A New Age of Telemarketing: Do these things really sell stuff?

Have you ever picked up your phone and been asked by a real person to complete a survey? Maybe to earn the chance at a gift card at WalMart or something?

The other day I was minding my own business, typing along on my current novel-in-progress. The phone rang and I answered.

Answering the phone without recognizing the number on the caller ID screen isn’t the best idea.

A really sweet-sounding girl told me I was qualified to win on of five gift cards in a drawing that very night. All I had to do was complete the automated survey to be entered into the contest.

Well, shoot. It’s an election year. I might get to give my opinion on the stellar options in the race for president. Who wouldn’t want to do that?

So she clicks me through.

A litany of recording begins.

It starts innocently enough. Asking if I’m on medicare. If anyone in my household is diabetic. Press one for yes and two for no. All my no answers generate another question.

Then the tone changes.

“If you’ve been involved in a car accident, you might be entitled to compensation. Press one now to speak to an agent or press two for the next offer.”

Of course I press two. But when did my survey questions morph into infomercials for Allstate Motor Club or medical insurance?

I decided to see the “survey” through to the end. For curiosity’s sake.

Several of the “offers” were repeated more than once. It took about six minutes for the machine to wend its way through the pre-programming.

Suddenly a different recorded voice-male-congratulated me for reaching the end of the survey. All I had to do to be entered into the drawing was hold so someone could verify my email address.

My email address? They called me on the phone. Why would they need my email address?

Another young lady came on the phone and said I was entitled to a gift card worth twice what I was offered at the beginning of the “survey.” Could she transfer me now so I could claim the offer?

This sounded suspiciously like one of the offers that had been repeated twice during the automated “survey.”


She sounded surprised. “I’ll transfer you so you can claim your $100. Okay?”


After a brief pause when I thought I heard her gasp. Do people actually fall for this ploy? You know they are going to try to get me to buy something in order to claim my prize.

I’m waiting for her to ask me for my email. I intend to ask her why she needs it. They’ve got my phone number. The guy who ended the survey told me that winners would receive a phone call.

Instead, she surprises me. “You don’t qualify for the prize drawing at this time. Thank you for your time.” Click.

I’m stunned. I stare at the phone in my hand. Did a telemarketer just spurn me?

And what about the promise of a chance to win a gift card in a drawing later that night? All false advertising I guess. A ruse to get me to listen to the spiels marketed under the guise of a survey.

If you get this call, hang up. Unless you think you’re one of the people entitled to money from the obscure class action suits mentioned at the beginning of the “survey.”

Do they really sell things this way? Do people click through for the 75 percent off two five-day vacations? Are there people who still believe in getting something for nothing?

I don’t know, but this is a friendly warning. If you answer the phone to the chipper young woman promising you a gift card if you take the automated survey, say no thank you and hang up.

It will save you ten minutes. And maybe get you removed from the call list. If you’re lucky.

Do these calls really sell stuff? Have you bought something from a call like this? Share your experience with the rest of us.

3 thoughts on “A New Age of Telemarketing: Do these things really sell stuff?”

  1. I came home the other day to find an automated message on my answerphone trying to sell me life insurance. It turns out automated messages are too dumb to wait for the beep, so the first chunk of the message was missing. “A robot woman called and said I should insure my life – so I did” – said no one ever!

  2. Deborah-
    If they don’t sell anything, why do they keep doing things this way? I guess programming your computer to call everyone doesn’t cost too much, but what about ruining your reputation? Aren’t they worried someone will name their name and defame them on Facebook? It’s bad business to annoy people.
    How do I know? Because the customer is always right 🙂

  3. These are terrible! They are also online. Short survey turns into 10 – 15 minutes of declining special offers. I was a person that actually would do surveys but now I am wary! Don’t fall for the free gift, cash or giftcard routine, and if they say “you may qualify ” there’s the loophole.

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