Monday, February 25, 2008

A Modest Telemarketing Proposal

So the phone rings while I'm doing dishes around 6 o'clock, while I'm trying to finish dishes before my wife gets home so she can start supper (man I'm a great husband.) So I remove the gloves (make fun of me if you want) and check the call display. It's an 800 number. You know where this is headed. It's gonna be a telemarketer. I have a compulsive need to answer anyway, because if I don't and they don't leave a message, I start to get worried I missed something important.

They ask if I'm Thomas Robertson, I say yes, and they say that they're contacting citi Mastercard holders about an exciting offer for medical leave credit insurance or something. I didn't let them finish - I knew I wouldn't be interested, told them and said to remove my name from their callers list. (Hey, I figure it's worth a shot.)

The thing that really gets me though, is that they were obviously referred by my credit card company. And it wasn't even the credit card company that called me - just one of their 'partners'. So basically, they're selling my information to these people directly, or taking a cut of the sales. This really infuriates me.

Why is it that when I go to a free website where I'm asked to give my email address, 90% of the time it will say "we will never sell your email address or information or share it with any third parties" but other services that I sign up to be a paid customer with feel it's okay to share my information? And the ones that do, at least they offer a link explaining it. Most places you sign up with over the phone don't even give you that opportunity.

So this is what I'm doing and I'm proposing. First, I'm calling citi and telling them to remove my name from all of their marketing materials and to inform their 'partners' to do likewise. And I'll tell them that if I receive a marketing call from them ever, I'll cancel my account with them. Simple bargain.

Part of me wants to take this one step further. I'm pretty sure that ANY company I give my information to over the phone or by form, I'm going to tell them the same bargain.
If I get a telemarketing call from them or one of their 'partners' I'm canceling my service with them. If we put as much pressure on 'offline' businesses as we do on online ones, maybe they'll stop this invasive and annoying practice of selling my information.