When the federal government announced last year that they were introducing a ‘Do not call register‘ that would effectively bar telemarketers from constantly ringing up and annoying me, I thought that it was the greatest thing that could ever happen. Telemarketers have been the very bane of my existence for a few years now.

One Australian telecommunications company in particular (Optus!), would ring me at least three times a month to ask if I wished to change my telephone provider. Needless to say I told them ‘No!’ each and every single bloody time, but they still kept persisting. After about a year of this harassment I finally had had enough and told the person on the phone that I would never use that particular company simply because they kept ringing me up all the time, and would not take no for an answer. If I was to choose a telephone company that was going to provide my service, I would contact them myself after doing thorough research. I would definitely not choose a telephone company that used Indian call centres to constantly call me. After telling the telemarketer all of this, I was then transferred to a manager who worked in the Brisbane office, not Mumbai. (Wow!) I repeated this to this guy who then assured me that they would never harass me again. Since then that company has not bothered me, thank goodness, but several others have.

I have nothing against telemarketers, they are just doing a job. Back in the 1990s I even did some telemarketing as a way to help support myself while I was studying. It is a difficult job and it is not easy to cope with people swearing at and threatening you, which is why I try to be as polite as possible when a telemarketer calls me up. However it seems that recently telemarketers have become more aggressive than when I was doing this job. Ten years ago we just had to read from a script and if someone didn’t want what you had to offer, you thanked them for their time and then dialed up the next person. Today I find that some telemarketers will do and say almost anything to get you to sign up to their product, even lie to you. Today they just won’t take ‘no’ for an answer and will keep trying to wear you down. Also, it is sadly not just the Indian telemarketers who behave in this way, plenty of Australian telemarketers also use these tactics too. It doesn’t matter whether they are from Mumbai or Mentone, it seems that telemarketers have been instructed to be as aggressive as possible.

Anyway, I thought that the ‘do not call register’ would be the answer to all of my prayers. I signed up as soon as the government started the website. For a month after signing up with the register I had more calls from telemarketers than ever before. This was perhaps because there was a period of one month from the time that the website started until the register was activated, and that the companies were trying to sign as many people up as possible before this deadline happened.

One thing that I find disappointing is that charities and political parties are exempt from the register, as they too can use very aggressive tactics. If you say no to a charity, they will inevitably make you feel bad by saying, “Don’t you want to help find a cure for cancer?” or “Don’t you want to help orphan kiddies with arthritis and heart conditions who are starving to death?” Of course I do want to help out charities, but just the ones that I choose myself. Also, as I now get at least two charities a week calling me up, if I made a donation to every charity who called me I would have to start a charity for myself, as I would soon be broke.

Nevertheless, even though I still have charities calling me up, you’d think that I would not have companies calling me up trying to sign me up to buy something. Unfortunately today I had a timeshare/holiday/travel company, which employed a very rude Indian woman as a telemarketer, call me up to tell me that I had won a mobile phone and a holiday, if only I would sign up for something or other. I politely told the woman, who it seems had just pulled my name out of the phone book, that I was not interested in what she was selling. She then started yelling and bombarding me. I retorted by telling her that as I was signed up to the ‘do not call register’ she shouldn’t even be calling me up. She then started yelling about something else, to which I then just hung up the phone on her, which is something I have never done to anyone before. I should have instead found out which company she was from, and then called the government hot line to inform them that this company was breaking the law by harassing someone who has signed up to this register, but I just couldn’t be bothered.

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