Recently I've been getting almost daily calls from telemarketers offering me mainly insurance or cellphone contract upgrades. Despite asking to be removed from their lists, the calls have persisted.

There are four types of prospects for telemarketers:

1. Impressionables : People who will buy the product because they were called (and wouldn't have otherwise);

2. Customers: People who would have bought the product whether they were called or not;

3. Indifferents: People who won't buy the product whether they were called or not; and

4.  Boycotters: People who will decide NOT to buy the product BECAUSE they were called.

Out of the four types, telemarketers only gain from calling Impressionables - they waste time and money on the rest.

Unless I've specifically asked a company to call me, I'm a number 4 - a Boycotter. Unsolicited telemarketing, like all spam,  is abhorrent to me.  So not only is it a waste of time calling me, but it's actually counter-productive for the companies concerned.

However, in SA the responsibility is currently on the consumer to somehow get removed from these call lists. You're supposed to go here (DMASA website - nothing there) or here to opt out.  Unfortunately, as Andrew Rens has pointed out: Opting out of Direct Marketing in South Africa Doesn't Work.

Telemarketing is a numbers game though, so it hardly matters to the call-centre agent whether one customer is peeved about them doing their job - if they contact enough people in a day, they're sure to make a couple of sales. This is why they don't seem to respond to requests to be removed from their lists - there's no incentive for them to do so.

If telesales is not to be banned, then companies who practice it need to start responding to complaints themselves, and adapt their databases, offers, incentives and calls accordingly.