Letter: It’s Time to End the Free Ride for Telemarketers

As a marketer it is easy to understand the frustration of those in the telemarketing industry over the do-not-call list. As a private citizen, I believe the industry brought this situation on itself. Overuse of the medium and its intrusive nature have caused an overwhelming hatred of telemarketing.

The telephone in my house is there for personal convenience. I pay to keep this service because I want to be available in case of an emergency and to communicate with friends and family. I pay dearly for this service — $50 per month after taxes and fees. Since there were no contractual agreements to receive these types of calls, telemarketing is essentially theft of services.

On an average weeknight, our house will be contacted by five auto dialers, three human telemarketers and two automated sales messages on my answering machine. These averages are for the period after signing up on the Direct Marketing Association’s Telephone Preference Service. This is why, even as a direct marketing professional, I am in favor of the do-not-call list.

Telemarketing is not free speech since the recipient has to pay for the method of delivery. This argument also presents a potential solution: Pay the recipient for your calls: 25 cents per connection. According to the numbers reported to Congress by the DMA, this would represent a very small percentage of total telemarketing sales. It also would cover the entire cost of my home phone each month. Under these circumstances, I would happily remove my name from the DNC list. I suspect many others would do the same.

Advertising-supported communications media is not a new concept. Television, newspapers, magazines and many Internet services have shown this to be a viable business model. The popularity of the DNC list speaks loudly for U.S. residents: “It’s time to end the free ride for telemarketers.”

Stan Sears, Marketing manager, Pacific Steel & Recycling, Great Falls, MT

[email protected]

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