In 1994, I went over to east Hillsborough County to learn how to sell vacuum cleaners from a guy with a New York accent that looked like Klaus Kinski. I lasted one day. The sales techniques they were lecturing me on seemed very aggressive even for that era.
A few years ago, this company off of US 19 (one building in particular, 14001 63rd Way North in Clearwater gets traded around by telemarketing companies so frequently, you’d think it was a Monopoly property) was selling Verizon products and I went in to train for them. They took my ID, and didn’t return it for several hours. When I asked about it, this older lady asked me if I was quitting on them. I said no, so she said mind your business. Finally, I get my ID back at 2:40pm, ten minutes after the training ended.
I think she made it a point to detain me a little bit. I made it a point never to come back. I lasted one day.
Then there was the time I worked for Suntasia Marketing in 2004, applying for a position to specifically to sell one thing they were advertising in the then St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times), but told I will be selling something else entirely. At the training session (which I had to play dress up for), I was told that if someone next to me said something obscene to a caller, and it got heard with a call I was dealing on, not only would the utterer of the obscenity get fired, so would I.
Don’t play games with my job, folks. When the next break was taken, I got the hell out of there. I lasted one day. And in that particular instance, that was a bit of prophecy. They got busted some three years later, sending a whole bunch of honest employees to the unemployment line. Fortunately, I wasn’t one of them.
Another problem with being a telemarketer in Florida is what the state is doing with this whole licensing business.
First off, let me state clearly that there are scumbags running these call centers. But they are not ALL scumbags. Not only do they attempt to bleed the people dry on the otther end of the phone, they do likewise to their own employees.
In the middle of the 2000’s decade, the state of Florida decided that if you’re going to be a telemarketer in the state, you’re going to have to shell out 50 bucks or so to be licensed. When I first ran into this at Suntasia Marketing in 2004 (where I thought the rules were so predatory against employees I left training after about an hour and never came back), I thought it was a joke. It wasn’t. I started running into more and more firms that starting kissing the state’s collective ass.
You may think that licensing telemarketers is a good thing. On the surface, this would be true. But licensing does not protect the customers from fraud, nor the employees from being fleeced by their own bosses. Nor does it improve working conditions at these boiler rooms or other such offices.
To get a license to be a telemarketer in Florida, you have to tell them everywhere you’ve worked, plus every telemarketing firm, office, or boiler room you’ve worked in the past three years. So this appears to be nothing more than information gathering. Every telemarketer has probably been a few other places, because of the high turnover rate the business seems to have. So the state gets that information and can check who is licensed and who is not.
In the spring of 2012, the state busted some firms in central Pinellas County, such as United Marketing Solutions, where I was once employed in 2004 when they were United Marketing. If you’re licensed, you’re good. If you’re not, you’re deemed illegal.
My mission on Monday: to apply at a place where a telemarketing license is advertised as not being required. Seems to be a good place to begin.