Selling Versus Harassment
The challenge for companies is to find legal ways of selling to customers by phone or e-mail without harassing them. That means updating databases to exclude specific names from marketing pitches, based on policies that differ across statesand even countries. "A company trying to make all its databases comply with all the rules has an overwhelming process task," says Bill Blundon, chief marketing officer of Extraprise, a Boston-based technology-services firm with several multinational clients. "People are really scrambling to figure out what to do." Some companies, gun-shy for fear that anything they say could be used against them in court, are even refusing to discuss their plans to comply with laws to stop telemarketing and e-mail abuses. Case in point: Allstate Insurance. The company went mum after the Institute for International Researcha company that holds industry conferencescirculated an e-mail interview with Allstate vice president John Hershberger characterizing Allstate as unprepared for Do Not Call. An Allstate spokeswoman says the company is complying with the law and has no further comment.
"We brought this on ourselvesits all telemarketers faults," says Scott Stawski, vice president of the marketing consultancy Inforte. "We must find less-intrusive ways to sell."