Saturday, July 28, 2007

Christian Telemarketing

One of the surprising elements of the pastorate (now that I have been in one for three months) is sleazy Christian telemarketing. It is, from my limited experience, more dishonest than is secular equivalent.

Every Friday evening when I arrive at my church office, there is at least one telemarketing message on my answering machine. It'll generally run something like this:

This is a call for Pastor. You may not remember, but we spoke on the phone a couple of months ago. Did you know that 450% of Christians have never read the entire Bible? In fact, a recent survey showed that not a single Christian could name the Book of Genesis as being in the Bible. From our last conversation, I know that you too are very concerned about this lack of basic Biblical literacy in America today. That's why I want you to know about this new book that I've been using my church called....

And so on. What is so irritating about Christian telemarketers that I have encountered is:

1. Pretending to know me. They're assuming that I'm so busy that I can't keep track of who I speak to. Addressing me as "Pastor" instead of my name at any point is a dead give-away that this is a cold call. When they act as though we've met, they're lying. Lying has no place in any Christian business. Period.

2. Guilt-tripping me when I don't buy their product. When I actually get one on the phone, Christian telemarketers have laid heavy guilt trips on me when I'm not interested in bankrupting my church to by their product or hire their speaker. They've questioned my fidelity to Christ and fitness for ministry. As I previously wrote, I'm not buying it.

As any person with a phone, I've had my share of secular telemarketing calls. But their Christian equivalent are in a league of their own for sheer sleaziness.

19 comments:

Kristy said...

Wow...that really is low. What caught my eye was the 450%...out of what, the normal 100%...that's pretty amazing.

Keith Taylor said...

John,

First of all, this is not "Christian Telemarketing" as your post is titled, it is simply telemarketing by folks who happen to be selling Christian goods and services, just because they are selling these goods, in no form or fashion implies that these folks are indeed Christians.

I am reminded of the Bible salesman played by John Goodman in the movie, "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?".

While I may call these folks' Christianity into question, I will also say that some of the worst business dealings I have ever had in my 19 year career in secular industry were handed to me by so-called, Christians. In fact, there are few, that I'd rather deal with Satan's legions of unholy angles than do business with again.

Along the Narrow Path said...

That is pretty low in my book. I guess no one is safe.

greg hazelrig said...

I was at the church for a work day Saturday. I was outside working and a lady rushed out and said that someone needed to speak to the pastor. It was a telemarketer. My secretary screens these during the week. But now I'm getting calls on Saturday. They come every week and I agree with you. I'm sick of them. What caught my eye about your post is that they do give "guilt trips" about not buying from them. Or they ask "can I ask you why not". Or they say "How can you not..." like my ministry will fail without them. Ohhhhh don't get me started.

I'm sorry. I'll pray for forgiveness now. :)

In the love of Christ,
greg

JD said...

John,

What drives me nuts is when a secular saleman is trying to sell you something, finds out your Chritian, and prceeds to quote scripture to hit the guilt trip.

Case in point: a local vacuum cleaner company tried to persuade me to buy his product. When we told him about FPU and that we don't do debt and that we pray on big purchases, he replied, "I understand your faith, but doesn't the bible say 'Cleanliness is next to Godliness?'" Whoa! It took all I had not to physically remove him from the house at that time.

PAX
JD

The Thief said...

Yes, the telemarketer calls... I got one for video curriculum and explained to him that we do not have video capability...

He called back 6 months later and I recognized his name (because it was very similar to a seminary professor I'd had) and immediately told him that we still didn't have that capability (he didn't play that "I know you" card, but I "knew" him).

One ministry that ticked me off was Bluefish TV. They have fantastic youth DVD curriculum, but they cold call and then send their (overpriced) stuff to "preview"... and when I told them not to send it, they did anyway. At least they conceded that I didn't owe for it when I told them why I wasn't going to pay.

John Wilks said...

Yup, I've gone several rounds w/ the Bluefish folks. And while I actually like their curriculum, I'll never buy it because their marketing tactics stink.

The worst offender in my book is the Benny Hinn automated calls- I get three a day inviting me to some leadership seminar or another hosted by Hinn. What are they gonna teach me, how to get rich while offering false hope and faked miracles? No thanks!

Dave Faulkner said...

Fascinating to read this east of the Atlantic. In the UK, you can sign up for the and your phone number is placed in a database which telemarketers are legally obliged to check before phoning you. It came about after sustained public outrage at tactics like this. Does nothing like this exist in North America? If I get one of these calls, I can report it to the TPS who will investigate what amounts to a criminal offence (yes, UK English spelling there!). Perhaps some people need to make it hot for the telemarketing industry in North America. Here's hoping - for your sake.

Chris said...

As a "Christian" Telemarketer, it is with regret that I say most of what has been said in this posting is true. However, there are legitimate Telemarketers out there like myself that are looking to sell a product or service to Christians and non Christians alike. Trying to get people to understand the passion of Christ is not easy when we are compared to our secular counterparts. My company looks to unify the Christian community, not cause division. The gay community, the jewish community, the hispanic community all realize that in order to survive as a people they must stick together. We as the christian community need to do an exceptionally better job at sticking together. I agree that certain tactics are not a method that need to be used. I also know, as others have commented, they are probably non-christians selling christian-like products or services. As a "Christian Telemarketer" I want to apologize for the folks that profess to be a Christian and you end up with a bad taste in your mouth. It is difficult to make a statement of your faith and be a sales person in todays market. Give people the benefit of the doubt and hear what they have to say before making judgement too quickly! You may be surprised when you have a pleasant experience with a telemarketer and or sales person. Christ has assembled us as His Body (the church). He has indwelt us through His Sprit. He has given us gifts, both spiritual and practical, which we are to use for the building up of His kingdom. And He desires that we produce fruit, which we will do if we remain in Him. We remain in Him by obeying His command: That we love one another (John 15:1-17).

Sally said...

Yup we encountered this type of marketing in the States- thankfully it has not found its way across the pond yet!

Anonymous said...

I have to say that telemarketers really irks me too. I know that they're just doing their jobs and that they're just trying to sell their products, but sometimes it just happen to call at the most inconvenient times.

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Anonymous said...

Thanks for the posts here. As a pastor, I just dealt with an abusive telemarketer today, and it has really put a damper on my day. He growled at me when I told him I wasn't interested and told me to read 1 Corinthians 5 (about sexual immorality in the church...okaaay...)

We get at least 3-5 calls like this at our church every day. I always say, "Thanks, we're not interested," and they just continue on with their pitch and their questions. It has got to stop! I'm going to get caller ID for us next month.

To the Christian telemarketer, I just have to say that my heart goes out to you - but the best way to reach people with your product is through print and web advertising. We've just been too beaten up to listen and give anyone any leeway anymore.

Anonymous said...

I currently live in Dallas. I was tempted to apply at Bluefish TV because they start you out at $14.00 each hour but then I remembered how much hatred I hate for the telemarketing industry and how I think it should be outlawed and I couldn't bring myself to apply. I think that I would rather work at an Adult video store than a telemarketing firm or dig ditches.

Anonymous said...

I currently live in Dallas. I was tempted to apply at Bluefish TV because they start you out at $14.00 each hour but then I remembered how much hatred I have for the telemarketing industry and how I think it should be outlawed and I couldn't bring myself to apply. I think that I would rather work at an Adult video store than a telemarketing firm. I too have noticed those that use the tag of Christianity to make a profit have the lowest moral standards and business practices. I worked at the church as a teenager and know how hard a Pastor works and how much they pray over the finances and don't need snake oil salesman to rob the sheep. I also noticed that many of the BlueFish TV videos promote poor theology. Sorry, no thanks Bluefish!!!

Anonymous said...

look at how you Christians are talking about one another, make me want to be one. where can i sign up....NOT! losers.

Anonymous said...

I work for a marketing firm that did some telemarketing work for a church organ business. The calls we made were rather "low-key" and meant to set appointments for those who might be interested in getting a quote on repairing or replacing a church organ. It is a fine company with a long tradition of Christian service - in short, a wonderful product to help sell. I have done phone work for years and have never encountered the level of rudeness directed at me by church secretaries as I encountered while doing this project. How sad to learn that secular receptionists were more courteous to me than Church secretaries! My un-saved co-workers made daily comments about this. It broke my heart. If you ever work in a Church office, remember your tone of voice and manner on the phone represent more than your know. How can we attract others to Christ if we treat each other rudely - even if they are "only" telemarketers?

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dancilhoney said...

Just a tip, you must have full product knowledge while you are promoting your product, lack of information at one point can get away the sale from your hand. telemarketing

Ashley said...

I agree with you Keith Taylor. It is really not Christian Telemarketing, its just some telemarketers whose product are Christian goods and services. Yet, thank you so much for sharing us your experience. At least we do knew that there are no such thing as Christian Telemarketing.

Ashley

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