Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Telemarketers will be silent on Sept. 11

The Associated Press

        OMAHA, Neb. — Recognizing that many Americans won't be in the mood for getting sales calls, many of the nation's telemarketers plan to take the day off Wednesday.

        Sept. 11 is a day for people to be with their families, said Perry Young, director of a telemarketing center in Omaha run by Call Solutions Inc., of Waukesha, Wis.

        “If I received a call at home on that day from somebody trying to sell me something, I would be personally offended,” Young said.

        “It's a day to sit back and reflect and not really press for marketing,” agreed Kevin Brosnahan of the American Teleservices Association.

        The nation's largest privately held telemarketing company, DialAmerica Marketing Inc. of Mahwah, N.J., is giving the day off to its 8,500 outbound telemarketers around the country.

        For DialAmerica, that means tens of thousands of calls not being made. The total number of telemarketing calls affected by all the companies deciding not to make outbound calls is unclear. Brosnahan says his association does not have a reliable number of calls made daily by telemarketing companies.

        Not doing business Wednesday will hurt DialAmerica, as would any day when people are not working, said Nancy Katz said, director of corporate communications. She declined to be specific.

        “It's a way to be respectful that day,” she said of the company's decision to halt outbound calls.

        Telemarketers make outbound calls to conduct surveys and bring business to client companies in industries including banking, magazine and book publishing, telecommunications and insurance. They also receive calls to help the customers of those companies.

        The industry generated about $668 billion in sales last year, Brosnahan said.

        For Sept. 11, many telemarketing companies were asked by their clients not to make outbound calls, but to retain inbound services, Brosnahan said.

        Other telemarketing companies reached that decision on their own.

        “We made our decision about a month and a half ago. We haven't had any complaints from our clients,” said J.C. Cramer, president of Telemax Teleservices based in Omaha, which employs about 350 people.

        “It's going to be a tough day for anything,” Cramer said. “Out of respect you probably shouldn't call, and if you do call, you're not going to get very far anyway.”

        Sitel Corp., based in Baltimore, will not make outbound calls at the request of its clients, said Bill Miklas, a vice president with the company in Omaha. Sitel workers affected by the decision are being offered a vacation day or day off without pay, Miklas said.

        West Corp., a telemarketing company based in Omaha with call centers around the country, is letting its clients dictate whether outbound calls will be made, said Carol Padon, vice president of investor and public relations.

        “It will probably be very limited,” Padon said.


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