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Telemarketing or telesales is a method of direct marketing in which a salesperson solicits prospective customers to buy products or services through orders taken over the telephone, or customers contact salespeople/ordertakers over the phone in response to advertising they encountered in full page magazine or newspaper ads, television, radio, junk mail, or (a particular annoyance) cold-calling or robo-calling (e.g., a recipient's response resulting from having been directed to speak up or press buttons on their phone). Where the product is advertised in a venue other than cold- or robo-calling, a toll free number to place an order is often provided, and sometimes a snail mail address (or, these days, a website):

"MasterCard and Visa accepted! Call NOW! Or send $19.95 to Canton, OH or Camp Hill, PA and we'll throw in as a bonus, three FREE Turnip Twaddlers and a Magic Car Wax Wand!"

Examples of telemarketers[edit]

  • Kevin Trudeau
  • Ronco, who used to sell everything from vinyl "Disco Fever Mega Hits" type records, to gimmicky kitchen gadgets.
  • That company in Canton, Ohio

Scams and woo[edit]

Telemarketing is a notorious hotbed for such things as:

  • Diet woo and bodybuilding woo, especially unproven dietary supplements and cheaply made, ineffective exercise devices
  • Automotive woo
  • Kinoki Foot Pads, laundry balls, Turnip Twaddlers, and similar products
  • Use of anonymous, difficult to trace robo-calling by politicians at all hours of the day and night to attack opposition candidates
  • Sweepstakes, often geared toward selling magazine subscriptions, which unwitting consumers buy on the mistaken notion it will make them more likely to win the jackpot
  • Automobile warranty scams
  • Long-lost funds from fake inheritances or lottery winnings that require service fees to be paid up front
  • Threats of arrest and court action that require payment to avoid prosecution from law enforcement agencies or tax collection agencies (e.g., the IRS or Revenue Canada)
  • Marketing services
  • Internet services (e.g., web development, eMail service upgrades, Google gaslighting, etc.)
  • Computer services (e.g., technical support, virus removal, Bitcoin/Ethereum/Dogecoin wallet recovery assistance, etc.)
  • Marriage proposals from wealthy people who somehow can't find anyone who wants to marry them and needs your help to immigrate and save on taxes

Automobile warranties, Rachel and other scams[edit]

For several years in the 2000s, people across the United States received billions and billions of robo-calls claiming "your car warranty has just expired" and offering to extend that warranty. This was actually a scam - the calls were placed entirely at random with no knowledge of whether the consumer's car warranty had expired, and they were selling a third-party warranty, not extending the auto manufacturer's warranty. This scam finally came to the attention of the U.S. Senate in 2008-2009 and like typical cockroaches, the main perpetrators behind this scam scattered and the calls stopped.

One of the companies involved, the St. Louis, Missouri based National Auto Warranty Services which later changed its name to U.S. Fidelis, collapsed late in 2009 and both it and the robo-calling company they contracted with, Voice Touch, remain entangled in multiple lawsuits from state and federal attorneys.[1][2] Another of the companies selling car warranties was Irvine, California based Credexx Corporation, also known as Auto One Warranty Specialists, who have also been sued by several state attornies general.[3]

Most of the automotive warranty calls disappeared after late 2009, only to be replaced by another nuisance: "Rachel from Cardholder Services". After a couple of years of robo-calls from "Rachel", they have largely subsided. Now the latest scam, as of late 2011, is calls claiming your car loan application was approved, and requesting additional personal information, an obvious phishing tactic. Curiously this latest scam does not use robo-calls, but rather live calls that sound like they are from a call center in south Asia, although they claim to be "in New York".

See also[edit]