Home – New Forums Tell me straight… Product idea – telemarketing killer

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  • #964316
    SteveDavidson
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    Just something I noodled around with a while back, mainly after hearing bunches of Americans complain about telemarketers and that their Do-Not-Call systems are worse than useless.

    A small box with RJ12 phone ports, hooked between any phone line and any handset, which would not allow 99.99% of telemarketing calls or cold calls through, and which would have a big smackable red button on top to block any which did.

    You can get things with similar functionality in American electronics shops at the moment. The difference is that my version would be networked in real time, so that a cold-caller might manage three or four calls before being unable to get through to anyone using my product.

    In spare moments, I’ve worked out the electronics, the networking protocols, the legal aspects of deploying in a sue-happy country like the US, the manufacturing, shipping, distribution, sales and marketing campaigns, the antihackability, personalisation, data collation tipping points, multilayer reporting structures, reversability, oversuccess, and all that junk. And as far as I can tell, it’d fill a market need.

    Plus, of course, the more it was deployed, the better it would scale, and the more effective it would get.

    Telemarketers aren’t such an issue in Australia (although I get one every week or two, and that on a silent number), but it might be something the Americans would buy – especially if the basic hardware was super-cheap and it was sold more as a monthly service.

    Thoughts?

    #1004667
    LeelaCosgrove
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    How about just saying

    “No thanks I’m not interested.”

    Novel concept, I know.

    I have done a lot of phone sales and I have a real issue with this whole anti-telemarketing thing. Especially from business people who should know better.

    The interesting thing is … of the HUNDREDS of business people I’ve called, I’ve had maybe one or two complaints about me trying to sell them something … because I target who I’m calling.

    The idea of going to all of this trouble to block telemarketers is ridiculous. Get OVER this whole “I hate being sold to” thing. If you’re not interested in their product, say no thanks. It’s really not that hard … and believe it or not, sales people would PREFER you said “no thankyou” so that they could move on to the next sale rather than wasting their time on someone who isn’t going to buy.

    #1004668
    Burgo
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    Im on the do-not-call register and I still get telemarketers call on the odd occasion usually from overseas. depending on the mood Im in I will either be rude or ask them how the weather over there.

    Telemarketering is a very hard and thankless job . They get paid a pitance for what they do not only do they get abused from you and me but from their bosses if they dont reach budget. They live in a very stressful work environment and instead of abusing them, I am starting to feel for them. However in saying that I dont buy from them as they are usually from telephone companies of charitable organisations. Im happy with the service from Telstra and I support the childrens lukaemia foundation, so Im covered.

    Next time someone calls why not say ‘Hi but I have everything I want and I support a deserving charity” They usually say ‘thank you very much ‘and hang up 10 seconds.

    Then if you are busy you would have your phone on answering maching or message bank wouldnt you. Remember work smarter not harder.

    #1004669
    SteveDavidson
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    The complaints about telemarketing I’ve mainly received are from people, particularly on do-not-call lists, who are woken up, pulled out of the shower, away from meals or other conversations, or had other activities interrupted by unwanted phone calls. These are people who never, ever, EVER buy anything from cold calls. They liken telemarketing to people being paid to accost them in the street.

    Some of them don’t have answering machines and voice mail. Some of them are anticipating important calls. None of them appreciate having their chain yanked.

    Like it or not, the phone – especially the home phone – is seen as a very personal space. Physical mailboxes aren’t so much, because it’s trivial to rapidly shuffle flyers and ads into the bin while checking the mail. Even so, it’s an unnecessary inconvenience, and can escalate to unpleasant levels – see http://www.macobserver.com/article/2002/12/06.11.shtml for an example.

    There’s a market for “No Junk Mail” stickers and plaques. There’s a market for spam blockers for email and advertising blockers for web browsers and proxies. There’s a market for administrative/secretarial services which go through your business mail and toss out the junk mail.

    There are “No Soliciting” signs. There are Do-Not-Call lists. There are even phonecall-blocking devices already on the market, although they are relatively useless against telemarketing en masse.

    The new devices would be bought by people who would otherwise be a waste of a telemarketing call anyway, because they hate telemarketers and cold calls and would never buy anything from them. This way, the buyers are freed from having to be subjected to telemarketing, and the telemarketers aren’t able to connect to people who hate them. Such a situation might even be seen as a win-win for all concerned.

    Still, I appreciate the feedback.

    #1004670
    MissieK
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    My biggest concern would be blocking real calls by mistake. I know a lot of my genuine emails end up in the junk email box, and some never get to me!

    Melissa

    #1004671
    KenD
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    Can you do this for mobiles? I have an unlisted landline number at home and have never been cold called, but I have had issues on my mobile.

    Most telemarketers do take no for an answer, but sometimes they don’t. Twice now I have had tele marketers become MAJOR nuisances, calling daily and sometimes multiple times per day. One was really rude when I said I wasn’t interested in his service, four letter words and personal comments. The others only stopped after I threatened legal action. Both times they were coming through to my business mobile number.

    I have no problems with people cold calling me, I have had to do cold calling and it is a thankless task. However if its not properly targeted, and the person calling displays no sales skills (I hate it when they obviously read from a script!) I politely end the call.

    #1004672
    SteveDavidson
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    MissieK, post: 3796 wrote:
    My biggest concern would be blocking real calls by mistake. I know a lot of my genuine emails end up in the junk email box, and some never get to me!

    Melissa

    I’ve spent a couple of months looking into various ways to classify and handle both false positives and false negatives, as well as more esoteric concepts such as cache poisoning. Effectively, they’re all overseen by slightly different algorithms, and there are bleed-off times, reversal options, trustworthiness-of-source calculations, etc.

    Hmm, I’ve just had another idea…

    #1004673
    SteveDavidson
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    KenD, post: 3825 wrote:
    Can you do this for mobiles?

    Absolutely. Mobiles, PABXs and other business-switchboard systems are scheduled to be rolled out as one of the upgrades to the initial landline-based service.

    It’s a real issue in the US, as they pay to receive mobile phone calls instead of make them. Thus, telemarketing autodiallers can call every mobile for free, and the unsuspecting person on the other end not only ends up having their mobile service and attention unwantedly monopolised, but having to pay for the experience.

    Hmm… I wonder if there would actually be a demand for the opposite service – people who _want_ telemarketers, autodiallers, and stalkers to call them? It doesn’t seem logical, but then people do weird things at times. It’d have to be prettily heavily screened, though – wouldn’t want people to be able to sign their friends or enemies up as a prank.

    #1004674
    SteveDavidson
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    As an interesting followup, I was chatting with a local chamber of commerce member at a lunch and she suggested categorising the blocked numbers so that people could opt-in to various categories if they wanted to.

    The example she gave was charities – people might want to block all flagged numbers but allow charitable organisations to ring through, for instance.

    While it’s not something I could see a big demand for myself, it does show that I can’t anticipate everything that other people might want, and that some tweaking and modification of the initial concept might be necessary.

    I guess numbers could be preclassified from sources like the Yellow Pages and other business directories, or by businesses submitting lists of their own numbers along with categorisations or keyword lists. They could also be automatically classified down to exchange/locality and city, so if people were OK with allowing all local calls through, they could do that too.

    One aspect I was considering was that the devices could be set up to generate a signal similar to that of a fax or answering machines, such that telemarketing autodiallers would simply drop them off the list of numbers to be called. From the perspective of the telemarketers, it would be an advantage as they wouldn’t have to spend employee time talking to people who hate telemarketers and wouldn’t buy anything anyway.

    #1004675
    BB
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    Steve-

    Here’s my 2 bobs worth –

    My friend has a husband with dementia. On the days when he is coherent, and able to answer the phone, it is not possible to determine that he has this condition. (I doubt the telemarketers really listen anyway)

    Over the years he has bought things and given away thousands of dollars – with no recollection later of taking the call.

    Despite being on the ‘do not call’ register and having a ‘silent’ number – the calls still persist. Charities are still able to call, and last year were the recipients of several hundred dollars. A lot of their products were returned without purchase.
    Even with no access to immediate funds – they’ve been able to still collect.
    My friend is lobbying the government to have charities also banned for the Do Not Call Register.

    Suggestion – is it possible for each phone number / machine to be individual? meaning – each subscriber has a pincode. ALL calls are blocked except the calls that dial the pincode first/last. The user gives this code to anybody they wish so that they only receive calls from people they know.

    There IS a need for your machine – there are many more scenarios out there that have a need for this, we’re not aware of all of them.

    Cheers,

    B.B.

    #1004676
    JodieR
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    B.B., post: 4022 wrote:
    Suggestion – is it possible for each phone number / machine to be individual? meaning – each subscriber has a pincode. ALL calls are blocked except the calls that dial the pincode first/last. The user gives this code to anybody they wish so that they only receive calls from people they know.

    I’d be a little worried about this, there’s plenty of “what If” scenario’s for that one, and I’d be very worried about blocking out all calls with that potential.

    For example: Hospital calling (usually hospitals have several different lines they use and not just the one advertised. These can also come up as private numbers); Other corporations who use the same that may be important to hear from? Long lost relative calling; Okay, so not very exciting examples but yeah, personally I’d be worried about a full block.

    B.B., post: 4022 wrote:
    There IS a need for your machine – there are many more scenarios out there that have a need for this, we’re not aware of all of them.

    If there is a market for it, then why not.

    #1004677
    SteveDavidson
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    B.B., post: 4022 wrote:
    Suggestion – is it possible for each phone number / machine to be individual? meaning – each subscriber has a pincode. ALL calls are blocked except the calls that dial the pincode first/last. The user gives this code to anybody they wish so that they only receive calls from people they know.

    It’s certainly possible, even with today’s technology. A minimal Asterisk system, for example, can do all this and more, and will have the following costs:

    Base Hardware: PC-based, and probably free, for a minimal system. People throw out more powerful computers every day. If not free, than maybe $5-$10.

    Phone connection card or other hardware: Varies, but a single-phone-line card shouldn’t cost more than a couple of dollars second-hand.

    Software, OS: Linux, free.
    Software, Asterisk: free.

    Set the phone up as an office extension and use Asterisk as a PABX with its “If you know the extension you want, please dial it now” functions enabled.

    PS – If anyone wants to try this and isn’t sure about the building/installing process, ask one of the local computer clubs to do it for you as a project. Labor costs: pizza and beer/soft drink.

    Update: Responding to JodieR’s post – It shouldn’t be too hard to record an IVR message saying something like “Please be advised that this number is on the national Do Not Call registry. If you are calling to speak to X, please dial 1234 to leave a message after the beep.”

    #1004678
    TSH-SR
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    Hi Steve, good idea to somehow restrict the Telemarketing calls, Leela’s comment is the idea I have found best to use after trying other methods.
    At the first hint of “can I speak to the business owner” I have replied Not interested thank you and press the end call button, less than 10 secs.
    The problem arises that I can get up to 12 a day generally at the top of the ladder.
    I use voicemail and answer machines but have found a growing trend that people have started not to leave messages, they are wanting to talk now!

    The biggest problem that I have with the impact of telemarketing is when I am returning a call to a new customer who has left a message, when I call them back, it can be difficult to get through their defences and convince them that they wanted me to call them, a while back it took 3 calls to one lady to get the message through.
    Therefore, something to help homeowners would be helpful to me.

    Tony

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