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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Silent Phone Calls

Sales calls are annoying at the best of times, but technology has developed to make them even more irritating.

First there was "predictive dialling" or "random digit dialling" (RDD), which has a computer automatically dial numbers into a call system. This eliminates the safety of having your telephone number not listed, as they'll get you anyway. My time in the market research industry gave me a comprehensive experience of this - as head of MORI's telephone research centre and with 350 people to look after, I had to be fairly clued up - but it was never intended for sales or telemarketing (market research interviewers are allowed access where telesales people aren't, theoretically).

The next stage was to have the numbers dialled irresepective of whether there was anyone available to actually make the call. The result was that the phone would ring, you'd pick it up, and there would be nobody there. Terrifying for the elderly over a period of time.

In my view the executives of businesses that do this should have their own phone numbers called at all times of the day and night, and subject to random silences and odd sounds and numbers. This should happen to them at least a dozen times each 24 hour cycle, and over a period of at least three months.

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