The successful sales pitch marks the first time an American has ever actually purchased a product or service from a stranger via the medium of telephone.

Business Watch

"It was the dinner hour, a time of day when I'm home, relaxed and receptive to being approached by solicitors, and the phone rang," Eppard said. "Imagine my delight when it turned out to be a friendly offer for big, big savings on nationally known magazine titles."

In addition to a 24-month subscription to Time, Eppard purchased one-year subscriptions to Sport, Motor Trend and Field & Stream. In return, Eppard has been asked to set aside $2.87 a week—less than the price of a fast-food meal.

"To give you an idea what a great deal that is, Time alone costs $3.50 a week on the newsstand. But with Reader's Choice Service Bureau, I'll be getting Time and three other great magazines for even less money!"

"I urged them to call me again if they ever came up with another great offer like this, and to tell any other companies who might have similar bargains that I would like to hear about them immediately," Eppard said. "Perhaps they could add my name to some sort of list of prospective customers that could then be sent around."

Eppard said that, among many other things, he was thoroughly impressed by the company representative's pleasant phone demeanor. "The woman I spoke with called me by my name and asked how I was doing, which is what my best friends do," he said. "I felt more like I was catching up with an old college pal than receiving a sales pitch from a telemarketer earning $6.10 an hour."

One of the 740,000 members of the U.S. telemarketing industry, which enjoyed its first sale Monday.

Added Eppard: "My new friend did have some trouble pronouncing my name at first, but I was more than happy to help her along."

After introducing herself with a friendly, two-part greeting, the representative, Kimberly Billnitzer of Omaha, informed Eppard that Reader's Choice Service Bureau had specially selected him for a special offer of 24 months worth of subscriptions to popular magazines.

"I felt like I'd hit the lottery," Eppard said. "Despite my dreams of success and prestige, I've never been specially selected for anything in my entire life."

But the sale was not without its obstacles. "I did have some reservations at first, such as my busy schedule—I wasn't sure I had the time to get through one of the magazines, let alone all four. So, as much as I hated to do so, I told Kimberly I didn't think this offer was for me."

Billnitzer, however, was successful in swaying Eppard. "She pointed out that, given the low price, even if there were only one great article in each magazine that I really enjoyed or benefited from, wouldn't that be worth the purchase price?" Eppard said. "Kimberly seemed well-prepared to counter all of my hesitations and objections. That really impressed me."

Reader's Choice Service Bureau CEO Bob Siemans expressed excitement over the industry's first-ever sale.

"We at Reader's Choice Service Bureau, a division of Triglobal Periodicals, are delighted to have launched the telemarketing industry into an exciting new realm of commercial success with this inaugural sale," Siemans said. "We feel that in the coming decade, we could as much as triple this phenomenal success, thanks to hard workers like Kimberly."

For successfully closing the sale, Billnitzer will receive a $50 bonus at the end of the current pay period, provided she makes an additional 19 sales by the end of the week.