Louisville, Ky. (SatireWire.com) — Two or three times a day, Karsten Franks was besieged by telemarketers. They called during dinner. They called during his favorite TV show. They called offering credit cards, chimney cleaning, and insurance. Unsure why he was so popular — Franks says he only bought something half the time — the 68-year-old retired electrician longed to give telemarketers a taste of their own medicine. Last week, he finally got the chance.
Like nearly 150,000 other people, Franks registered at MyColdCalls.com, a unique site that upends traditional telemarketing by turning victims into aggressors.
"Instead of getting these cold calls at all hours, I can call a real telemarketer on my time, when I want to," said Franks. "And as long as I make at least 10 calls a month, or buy from at least five telemarketers a month, MyColdCalls will keep my name off of telemarketing lists. So long to harassing phone calls!"
"What we're doing is nothing short of shifting the balance of power from telemarketers to consumers," said MyColdCalls CEO Bennett Green. "MyColdCalls users are in total control of the telemarketing experience, and all it costs is the price of the phone call and the product they have to buy."
Paying $2.95 a minute, MyColdCalls users can pick not only the telemarketing company, but the actual name of a telemarketer who works there. Using Net2Phone telephony software, members click on the name and are patched through to that person. They can even call several different telemarketers at once, and patch themselves through to the one that answers first.
"Just this morning, I called a credit card telemarketer and it was absolutely liberating," said Irene Chappell, a 62-year-old shipping clerk in Dayton, Ohio. "His name was Ron Johnson, and instead of him asking for me, I got to ask for him, and I got to say, 'How are you today, Mr. Johnson?'
"It was a rush," Chappell recalled. "He even said, 'Fine. Why?'"
"It really does turn the tables on us," said Nora-Lee Dunlop, a telemarketer for both the Fraternal Order of Police and Urban Kitchen Remodelers. "These people are calling me, I have no idea who they are, but they know my name. It's kind of eery."
To generate revenue, MyColdCalls depends on subscriptions and a percentage of sales generated by the partner companies whose products and services it features. And finding partner companies, said Green, has been fairly easy.
"At first, we thought this was some kind of joke," admitted Dean Eaves, a salesman for United Vinyl Siding and Windows, in Nashville, Tenn. "I even asked (CEO) Ben Green, 'What kind of person would want to cold call us to buy our vinyl siding?' But his answer convinced me. He said, 'The kind of people who actually buy vinyl siding when you cold call them.'"
What's most appealing to Eaves and other partners is MyColdCalls' conversion rate. Normally, less than 1 percent of cold calls results in a sale. But the conversion rate at MyColdCalls is an astounding 99 percent. The fact that calls are initiated by consumers, not telelmarketers, is undoubtedly one factor, as is the mandatory number of purchases members must make. But Irene Chappell thinks she knows another reason.
"For me, it's all about doing to them like they do to us," she said. "When I called Mr. Johnson, I eventually signed up for the credit card, even though I didn't need it. I did it because he seemed quite busy with other callers, and I sensed that if I signed up right then, it would be rather inconvenient for him."
Unable to control a snicker, she added, "Now he knows what it feels like."
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