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Telemarketers Skate Close to the Edge

March 18, 2010
By David Sims - Telemarketing Software Contributing Editor

A recent article in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram points up the fine line telemarketers sometimes tread.


It tells the story of Carter Foster, an associate pastor in Colleyville, Texas, who purchased $1,500 worth of subscriptions from Heartland Inc., an Iowa-based telemarketing company that sells magazines by phone, who protested he couldn’t remember purchasing them.


The reporter listened to tapes of the transactions between Foster and the telemarketers six times, writing “the salesman speaks so fast to the 67-year-old Foster that even after listening to the tape six times, I still can’t understand what he’s saying. He rattles off the magazines’ names so fast, I can’t tell what they are.”


The salesman ends by saying, “The easiest way to remember our company name is, ‘We’re Heartland and we love you,’ OK?”


“OK,” Foster, who takes medication for Parkinson’s disease, replies, according to the reporter.


Such legal but aggressive tactics dance close to the edge. Sometimes telemarketers cross the line: More than $2.8 million is headed to Ohio consumers following the resolution of an alleged multimillion-dollar payment processing fraud scheme, state Attorney General Richard Cordray’s office said, according to Columbus Business First:

“The distribution to more than 24,000 Wachovia Bank NA customers in the state is tied to a 2007 settlement between the Federal Trade Commission, Ohio and six other states that accused Florida payment processors Your Money Access and YMA Co. of processing unauthorized debits from Wachovia accounts nationwide on behalf of telemarketers.”

According to the news from Business First, “officials allege the companies, owned by Tarzenea Dixon, helped the telemarketers secure more than $200 million in debits from 2004 to 2006.”


The Star-Telegram contacted the Iowa Better Business Bureau, which “gives Heartland a C-minus rating with 363 complaints in the last three years.”


Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller’s (News - Alert) Web site lists some “typical problems” with telemarketers: They “trick you into paying hundreds of dollars for multi-year subscriptions to magazines you don’t want or can’t afford... so-called sweepstakes that sign you up for a subscription without your approval... solicitations for magazines at ‘pennies a day for shipping and handling’ that turn out to be very expensive... and ‘special promotions’ for ‘free issues’ that actually sign you up for costly subscriptions that are difficult to cancel.”


And every day the “Do Not Call” list gets more names, and telemarketers wonder why.

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Kelly McGuire

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