Telemarketer based frustration used to be a personal grievance, but with the number of technologies at the finger tips of consumers today, marketers have to be wary of the tactics they use to reach out to customers. Case in point: Auto One Warranty Specialists Inc.

The company hired a third-party marketing firm to call consumers who opted in to receiving solicitations. They were informed their car warranty was about to expire. But many of the recipients hadn't opted in. And many of them don't even own cars.

One such individual is NY Senator Charles Schumer, who had no trouble complaining about the intrusion on the Senate floor. Most consumers don't have access to a Congressional microphone, but today people who feel abused by robocallers have many more options at their disposal than they used to.

It used to be that individuals peeved by telemarketers could do little more than hang up. But now, there are a wide variety of forums to complain and bad mouth companies you think use shady practices. There are even ways to fight back.

One consumer, a lab technician named Michael Silveira, was too annoyed by the calls to ignore them and decided to make use of the Internet meme that popped up around Rick Astley's hit song "Never Gonna Give You Up." Says the Wall Street Journal:

"Using phone numbers for Auto One Warranty Specialists Inc. that users posted to a Web site called, Mr. Silveira joined dozens of activists who have peppered the warranty company with messages including elevator music, threats and offers of rude services."

Needless to say, the company was not expecting such a response:

"The recipient of their efforts is David Tabb, the 42-year-old president of Auto One, an Irvine, Calif., warranty company with 60 employees. He says Reddit users overloaded his phone lines with computerized calls, changed voice-mail greetings on his company's system, and even threatened arson. People have been conspicuously honking outside his home, he says. To cope, he redirected some of the numbers that activists had been calling."

Auto One insists that they did nothing wrong. According to Mr. Tabb: "Ninety percent of the people complaining about my company have never been contacted by my company."

But companies have to be wary about the practices they use to reach out to potential customers. When a Senator gets on the floor of Congress to complain about what you're doing, it's obvious that you have to make some changes. But today, individuals can ban together to make just as much or more noise, and companies that don't listen are bound to get burnt.


Meghan Keane

Published 19 May, 2009 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

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Comments (1)



Good post :)

about 9 years ago

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