Telemarketing in Israel

Just about every day we get unsolicited calls falling into three categories: telemarketers, surveys, and charitable organizations. I have found that the best way to get rid of telemarketers is not to give them a chance to talk. One of my children once asked me, “Why do you always say, ‘Lo meunyanim'” (not interested)? After saying those magic words I hang up immediately. I figure I am doing them a favor by not letting them waste their time on a non-sale, although one called me right back to chastise me for being rude. I don’t think she has much of a future as a telemarketer!

On the rare occasion that I agree to answer a survey on the phone, I always regret it. They invariably take about twenty minutes to complete, even though the caller insists that it is a “short” survey, and that he is “almost” fniished. My favorite was the marketing survey about a new type of white cheese. Each of the thirty or so questions included the name of the brand. Clearly this survey was an effective advertisement as I remember the name of the cheese to this day.

When we first came to Israel, the few requests we received from charitable organizations occurred on their “yom hatramah” or annual appeal, which was run by volunteers. Nowadays our phone rings constantly with requests for one organization or another. Lately, every week brings a new organization requesting aid for “mishpechot bimetzukah” (families in distress). How many such organizations do there need to be? There are two or three in my town alone. And the callers are as aggressive as any telemarketer. I know most of them are paid, and they must work on a commission. I don’t have any other way to explain the fact that they call every two or three months or more. When going over our expenses we recently found that my husband and I had donated to an organization twice within the same week.Then there was the caller who tearfully pleaded for funds on behalf of a patient needing an operation in chutz laaretz (outside of Israel). When I mentioned an amount the caller exclaimed, “Oh, that’s not enough!” I am not implying that the request was not genuine, but I had no way of knowing for sure.

More than once I have found an exorbitant charge to a charitable organization on my credit card statement. Fortunately I was able to cancel these donations easily. Are these genuine mistakes or are they intended to beef up a commission? It’s too bad that the reputations of these organizations become sullied by this practice. I don’t want to entrust my credit card number to careless or dishonest representatives.


  1. For charity phone solicitations we say “We don’t donate over the phone, please us your info and we’ll consider it.” Some of them do and some of them don’t.

    I also tell people “not interested” and hang up. My kids think I am rude.

    My big problem is people coming to the door asking for charity. This happens from once to several times a day. When it’s after 10 pm, I don’t even open the door. I have no problem with “yom hatramah” for any of the recognized charities but with so much competition for my unfortunately limited tzedakah money I’d like to give to people/organizations that I know are legitimate.

  2. Jerusalem Joe says

    good post.
    i once made the mistake of agreeing to answer a survey,and it cost me an half an hour of my life. i promised myself that i would never again do it, especially as i realized how biased the questions were, and i have no way of knowing how my answers will be used. political polling is pretty much a sham here.also – if the pollster gets paid, why don’t i -is my time not worth anything?

    i also dislike the intrusion of all these callers, and i don’t like the idea of young healthy people making a living by guilt-mongering. so “lo meunyan” is also my motto.
    i give to well known recognized charities whenever i can and that’s it.

  3. I always tell callers for surveys that I don’t have time.

    I am very wary of even allowing info to be sent by telemarketers b/c one time when I did that, my credit card was hit with a charge. I got it taken off, of course, but it was upsetting to be slammed in that way. So I tell the telemarketers that I won’t take that risk anymore

    We get so so so many solicitations for charity — both Jewish and not. So our iron-clad rule is no pledges over the phone. Sometimes that does not compute with the callers, who persist with, “Can’t I put you down just for . . .” I realize that they do this to get their percentage locked in. But the answer is “No.”

  4. I’m afraid to say it, but I don’t think we’ve ever gotten a call! Guess it’s because we have a new number that isn’t in any phonebook? hmmm…..

    In the states, there was a thing that if you asked people to “Take you off their list” then legally they had to. When we started to do this, it reduced calls. also, in the states, there is a “Do Not call registry” through the government that you can register your phone number and it’s then illegal to randomly solicit your number. if you’re a US reader, google it and do yours.

  5. mother in israel says

    Anon–we get those in-person requests too.
    Ariella–I’m not sure I understand what you wrote. Anon was saying that she has the org. send written material to the house, so s/he won’t have to give her cc number over the phone.
    Emah–I don’t think there’s a no-call list here. Maybe you can take it on as a project?

  6. I never give over the phone. If they want they can send me a letter, and then, maybe…

  7. BTW nonprofit organizations are not restricted by the Do Not Call registry — only regular telemarketers. We are registered but still get calls, especially of the type asking for surveys.

    I always allow the tzedaka callers to send something, provided they don’t put me down as pledging.

    It occurred once that I allowed a telemarketer to send me info. Somehow that got translated on their end into my acceptance to be signed up for their program. Consequently, my card was charged.

  8. Sorry to put this here, but I don’t quite have your email memorized and I’m at work. Try putting the categories in right under the other drop-downs. You have the code set up properly, because those are working; it shouldn’t be any different for the others.

  9. When we were first married, broke and living in a roach infested apartment, somehow we ended up on the tzedaka tour.

    Someone would drive five or six people around that neighborhood (mostly a wealthy one), and we were one of the stops.

    People would come to the door, and stand in our living corner (small apt) and try not to step on anything crunchy while they took turns asking for tzedaka.

    invariably, we were broke. So we’d apologize, or offer $18. ‘For each?’ someone once asked us. ‘No,’ we’d have to say, embarrassed, ‘for all.’ It was all we could afford.

    Once, someone said to us, ‘I’m not asking for much. I’m not asking you for a $100,000, or $50,000, not even $1,000. But five or six hundred, this would be good.’

    We stared at him. Had he not seen the roaches? The second-hand furniture? We offered our usual $18, to be split by whomever arrived.

    Oddly enough, this offer was rarely happily recieved, and after a while we just stopped answering the door.

  10. mother in israel says

    Muse–thanks for coming by. I hate to get regular mail too and I am less likely to respond.
    Mama–what a story.
    Ezzie–I’m still stuck, but I haven’t tried your most recent suggestion yet. Thanks for your patience.

  11. just hang up or say take us off the list! i used to work for these shmucks and they send u forms that say u dontated even if u didnt. these people rob the elderly blind. ur money doesnt go to tzedakah, it goes to telemarketers. all these places sell ur name and info

  12. Thanks, o. I need to write an update. The situation is worse than ever.