The "Do Not Contact Me" Database

2 March, 2010 - 16:27
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As all and any South African will tell you, we have a real problem in this country with phone pest marketers. No company is willing to admit to where it is that they actually got these numbers, other than to blame it on the mysterious National Consumer Database. It's true, I consume right up there with the best of them but I have never once agreed (to my knowledge) to be pelted with such a volume of telesales calls, or any at all for that matter.

Now, I realize that it is not a big deal to simply tell the poor sap on the other side of the phone doing their low-paying job that I'm not interested. In a parallel universe where I am a better, purer being I'm sure that this is what I do. However, the biggest offender so far has been Vodacom, and reasons that belong in a post of their own this company strips straight through any amount of composure and patience I have.

Most recently I had a cold call from Virgin Mobile, offering me a Special Deal! for new customers.

Me: But I am already your customer.
Her: *silence*..... Oh, o-raait.
Me: Why are you phoning me? Where did you get this number?
Her: It comes from the National Consumer Database.
Me: I want to be taken off this list. I never signed up for it
Her: You can't come off the list. There's no hope. Perhaps you should change your phone number.

I have had this same phone number for a long, long time. I'm coming up for my 11th year, and I'm not about to change my number so that these fools stop trying to sign me up for new phone contracts. The irony sickens me.

Refusing to believe that this was indeed a hopeless situation, I googled it and as it turns out, there IS hope! I found this discussion forum. Sweet, sweet music to my eyes.

The Direct Marketing Association of South Africa has arranged a service for you to bulk opt-out from all of it. There are many companies who are members, some big ones being Vodacom, Cell C, Edgars and Absa.

Dubious? I was too. One has to fill out registration form brimming with the personal information that you are trying to hide. Also, the form is hosted on a different domain, and not secured (https). They have a phone number so I called to figure out whether they seemed legit or not, and they do.

The dude I spoke to seemed professional, and he did not try to coerce me into filling anything in. He said that it takes 4-6 weeks before companies pick up the updated circulated list. If after signing up for that Do Not Contact service one of the member companies still spams you, you lodge a complaint with the DMA and they take matters up with the company.

I've now filled it in and am hoping for the best. Still a little cynical - this does sound too good to be true. If I now start getting an unholy amount of spam I will let you all know.

And probably change my phone number.

Best you get theft cover on your groceries

19 February, 2010 - 18:04

Today I received a spam email from Woolworths. Bizarrely, it was an advertisement for insurance. Even more bizarrely, it was an advertisement for insurance of groceries.

Who are they trying to target here? There is a big income / lifestyle gap between the wealthy and the poor in South Africa, as is the case in most places throughout Africa, and the only people who could really afford to insure their stupid Woolworths groceries are the privileged ones.

But they wouldn't, because should their groceries be stolen (as this advertisement is suggesting) they can easily afford to buy more. And as for poorer people, they don't shop at Woolworths ever, and even if they did, these are people who don't even have enough money to pay for health insurance and are unlikely to want to insure their bread, milk and mielies.

I understand that it common for insurance companies to play on peoples' fears in order to sell their products, but to what point have we been pushed here that the insurers want us to start fearing the theft of our groceries out of our cars? Or maybe I've missed the point and they're making a statement about the rising cost of living in South Africa.

All around, this campaign is in poor taste and poorly thought out.

PS Woolworths, why in the whatshisname are you spamming me? Jerks.

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