Telemarketers, Charity Muggers and the Fall of Polite Society

Are you bothered by charity collectors stopping you in the street?
Are you bothered by charity collectors stopping you in the street?
Are you bothered by charity collectors stopping you in the street?

Are you bothered by charity collectors stopping you in the street?

I am on the no call list which means these days if I get a telemarketing call it is either from a charity or a scam. I love telling some criminal phone call worker that I have an Apple when he tells me he got a distress call from my windows computer. But the fact that most telemarketers these days are criminals is not why I hate them, I hate them for what they were before that, and how they made me, and I am sure countless others, ruder.

First, they invade the sanctity of your home. I am sitting down to dinner or relaxing in front of the TV, I then have to get up to answer a phone call, not from a friend, but from someone trying to sell me something. I have nothing against marketers, TV ads give me something – TV shows – and newspaper or internet ads are there when I want them, but phone salesmen are forcing themselves into my private time.

Then they take advantage of our politeness, and people stopping us on the street are the same, our reluctance to be rude to someone. If someone tries to talk to you, it is generally considered polite to engage in pleasantries until you can disengage. These people often do their best to bring you back into the conversation or re-engage you, even after you are clear that you are not interested. I know this is their job but it wastes my time and, quite frankly, sometimes I have had to be rude to people to get them to get the message. Sometimes I have just had to hang up or walk away mid-sentence. And this is something I would not do in a normal situation. I know people who take great joy in tormenting people who do this job, asking for lots of details, or putting them on hold. I rather enjoy these stories because of the rudeness of some telemarketers. When I told a Solar company I did not have solar power, after ringing me at home and wasting my time, they didn’t even say goodbye, they just hung up.

So apart from making everyone’s day a little more miserable, what does this added rudeness do to our society? I think as a society we are becoming ruder and more selfish. And while I don’t blame sales people, telemarketers, door knockers or charity muggers for this alone, I think it is part of the problem. By making us have to be rude to survive an encounter, we are more likely to be rude later on. Yes, this is a long bow to draw, and I have no real evidence or even think you could get more than a casual link if you graphed it, but I doubt I am alone. After all, how many other situations can you think of where you will boast to your friends after of being rude to someone and getting nods of approval?

Do you think telemarketers or door knockers are making us ruder? Does it bother you when people approach you for sales or charity? 


  • May!

    “I have nothing against marketers, TV ads give me something – TV shows” For ‘charity muggers’ on the street and charity telemarketers, yeah this rudeness doesn’t get YOU anything. It gets others something. I’m a telemarketer for a children’s charity and I used to be embarrassed to tell people what I do, because people often say things like “no offense, but I hate telemarketers” and I would sit there and cop it.

    Guess what – I’m over it. In reality, it’s NOT hard to not be rude. I’m sick of everyone thinking it’s hilarious to make my day at work a shitty one. I’m not a bad person and I’m not doing a bad thing – in fact I’m proud of what I do – which is raise money (sometimes hundreds of dollars a day) so kids with disabilities can learn to walk and talk. Or have an electric wheelchair when their family doesn’t happen to have a spare $20 000 to buy one. But you (and society in general) seem to think I’M the arsehole in this situation, because I inconvenienced you for literally less than 2 minutes to ask for help.

    This article was a whole ‘no offense, but…’. Guess what – I’m not going to apologise if you think it’s rude for someone to try and help people who need it.

    • Jessica Chapman

      You know what there are charities that I have a higher opinion of by the way they dealt with me on the phone. The PCYC being one of them, I would consider giving money to them in the future because they asked me for money, I said no and they took it well, thanked me for my time and let me go.

      There are other charities I would think twice about giving any money to ever by the way they have dealt with me either on the phone or in person. Attempting to emotionally manipulate me into giving money doesn’t exactly breed trust or good will. I have been in situations where I had a cancer council representative lie to me about the cervical cancer shot (told me I’d never get cervical cancer because of it), wouldn’t accept the fact that I was unemployed was a good enough reason not to make a direct debit arrangement, started up his spiel after I’d said no about ten times and I had to end the conversation by saying, “I’m going now.” I think that’s forcing me to be impolite.

      I don’t know how you conduct yourself in your job/ volunteer work, you may very well be one of the really nice charity workers I’d want to give money to and it’s good to something where you help other people. And I agree that it’s not hilarious to make your day a terrible one. But if some one can’t say no politely and then end the conversation then what choice are they left with? They either have to hang up the phone or walk away. And that’s taking away their choice to say no without being rude.

    • John James

      I totally get where you’re coming from – and I totally get where Mazi is coming from…

      From your perspective, you’re just trying to do your job, and all you get is abuse…that must be awful…

      All Mazi wants is to be left alone…he doesn’t want his privacy invaded at home, and he hates being confronted with endless street charity workers…they are literally EVERYWHERE! No wonder we’re sick of it!

      And that was Mazi’s point – the general public has become so desensitized to charity workers that we no longer bat an eyelid when we’re rude to them. We even brag about it.

      The funny thing is, I think both of you are actually arguing the same thing, but from opposite sides of the argument.

      What can we do about it? I don’t know…the biggest issue nowadays is that there are simply TOO MANY charities…to many causes…we’re all suffering from charity overload…

      You know, Amanda Palmer said something really interesting in her recent TED talk – she was commenting about music, but I think it equally applies to charities…she said “We need to stop asking how we can MAKE people pay for music, and instead ask how we can LET people pay for music.”

      Change “music” to “charity” and maybe donating to charity will feel less of a chore:

    • Tamsin Howse

      Surely you both want the same thing? No one to be rude.

  • Karlia

    “By making us have to be rude to survive an encounter”.

    1. Nobody can MAKE you be rude, that is your choice and yours alone.
    2. I agree with parts of the article but overall, the negativity seems pointless.
    3. I dont like having telemarketers call either but i still choose NOT to be rude. They havent forced me to do so.

    • Tamsin Howse

      I think Mazi was referring to when you’re forced into a situation where there’s no polite way to exit.

      This happened to me the other day. I had a broken toe so I was limping along and the person wouldn’t leave me alone. He kept pushing me and pushing me, when I said to him I didn’t have money to commit to a monthly donation, I already donate to other charities he wanted to know which ones, what do they do.

      When I said I didn’t have the money, he pushed “Not even $15 a month?” “No” “Come on, just $15 a month!!”

      I had to walk away without saying anything. To me, walking away from someone while they’re talking is very rude, but he left me no other choice. I could have been ruder, of course, and cracked it at him (and I was on the verge of doing so given my fridge had died and I’d just had to buy a new one I couldn’t afford) but even what I did do was rude.

      • Maree Talidu

        I see where both sides are coming from, but must concede that I don’t feel that someone else forces you to be rude. I HATE being approached at the shops etc when I’m clearly struggling with my own health and can barely hold my own grocery bags, I find they border on harassment. I don’t have time to stop and tell them I support 3 charities on a monthly basis- because quite simply, it’s not their business. And while I will walk away like you did, I just say “can’t help you” and keep moving.

        Now: the actual article wasn’t complaining about the ones that harass you in public- this is about telemarketers and as annoying and frustrating as they can be, they have a job to do, and there is NO harm in politely saying “no thank you, I’m not interested”, hanging up the phone and moving on. To me, it’s a bit of a first world problem.

        • Maree Talidu

          Also- just a thought, I think saying “most telemarketers today are criminals” is a horrible generalisation and untrue. Annoying? Hell yeah. Inconvenient? Absolutely. Persistent? You betcha. Criminals? I think not. People have to earn a living, plain and simple. I’m pleased that there hasn’t been negative feedback about that comment cos it’s pretty sweeping and a little unfair.

          • Tamsin Howse

            I believe that was meant to be “most telemarketers who call me are criminals” as he’d just mentioned he’s on the Do Not Call register so mostly gets called by scams because legit telemarketers aren’t allowed to call.

  • Mazi Gray

    I agree, no one can force me to be rude, but I see hanging up on someone as rude, and when I have a choice between taking 5 minutes to tell someone repeatedly I am not interested or hanging up on someone, I will hang up. This is obviously seen as nuisance by many people otherwise there would not be the laws around the No Call register that there already are.

    I have no problem with Charities being exempt from the no-call register, but even with charities, if I say I am not interested, I expect that to be the end of the conversation, if they then acknowledge that fine, no aggravation, but if not, then I will do something I consider rude, hang up. I think a lot of the discussions I have with friends over this comes down to what you feel is rude.

    Another problem is that of the bad egg. I will gladly buy a raffle ticket or badge from the Hospital auxiliary or legacy when they have a table out, but if I am in a hurry I can walk past them without incident, they won’t block my path.

    When I am called by a charity I already donate to, I don’t mind, i have given them permission, but most of the telemarketing calls I get are not from Charities, they are from scams.

    • Maree Talidu

      I think then you should maybe call them that? Scam artists or dodgy etc. But I don’t believe it’s a criminal act. I’m on the ‘do not call’ register and it’s made very little difference. Still get calls, still realise the calls won’t stop, still get frustrated, choose to quickly end the conversation with a curt but civil tongue and move on. Such is life.

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  • Michael Bian

    Telemarketing can be an effective tool for your business and it can be an easy and effective way to increase your profits and promote your product or service.

  • Michael Bian

    Telemarketing is most often used as part of an overall marketing program.