Hello, my name’s Jim and I’m calling on behalf of the …
And so started each day. Again, and again and again. About 30 times an hour, for 8 hours a day I sold raffle tickets for a charity. Or more precisely, I sold tickets for an organisation that raised money for a charity.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Charities have to raise money. But the next time your dinner or TV watching is interrupted by one of those annoying fund raising calls, just think about the poor bastard whose only job it is, is making those calls. It’s a nasty, soul destroying job staring at a computer screen in a Zen like trance waiting for the automated click and the call to connect. (Yes, we didn’t even dial – I was an appendage to the machine.) But when it’s a choice between your bank taking your home away and you prostituting yourself out – it’s not a hard choice.
That’s the most common response. (Otherwise it was just “No thanks,” or worse.) If you get one of these calls and hang up, well, that’s pretty stupid. Why? Because they will call back. Again, and again and again. They have a massive location based database of numbers scraped from phone books from the last 20 (or more) years. It’s recycled about three to four times a year, and if you don’t answer, then the number just goes back into the pool. Even if you get a fresh new silent number from Telstra, if it was listed 20 years ago – they will have it.
But I’m on the National Do Not Call list
I hear you protest. Tough, it doesn’t apply to charities. Or,
I have a silent number. It’s unlisted.
They don’t care, it wasn’t silent before and now it’s in the database, so you’re going to get called. Once, I had someone who had only got the phone connected that morning – I was their first call as they were moving into their home.
The saddest customer is the old biddy who probably doesn’t have full use of their faculties and still has a credit card. Yes, young man, you sound honest, I’ll hand over $200 for tickets for a prize I could never make use of with money that isn’t really mine. The other type of person who I hated calling was the one who was interrupted doing something (like in the shower) who dashed out to answer the phone. Really? Don’t you people know how to use voice-mail? In fact, why do you have a land-line anyway? Come the next 20 years and there will be fewer and fewer POTS numbers to call.
So, of that $200, 100% went to the charity – literally. When I made a sale by credit card, I put the details straight into a web form for the bank account of the charity. If you wrote a cheque, then it was in the name of the charity. (Quite a few of the younger employees working there had never seen a cheque.) But then the calling organisation would charge back about 40% of the cost of the service. If you think about it, you have to spend money to make money. Even those charities that do all the work themselves: making the call, buying the prizes, etc. still have to spend the same amount of money.
At least the job was honest. We got paid on time, we got our superannuation (eventually) and they looked after employees who managed to keep going for the long run. But it was hard, mentally draining work – and you had to be good to keep your job. And by good, I mean make $30/hour in credit card sales and up to $90 in combined credit card and cheque sales – for every hour you worked, and if you didn’t you’d get the “Please don’t come back.” talk from the supervisor – no matter how long you’d worked there. It basically paid your wage and the overhead of the organisation. If you decided not to turn up for a day unannounced, you lost your job. If you dicked around too much, you lost your job. Seriously. Some days the owner would walk through, see someone using their mobile to surf Facebook or similar and politely say to them “Please don’t come back.” And he could – because we were casual, hourly wage slaves. If you didn’t focus on the job, then you’d be let go. And every Friday about eight or so new bags of fresh blood and bone in human form would turn up, give it a go and maybe come back for more punishment the next day.
So, how do you get them to stop calling you I hear to ask. It’s very simple – when you get a call, repeat after me:
Hello, I appreciate the work you’re doing, and I realise it’s your job but I’d rather not get these calls. Please put me on your Do Not Call list. Also, does your organisation make calls for any other charities? Yes, please put me on those Do Not Call lists as well. Your floor manager has a form you can fill in to remove me from all the databases, and I’m happy to wait on the phone while you do it. Thank you.
Insight Charity Fund Raising Services does fund raising for a few charities, if you want to donate to them (the charity not Insight CFS) I’ve linked to their donate page: