Telemarketing is often confused with market research because crooked telemarketers may use market research techniques to mask their evil schemes. This is very unfair to market research, which is a legitimate tool used by the company you work for.

Consider the following example:

  • Telemarketer calls up a medium- to large-sized business.
  • The telemarketer, posing an a market researcher conducts a bogus survey, almost entirely made up of red herring questions.
  • Hidden amongst the detritus are questions to determine specifics about office supplies (for example, the model numbers of the laser printer, photocopier, etc.)
  • Fast forward a couple months. The telemarketer calls back and says something like this: "This is The Office Supply Centreā„¢ calling. Your supply of toner is ready and we need to confirm the address."
  • The target business (later called the "plaintiff") receives a huge supply of toner, delivered by a legitimate courier. A busy receptionist or shipping/receiving personnel, who are often forced to adopt a don't know/don't care attitude towards such things, sign for the delivery. The package now belongs to the signing party.
  • Fast forward a week or two. A bill arrives. It's big. Really big.
Beware this technique; it's quite common. It may even slip by some companies unnoticed. (I personally have no idea how much any given quantity of laser printer toner costs. Do you?) There is usually no recourse for the targeted company, as the "Office Supply Company" has played by the rules, albeit questionably; no outright fraud has been committed.

This actually (almost) happened to a company I once worked for. The courier was a kind-hearted soul who was familiar with these tactics and the company perpetrating it. Upon entering the office, he explained to the receptionist what was going on and advised her not to sign for the package. The ironic part: I was working for a market research company at the time.