When I was a child, no one dreaded answering the telephone. In fact, it usually put a smile on our faces. Phone calls meant that friends and family members were thinking about us and wanted to hear our voices. We felt happy and flattered. More often than not, we wanted to hear their voices too.
No one in my family rolled their eyes, sighed with irritation or got angry when the phone rang. We didn’t have caller ID nor did we feel that we needed it. Unwanted phone calls were usually wrong numbers: They apologized politely for disturbing us and promptly hung up. Crank calls were rare and often funny. No one called claiming that we had won a phony contest or to sell us something or to shame us into giving money to charity whether we could afford to or not. When, why, and how did telephones become just another necessary evil?
Why did we let answering phone calls become something we dread?
When I first started my business in 1990, reaching customers on the phone was usually easy. People answered their phones and no one seemed to mind a confirmation call. Clients thanked me for letting them know that I was on my way over and for making sure that they are ready for me.
I still insist on talking to a client before I drive to their home or business. My secretary has been instructed to tell every customer that I must confirm their appointment before I head over. I believe this is the right thing to do before I knock on someone’s door. Thank God that most of the time this isn’t a problem. But, occasionally I’ll reach a client who has gotten one too many phone calls from telemarketers and takes it out me because he or she mistakes me for one of them. I don’t allow myself to take offense. I just let it go, because I understand how they feel. Telemarketing is rude and intrusive: Two things that I never want to be. Here are a few interesting facts:
- Telemarketers place 148 million phone calls a day
- Americans lose $40 billion a year to fraudulent telemarketers according to the National Fraud Information Center.
- The average American gets at least 3 phone calls per day from telemarketer.
- Small businesses like mine can get over 100 telemarketing calls a day!
- The National Association of Attorneys General estimates about 5,000,000 Americans are defrauded by telemarketers every year and one of five of them do not report the fraud, usually because they are embarrassed.
- The FBI estimates that there are 14,000 illegal sales operations bilking consumers in the United States every day.
What can we do to stop unwanted phone calls? How can we start enjoying our phones again?
My simple solution is to avoid doing business with any and all companies that use telemarketing or robocalls. Here’s how:
- Politely ask for the name of the company.
- Get the telephone number and the address of the caller.
- Then inform the caller that you are entering this information in a database of businesses to avoid ever doing business with.
- Share your lists with others and encourage them to do the same.
If we all did this, eventually, they’ll get the message and stop telemarketing!
What if the caller is selling something that you actually want or need? Find a competitor to buy it from!
If telemarketers are driving you crazy, consider using these resources:
Share your thoughts on this subject. Better yet, share your list of businesses to avoid.