Thursday, May 01, 2008

My Sordid Past

I have a somewhat sordid past that I wish to confess. It’s not something I’m proud of, but I need to get it off my chest.

Okay, here goes. . .

(Heaves a heavy sigh. . . )

I once worked as a telemarketer.

There, I said it.

It was back in 1986 and I needed extra money in order to go on a vacation to England. I was making a paltry wage at my regular job as a customer service person at a bank in Austin, Texas at the time. The bank had just rolled out Gold Mastercards and we were offered extra money to peddle them during the evenings.

I did it. I was one of those horrible people that calls just as you’re sitting down for dinner.

It was such a smarmy operation, too. We got paid an hourly wage, but also received hefty commissions on the sales we made. We were given all the tricks of the trade in order to make the sale.

All we had were lists of names and phone numbers nationwide. We’d sit there and call hundreds of people during a shift. Once someone would answer, we’d start in on our spiel:

“I'm just calling to let you know that because of your excellent credit rating, you’ve qualified to receive a Gold Mastercard!” we’d chirp.

In order to make the sale “fly” we had to obtain the person’s social security number or their date of birth.

“Now, just for security purposes, may I verify your date of birth?”

The thing is, once the person accepted the offer, they’d receive a $30 annual fee on their very first bill. However, we had to tell them up front that there was a charge.

Again, it was deceptive. As we would wind up the call, telling them about the many advantages of a Gold Mastercard, we’d just throw in that “it comes with the usual annual of thirty dollars” like it was some type of fantastic benefit.

It gets worse. When we’d come on duty, each of us would shuffle through the list of phone numbers and instantly pilfer the ones where elderly people lived.

Tempe, Arizona and Boca Raton, Florida were gold mines.

On the other hand, Seattle and Portland were the worst. Those folks were hip and smart up there.

I’ll admit I made a lot of sales.

After the Gold Mastercard sales were finished, I got another telemarketing job. This one was horrible. It was selling season tickets to the Austin Ballet.

Season tickets to the Austin Ballet are not exactly an “impulse purchase.” I never made a sale. I don’t think anyone did. We just sat there in a dingy room with dial telephones making call after call.

Anyway, I made it to England in May of ’86. It was right after the Chernobyl disaster and plane tickets to Europe were practically being given away. (Probably by telemarketers) My round trip from Austin to London was $398 on Pan Am. There were 35 passengers on the 747 from New York. We each had an entire row to ourselves. It was fabulous.

To this day, I’m nice to telemarketers when they call. I know that they hate their jobs and that they’re probably unemployed folks just trying to make some money.

I also know that, no matter what, all telemarketers are calling to scam you out of money. Whenever they call, I politely reply, “I’m sorry, but I don’t give out information over the phone unless I initiate the call.” That puts an end to any telemarketer or those that are calling to “take a survey.”

To this day, I still feel bad about scamming all those grandmas in Tempe and Boca Raton.

I just had to get that off my chest.


At 1:46 PM , Blogger Lorraine said...

I still love you. But I'm going to go be sick now.

Btw, that "I don't conduct business over the phone I didn't initiate line"? I use it all the time now.

At 10:21 PM , Blogger Miss Healthypants said...

I'm sure everyone has had a soul-sucking job in their lives.

Mine was, of course, Rent-A-Center. I LOVED tricking people into paying $50 a week (for a year) for a cheap-ass computer. Fun times!


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