If you've ever been on the receiving end of a direct marketing phone call with a smooth-talking telesales consultant you will know that they often put you under intense pressure to agree to a contract.
Very often they're armed with a carefully crafted script and a hunger for commission, and while they go big on the benefits, they tend to gloss over the financial obligations.
Moreoever, at the end of the call, if you agree, they have a recording of that call as proof, and you have nothing.
That's what happened to listener Julie Cameron, who was called by a salesman and persuaded to add a dongle device to her existing mobile phone contract.
After assuring Julie the device was the size of a credit card and at a cost to which Julie agreed, when it arrived she realised she'd been misled on two counts.
The device turned out to be about the size of an additional cellphone, and the cost was more than she was told, too.
And she never got a refund of around R760.
I have not had a response to that query. It is the principle of what occurred that really gets to me – the salesman was an absolute “con” in every way.— Wendy Knowler, Consumer journalist
If the rogue sales agents - and as always, I must stress, they are not ALL rogue - knew that the customers they are misleading would very easily be able to listen to those call recordings, or better still that they would automatically be emailed to the client within the five-day cooling off period, they would think twice about doing it.— Wendy Knowler, Consumer journalist
But Knowler says companies often make it very difficult for consumers to get hold of those recordings.
It is never an easy task. At best you’re told to go to one of their branches and listen to the recording there, as if they are doing you a massive favour.— Wendy Knowler, Consumer journalist
Here are Wendy's three tips for dealing with telesales calls.
1. Avoid them as far as possible
- You can ask for the recording of the call You have a right to access the recording in which you've agreed to a product or service. Ideally, the company should email it to you.
Say to the sales agent: “If I agree to this, will you provide me with the recording of this call for my records? If they say no – say why not and then end the call.
- You can get out of the contract The Consumer Protection Act gives consumers five business days to cancel an agreement made through an unsolicited phone call and, no – you won't need a reason. However, it must be done in writing.
To opt out of unsolicited calls, register your name and number on Direct Marketing Association of South Africa's opt out list.
Listen to the full interview below: