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Telemarketing - Calls for New Model to Reduce Social Impact

2 February 2009 at 3:26 pm
Staff Reporter
A report has called for a new, combination model of telemarketing registers to allow the public to choose to avoid all unsolicited calls including those that are currently exempt including charities.

Staff Reporter | 2 February 2009 at 3:26 pm


Telemarketing - Calls for New Model to Reduce Social Impact
2 February 2009 at 3:26 pm

A report has called for a new, combination model of telemarketing registers to allow the public to choose to avoid all unsolicited calls including those that are currently exempt including charities.

A study by the Australia Institute, a public think tank based in Canberra, looked at the social and economic impact of intrusive marketing.

The study by research fellow Josh Fear, called “Go Away, Please”, found that on average Australians received 8.5 unsolicited telemarketing calls per month.

As part of an online survey of 1000 Australians the study also found that:

– The average telemarketing call lasts for 1.45 minutes.
– Eighty-five per cent of respondents had heard of the Do Not Call Register,
– Around 40 per cent said their phone number is on the Register.
– People whose number is on the Register said they received fewer calls on average than those not on the Register (seven calls per month compared to ten calls). By this measure, the DNC Register appears to have reduced telemarketing call volumes by around 30 per cent.
– The value of time wasted on unsolicited telemarketing calls across Australia is estimated to be $1.58 billion per year.
– Two in three respondents (63 per cent) said that telemarketing should not be permitted in Australia, while only 26 per cent said it should be permitted.

The Australia Institute also sought comments from people about their experiences with intrusive marketing and how they cope with it. Their feedback, it says, confirms that there is a great deal of negative feeling in the community about direct marketing, associated with the invasion of personal space, the use of personal details without permission, the waste of precious time, and what it describes as the sheer absurdity and futility of much direct marketing.

The report says there is also frustration in the community about other forms of direct marketing. Residential letterboxes continue to receive massive amounts of junk mail, even where a ‘no junk mail’ sign is displayed.

It says the increasing use of face-to-face marketing techniques in public spaces, shopping centres and other busy areas is changing the way that people perceive and interact with other people outside of home and work.

To date, policies designed to mitigate the impact of intrusive marketing have relied
exclusively on an opt-out approach. In other words, the public has to take deliberate action to avoid direct marketing, for instance by joining the DNC Register.

However, the Australia Institute says the research indicates that an opt-in system would be more effective in reducing the social costs of direct marketing. Such an approach would assume that most people do not wish to receive direct marketing, while still giving everyone the opportunity to do so if they choose.

The report proposes a new model for controlling and reducing direct marketing and the aggravation it can cause based on a combination of opt-in and opt-out elements, so that individuals can make more effective decisions about what kinds of marketing approaches they are prepared to accept.

The centrepiece of the new regime would be an opt-in telemarketing register. People who would like to receive unsolicited telemarketing calls could register their telephone number with a government body, such as the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), and telemarketers would be permitted to call only those numbers on the register.

Any organisation calling an unregistered number without express or inferred consent would be subject to penalties.

In addition, a separate opt-out telemarketing register would allow members of the community to opt out of all unsolicited calls, including those that are currently exempt from the rules which include charities and political parties.

This system would give each member of the public three options:
– People who want to receive no unsolicited telemarketing calls whatsoever would sign up to the opt-out telemarketing register.
– People who do not want to receive unsolicited telemarketing calls, but are prepared to accept the occasional call from organisations that are exempt (charities, political parties etc) would do nothing.
– People who are happy to receive all unsolicited telemarketing calls would sign up to the opt-in telemarketing register.

In addition to the opt-in/opt-out combination for telemarketing, the report says members of the public should be allowed to signal their desire to opt out of junk mail, unsolicited faxes and door-to-door sales.

This could be achieved through a Do Not Mail Register, a Do Not Fax Register, and a Do Not Knock Register, each of which would operate in a similar manner to the current DNC Register.

To download the full report “Go Away, Please” go to

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