere of advertising?

Advertising to call attention to the availability of a product and its features is not seriously problematic for me. Advertising aimed at the creation of buzz or cachet is a problem for me. It seems, moreover, that too much advertising is aimed at just that. This is what I meant when I wrote that:

The satisfactions such goods offer are the apples of Sodom, seeming red and ripe on the tree, that crumble to dust when plucked.
This kind of ad is literally trying to sell you nothing and make you think it is worth paying extra for. I do have a problem with this, and I make no excuses for my opinion on this wise.

Aquinas was not a Commie. He was hardly an egalitarian by any measure. He did not even argue that prices should be fixed and never fluctuate. Still, his argument strikes me as fundamentally contrary to the artificial generation of need, of buzz, of cachet, to create a hierarchy of value based on brand names divorced of utility, which is what the sort of advertising I object to aims to do. Those who would persuade people to pay extra for empty air are indeed selling the apples of Sodom.
--
"Complecti antecessores tuos in spelæis stygiis Tartari appara," eructavit miles primus.
"Vix dum basiavisti vicarium velocem Mortis," rediit Grignr.
--- Livy
[ Parent ]

One point (4.00 / 1) (#22)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 12:26:16 AM EST

I understand what you mean. I do have one thing to point out, that there are some products which absolutely need the buzz in order to create critical mass. Products where the marginal utility increases as the user base grows, must be marketed aggressively. For example in the computer field Microsoft aggressively marketed Windows 95 facing competition from IBM's OS/2. Everyone agrees that OS/2 was technically a better OS, but IBM was inept at marketing it. Everyone bought Windows 95 while listening to Mick Jagger sing "Start Me Up." OS/2 did not reach critical mass, and it died.

That wasn't necessarily an argument in favor of ads.. After all the inferior OS won. It just illustrates the need for advertising in the marketplace. True, everyone could have ignored the MS ads and bought OS/2, but IBM advertised too and consumer dollars still would have been validating the business model.

Another example is 'early-adopter' technologies such as PVRs and satellite radio. Both are being sold by upstart companies, all of which are burning through money. These companies will fail unless they get more subscribers. It's very possible that both major satellite radio companies will go out of business. This would cut off the early adopters' service and leave the rest of us without access to satellite radio down the road. I think it's a great service, and one that justifies aggressive advertising in order to create critical mass.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

i concur (3.00 / 2) (#85)
by dirtmerchant on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 01:03:56 PM EST

I think that capitalism's track record speaks for itself
How true. Take these fine examples: Enron, Worldcomm, Exxon-Valdez, Tycho, AOL/TimeWarner, shall I continue you brain-washed capitalist dog, or just string you up by the last politicians entrails right now?
-- "The universe not only may be queerer than we think, but queerer than we can think" - JBS Haldane
[ Parent ]
Angry response (2.50 / 4) (#95)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 04:48:37 PM EST

Basically, you're a short-sighted fucking moron. How many companies didn't get investigated for questionable accounting or other misdeeds? 99% of them. To write off capitalism because of the recent actions of a few companies (they all have huge government ties too, which I am against) is ludicrous.

I'm not defending these companies or what they did, I'm pointing out your complete idiocy. You probably watch the news every night, which has given you the impression that all people do is shoot each other. Similarly, the news has a perpetual hard-on for corporate crime so all people hear about is Enron, Tyco, Worlcom. Dimwits like yourself eat that news up, and get this idea that all corporations are the scourge of the planet.

I'm against corporate fraud. I feel strongly that it's a result of government's tampering and regulating business. Favorable treatment by the government, not fraudulent businessmen, is what created Enron.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

BTW (3.00 / 3) (#96)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 04:50:14 PM EST

I could point out communism's track record for you, in case you forgot. I'll tell you this, it's a hell of a lot worse than a few corrupt companies.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
It probably is... (3.00 / 2) (#97)
by squigly on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 05:09:47 PM EST

Although a large amount of the problem with communism is inneficiencies of the people in charge.

The thing is though, it isn't a binary choice.  We don't have a choice betweeen pure capitalism, and communist dictatorship.  We have a selection of choices.

The extremes are rarely the best.  

[ Parent ]

Examples (4.00 / 1) (#109)
by Josh A on Sat Dec 14, 2002 at 08:26:01 PM EST

As in, how you don't give any.

The counterexamples here are too numerous to mention.

Incorrect... or, you left out "them all." at the end. Please mention a few.

The article's rejection of the notion of a free market is no different than a rejection of capitalism.

It is my understanding that the article doesn't reject a free market, it upholds it. At least, all my econ professors were quite clear that the market we have is not a free market. They specifically listed advertising as a feature that free markets lack. This is only one reason you can't apply 200 year old economic models of free markets to our economy.

The golden rule can be used to justify acts that are clearly not morally right.

I would definitely appreciate it if you could list a few examples for this, too.

---
Thank God for Canada, if only because they annoy the Republicans so much. – Blarney


[ Parent ]
Examples (5.00 / 1) (#113)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Sun Dec 15, 2002 at 12:34:05 AM EST

You don't deserve examples, go find them for yourself. Even so, read this comment. Do your damn reading.

For the golden rule, I'll quote my philosophy professor Dr. Freddy Feldman:


1.  The Golden Rule:  "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men
should do to you, do you even so to them: for this is the law and the
prophets." (Matthew 7:12)

GR:  An act-token, A, is morally right if and only if in performing A, the
agent of A treats others in ways in which he or she is willing to be
treated by them.

     Argument based on case of Pete the Pervert

     1.  If GR is true, then Pete's act of hugging and kissing is morally
         right.
     2.  It's not the case that Pete's act of hugging and kissing is
         morally right.
     3.  Therefore, it's not the case that GR is true.  1,2 MT


from http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/~philos/phil160/HAND4A.TXT

The golden rule only works if everyone's desires for what "others would do unto you" are identical.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

Only if you can't abstract (4.00 / 1) (#122)
by zakalwe on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 10:28:50 AM EST

Argument based on case of Pete the Pervert
Pete, assuming he any intelligence should also be able to apply the rules on higher abstractions than directly physical acts. eg "I want people to treat me with consideration of my wishes therefore I should treat other people with consideration of my wishes." In the case where there are conflicts (I want X to hug and kiss me, but I also want people to treat me with consideration of my wants) he should consider whether he would prefer people to treat him using mindless self-consideration only. (Of course, I am free to consider Pete's actions immoral if I come to a different conclusion to him.)

Of course this reveals that the rule isn't an instant moral compass, but I don't think anyone ever claimed it was - its just a good general guideline on which to base a moral code.

[ Parent ]

Wow, blood pressure's peaking (4.25 / 12) (#20)
by Perianwyr on Wed Dec 11, 2002 at 11:45:23 PM EST

Sure you're not going to blow a gasket? Might want to get your fittings checked.

You know, I used to get pretty peeved at this stuff. But I discovered that if I spent my whole day getting all high-strung at the very CONCEPT that some ASSHOLE would VIOLATE my SACROSANCT, GOD-GIVEN time, I got thrown much farther off the mark when any sort of interruption occurred. Now, I have fun when things like this happen. I ask Jehovah's Witnesses what they think of Eris. I ask telemarketers what part of India they're from. And if I absolutely don't want a phone call AT ALL, I'll just take the phone off the hook, or ignore the doorknocker. Remember, when you shut chaos out of your life, you lose every possible good thing that ever happened to you that you didn't plan, and generally don't miss any bad things, since they have their own ways of catching you.

If your life is so accursedly busy, then take your irritation at interruptions as a sign that you need to stop procrastinating and slow down some.

If you were a bit more mellow, perhaps you'd come out of this a happier person? I mean, I understand where you're coming from with regard to your privacy, but you just seem to take everything so personally.

Offer 'em a toke! (4.00 / 2) (#24)
by MalTheElder on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 12:49:12 AM EST

Warning:  it's been a baaaaaad week, and I need to bash something.  Here goes.

Back in the day (kids, don;t try this now!), I'd always answer the door when Witnesses and such came a'knockin'.  I either offer 'em a toke, or was naked, or both.  I got few repeat callers.

I use my answering machine to screen calls.  People I want to talk to know this, and deal with it.  If it's a sales-dweeb I either pick the phone up just a bit so it squeals like a loose fan belt, or pick up and lay the "call me not" rap on them (thanks, Junkbuster, for the script).  I get almost no sales calls anymore.

Road Runner in my neck of the woods does a fine job of blocking most spam, and my kill files deal with the rest.  The few that get through go to the abuse people at my ISP.  Junk snail mail gets marked "return to sender."  I hate parasites who get mail discounts n my tax nickel.  Nuke 'em all and shoot 'em in the dark.

If ya hadn't guessed, I really hate "direct marketers."  Spam am spam, no matter the medium.

Happy Thursday,
  Thumper

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." --- Benjamin Franklin

The Magic Bullet (4.87 / 8) (#26)
by filtersweep on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 12:57:04 AM EST

Every time I get a phone call from a salesdroid, I tell them to place me on their do-not-call list. By law, they are then required to cease all solicitation calls to my phone number. I them tell them I'm not interested in what they're selling and end the call. You can practically see them deflate as soon as they hear those words, so wrapping up the call is usually quick.

I'll be damned if they aren't telling each other about me. Since I've started doing it, I've gone from getting 1-2 calls a day to getting 1-2 calls a week, despite buying a home within the last six months. Ask any new homeowner (first-time, at that) and they'll tell you that's a miracle.

Dial toneeeeeeeee (4.00 / 1) (#64)
by miah on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 06:26:59 PM EST

I think that slamming the phone down in their ear should be enough notice that I want to be on thier damned no call list.

Religion is not the opiate of the masses. It is the biker grade crystal meth of the masses.
SLAVEWAGE
[ Parent ]
this is why (5.00 / 1) (#125)
by Prophet themusicgod1 on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 06:58:06 PM EST

all of my saskatoon associates worked at that marketing firm - becuase they were in canada, calling the united states! eveyr call they placed, they would call long distance. why? even though it was more expensive(thus making their products they were selling more expensive and thus screwing the consumer even more!) - - because the united states does not [usually] impliment it's laws on forign soil. likewise, if i were to get a call from nigeria, or germany, i cannot do anything about it - they are not local, they are not subject to local laws, and i seriously doubt if a forign land is going to persecute it's own people for such a thing. even the united states.
"I suspect the best way to deal with procrastination is to put off the procrastination itself until later. I've been meaning to try this, but haven't gotten around to it yet."swr
[ Parent ]
The Swedish way (none / 0) (#132)
by petmoj on Thu Jan 02, 2003 at 04:35:41 PM EST

In Sweden, we have a government-run no-call list called "Nix-registret" (which translates directly to 'The "nope" database', who said government employees have no humour?). In this database, anybody can list their phone number without cost and without having to say why.

It is actually illegal for a company to cold-call you if your number is on that list. Period. Only companies with which you have an established relationship may call you once your number's there.

Of course, this does not work too well internationally, and the attempt to apply the same law to email failed miserably, for obvious reasons. But it works for phone calls. I have received one cold-call since I listed my number two years ago.

As a side note, the swedish postal office (or what you'd translate that as, it's the people that deliver most mail) also have a nice attitude towards advertising material that is not addressed directly to you but is delivered to all households in a certain area: If you put a note on your door saying "no advertising please", they will not deliver such materials to you.

All in all, these are well balanced systems, they're opt-out that actually works. It most likely won't ever work for email, which is an insight that the swedish government unfortunately has yet to make - I guess nobody's perfect.

[ Parent ]

Car sales... (4.94 / 18) (#27)
by NicholasRP on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 12:58:40 AM EST

Life has been rather interesting the past couple of months. I was basically sold into being a car salesman. And I was thoroughly raped financially, emotionally, and spitirually.

I have always been the one that was always against thick right-wing ideals on capitalism and just flat out being unethical to make a buck. I was laid off from a technology startup and jobless for a period of about 4 months. I was desparate.

I saw an job ad that basically said "Be a Car salesman, making X amount in a year. Free Training. Starting bonus". Note that there was no small print. So I went and interviewed.

I was invited back. Spent the first day absorbing the ridiculous numbers that the car industry generates. All designed as a selling tactic. This went on for most of the day. We were required to take notes and he would make notice if people didnt take notes. At the end of the day, he told people who could come back for the next day of "training". Next day was more of the bullshit, but there was more. He started to hit us up for the "Training" costs. We stated the ad said "free". Of course it was "the dealership will pay you back after 90 days of employment". All of us didnt have the money of course (we were all mostly in the same boat being broken in two by finances). But he dropped it and went on with "training".

This went on for three days. I stuck with it because I really needed the job. I was hired by the hosting dealership.

I signed an agreement to have funds taken from my paycheck to pay for "training costs" (which he altered the agreement post-signature, trying to take it all out of the first check. luckily I had a copy and basically told him to fuck off and that altering a contract like that makes it void).

This dealership was the worst experience of my life. They charged me for anything and everything they possibly could. Full retail price for the shirts that I had to wear for work. Charged me for a really fucking broken VB app that used Access as a DB to store customer data and crystal reports to print out paperwork (continue 70 bucks a month.), that I was forced to use. Charged for all my licensing, bond, and background checks(DMV) just to be able to sell cars in the wonderful state of CO. Not only this, but you know the Starting Bonus mentioned in the ad? It was called the "New Hire Guarantee", not paid up front of course. But over the course of 60 days. And if you were on this "plan", you of course didnt receive full commision for the vehicles you did sell. All in all, I was "let go" after a month and a half of employment, sold a total of 15 cars, and I only had two paychecks: first one for $150(!!) and the second one i'm getting in the mail (I dont even want to know.)

I was sold into doing something I hated (but didnt do too bad just looking at how many i sold), and I didnt get jack shit for it.

If you are ever in the Denver, CO area, never EVER do business with Shortline automotive. They fucked me over. They are pushy, and don't care one single fucking red drop of blood for the people they employ, or the customers they do business with.

As for the training group. They are AutoMaxx (they have dealerships all over) and its the exact same shit that was spoken about in the article. Don't do business with them.

There are some good things though, that I reaped from this experience. First, I know how to break a salesperson in two. Second, never pay MSRP for a vehicle. Three, always negotiate the price of the vehicle, never the "monthly payment,""down payment," or the "trade". Forth, always command the negotiation process, don't get backed into a corner. Fifth, DO THE MATH. Nine times out of ten, they will flat out fucking lie to you on what the actual monthly payment will be. They always highball you on the payment to leave "leg room" for Finance and Insurance (the annoying people that try to sell you more shit like "extended warranties").

And always, _ALWAYS_ remember what you said. Because you can be damn sure the salesperson will remember, and use it against you.

______________________
My life is nothing more than a ripple of reality

Pointless Commentary (4.00 / 4) (#30)
by filtersweep on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 01:11:27 AM EST

My sister was a car salesman for over two years. She was constantly surrounded by pushy, miserable, ex-jock coke-heads and she cheated people for a living. Being a halfway decent person, she eventually quit and joined the Navy, which she is enjoying.

Let me tell you, it takes a pretty high degree of occupational bulllshit to make the NAVY seem great in comparison (not that Seaman recruit is the worst job in the world, mind you). She made better money when she was selling, but she's told me many times that those were the worst two years of her life.

Glad to hear you made it out. Christ help any other poor bastard thinking about making car sales their career.

[ Parent ]

here's another good one (4.00 / 1) (#48)
by waxmop on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 09:51:06 AM EST

the river oaks chrysler dealership in houston, tx is a lot like the dealerships you've described. they got bad press in the paper a few years ago after some dealer sold a 10+ year old car to a nun at a price way above the bluebook value. she needed it for volunteer work.


--
We are a monoculture of horsecock. Liar
[ Parent ]
I say have fun with them... (3.00 / 2) (#28)
by thanos on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 01:05:02 AM EST

...amuse yourself and exercise your passive-aggressive conversational skills. I do however agree with your point that the cold-callers are taking advantage of social conventions to wedge themselves into a sale and as a result dilute the strength of those same conventions. This is no different than what just about 100% of us do from time to time although of course we all aren't doing it as a job.

I was just browsing this site RE: your post:

junkbusters FCC information


Savinelli testified that Pickard said on two occasions that he had accidentally spilled LSD on himself, dosing himself with the drug. Pickard acted "giddy" and was less focused and organized for about a month after the second dosing.
Telephone solicitors should die. (4.57 / 14) (#29)
by kitten on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 01:05:48 AM EST

I work for a small company, and I get about five to ten or more salescalls a day, every day. I've started to notice all the little tricks of their hideous and immoral trade. They have such laughably transparant tactics most of the time, but on occasion they get quite sneaky.

The basic call.
"This is kitten."
"May I speak to / I need to speak to the person in charge of [ ordering your printing supplies / your internet connection / handling your payroll / ordering office furniture / some other inane thing ]."

This is your basic call. It doesn't need much explanation, but goddamn, is it obnoxious. I used to hang up on these people, but then I decided that it's much more irritating to someone when they ask a question - any question - and you simply reply "No."

"May I speak to the person in charge of ordering office supplies?"
"No." click

A slight modification.
Many solicitors will try to discover the name of an employee that works there. They may follow up their "The person in charge of" speech with, "..and who would that be?" hoping to get a name, but if this is not possible, they glean it from a website or some other directory. It doesn't have to be the name of the person they actually wish to speak to - if they ask for Robert Jackson, they're hoping they'll get transferred over there, and then act confused, saying they really wanted to talk to the procurement agent, hoping poor Mr Jackson will blindly transfer them just to shut them up.

The callback.
This one is really annoying, and it actually worked on one of our employees. The solicitor calls and rambles on about some useless product - in this case, a directory. (It wasn't a useful directory, like an industry-related listing; just a directory of all the morons that bought the directory).
So they call and they claim they're from Some Company You've Never Heard Of and they're "updating their records". This is the phrase they use, every time, almost without fail.
They try to get your name so they can address you personally, like you're old highschool buddies. They'll ask if you're still located at this address, under this company name, etc. The uninitiated is unsure as to what this is about, so he answers their questions. The schmoozing-friendly salesguy then says something to the effect of "Okay, now we'd like to ship you [our useless product], free of charge, is that okay?" They don't mention any cost, and they're a bit more smooth about it than I'm conveying, so the wretch that's been talking to him just says sure, fine, whatever. "Great," says the salesguy, "I'll have our shipping department contact you soon with details."
They'll allow a sufficient amount of time to elapse for you to have put this out of your mind, and then call back, saying they just want to "go over the details" again with you. They'll get you saying "yes" to a long string of vapid questions, and then at the end, quickly mention that you'll be receiving an invoice from them if you don't return the product within 10 days, so it's absolutely guaranteed to be completely 100% risk free.
So bloody annoying. You know when to hang up, you're fine - but as I said, this actually got one of our employees. They ended up invoicing us for something like 150 dollars, which we of course ignored, and then called every day threatening legal action against us if we didn't pay for this idiotic directory. We said we didn't want it, didn't order it, the guy who they spoke to had no authorization to order it, we hadn't opened it, and we'd send it back. They said that wasn't good enough, because they had to recoup costs of "putting our name in", whatever that means. It got to the point where my boss finally decided to pay them just to shut them the fuck up.

The fake-out.
This is really low. The solicitor will call and say he's from the Customer Service department (he doesn't say what company), and he's calling about your [something]. In our case, it's almost always our Sharp copier. (He's hoping you'll assume he's actually from Sharp's CS department.)
The speech is always the same. The price of toner has gone up, but there was an error in their mailing department, and they feel soooo terrible about not notifying us in time that they'd like to ship us some toner "at the old price". They do not ever ask if you're actually interested in buying more toner - just a statement that they would like to ship it to you.
They laden their speech down with so many apologies and burdensome details, and the conclude with a cheery "Okay, so we're going to ship that out to you right away, at the old cost like we discussed, for [some insane amount]." Then they quickly depart, leaving you wondering what the hemmoraghing fuck just happened.

There's a handful of others, mostly less creative and less sneaky, so I won't bother with them here.

What are these clowns selling most often? Printer cartridges is a favorite. They're often proud to tell you that "What we've done, Mr kitten, is expand the ink capacity.."

Many times they're peddling office furniture. As though the idea of having chairs and desks in the office had not occured to us, or that we wanted them but had no idea where to look, and they have come like savior angels to assist us.

Magazine subscriptions or directory listings are other favored wares. So are internet connections. (When I told the guy we were quite happy with our ISP, he said, "We're not an ISP - we merely provide your connection to the Internet.") Sometimes they want to offer webdesign services - which is no doubt a sham, but I've never payed attention to that one long enough to find out what the story is.

Suffice to say that the wares they peddle are almost universally worthless, and often rely on subterfuge, deception, or outright lying to make a sale. It's an extremely dishonest way to make a living, if my opinion be known.

The author of this article makes a good point - they do indeed rely entirely on the generally good nature of a person (too bad they have to deal with me instead) to sell their crap, and they take advantage of communication systems that were designed for legitimate usage. When I'm at work, I am at work - I have things to do, and I don't have time to stop to answer the phone unless it's a legitimate business matter, but we can't very well not answer the phones - and when the salescall is sufficiently disguised, it's sometimes difficult to tell whether this is a meaningful call or not. You're forced - if the salesman knows how to do it right - to listen to his entire speech before you can be certain it's bullshit, and hang up. And you have to be certain - it wouldn't do to hang up on people who had legitimate business matters to discuss.

All in all, it is irritating on an epic scale, wastes valuable time and money of both individuals and companies, produces little or no benefit, and usurps - at cost to the potential customer - resources that were meant for legitimate purposes.

Unfortunately, it's also a mult-million (billion?) dollar industry, so Congress isn't going to do a damn thing about these social leeches wasting time and money all across the nation.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
Do not call list (3.00 / 1) (#35)
by FlipFlop on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 04:29:07 AM EST

You're forced...to listen to his entire speech before you can be certain it's bullshit, and hang up.

If you hang up, they'll just call back later (like something was wrong with the phone. Happens to their phones all the time.) As soon as you suspect an unsolicited sales call, you should ask them to put you on their "do not call list". They will thank you for your time, hang up, and never call you again.

AdTI - The think tank that didn't
[ Parent ]

The "Web design" scam (3.00 / 2) (#52)
by railruler on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 11:32:18 AM EST

Occasionally the've been stung by the FTC or FCC and have to actually include the small print. They'll do your web design (a 3 page website with menu) for free...*IF* you agree to sign a 1-year webhosting contract for $175 a month. And the site isn't designed by a professional designer -- it's designed by someone desperate who is paying ~$1000 to the company to "learn how to design web pages".

[ Parent ]
Way to go out on a limb there... (2.00 / 1) (#99)
by reeses on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 06:56:48 PM EST

Suffice to say that the wares they peddle are almost universally worthless, and often rely on subterfuge, deception, or outright lying to make a sale. It's an extremely dishonest way to make a living, if my opinion be known.
Thanks for clarifying that this was only your opinion. :-)

[ Parent ]
Whatcha do is like this (3.50 / 2) (#100)
by jet_silver on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 08:14:25 PM EST

I used to work at a little techno-weeny startup (we used BIG lasers!) and we'd get calls like these.  

So we set up voicemail boxes.  One for "person in charge of" messages (Fergus Mixolydian was in charge of -everything-), one for "survey" (his name was Karl Mondaugen), one for "CEO" (Roger Pointsman).  Anything not obviously in one of these categories went to Mixolydian.  

We had very, very few problems and the incidence of time-waster calls dropped month by month.  See, a -real- vendor with an interest in equipment you own will know whom to ask for, or he'll write to you, or something.  So don't worry, you don't ever have to check your bogus mailboxes, just delete the contents from time to time (or listen to the messages, some of them are funny).  

"What they really fear is machine-gunning politicians becoming a popular sport, like skate-boarding." -Nicolas Freeling
[ Parent ]

Reminds me of an old job... (4.50 / 2) (#121)
by Count Zero on Mon Dec 16, 2002 at 04:26:39 PM EST

I used to work for a mid-sized regional ISP. Whenever anyone called asking for "the person who..." we did like you, and transferred them to a vmail box that pretty much never got checked. When they asked for the person's name, one of the sysadmins would refer them to "Mr. Dave Knull". (Unix users should get the joke.)

The best is that eventually we started getting those free trade/ad publications sent to our address to Dave Knull, messages in the vmail box for Dave Knull, and salesdroids calling us, and asking for Dave Knull. Which really confused some of the support people who would somtimes get these calls, not be in on the joke, and respond that "there's no one here by that name.". (Which would of course lead to the "person responsible for..." which would be a xfer to the /dev/null vmail box, and so on.)


[ Parent ]

honor in sales (4.42 / 7) (#32)
by turmeric on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 02:22:29 AM EST

computerists can be as slimy, as cruel, as cold, as soulless. so can advert folks, marketers, engineers, plumbers, janitors, etc.

the honor is often more in the person than in the work. thus, there have been times that sales folks have helped me.

Credit card companies (4.25 / 4) (#33)
by blackwizard on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 02:40:50 AM EST

I have people mailing me letters and calling me all the time begging me to get credit cards with them. Here are a few things I've done to combat them:
  • Mail the advertisements I get from the local stores back to them in their reply envelopes
  • Tell them "thanks anyway", then tell them to put me on their "do not call" list
  • Once, a credit card company called me who I already had an account with. (I think it was Discover...) I told them, "I'm glad you called! I was just thinking that I'd like to cancel my account with you." They seemed suprised but sheepishly got off the phone and never called back. (Apparantly they couldn't cancel my account, either...)
Thanks to the tracking numbers that companies have started putting on their reply envelopes, I think the amount of postal spam I've been getting is dwindling. I think the "do not call list" helps too. As for e-mail spam, I still get a ton of that. About the only thing I can do is forward the stuff to SpamCop. Lately, I have been getting a surge of offers for a free porn membership!!!... ugh.

Credit cards... (3.00 / 2) (#51)
by Kintanon on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 10:28:23 AM EST

I'm annoyed by credit card offers because I have REALLY bad credit due to some issues a few years ago. So There is NO WAY I'm going to get approved for a credit card. But I still get 2-3 offers a week for "platinum" credit cards and crap simply because I'm in the College Student age range so I'm viewed as a sucker who can't manage money (Which was true a few years ago, but not anymore), bah!

Kintanon

[ Parent ]

bad credit (4.00 / 2) (#65)
by Burning Straw Man on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 06:35:53 PM EST

I got into the same stupid situation early in college. Finally, now some 6 years later, a bit of financial discipline is finally paying off in the form of those bad credit records expiring, and a good credit rating.

So hang in there! Bad credit is fixed with patience and discipline, and it sounds like you are on the right track. It is too bad that this is one of those lessons that almost has to be learned by experience -- I tried to warn my younger brothers about the perils of bad credit cards when they went off to school, but to no avail, now they get the same several years of bad credit that I suffered through.

Unfortunately, once you get better credit, you'll probably get even more credit card offers. More unfortunately, these will come "pre-approved", with the actual plastic cards in the mail. Makes it harder to drop in the shredder without actually having to open it and take out the stupid card and cut it up separately.
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]

bah (4.00 / 1) (#66)
by Danse on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 07:42:10 PM EST

I get the stupid "pre-approved" cards all the time. I don't even have a credit card right now and my credit is only so-so. The "pre-approved" thing doesn't mean jack since you still have to get re-approved if you agree to the card, which, despite the way they make it sound in the material they send you, is certainly not a sure thing.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
pre-approved credit cards (2.20 / 5) (#69)
by rockinricky on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 10:50:24 PM EST

     I take apps for credit cards on the phone (inbound calls only) and I am no longer surprised by the ignorance pouring into my headset daily.  People think that they get the card automatically, and get pissed when they find out that 'pre-approved' is not the same as 'approved' when it comes to credit cards.  

     One of the offers I take apps for has a plastic card in it that says 'pre-approved MasterCard' on the front and the account number printed on the card is actually the 1-800 number to the application center(me).  Lots of people think it's a real card even though it says 'Not A Real Credit Card' on the back.  I believe that some banks do this to take advantage of ignorant people.

[ Parent ]

This is like the exploding cigar trick, yes? (3.66 / 3) (#75)
by dark on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 07:22:28 AM EST

HAHAHAHAHA! They actually thought it was an APPROVED credit card! Just because it says "pre-approved"! *wheeze* *cough* *choke*

[ Parent ]
Um, who exactly is "ignorant"? (4.40 / 5) (#76)
by sphealey on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 07:39:13 AM EST

I am no longer surprised by the ignorance pouring into my headset daily. People think that they get the card automatically, and get pissed when they find out that 'pre-approved' is not the same as 'approved' when it comes to credit cards.
As far as I can tell, in US English "pre-approved" means "already approved; do not need to take additional approval steps". So if your employer is sending out notices saying that potential customers are "pre-approved", and you then tell them that there are additional approval steps, who exactly is "ignorant"?

sPh

[ Parent ]

Well... (4.00 / 2) (#84)
by Danse on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 12:44:08 PM EST

To be fair, maybe he means they are ignorant for actually believing what his company says?






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
Should be pre-approval cards :) (NT). (1.00 / 1) (#103)
by Anonymous Hiro on Sat Dec 14, 2002 at 12:04:42 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Well (4.33 / 3) (#92)
by mindstrm on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 03:31:34 PM EST

In the rest of the english spekaing world, "Pre-approved" means you have ALREADY been approved, even though you haven't sent out an application. That's what everyone thinks, and that's what they WANT you to think.. so if people are ignorant for simply reading what it says and believing it.. so be it.

So they send you a card that says it's a pre-approved master card, and you think they are ignorant when they discover it's not? IT SAYS IT IS. That's borderline fraudulent.

Credit card companies do this all the time; they want the demographics, whether they approve you or not. You still go into their database for later retrieval.

I've seen credit companies put up a booth at a business, take applications from a hundred people, then deny ALL OF THEM on a basic fact, like income level, that they KNEW about beforehand.. that's fraudulent in my books, and wasting everyone's time.


[ Parent ]

the point (3.00 / 1) (#83)
by Burning Straw Man on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 12:41:09 PM EST

the point about the "pre-approved" nonsense is that you can't simply drop the envelope in the shredder, you actually have to open it to get out the plastic.
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]
No no no... (none / 0) (#129)
by vectro on Thu Dec 26, 2002 at 08:26:32 PM EST

... it just means you need to get a bigger shredder.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]
Pre-Approved Cards (none / 0) (#127)
by daviddennis on Mon Dec 23, 2002 at 05:29:39 PM EST

The real pre-approved card scam works like this:

* They charge a $40 application fee, a $75 annual fee and about five or six fees adding up to $178.50.

* They give you a $250 credit limit, so they have virtually no exposure.  And the fees, of course, are pure profit.

If you need to re-establish credit, Capital One isn't bad.  They gave me a $200 limit card, and later I got a $500 limit card, and even the $200 card was genuinely usable (to the extent a $200 card is).  

Watch out when someone says "You have been approved for up to $1,000!"  You've been approved for the minimum, or $250.  It will take forever for you to get up to $1,000.

One credit card company called me and pitched the card.  Our conversation went like this:

David: Okay, what company are you from?

Them: First Premiere Bank

David: Hmmm ... Let's see (tappety-tap) visit epinions.com, average rating something like one star.  I see you're not very well liked at all, hmm.  (Mentioned some details by people who were messed over)

Can you believe they are still sending me postal spam, even after that?  But that did seem to stop the calls.

D

amazing.com has amazing things.
[ Parent ]

and your alternative to the salesman would be? (3.40 / 5) (#36)
by cypress avenue on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 04:33:05 AM EST

to let the general populace decide what they want and when they want it.....!

people would just sit around with their fingers up their own arses.

Novel (4.66 / 3) (#55)
by arafel on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 12:18:10 PM EST

> to let the general populace decide what they want > and when they want it.....! What a strange idea, letting people decide what they want and when. Why is that a bad thing, exactly?
Paul
[ Parent ]
Advertising (4.00 / 1) (#37)
by orlando on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 04:57:58 AM EST

Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside of a swill bucket. -- George Orwell

Anti-telemarketering counter-script (4.28 / 7) (#38)
by TheophileEscargot on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 05:06:26 AM EST

There's a nice counter-script for use against telemarketers, which gives you a string of questions to use against them.

I think I would like this kind of job. How much do you earn?
That's not bad. Do you get time off for going to the dentist?
Is it important to have good teeth for your job?
Which toothpaste would you recommend?
Etc etc...
----
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death

That counter-script (3.00 / 1) (#40)
by Craevenwulfe on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 06:22:16 AM EST

Is BA_RILLIANT! I wonder if i have the balls to try it out on some poor girl the next time they phone.

[ Parent ]
Alternatives? (4.00 / 1) (#106)
by Anonymous Hiro on Sat Dec 14, 2002 at 01:13:20 PM EST

If very busy at work.
"Sorry you are caller number 5! Thank you for listening to Social Pirate Radio 101FM." *click*.

If you have time to kill.
"What is this week's password? Grrrreat that's RIGHT!!! (they always get it right ;) ).
Answer the next 3 questions correctly to win a prize!

(easier/harder questions depending on you)
Question 1) What is the capital of Swaziland?
Answer: Mbabane

Question 2) What does accessing the address $c030 on an Apple II computer do?
Answer: click the speaker, make sound

Question 3) What is the Chandrasekhar limit and its value?
Answer: maximum mass of a stable white dwarf. approx 3x10^30 kg or 1.4 sun masses.

If correct: Congratulations you have won a complimentary CD-R, please provide us your full name, age and address so that we can send your prize.

Hey they deserve a CD-R if they get through all that. Put your company sales material on it if you want to justify the wasted company time :).


[ Parent ]

Frank Bettger ("Bet'cher Life") (4.87 / 8) (#39)
by snowlion on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 05:17:04 AM EST

Frank Bettger was a famous insurance salesman of yore, he wrote a great book called "How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling." It is well written, and actually changed my mind about salespeople.

I now believe that salesmen as a whole have a bad reputation because of bad salesman. The best salespeople, from what I understand, are actually polite, helpful, and unobtrusive.

Here are some selections from his book:

"And I don't believe in tricks. I can't use them. They don't work. I've tried them. And I'm glad they failed because in the long run, I know that tricks are a losing game in any business. Nothing will take the place of complete honesty, first, last, and all the time!"

"I no longer worry about being a brilliant conversationalist. I simply try to be a good listener."

"I realize that many secretaries and receptionists feel as though it is their duty to get rid of salesmen. But I don't believe trickery and subterfuge is the way to handle them. A clever man with a dominating personality may often get by the secretary without stating the purpose of his call. A salesman with lots of nerve and a fluent tongue may get away with it once in a while, but I believe the best way to outsmart secretaries and switchboard operators is never to try!"

"I resolved right then to dedicate the rest of my selling career to this principle: Finding out what people want, and helping them get it."
--
Map Your Thoughts

There salesmen and salesmen. I'm one of them. (4.23 / 13) (#43)
by LaundroMat on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 07:29:56 AM EST

This article (and many of the comments) is overgeneralising to an absurd extent.
First of all, a distinction should be made between sales in a business-to-business environment, and sales in a b-to-c environment.
Secondly, what most people here understand with "sales" are simply scams. The printer cartridge business is a scam. The water filter stuff is MLM'ed scam. These people calling you are no salesmen, they're scammers.

As one of the last comments pointed out, a salesman is someone who's helping. He asks you what you need, and he tells you whether he has the solution or not.

I'm a salesman; I sell software to companies who are looking to get 'closer' to their customers. Do I cold call? Sure I do. I call my prospects to inform them about what we do and how - if necessary - we can help them. Do I get a lot of negative replies? No, because what we have to offer is an honest service, and a possible solution to problems companies can experience. If my prospect isn't interested, so be it. I never had anyone on the phone who told me to p!ss off and never call him again. Because I offer him help. And ofcourse he knows I'll expect to be paid for that too. This is what selling is about.

Mind, this is not because our services or products are so innovative. It's just because we try to listen to people. We tell them there could be a solution to the need they are having now. What we don't do is push it in their hands and say: "Now you pay".

The ink cartridge people, the water purifier frauds are no sales people. They're there to make a quick buck out of gullible or weak personalities.

Final remark.
How does a company make money? By selling something. You have to approach your potential buyers (through ads, calling them, etc). You honestly don't think you can just sit around all day waiting for orders to come in? Now matter how innovative, world-saving, cheap or what else youur product/service is, it's you who has to get in touch with potential buyers. They certainly won't come to you by themselves.


NB: Don't try and come to me saying I'm the living proof of a brainwashed salesman (as indicated in the article). My former job (in a recruitment agency) had a sales approach close to the ink cartridge people's. It was terrible (enormous pressure, dissatisfied clients, days of cold calls with zero results, etc.).
Where I am working now, this "helping hand"-approach has been adopted, and it pays off. First of all, I'm happy in this job, and secondly, my clients are respectful for what I do.

Bah. (2.33 / 3) (#44)
by LaundroMat on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 07:37:43 AM EST

Mental note: click "preview" in the future.

[ Parent ]
Salesmen do not "help" people. (3.20 / 5) (#88)
by willfe on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 02:30:16 PM EST

While most of your argument makes sense, I'm still compelled to disagree with it.

The notion that the average salesman is an honest person "helping" me somehow is ludicrous. With no offense intended to your skills or knowledge, it has always (and I mean always) been my experience that salesman are not knowledgable in the technical details of the products they offer. They regurgitate factoids they're given by their masters, whether factual or not, and don't often care much about "doing what's right for the customer."

Car dealers, robotic tape library vendors, cell phone retailers, and Best Buy minions all have the same things in common: they want me to buy, buy, buy, are willing to say anything they feel is needed to make a sale, and don't care one lick about my actual needs (or ability to afford something that's paid in installments) when pushing their wares.

Nobody likes cold calls. You may feel compelled to approach your potential buyers, but this potential buyer becomes "somebody else's customer" when the cold calling starts. I approach companies when I am seeking a product or service, and resent when companies try to turn it the other way 'round. I have means of researching products and services on my own, without the automatic bias that a company who wants me to buy from them would automatically inject into any kind of research effort.

I'm not suggesting you're one of the brainwashed masses, but you are sort of towing the standard line :)

My point is people these days are beginning to value their privacy again, and the sales tactics used by today's salesmen really piss people off.



[ Parent ]
I'd like to hire a few people like you (4.00 / 1) (#130)
by QuantumG on Thu Dec 26, 2002 at 10:15:49 PM EST

I've worked in about 5 different start-up companies. I'm a tech guy but I almost always end up in a management position. The reason: I will not sit quietly whilst the company goes down the toilet. For some reason start-up companies think that sales are not important. They consider themselves above the requirement of actually making money. In the interview I almost always ask the same questions: How many clients do you have? How much profit did you make last year? When do you expect to make the most profit in the near future? I have never been told the trueth, ever. So within the first month I have assessed the company and I sit down with management and have a chat about sales and profit. They almost never have a plan on how to build a sales team.

Unfortunately, by the time I get to some companies there is little hope left -- I have seen the same thing happen to a dozen of my friend's companies too. Building a sales force is the first thing you do in a company, not the last.

The one exception I have experienced in my start-up career is a company that had a great sales force, but a most fucked up marketing department. I would ask the sales people "why do our customers buy our product?" and they'd say "because it's so great" and I'd chuckle then say "no, what do they use it for?" and they would direct me to ask marketing. I'd ask marketing and they'd say "we don't know, but they appear to buy it at the end of their budget cycle" and show me graphs and other research. Scary but true, this company still has no idea why people buy their product. Feature enhancements are driven by guess work and emails.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]

Junk Mail Saved My Life! (3.20 / 5) (#46)
by evilpenguin on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 09:06:50 AM EST

Shamelessly copied-and-pasted from http://www.kithfan.org/work/transcripts/five/junkmail.html

-----
Kevin: I've noticed a lot of these crudely made signs [holding up a cardboard sign that reads "Please no junk mail"] on the porches of people's houses. Well, I say "People should be more careful about what they ask for." 'Cos I'm here tonight, ladies and gentleman, to tell you junk mail saved my life. Yes. Junk mail saved my life. Junk mail saved my life. Oh, sorry. I only meant to say that twice. Forget the third time. Where was I? Junk mail saved my life. If I had one of these signs up in the window of my house I wouldn't be alive today to talk about it.

See, it happened two nights ago. I was alone at home. I'm no good with relationships; women say I'm difficult and that I have *emotional problems*--but that's a different monologue onto itself. Anyway, I'm at home drying the dish--who needs more than one dish when you live alone? You know, just me and my *emotional problems*.

So, I finish drying the dish and I open the cupboard door to put the dish away. I also lean over to empty the sink. I straigtned up too quickly and hit my head on the edge of the door.

Well, blinded by pain, I stumble backward into the glass cabinet of porcelin dolls. So I collect porcelin dolls!! Isn't a guy allowed to have a hobby!?

Okay, I try to stumble my way towards the bathroom; only I trip over the blue box, which is really strange 'cos I don't have a blue box!

So, I land on a large pile of junk mail that'd been laying near the front door. Then I passed out. And the doctors tell me if there wasn't junk mail there to stop the bleeding, I would have bled to death!

So, I come to after thirty minutes. No one stopped by or even called--you know--why should they? I have *emotional problems.*

So, I lift myself up to my elbows and I crawl to the telephone and I dial for help. Now, due to my head injury, I can't remember that easy to remember emergency number. So I pull a large piece of bloody junk mail off the back of my head and I dial that number. Lucky for me, it was a number I had called several times before and they had my name and address in the computer. Unlucky for me, they thought I was ordering a pizza and came forty-five minutes later. I got the pizza for free--but that's a different monologue onto itself.

So, the pizza guy made a couple more deliveries, then drove me straight to the hospital. And that's how junk mail saved my life! So, I suggest to you that you think twice before putting one of these signs [holding up the cardboard sign that reads "Please no junk mail"] in the window of your house. You just might regret it.

Oh, and I want all you ladies out there to know, I'm seeing a therapist about my *emotional problems*.

[Kevin turns around and walks to the back of the stage and stumbles into the door]
--
# nohup cat /dev/dsp > /dev/hda & killall -9 getty

Actually, I really do love junk mail... (3.00 / 1) (#57)
by msphil on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 12:32:45 PM EST

One of my cats refuses to urinate in the litter box, so it's either paper in a separate box or the carpet. With junk mail, I don't have to buy a newspaper or rifle through the recycle bins to keep him happy :-)

[ Parent ]
telemarketing (3.50 / 2) (#47)
by alevin on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 09:28:47 AM EST

I once worked for a telemarketing firm. We were selling chimney cleaning. It was rather routine, and encourage discretely by the boss, to fabricate facts and statistics, including fraudulent claims of endorsements by government agencies, to maximize sales.

I agree that fraudulent telemarketing is immoral, but is all telemarketing? One could view it as merely soliciting sale or free trade. One could also view it as an initiation of force by calling one's telephone and consuming time and resources, but is faxing, calling, or e-mailing a protocol or medium set up for receiving such transmissions legitimately an initiation of force? Methinks not.

Making false claims is certainly immoral, and I view a fine line with false advertising. I recall many telemarketing workers were protesting some national legislation against telemarketing as imfringing of trade, but I'm not so certain on the issue.
--
alevin

Chimney and duct cleaning (4.00 / 1) (#59)
by hatshepsut on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 01:09:50 PM EST

I used to get lots of calls from telemarketing companies offering these services...when I lived in my first apartment (electric baseboard heating, no fireplace).

While some people in the commentary have noted that not all telemarketing is "bad", I have had too many experiences with rude, obnoxious, and high-pressure phone solicitation to feel terribly benign about the people who do this. Yes, they were probably "bad salespeople", but, any salesperson calling during dinner is annoying. And deliberately calling during dinner ("because we tried earlier and you weren't home") is (or should be) worthy only of scorn and derision (loud, if possible).

Caller ID is only for preventing telephone solicitation and stalkers. And I bet telephone solicitation happens more often...

[ Parent ]

it's theft (4.50 / 4) (#94)
by upper on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 04:08:43 PM EST

It either steals the time I spend rejecting the interruptions or it denies me the use of that mode of contact. The fact that I choose which I lose doesn't change the fact that I lose something I value. And it's involuntary, as the article makes clear.

Spam is the clearest example, and I'm not talking about theft of bandwidth. Consider a spam sent to a million people -- which typically generates 15 replies, if the numbers I've heard are right. If each recipient can delete it in a second, collectively they have lost a million seconds, which is 278 hours (almost 7 40-hour weeks). If the typical recipient's time is worth $20/hour, the recipients have spent $5500 worth of time "just hitting delete". The cost of spam is NOT trivial, and less than 1% of the total is borne by the spammer.

For other forms of invasive solicitation -- junk mail, phone solicitation, and door-to-door -- the advertiser bears a higher portion of the cost -- maybe even half. But I still lose something and gain nothing. Contrast that with television advertising -- if I leave the TV off, I neither gain nor lose anything. If I chose to watch the program the advertisers have paid for, presumably I gain by watching it, even if I would gain more if it were commercial-free.

Moreover, these solicitors know in advance that it is overwhelmingly likely that (1) I won't want to buy, and (2) I will be annoyed. They don't care. This distinguishes it from a legit sales call, such as a wholesale salesman calling or visiting an appropriate store. It's legitimate business if the salesman reasonably and honestly concludes that the potential buyer is likely to be interested in the product and likely to benefit. Otherwise it's theft.

[ Parent ]

how do/can you justify... (3.00 / 1) (#101)
by mikelist on Sat Dec 14, 2002 at 07:42:56 AM EST

From some point of view, randomly attacking or verbally assaulting people on the streets COULD be seen as a means of relieving frustrations. That would be a good thing, wouldn't it? From my point of view, that is exactly what cold callers do, verbally assault people at random.

[ Parent ]
Most is. (4.00 / 2) (#107)
by pyro9 on Sat Dec 14, 2002 at 01:38:25 PM EST

Most (not all) telemarketing to a home is immoral in one way or another.

They claim that they are letting interested people know about a product or service. So why do they not provide their names for caller ID or in the worst cases provide a personal name (fake). Why not provide the product name as caller ID if they are sure I will be so happy to have it offered? What part of I am not interested do they not understand? Can they not guess that 8:30A.M. on Saturday is not an appropriate time to call?

Many of them revael their true attitude by using auto-dialers that speculatively call more numbers than they have salespeople. If too many answer, some get dead air. Obviously, they believe themselves to be more important than I am. Their time is too valuable to waste on busy signals and phines that aren't answered, but mine is unimportant enough to waste on answering dead air (only to be called again later).

If they truly just wanted to call people who would be glad to recieve their wonderful offer, they wouldn't be so desperate to 'mis-hear' me when I say to place me on their do not call list. They would actually WANT the the phone company to provide a way for me to indicate that I do not appreciate such calls.

As it is, I have a phone so I can call friends and family and they can call me. Most of the calls I get are solicitors. Sometimes more than 10 a day (I have NEVER bought anything from any of them, but they keep calling).


The future isn't what it used to be
[ Parent ]
What a friend does.... (4.00 / 3) (#58)
by Elkor on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 01:04:43 PM EST

Is start asking them about the "perks" of their product.

His typical response is "Does that come with High Speed Internet?" Makes the aluminum siding salesman go "uhhhh." Then, if it doesn't come with HSI, say "Oh, sorry. If it doesn't come with HSI then I'm not interested."

If they are selling HSI, then ask them if it comes with Aluminum Siding, because you need new siding on your house. Use the same response as above when they demur.

Personally, I have a hard to pronounce last name, so does my gf. So any telemarketer will mangle them pretty badly. If someone can't pronounce my last name, I tell them "Sorry, they aren't available. Can I take a message?" If it's someone who actually needs to get in touch with us, they will generally leave a message.

A last tactic is a bit of deceptive advertising. Since many cold-call places just go through the phone book, have yourself listed under a different name. Most phone companies don't care WHAT you are listed as, so long as you are listed. If you get a call asking for the fake name, use the "take a message" response.

Regards,
Elkor


"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
I used to be listed as Calvin N. Hobbes (n/t) (3.00 / 2) (#68)
by homar on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 10:22:11 PM EST


meep
[ Parent ]
Try this.... (4.33 / 12) (#60)
by zaxus on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 03:18:14 PM EST

You: "You don't want to sell me death sticks."
Them: "Huh?"
You: "You want to go home, and rethink your life."
<click>

---
"If you loved me, you'd all kill yourselves today." - Spider Jerusalem, Transmetropolitan


The Author is NOT Talking About ADS (4.28 / 7) (#63)
by threed on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 04:51:21 PM EST

Seems a lot of people took something different from this than I did. The author is talking about invasive marketing - cold calls, door to door, spam, and the like. MLM, IMHO, is a different kind of evil so I'll leave that out for now. He said nothing concerning TV, radio, or print advertising.

Of course companies have to advertise to get the word out, but it's usually passive. You see the ad as a part of a free entertainment service or as an incidental part of the landscape you're driving through. You are now informed, and then later you can make a purchase decision. Did anyone ever say otherwise? (Any complaints about the quantity of advertising on TV belong in another article.)

I, for one, agree with him. This crap has to stop. Don't tell me to "just say 'do not call'" - not all of them play by the rules. My phone is not a whack-a-mole machine, it's a telecomm device that I pay for. And that's the point of the article, really - these invasive marketing bastards are leeches, sucking the blood out of legitimate communications networks. If these supposed businesses had to do without direct marketing, they wouldn't be in business at all.

It's a scumbag industry and I say anyone defending it is a scumbag themselves. Hell, I'd go so far as to say anyone working in it is just as guilty - get a real job, you lowlifes! Also sharing the guilt, let's take the phone companies and post offices to task - they play both sides of the fence with government there to prop them up, sometimes using my taxes!

Now, aside from the standard "do not call", which does not always work and never will work 100%, I find the best thing to do is just plain fuck with their heads. Lead them on, waste their time, enjoy yourself. It takes a lot of creativity  but you can often turn their spiel back on them... make 'em think you're building bombs or something. Scare the piss out of them: "C4 Industries" never called me back after that one time, and I never even got an idea of what they were selling.


--Threed - Looking out for Numero Uno since 1976!

In fairness to the commenters. . . . (4.50 / 2) (#82)
by IHCOYC on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 12:26:29 PM EST

. . . I did say a few words in the article in chief that might well be read as sceptical of the value of advertising, or at least certain kinds of advertising. I did not mean to suggest that advertising always is immoral; I do mean to suggest that cold calls are always immoral.

"Advertising" is much broader than "cold calling," and is much harder to make general statements about. The cobbler who hangs out a shingle saying "Shoes Repaired" is advertising. So is the hair dye maker who airs a TV spot that suggests if a man dyes away his grey hairs he will get into women's pants. The first seems entirely innocuous; for the second, I'm afraid I'm going to have to insist on a written money-back guarantee.

Every cold-caller steals other people's time and attention, occupying social space used for normal person to person communication and using that space to make a sales pitch. My thesis is that this makes cold calling immoral per se. Scepticism about the value of advertising generally is a peripheral point; I mention it only because the fact that a product must be aggressively promoted at least suggests that it is overpriced, makes claims it can't deliver, or both.
--
"Complecti antecessores tuos in spelæis stygiis Tartari appara," eructavit miles primus.
"Vix dum basiavisti vicarium velocem Mortis," rediit Grignr.
--- Livy
[ Parent ]

Re: The Author *MAY* be Talking About ADS (4.00 / 2) (#89)
by parker51 on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 02:31:25 PM EST

You see the ad as a part of a free entertainment service or as an incidental part of the landscape you're driving through. You are now informed, and then later you can make a purchase decision. Did anyone ever say otherwise? (Any complaints about the quantity of advertising on TV belong in another article.)

Such advertising may be neither free, nor passive. The cost of such advertising is passed along to the consumer in the form of higher prices for advertised products and services. Studies have shown that the television receiver license fee in the United Kingdom, which funds the BBC, is actually much cheaper (by at least a factor of 2) than the advertising costs passed on to consumers in so-called 'free TV' countries, where the service is funded by advertising.

For reference, search the web and newsgroups for "BBC advertising costs" for a good overview of links on the subject (too numerous to quote here).

How about the intangible cost in terms of lower-quality TV programming demanded by the need for advertising revenue and the ratings upon which it is based? Much quality BBC programming finds it way to (quite receptive) American audiences via PBS (also mostly funded directly, though corporate "sponsorship" has been creeping in lately, and I realize that the BBC programming on PBS is a filtered sample of the best material). How about the not-so-passive intrusion, and visual clutter, of billboards, both in urban and rural areas?

[ Parent ]

Adding the cost of advertising (4.00 / 1) (#98)
by squigly on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 05:33:07 PM EST

The cost of such advertising is passed along to the consumer in the form of higher prices for advertised products and services.

Surely this depends.

All products have fixed overheads.  The actual level depends on the product.  Something with a low unit cost, and high overheads can actually be made cheaper after advertising if the advertising increases sales sufficiently.  For example, books with a large advertising budget typically sell in stores for about the same as books with a low advertising budget.  Often less.

Bulk goods are different.  A branded, well marketed pet food will sell for more than an unbranded one, whether it is better or not

How about the intangible cost in terms of lower-quality TV programming demanded by the need for advertising revenue and the ratings upon which it is based? Much quality BBC programming finds it way to (quite receptive) American audiences via PBS

Somehow we seem to get a lot of tacky lowbrow tripe on the BBC as well.  The BBC seems to want to grab a larger viewer share rather than have a wide demographic.  

But, on the whole, your point is true.  I find ITV (The UK's main commercial channel) embarrasing to watch.  

[ Parent ]

My favorite cold calls... (4.71 / 7) (#67)
by spraints on Thu Dec 12, 2002 at 09:04:32 PM EST

When the cable company used to call, since we don't have a television, I would say, "I don't have a TV." The response was usually a very sympathetic "I'm sorry." As if not having a TV was a bad thing...

My father-in-law once received a call from a long distance company, pitching their service. His response was, "I don't have a phone." Then he hung up.

Then there was the time that we had 4.9c/min long distance service with no monthly fee, and another phone company called to offer 5c/min nights and weekends with a $5 monthly fee. My wife told the salesperson what we paid and offered to sign him up. Since he worked for the phone company, he got free long distance, but he said he'd be interested otherwise.



Almost certainly a lie... (none / 0) (#128)
by vectro on Thu Dec 26, 2002 at 08:07:55 PM EST

By and large, telemarketers work for independent firms, and not for the company whose product is being pitched. So while it's possible the telemarketer was getting free long distance, it's fairly unlikely as its nearly impossible that he or she is actually working for the telephone company in question.

You can actually find out fairly easily, using a dialogue like this:
TeleMarketer: Hello, I'm calling from TeleSpam and I'd like to save you money on your telephone bill.
Harrassed Householder: Really? My wife works at TeleSpam! Which office are you at?
TM: Uh, well, actually, I don't work for TeleSpam, technically my employer is a private company. Actually, I'm not even in your state.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]

The economics of it (3.20 / 5) (#72)
by auraslip on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 01:41:49 AM EST

A seller knows that only a very small percentage of people will actually buy what he is selling. He annoys and waste the other peoples time. The cost of peoples time is what ever they value it as(or what ever they're getting paid at work).
If he sales to 1/1000(1/10000 for spam) people something that cost 50$ and each person he annoys values their time at 1$ for the phone call then he takes $1000 away(from the GDP) and adds only $50. This is especially applicable if the person is at work.
Social pirates indeed.
124
Where's that money go? [n/t] (1.00 / 1) (#80)
by Cant Say on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 11:25:22 AM EST



[ Parent ]
to dev/null (3.00 / 1) (#81)
by auraslip on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 11:31:42 AM EST

It isn't added to the gdp(gross domestic product). It's just lost productivity.
124
[ Parent ]
You miss the point slightly. (4.00 / 1) (#102)
by Anonymous Hiro on Sat Dec 14, 2002 at 11:32:35 AM EST

By framing it in terms of economics you start to think like them. That's a slippery slope.

I don't value my time in dollars and cents.

Most of us may have 70-80 years of time, maybe more maybe less. And we've used up a fair bit of that. Money can help a bit in extending our time here, but after we die, I doubt that money will help us.

There really isn't that much time. How many weekends do you have left if you're lucky? How many summers? How many in your prime/youth/etc?

There are far more important things in life than money. People for instance. God for another.

Don't forget that those in sales are still people. OK stop choking and turning blue now ;).

Man I'm wasting time here on Kuro5hin.


[ Parent ]

ho hum (4.00 / 1) (#114)
by auraslip on Sun Dec 15, 2002 at 03:49:13 AM EST

My mistake here was that I assumed everyone would understand that you could put a monetary value on a persons time. And of course YOU don't put a value on your time, but your employer does(and you to when your getting paid).
And while their IS much more important things then money, puting monetary values on things that would not normally have them, help insure that the more important things are available to the most people.
btw what is god?
124
[ Parent ]
Salesman as Social Pirate (1.11 / 18) (#77)
by msafrin on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 09:31:38 AM EST

<html> What a total crock of shit. This guy is some utterly bitter loser/ failure that lost his welfare check buying one of the sucker multi-level marketing gimmicks he abandoned after three days when the promised millions of dollars never materialized. I remember reading something similar in the now defunct great Worker's Paradise USSR's Communist Party Organ "Pravda" (which ironically means 'truth' in Russian) in their daily artcle diatribe "True Horror Stories of the decadent American Economic Hellole" in the late 1970's.

Thanks for you Insightful Post!!! (3.50 / 2) (#79)
by BuddasEvilTwin on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 10:22:52 AM EST

So, you conclude that Salesmen do no routinely exploit social behavior because:

  (A)  This guy's a loser
  (B)  He's probably a bitter sucker
  (C)  He's probably a communist
  (D)  He eats babies????  (You wanted to add that one, didn't you?)

The truth is:  Salesmen ARE social pirates.  Many times they solicit shit we don't want, but every so often they solicit something useful.  

While the rest of us have accepted this and learned how to politely tell them no, our friend obviously has a problem with it.

Personally, I think a little social piratry is good for society.  It makes society a little more adaptive and aware of social exploiters (scammers).

[ Parent ]

My response, always: (3.00 / 4) (#86)
by Wolf Keeper on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 01:28:06 PM EST

I will die before I purchase anything from an organization that disturbs me in the privacy of my own home.  Bye.

Consider this quote from *1932* (4.77 / 9) (#87)
by parker51 on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 02:03:05 PM EST

From (Lord) Bertrand Russell in his column for the Hearst Newspapers:

On Sales Resistance

Throughout recent years, a vast amount of money and time and brains has been employed in overcoming sales resistance, i.e. in inducing unoffending persons to waste their money in purchasing objects which they had no desire to possess. It is characteristic of our age that this sort of thing is considered meritorious: lectures are given on salesmanship, and those who possess the art are highly rewarded. Yet, if a moment's consideration is given to the matter, it is clear that the activity is a noxious one which does more harm than good. Some hard-working professional man, for example, who has been saving up with a view to giving his family a pleasant summer holiday, is beset in a weak moment by a highly trained bandit who wants to sell him a grand piano. He points out that he has no room large enough to house it, but the bandit shows that, by knocking down a bit of wall, the tail of the piano can be made to project from the living room into the best bedroom. Paterfamilias says that he and his wife do not play the piano and his oldest daughter has only just begun to learn scales. "The very reason why you should buy my piano," says the bandit. "On ordinary pianos scales may be tiresome, but on mine they have all the depth of the most exquisite melody." The harassed householder mentions that he has an engagement and cannot stay any longer. The bandit threatens to come again next day; so, in despair, the victim gives way and his children have to forgo their seaside holiday, while his wife's complaints are a sauce to every meal throughout the summer.

In return for all this misery, the salesman has a mere commission, and the man whose piano is being sold obtains whatever percentage of the price represents his profits. Yet, both are thought to have deserved well of their country since their enterprise is supposed to be good for business.

All this topsy-turvydom is due to the fact that everything economic is looked upon from the standpoint of the producer rather than of the consumer. In former times, it was thought that bread is baked in order to be eaten; nowadays we think that it is eaten in order to be baked. When we spend money, we are expected to do so not with a view to our enjoyment of what we purchase but to enrich those who have manufactured it. Since the greatest of virtues is business skill and since skill is shown in making people buy what they don't want rather than what they do, the man who is most respected is the one who has caused the most pain to purchasers. All this is connected with a quite elementary mistake, namely, failure to realize that what a man spends in one direction he has to save in another so that bullying is not likely to increase his total expenditure. But partly, also it is connected with the notion that man's working hours are the only important part of his life and that what he does with the rest of his time is unimportant unless it affects other men's working hours. A few clergymen, it is true, speak of the American home and the joys of family life, but that is regarded merely as *their* professional talk, against which a very considerable sales resistance has grown up. And so everything is done for the sake of something else. We make money not in order to enjoy what it provides but in order that in spending it we may enable others to make money which they will spend in enabling yet others to make money which.... But the end of this is bedlam.

22 June 1932

My methods. (4.33 / 3) (#91)
by mindstrm on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 03:24:27 PM EST

If it's a phone call to my home, telemarketer...
I ask who is speaking. If they don't answer me, or launch into a spiel right away, I hang up. If they are polite enough to ask me if I have time to hear about whatever it is they want to tell me, I politely decline. If they won't let me get a word in edgewise, I hang up.

If it's business: I find these usually more aggressive. Example, Someone called the front desk and asked to speak with whoever is in charge of the internet connection... then proceeds to ask for a description of how things are set up, who we use, what we pay, etcetera.
Keep this in mind: You aren't being paid to help these poeple. Don't be rude, but tell them that you are not at liberty to discuss details of your business, and that if they want to enter some kind of business arrangement, they should send a proposal in writing.

If there's one thing I'll say it's this... I'm much more likely to read paper solicitations than I am to listen to someone on the phone.
 

Let's be pragmatic for a minute... (4.44 / 9) (#93)
by BuddasEvilTwin on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 03:43:51 PM EST

  I don't like pushy telemarketers and sales people who aim to exploit my courtesey and trust.  
  1.  We need to draw a line between politely asking for something, and being a social parasite.  We can't live in a world where people can't ask for something.
  2.  We can't expect social parasites to stop being social parasites.  They do what they do, because it works.  IT JUST WON'T HAPPEN.  There will always be social parasites.
  3.  We can't expect people to naturally adapt to handle social parasites.  Unfortunately, the human mind is inherantly stupid, thus requires education and training.  
  4.  Too much social exploitation errodes the effectiveness of that exploitation for many reasons.  Mostly because people learn to identify it, and respond appropriately.
  5.  Cultures with very little social exploitation and understanding of social exploitation are probably more vulnerable to severe social exploitation  Should we therefore always have a little bit of harmless social exploitation around to keep us on our toes for the harmful social exploitation???
MY CONCLUSION:   Nothing...  I just laid down some basic ideas.  It gets a lot more complicated from here, and is beyond my scope of reasoning to make any significant conclusion.

Flawed Logic, Poor Reasoning (3.00 / 4) (#104)
by dbc001 on Sat Dec 14, 2002 at 12:32:40 PM EST

1. Some salesman are in fact Con Men. Yes it's true, there are people out there that are trying to take advantage of you. Not all of them are salesmen.

2. Cold calls don't necessarily break the Golden Rule. Many salesmen will only sell products that they truly believe in. Several years ago, I spent a summer doing contract web design. To find clients, I went door-to-door to businesses in my area, making cold calls. I was offerring a service that could make both of us a lot of money. I had several clients who ended up with very useful, valuable websites.
On a related note, modern western societies (America in particular) are not built on "The Golden Rule". As evidence we have poverty, homelessness, non-universal healthcare, and GASP - sometimes people are just rude in public! I think the golden rule is nice, but calling someone a "Pirate" just because certain aspects of their lives don't follow it is absurd. By your definition I would estimate that more than 75% of Americans are "Pirates".

3. Putting SPAM emails and face-to-face cold calls into the same category is absurd. If a person comes to your door trying to sell you something, you have a number of options that email doesn't provide:
You can punch the salesman in the stomach.
You can yell, insult throw things, and generally abuse the salesman.
You can call the police and inform them that someone is harassing you.
Because of these possibilities you will find that most face-to-face salesman are generally pleasant. They are polite, courteous and charming. Many salesman rely on personal references, and must obey The Golden Rule (treat everyone as a potential client - thus treat everyone like a friend).
Most SPAM, on the other hand, is generally rude, abusive, and goes to extreme lengths to try to take advantage of the recipient. Often SPAM is designed so that even if the recipient is annoyed their email address can still be sold (when you click on the "remove" link). I don't think there are many salesman out there who would sell information about people that they have cold-called.

Nothing that you have to be sold on is worth buying.
This is absolutely ridiculous. I'll tell you a little story to demonstrate. One time I went to a grocery store, to buy 2 things: turkey and bread. There was a woman there giving out free samples of some very good juice. I tried some, and I liked it. I decided that I would buy some of that juice.
Now according to your logic, since I had to be "sold" on the juice, it must not have been worth buying!

...you are giving the cold-call operation a subsidy that enables them to continue to harass your neighbours.
Absolutely true! You should never buy anything from someone who harasses you. There is indeed some logic here after all.

Finally, if you wanted whatever they're selling, you'd be looking for it already.
You had me for a sentence or two. I like to buy my favorite movies on DVD. Occasionally when I go into a store, I notice a huge display with one of my favorite movies on it. "Hey, I'd love to have this one on DVD," I think to myself just before I buy it. Funny, I wasn't looking to buy a new DVD today. But I definitely want it.

I have looked a book by Zig Ziglar.

Does the existence of this book show that all salesman are bad? No. Does the existence of this book show that most salesman are bad? No. Does the existence of this book demonstrate that there are bad people in the world who want to take advantage of you? YES! Absolutely!

Mr. Ziglar claims to be a Christian...
What does Christianity have to do with morality? Absolutely nothing. Havent a lot of priests been in the news lately? (I'm referring to the fact that a lot of priests are turning out to be pedophiles, to demonstrate that there are just as many non-golden-rule-christians as there are non-christians).

So in summary, I found that you were correct on two counts: that you shouldn't buy from people that harass you, and that there are people in the world who prey on others. Does your tirade demonstrate that Salesmen are "Social Pirates" more so than everyone else? Certainly not. It seems more likely that you are the social problem - you've wasted far too much of your time trying to mudsling a group of people that has plenty of well-meaning, polite, and generally nice guys.

Friends are Clients? (4.00 / 1) (#123)
by Waldo on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 05:35:30 PM EST

Many salesman rely on personal references, and must obey The Golden Rule (treat everyone as a potential client - thus treat everyone like a friend).

Anybody that looks at a friend and thinks "ah-ha, I can get some money from them!" is a bastard -- er, pirate -- indeed.

-Waldo Jaquith

[ Parent ]
Not recommended: (3.00 / 2) (#105)
by Anonymous Hiro on Sat Dec 14, 2002 at 12:33:39 PM EST

Hasn't anyone got tempted to do this to companies that put you on hold when you call them?

Scenario: Call at dinner time/middle of shower.
Ask: "What company are you calling from?"

"Congratulations Company XXX qualifies for bronze support. Please hold on". Put muzak on.

Finish dinner+chat with family, chores etc. Pick up phone, see if caller still there, continue if there (they deserve a few minutes after all that ;) "Thank you for holding.".

While they wait for timeout time = they pester fewer people. Whereas if you hang up, they'll just have the computer call the next one on list.

Still it's mean. So maybe I shouldn't even be posting this. Golden rule after all. And you shouldn't do this at work- maybe let boss/company set policy. Maybe just ask them to use email, or just have voicemail on :).

Would this actually help more than hurt?

What do you think?

I do it. (4.00 / 1) (#110)
by sludge on Sat Dec 14, 2002 at 09:10:15 PM EST

I do that. I think it's pretty funny when some company introduces themselves, and I cut them off after their company name with 'hang on, I'll get my credit card'. They almost always agree to hold on.

I figure half of the telemarketers are college students who could use a little break and would like to listen to the same tunes I am. If they aren't fired for not turning a profit, they would do well to look busy because they're on a phone call, while they get to enjoy some low-khz rock music.
SLUDGE
Hiring in the Vancouver, British Columbia area
[ Parent ]

My telemarketing scripts. . . (3.00 / 1) (#111)
by IHCOYC on Sat Dec 14, 2002 at 10:33:26 PM EST

These are some of my favourites:

(For an investment shill) "What about your poor, grey-haired mother? If you have such a wonderful idea for a place to put my savings, why are you calling me --- a stranger --- with all this wonderful advice, rather than Mom?

(Generally) "Mi tute ne komprenas vin. Cxu vi parolas Esperanton?. . . ." At larger boiler-rooms, this causes consternation as the caller wants to transfer me to a Spanish desk. . .

Choke the last Santa with the guts of the last reindeer!
[ Parent ]

When they turn the tables (4.33 / 3) (#112)
by jafosei on Sat Dec 14, 2002 at 11:59:39 PM EST

My standard response to salespeople at my door or on the phone is a straight-forward "No." (and, on the phone, a "Put me on your Do Not Call list."). I don't provide reasons, I just say "No." It makes for very short conversations.

A few of them try turning the tables, as described in the article ("Could you tell us why you're rejecting our fine offer?" or something similar). I have a standard response for that, too: "You have no right to that information."

Most people won't say that, because it isn't polite. But the salesperson's question wasn't polite, and their follow-up isn't going to be polite either. The polite thing for them to do would be to respect your wishes and move on when you first indicated you were not interested.

The great thing about saying "You have no right to that information" is that they're never ready for it. They're prepared for a lot of responses, and I can see them mentally hunting for a reply, but no salesperson has found one before I say "Goodbye" and close the door.

It's the Economy, Stupid! (3.33 / 3) (#116)
by ogenstein on Mon Dec 16, 2002 at 03:59:32 AM EST

Some telemarketing is cold-calling and some isn't. If you are a customer of a company and are called on that account then it isn't a cold-call. Both parties know and conduct business with each other.

The concept of SPAM isn't that of unsolicited advertising. It is the drowning out of all conversations. Receiving one phone call per day doesn't constitute drowning. Receiving one hundred would. You virtually wouldn't have an open line to call out through and even the telemarketers would have problems climbing over each other to get to you.

With every transaction, one party or the other must solicit. To state that solicitation is immoral is foolish. To claim that soliciting in order to buy is noble but in order to sell is wicked is well... I don't see the reasoning.

Everybody is entitled to their opinions whether they are well-considered or not. Why not consider a crucial aspect of telemarketing though -- Economics.

Telemarketing firms employ auto-dialers because they are efficient. They obscure their Caller ID because they become more efficient. They hire telemarketing firms in other countries because labour costs are lower which makes them more efficient.

Auto-dialers that manage call rates are used because it means that at the end of the day, the cost per 1000 phone calls is less than it would be otherwise. Yes, you are paying for that with your time but if you buy from them you are benefitting by receiving your purchase for a lower price. Thus, people who don't buy sponsor those who do.

What does this mean? It means that if a company is selling a given product (e.g. long distance phone rates) they can offer those rates very cheaply. What does that mean? Companies that don't use such means have two paths. Either they can have some other mechanism to allow them to compete (e.g. Ma Bell which has monopoly-like powers) or they can wither and die or be acquired.

If a company doesn't dial efficiently, then their costs increase and the competition gets a break. In order to sway people over the phone, offers much be dramatically superior. Any time you stray off the beaten path, your ability to charge full freight diminishes. If some guy has a van full of speakers on the side of the road, he has to offer an incredible deal in order to sell them (yes, I know they lie so that it only looks like an incredible offer but people are buying because they feel they are getting something for less than it is worth. That it isn't is irrelevant to them.) If somebody buys a car from a dealership and drives it straight to your house for you, even if it is your dream car and you were just about to go buy one of your very own, he wouldn't get as much money offered from you as the dealer would.

Thus, the great deals offered (but not always delivered) by some companies over the phone are made possible by maintaining efficient methods and succeed at damaging or destroying competition. (Of course, more noble companies have other means of damaging or destroying their competition.) This of course allows executives to keep all of the companies earnings rather than having to give them out to staff or shareholders.

As you can see, it's a win-win proposition.

Finally as an aside... the original post mentioned Aquinas. There was a commonly held belief in medieval times that secondary profit was immoral. Thus, in England in the time of King John (died a decade before Aquinas was born) there was a law that prohibited a merchant from increasing the price of an item to reflect cost of transport. Only the cost of production could be reflected in its price. Offhand, John was the third post-Dark Ages monarch in England (the first being his father Henry II).

Some might say splendid idea but there's a reason we generally don't use the word 'medieval' to imply enlightened. Nobody ever transported anything commercially because shipping expenses couldn't appear in the price. Thus you had a very stagnant economy and a backward society. I don't know if the Magna Carta dealt with the issue at all.

p.s. You get the government you deserve.

Can you hold? (4.00 / 2) (#119)
by phliar on Mon Dec 16, 2002 at 03:42:12 PM EST

That's my stock response when I answer the phone and it's a sales person of some sort. (It's better spoken as "CanYouHoldPlease?") Then I just put the phone down (don't hang up!) and proceed with whatever I was doing before the phone rang. At some point the phone starts beeping because the other party hung up. I replace the phone on the hook.

This way I don't have to be unpleasant to anyone, and the salesman's time is occupied with no gain for him.


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...

Fucking great stuff. (4.00 / 1) (#124)
by Profane Motherfucker on Wed Dec 18, 2002 at 05:56:28 PM EST

Exceptionally well done. I'm quite fond of the Turn the Tables business. Despite South Dakota being home to a rabid collection of Republicans, the telemarketing laws are rather consumer friendly. My favorite statue from the Codified Laws, discusses the One "No" rule. If you, at any time express disinterest, the call must end right then and there.

Before I got a mobile, shitloads of those heartless bastards called me, and most likely, ignored the law. After I confront them with the law and demand to speak to a manager, the call takes a rather curious turn. The apologies come.

Since a 'willful' violation must occur, my ex-telemarketing people tell me that managers often do not inform their employees of the law -- hence removing the ability for it to be a willful violation.

The pathetic thing is that the employee is most likely the one to get in trouble over this. Though  I highly doubt the Attorney General will prosecute cases unless it is an egregious abuse. It's a shame. A few prosecutions here and there would put the kibosh on this shit with some gusto.

It's a good idea for readers to familiarize themselves with local laws. It makes for some rather interesting telemarketing encounters.

Europe (none / 0) (#126)
by clerik on Thu Dec 19, 2002 at 05:13:27 PM EST

In most countries cold calling is illegal :) Fro a rundown by country go to: http://www.dma.org.uk/_Public/cd_EuropeanSuppressionFiles1.htm /Carl

Salesmanship is theft (none / 0) (#133)
by guergle on Fri Jan 10, 2003 at 03:03:17 AM EST

Great article. I have ranted and raved about salesmen for years. Actually, I think your opinions of spammers etc. can be extended to salesmanship in general.

By salesmanship, I mean using persuasion to sell someone something, without regard for whether they actually would want to buy it with accurate information about the product and without being persuaded.

If I go to buy something at a store, I might welcome advice from a person knowledgeable about the product. But such a person is more accurately described as part of technical support.

The basic problem with salesmen and with industry in general is that making money has become the focus. This is bad for all involved.

The consumer get's screwed, because the tendency is toward poorer quality products in exchange for more money. The ideal is that the consumer should give all his money in exchange for nothing.

The worker get's screwed, because the tendency is toward eliminating any artistry involved in the work.

The people that get rich probably get screwed too I imagine. Becuase they would have to know deep down that their money can't change the fact that they are assholes.

The alternative I'm implying is that the focus could be on producing the finest product, or taking pride in one's service toward society. Or, in other words, people could participate in maintaining society, rather than just trying to take whatever they can get away with.

Somehow we have gotten to where it is accepted, without even a second thought, that it is good for part of society to survive by parasitizing another part of society.

I do not think that it is appropriate to manipulate my family members in order to gain advantage over them. I think this view is shared by most people. Also, aside from the occasional nazi, people generally at least give lip service to the idea that all people should have equal human rights. So, I think the family is a good model of society.

This doesn't mean that I think you should casually trust people. Many of us have family members that are mentally ill or drug addicted, and know about loving someone you can't trust. I suggest applying that knowledge to your relationship with society.

The notion of salesmanship being theft goes pretty deep and applies to each of us. For example, if I want to sell my car, I might be very tempted to hide defects in the car in order to make a sale. However, I would usually think it is actually immoral to do so.

This quickly becomes very complicated for me to think about though, as persuasion/manipulation is part of all human interaction and interaction with one's environment. Ultimately, I can only weigh what is practical for me against my ideals.

That is, I think you can not simply decide not to be a salesman, no more than you can decide not to be dumb (Similarly, I don't think you can simply decide not to be racist, sexist, etc.). Rather it is an ongoing process.

The Salesman as Social Pirate | 133 comments (129 topical, 4 editorial, 1 hidden)
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