Back in 1994 while living in Curaçao I got a call from a friend of mine. He had read a classified ad where a company was looking for Italian speaking people “to provide information”.

Being an island, I knew more or less all of the Italian speaking people living there, and was intrigued, who could this person be. I called the phone number provided with the ad and made an appointment. Before confirming the date & time, the guy on the other side of the phone line said: “You have a lovely voice and such a soft Italian accent, you will be perfect for this job”. But well, I’ve had heard that before (also when speaking Dutch) and didn’t give it further thought.

When I got to where the job interview would take place, I was welcomed by a man who ushered me inside the building at the same time as he started to talk about his business activity.

He said “We have a hotline to offer information. First, we started with horoscopes and that sort of things but found out people felt lonely. People are looking for company and somebody to talk to”. This already should have had all my alarm bells going off. Still, somehow I ignored them and continued to listen to the man who went on saying that their business model is keeping the callers as long as possible on the line while offering them answers to the questions they have.

-What kind of questions?

-Nothing complicated or existential, many times it is a trivial conversation, he replied.

I had a hard time grasping the dynamics of this, so I pressed on with my questions and asked if I could see the call centre and hear some of the conversations. He agreed and opened the door to a room with phone booths, headsets and phones.

The noises coming out of there were anything but “trivial conversations”. People there were panting, yelling YES! Etc. Since sex calls were not the kind of conversations I was willing to have with strangers, I told the guy I was not interested.

I left the building slapping myself for having ignored all the signals this was fishy (pun intended).

The same thing happens with unethical marketing.

  • Services are misrepresented
  • Information is misleading
  • Hide the ugly: they leave pertinent details out
  • Exploits emotions, nothing to do with empathy


When something is too good to be true it might be unethical marketing practice. Specially in these times of COVID-19 there are many unethical business taking advantage of our needs.

Dare to press with questions, look under the hood.

Do not take things at face value!