Thursday 7 August 2014

Defending Telesales?

I came across this post, which I thought was a remarkably fun idea:

Essentially, the guy was cold-called by a recorded message that asked if he wanted to talk to someone about his mortgage.  So he opted to talk to someone, pretended to be the cold-caller's IT department and convinced him to factory reset his phone.  If the phone is auto-provisioned then this is a few seconds inconvenience for the cold-caller, but if it is manually provisioned then his phone is out of action until someone can set it all up again.

What really surprised me were the number of people who were coming out to defend the cold-caller.

"The poor guy was doing the job he was told to so he could get a paycheck."

So lets look at this rationally:
  1. Cold callers cost the person they are calling (depending on the situation in time, inconvenience or money) and there is no way to preemptively stop them.
  2. This was a recorded message.  I'm not sure what the laws are like in Canada, but in the UK it is illegal to use a recorded message when cold-calling people.
  3. The caller was ignoring the national "Do Not Call" registers (i.e. Canada's equivalent of our TPS).
  4. The caller was sending a fake caller ID to disguise their identity.
  5. Given that they have gone out of their way to disregard the law and disguise their identity, it's probably reasonable to assume that whatever they're selling is a scam - if you were operating a legitimate business you want people to find you, so don't try and hide your identity.

So at best, cold callers are an annoyance - they know they are annoying the people they call, yet they choose to do the job.  At worst, they are breaking the law (certainly sounds like that was the case this time).  They are pretty much universally a drain on society.

I don't buy the whole "he was just doing his job" and "maybe it was the only job he can get to feed himself" arguments - you could apply these to any criminal.  Should we be defending the drug dealers and the burglars because "maybe they couldn't get a better job?"

I also don't understand the "he probably didn't realise it was unlawful" arguments that I often hear.  Firstly, ignorance is no defence - if you're arrested for doing something illegal then "I didn't know it was illegal" isn't going to keep you out of jail; and secondly I just don't believe that none of the thousands of people who have been called haven't informed the cold-caller of their legal position.  Whenever I have been cold-called and pointed out to them that they were breaking the law, they have always told me that I was wrong, even when I quoted the relevant legislation at them.  Unless you don't care about the law, the sensible thing to do when someone tells you what legislation you're breaking is to actually go and look at it and see if they're right.

If your employer tells you to do something, it is your responsibility to figure out if it is legal before doing it.  "I was just following orders" doesn't cut it.