10 Confessions Of A Telemarketing Insider

Out of the shadows steps a dark figure, sporting wrinkled khakis, a retractable namebadge, and a headset dangling from his ear. It’s the telermarketing insider, and he’s going to confess to you how his industry really works and how you can resist and even fight back:

From Reddit, spotted by Wisebread:

“I’ve worked at a few different telemarketing centers over the past couple years, and I’ve gained quite a bit of knowledge about the industry, and more importantly, how to resist the industry.

First of all, if you have no knowledge of telemarketing, I’d say that 90% of telemarketing calls come from centers, not the business itself. I have no way to test that statistic, but seeing as the centers I worked for were part of corporations that took clients like Bank of America, Westinghouse, EA Games, Siemens, etc and had centers all over the world, only the small fry do it themselves.

These days telemarketing reps are mostly pawns. Most of them only know enough about the product or service they’re selling to read you a script and rebuttal some simple questions you might have. They don’t pick their number. Most centers run on an auto-dialer that recycles lists of numbers monthly.

Here’s a couple quick tips:

10. Don’t immediately hang up when you find out it’s a telemarketer!
So many people do this, and you know what the reps do? They mark it as an early hang-up and since no pitch was made, you’re put right back on the list to be called again.

9. Don’t get pissed off at the rep.
I’ve seen many reps purposefully put customers that request not to be called back on the calling list for as soon as 10 minutes later if they’re obnoxiously rude or ignorant.

8. If you don’t want the product, don’t just decline.
Most people that aren’t interested in the product are put back on the lists until they request not to be called anymore. Politely declining the offer will just get you another call in the future. (I know that myself and other reps have put polite people on our do not call lists even if they didn’t request it. We could get fired for this, but some people are too nice for me to want to bug again, and the chances of getting caught are slim.)

7. Don’t try to trick the rep
Saying you aren’t there even when you are, claiming not to speak english, and other “tricks” I’ve seen people recommend are really counter-productive, as most of the time you get put back on the list (and if you claim you speak spanish, you’ll be put on a list to have a spanish speaking rep call you.)

6. Try not to get mad when a rep rebuttals a refusal
At many jobs I’ve head in the field, reps only get fired because of a couple reasons. Swearing on the phone, attendence issues, or not rebutting a customer. We are required to give one rebuttal every call. When we’ve received 2 no’s, we can disconnect the call. If you’re getting multiple rebuttals in a call, it’s probably a less than respectable call center, rep, or product and it’s best to ask for a supervisor to escalate your do not call request.

5. If you are on the National DNC list
You can still get telemarketing calls! If you have a business-client relationship (say a bank of america checking account) bank of america can call you about products and services. You can also still receive political and non-profit calls (my favorite to make. You simply poll people for information, no pressure to sell anything.)

So when you get a telemarketing call on behalf of a company and asked to be put on their do-no-call list (a method that only works for respectible call centers), you’ll be put on that client’s do-not-call list. This means that you won’t get any calls on any offers from that client. However, since most call centers have anywhere from 5-20 different clients at once, you’re most likely still in the system for at least one of those other lists.

A better way to deal with that is to speak to a supervisor, ask them what call center they’re calling from, and request to be put on the call center’s do not call list. This disables the call center from calling you.

Another trick to be put on call lists faster is to threaten legal action against the client company if the calls don’t cease. Most centers will require the rep to fill out a form with information about the call. This information gets sent up the ladder, and most of the time gets dealt with within 2-3 business days (as opposed to 30). You don’t have to be a dick about this though. You can simply state “I will be taking my business elsewhere” or “if these calls continue I’m going to have no choice but to contacting the FTC, please escalate my case.”

This is very important, and everyone who hates telemarketing calls should be aware of this. At my first couple telemarketing jobs, I had no idea about the TCPA (telephone consumer protection act.) My first job I did inbound tech support, so since people were calling us, I didn’t have to deal with it.

My second job was a sketchy-as-fuck call center. They actually eventually got investigated for fraud by the FBI. Some of the things they had us do which I later learned were illegal:

ask for another member of the house that might be interested in the product
call cell phones
rebuttal until the customer hung up
capture credit information with a pen and paper (not illegal, but still not cool)
call times zones at inappropriate times

That call center sold infomercial products, and I learned a couple things there.

3. Don’t buy from infomercials
sure some might be legit, but it’s hard to judge. We used simple circle talking techniques to trick people into buying our product. In the infomercial it was $120. We had a list of people that called the number from the infomercial but didn’t buy the product. We called them back and offered the same product for $45. Then if they refused we’d go down to $35 and eventually $25 as a last resort effort. They were willing to sell this product for $25, and people were buying it for over 4 times that much! (employees got the product for $5)

We also had “add-ons” that we were given cash each day for each one we sold. They were stupid things like redeemable gift cards and gas cards for $1. These sound too good to be true and they are. The trial period before you get charged 20-30 a month for the program ends after 14 days, and 90% of the time the information didn’t reach the customer for almost a month.

This means a couple things. First of all, if the customer didn’t write down the number we provided once in the call to cancel, or lost the number, they’re gonna get charged for a full month of the service. Second of all, most the rebates and cards had so many hoops to jump through that the offers were expired by the time everything was done.

2. Your Legal Rights (and how to use them)

According to TCPA, telemarketers cannot:

call before 8am or after 9pm
call your cell phone
hide who they are or who they’re calling on behalf of
call you if you’re on the national do not call list
call with a pre-recorded message (unless it contains the information below)

in addition, within the first 4 seconds of a call, the rep must reveal who they are, where they’re calling from, and who they’re calling on behalf of.

If a telemarketer breaks any of these rules, you can sue them!

Just look around the internet, a bunch of people have gotten settlements out of court as well as filed their own small claims. The fine is $500, so it’s more of a slap in the face to the telemarketing companies than it is a legitimate way to hurt their business.

1. No Rebuttal and Permission to Continue States
Some states have laws that require the rep ask your permission to continue and some states have laws to terminate the call after your first refusal. Does this work? Sometimes. Most of the time a rep is using a flex script, which cuts out some junk talk to make the sale easier. If the rep is being monitored by a client company, they’ll read verbatim and follow each law to a tea. If you live in a no-rebuttal state or permission to continue state, know about it! It’s another tool you can use to get them off your back.

list of states and their telemarketing laws

What to do with this information

weed out bad call centers from good ones. Some of them (like the bank of america call center) offer services that really are valuable to the customer and won’t rip them off. For example, since the call is on behalf of bank of america, and they already have your personal data, the rep never has access to it. All the rep does is confirm you are who you say you are, and records your authorization to have your bank account billed for the service.

Also remember that if you’re making trouble for reps, you may be getting someone fired. They get minimum wage, and are forced to try to sell to customers all day even if they don’t want to. I’ve seen reps fired because they were on the phone too long with someone playing a prank on them. In some areas, the only available jobs in a 40 mile radius are call centers and fast food, keep that in mind before you heckle someone.

If anyone has any additional questions, I’ll do my best to answer. I can answer some questions about the inbound (tech support) side of telemarketing, but it’s not that interesting in my opinion.


Seems a lot of people don’t get the point of this list. I’ll try to sum some things up that were repeated a lot in the comments.

  • The people that get so many different marketing calls that it becomes a nuisance and want them all to stop.

  • If you’re getting called by a center that is abusing TCPA laws, sue them! this comment spells out how you’re able to do that better than I did.

  • Edit 2: this link will point you towards some sites that easily spell out how to sue a telemarketer breaking the TCPA. If you don’t want to get the calls anymore, this is the most effective way of ensuring that center never calls you again (while netting $500 for you)”

    IAmA Telemarketer who wants to save you from me (advice inside) [Reddit via Wisebread]

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