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Doing My Part to Keep American Jobs in America, One Telemarketer at a Time

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One thing you can say about winter in a summer seasonal business like ours is that there are plenty of hours in the day for mindless diversion. Winter is the prime time for our high school and college students to bone up on their homework. Come mid-terms, they should all be taking home As. It’s a great season to while your day away on Facebook or power shop on Upromise. I like to stick my nose into a bright and cheery seed catalog and dream about spring while shivering in my parka with a space heater blowing full blast under my desk while I wait for my Microsoft keyboard to thaw enough so that I can successfully type an “@” sign.

I have recently embarked on a new pursuit, one that keeps me hilariously entertained and occupied for a good part of the day. This activity, my fellow Americans, is giving telemarketers a hard time.

Telemarketing blitzes come and go. Sometimes every other call is a telemarketer, and other times we can go a few days without a pitch for web hosting or to check out some rival company’s phone service. We seemed to get a lot of calls during the last two weeks of December, mostly from so-called police and fire departments looking for a handout. Yes, I check every one. (Maybe it just seems that way because business sucked those two weeks. Calls from bona fide customers were down 50%.) I’m quite telemarketer-savvy. I can tell by the ring when a call is a customer or an annoyance. Caller ID helps too. I have sharp enough hearing that I can determine the size of the boiler room by the number of key clicks I hear in the background.

“No” is a mainstay word in my vocabulary. It’s likely the first word I uttered, and I used it to no end with my children. It will no doubt be the last word I’ll say. My “nos” reverberate when I pronounce them and rarely am I challenged. I am the Terminatrix in the realm of slick and persistent salesmen. If I want to buy something, I know how and where to find you. Until then, don’t bug me.

I don’t fault telemarketers for having a sleazy job just one rung up from politician. A person has to work at something for a living. Back in my days as a University of Minnesota college student, I once applied at the Minneapolis Time-Life office for the purpose of pitching cookbooks. I was informed that I didn’t have what it takes to be a telemarketer. That was fine by me, because the workers there didn’t look very happy.

I don’t know if any of you have noticed this, but these days many telemarketers have heavy accents. They are named Sally or Joe, but have a difficult time speaking coherent English sentences. This intrigued me, so I set out on a mission to learn who these people were and where they were calling from.
“So, Sally. What city are you calling from?” “What time is it there?” “Do you have any brothers or sisters?” “What company are you working for?” “Where’s your company located?” “What are you wearing?” “What did you have for dinner?” “What’s your weather like there?”

What I learned was that many telemarketers will hang up on you without answering. (Note to AT&T and HP: that is so rude!) A “Joe” actually stayed on the line with me for a couple of minutes. He informed me that he was calling from Asia (Duh? Do you think so?) and gave me the local time before we were disconnected.

It is alarming to me that the oft-scorned telemarketing biz has followed manufacturing to the far reaches of Asia. What next? No wonder unemployment here in Michigan is an astounding 15%!

The people of this country must unite! The only way to bring back these jobs to the USA is to continue to grill foreign telemarketers like chopped meat on a spit! We must then turn them over and grill them again.

Maybe if their annoyance brings no payback, these companies will bring telemarketing back to our shores where it belongs.

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About Joanne Huspek

I write. I read. I garden. I cook. I eat. And I love to talk about all of the above.
  • Jordan Richardson

    these companies will bring telemarketing back to our shores where it belongs.

    Ha!

  • http://canthave.com/ Rolling Red

    Whaa..? Tele-whaa…? What are you doing with a land line in the age of VOIP and satellite communication?

  • http://joannehuspek.wordpress.com Joanne Huspek

    My husband the boss is a cave man, Rolling Red.

  • http://etierphotography.blogspot.com/ fcetier

    “May I speak with someone who can speak better English?”
    Mostly now, I just say, “Please hold” and stick the phone under a pillow.
    Nice article Joanne, you’ve hit on something we all know and love!

  • http://bob-lostintime.blogspot.com/ Miss Bob Etier

    Could we instead outlaw telemarketing and give former telemarketers more meaningful, fulfilling work…like acting or directing? Wonderful article, Joanne. When a telemarketer gets me on the phone I tell them two truths: “I can’t. I’m unemployed.” These two facts are unrelated but useful. –Bob E.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    That’s amazing, Joanne, that even menial jobs like that are exported out.

    I suppose the greed of the companies pitching their product so has no limits. It’s one example where the idea of saving a buck defies common sense.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    You think by grilling people in another country who likely have it many times harder than you do that will make the economy here work? In some way making their life harder, you expect to somehow convince the profiteers that they should hire in the USA instead of where labor is cheapest?

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Yes let’s kick the next slave down the line. Sure you don’t want to go out and start telling homeless people to get out of the shelters and go back to the park?

  • STM

    Aah, so this happens in America, too, eh? I thought it was only Australia that was blighted by telemarketers and call centres from India and The Philippines.

    To be honest, even though it drives me nuts, I do try to be polite. Most are pretty good, although I’ve had some shocking experiences of going round in circles. At one point, I was getting service-in-advance bills for an internet connection that ended six months earlier. Another time I spent two hours on the phone trying to get my new service up and running before they decided they’d have to send a technician to my house.

    The filipinos also seem to speak better, or at least better understood, English … possibly because it’s their de facto national language, although India is supposed to be the same.

    The Australian government has also banned them from calling between certain hours, which is good.

    Quite a few Aussie businesses have woken up lately to the idea that we don’t like the overseas call centres, and have brought some aspects of their customer service operations back to Oz.

    As for me, my bank is a credit union. All the customer service and call centre staff are based in Sydney, which means my money is going around the way I like it – by keeping an Australian in a job.

    And hooray for that.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    From what I’ve heard about shelters, Cindy, they’d probably be better off in the park – at least in California.

    I’m not sure, though, that would be the case in Michigan, especially in January, February or even March.

    So no, I don’t think Joanne would find it in her heart to do so, given her husband is “a cave man.” They’d most likely share their basement with les misérables.

  • http://joannehuspek.wordpress.com Joanne Huspek

    Heh. The homeless come into our office building and use the facilities to wash up, then scrounge around for pop cans and leave, so I get it. Except when they come bearing weapons, which has also happened.

    If only these corporations would bring the jobs back here – specifically in SE Michigan – that would get a lot of homeless people off the streets.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Corporations hire people without addresses?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    A fundraising firm I was working for (in Oakland) was doing that. Everyone has a cellphone, though.

    Besides, these are boiler rooms.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    If only these corporations would bring the jobs back here – specifically in SE Michigan – that would get a lot of homeless people off the streets.

    Yes, but how does grilling the people they hire elsewhere bring jobs here. The problem is that in the end Capitalism winds up screwing over the middle class. Capitalism is like a boy who loves you when he wants to get laid. He treats you well and whispers sweet nothings. When he’s done, he’s gone and you’re left 2 weeks later days later trying to figure out which is the best EPT kit.

    Wake up middle class, the system doesn’t work for you any more. That it ever did was only a coincidence. Recognize this and then stop criticizing the people it never did work for…then you can stop blaming them and join them to make a better way.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    it’s a hell of an image, Cindy – the boy who loves you . . .

    Of course, it’s arguable to capitalism may have started with the bourgeoisie, petty at first – until the big boys fancied becoming the industrialists, and took over.

    So petty bourgeois, or the merchant class, as they call it disparagingly in Europe, always had a love affair with capitalism (and its values), all the stronger perhaps for not having been consummated.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    After reading through all the garbage at the politics section here, I finally noticed this article, and decided to drop by.

    Israel, like America and Australia, is plagued by telemarketers. But the paucity of Sanjivs who speak Hebrew means either a native bothering me in Hebrew to buy some garbage or another, or some tape recording. I don’t bother with the tape recordings. Usually, the people who bother me come from two sources: Makor Rishon, a quality right wing newspaper here, or Rimon Internet, which offers “kosher” (non-pornographic) internet sites.

    Needless to say, signing up with Rimon Internet means I’d never be able to get to this site at all, which is packed with enough of what the censors at Rimon would call porn, so it’s an automatic “no”. Makor Rishon is more interesting to deal with. Considering that I would like to read Hebrew better, I really ought to get the paper. But honestly, it is more fun to point out that nobody reads Hebrew in this house unless they have to, and discussing that point with the salesmen does improve my own Hebrew.

    When the other types call, I put on the dumb American act – you know anee low meiveen ivreet (I don’t understand Hebrew) with rounded “r”s and “o”s and a the thick American accent, preferably from Minnesota.

    All in all, Joanne, it is a pleasure not listening to Sanjiv Sammy from Bangalore or Lee from Chungking trying to sell me noodles or whatever other kind of shit they are hustling on the phones in the States these days.

    By the way, I should warn you, a lot of telemarketers with excellent American accents and names like Scott, Mark, Steve and Ron call the States from ISRAEL.

    Mya-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-HAH!!!