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'Do not call' list on hold
September 24, 2003 2:45 PM   Subscribe

U.S. court rules FTC overstepped its authority when it set up the list to block telemarketing calls. Damn.
posted by MidasMulligan (64 comments total)

 
As Dave Barry suggested in a recent column: "Call the American Teleservices Association, toll-free, at 1-877-779-3974, and tell them what you think. I'm sure they'd love to hear your constitutionally protected views!"
posted by MegoSteve at 2:53 PM on September 24, 2003


Anyone got a number for the court?
posted by Slothrup at 2:54 PM on September 24, 2003


1-877-779-3974 disconnected already
posted by Outlawyr at 2:55 PM on September 24, 2003


*Hide Chapped*
posted by velacroix at 3:03 PM on September 24, 2003


Judge West's number is (405) 609-5140.

For American Teleservices Association's legislative office, the toll-free number is: (866) 500-4272. For the administrative office, it's (866) 500-4272, also conveniently toll-free.
posted by Etaoin Shrdlu at 3:03 PM on September 24, 2003


sigh.
posted by shadow45 at 3:27 PM on September 24, 2003


I wonder if the other thing to do might not be to encourage *everyone*, every time they respond to a telemarketer, to simply stop the call, ask for a supervisor, and explain that they're officially declining whatever the offer in question is specifically in protest of this recent action by the ATA.
posted by weston at 3:38 PM on September 24, 2003


Next time one calls I'm asking them when THEY have supper.
posted by konolia at 3:43 PM on September 24, 2003


sigh. it's pathetic, really. how the hell do the free speach rights of a company come before every citizen being harassed?
posted by shadow45 at 3:46 PM on September 24, 2003


According to the article, this ruling had nothing to do with freedom of speech. Yes, the DMA claimed their 1st and 5th amendment rights were violated, but the judge found in favor of the DMA on the grounds that the FTC didn't have the proper authority granted by congress to establish the list.
posted by pitchblende at 3:57 PM on September 24, 2003


I a woman telemarkets you, ask her for a blow job. If a guy, ask if he is gay and suggest a meeting. When I do this, they somehow begin to wonder about their choice of careers.
posted by Postroad at 4:04 PM on September 24, 2003


Ya'll don't have caller ID? Answering machines?
posted by Cyrano at 4:09 PM on September 24, 2003


Next time one calls I'm asking them when THEY have supper.
...after lunch or dinner of coarse ;P
posted by thomcatspike at 4:14 PM on September 24, 2003


I a woman telemarkets you, ask her for a blow job. If a guy, ask if he is gay and suggest a meeting. When I do this, they somehow begin to wonder about their choice of careers.
Taking out your frustration on the telemarketer probably feels good, but it doesn't really do anything to address the problem...and I suspect most people who wind up in telemarketing jobs don't need their lives made any harder.
posted by uosuaq at 4:17 PM on September 24, 2003


FTC didn't have the proper authority granted by congress to establish the list.
Wait, just re-tittle the list and make it a petition then, the names are all signed.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:17 PM on September 24, 2003


I suspect most people who wind up in telemarketing jobs don't need their lives made any harder.

If corporations started hiring people to spit on me whenever I walked down the street, I'm sure they would prefer I didn't protest and make their job harder either, since they'd have to be pretty desperate financially to take such a job.

That doesn't mean I should accede to their wishes.
posted by rushmc at 4:23 PM on September 24, 2003


Actually, Cyrano, I don't have Caller ID or an answering machine. Your point? I should spend money of my own just to keep from being harrassed? I don't think so.
posted by litlnemo at 4:24 PM on September 24, 2003


Ya'll don't have caller ID? Answering machines?

Actually, I don't. But contrary to rumor, my computer is not powered by hamsters on a treadmill.
posted by konolia at 4:25 PM on September 24, 2003


It's just a stall tactic. Congress is going to give'm the authority. When? Right before the next congressional election, I'll betcha.
posted by squirrel at 4:25 PM on September 24, 2003


So can telemarketers call me while this case is being appealed, or not? The article wasn't clear. I already had one telemarketer tell me I can sign up on the telemarketers' do-not-call list, but if memory serves that cost money.
posted by Triplanetary at 4:29 PM on September 24, 2003


Ya'll don't have caller ID?

Not on my landline, which is the only one telemarketers are allowed to call. Why should I go buy on an otherwise-useless chunk of electronics just to keep telemarketers from harassing me? That's the same economic imbalance that makes spam such a nuisance.
posted by Mars Saxman at 4:50 PM on September 24, 2003


So can telemarketers call me while this case is being appealed, or not?
October 1st was when this was to go into affect...but if you tell them too, list or no list. Also if you sign up now, you will be added on the next cycle's list. It is updated biannually. The current list had a sign up deadline in August(iirc).
PS I went one year w/o a phone in part to tele-make-r ingers-your-hell, enjoyed the silence...was nice, try it.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:51 PM on September 24, 2003


I don't have Caller ID or an answering machine. Your point? I should spend money of my own just to keep from being harrassed?

No, you should spend money to join the twentieth century, now that it's the twenty-first.
posted by kindall at 5:04 PM on September 24, 2003


For all of you that did sign up, realize that the telemarketers may get that list, with your name and phone number. Now with no law to protect you, the telemarketers will just run down that list number by number trying to sell you everything they can think of.
posted by Xoc at 5:26 PM on September 24, 2003


Next thing I want to hear: "U.S. citizens rule court overstepped its authority when it nixed the list to block telemarketing calls."
posted by majick at 5:47 PM on September 24, 2003


Of course this may out me as a total curmudgeon (do they have girl curmudgeons? Curmudgeonne?) category, but I find that too many people view the phone as an obligation and not a service.

Just because the phone rings doesn't mean I have to answer the phone if I don't feel like it, so most of the time I don't. That's what god made voicemail for. Or email. It's much easier to avoid phone spam then email spam; don't pick it up during harassment hours.
posted by answergrape at 5:56 PM on September 24, 2003


Yeah, but you never know in advance whether a call might be an emergency call from someone you care about.
posted by beth at 6:15 PM on September 24, 2003


I personally didn't like this Do Not Call List. I don't trust the government when they say they are looking out for my interests. Direct Marketers already had a system in place for this. Ever since I got on the DMA's Telephone Preference Service, I've recieved almost zero telemarketing calls. It's been 5 years or so (I'm assuming it's still working since I haven't signed up for the 'official' one).

There is also a Mail and an eMail list. The mail list seems to be working, but of course I can't tell if the eMail list works at all.
posted by a_green_man at 6:41 PM on September 24, 2003


Here is a telemarketers response to a call.

"hello"
"hello"
'this is .....'
"Did you use a predictive dialer to call this number"
'huh'
"DID"
"YOU"
"USE"
"A"
"PREDICITIVE"
"DIALER"
"TO"
"CONTACT"
"THIS"
"NUMBER?"
'what's that?'
"That is when a computer dials for you"
'yes'
"I consider a predicitve dialer rude phone behavior, and my Mother always told me to never reward rude behavior, so I don't talk to phone callers that use predicitve dialers. Good day." Then he hung up.

I saw the guy tell the story in NYC and pulled the letter out of a green hanging folder.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:16 PM on September 24, 2003


i just have a cellphone, phonelines are a ripoff anyways for such a simple, basic service.
posted by shadow45 at 7:22 PM on September 24, 2003


and who are the asshats that gave faceless corporations the protection of freedom of speech? that's fucking pathetic.

this country sucks, nothing makes sense anymore
posted by shadow45 at 7:27 PM on September 24, 2003


...FTC overstepped its authority when it set up the list to block telemarketing calls.

The list didn't BLOCK anything. It was simply a public list of folks who want a private phone line instead of a public one. Does this mean that "No Trespassing" signs are also invalid for the same reasons? How about "occupied" signs on restroom doors?

After all, solicitors should have the god-given right to tell us about great mortgage rates while we're on the can, right?
posted by fatbobsmith at 7:41 PM on September 24, 2003


I'm a cell phone only user, and I have different ringtones specified for No CID, CID not in address book, and CID in address book. This tells me whether it is even worth looking at. If I don't get my normal "i know that person" ringtone, I'm not answering the phone. They can leave a message.
posted by benjh at 7:45 PM on September 24, 2003


hit them with the counterscript [pdf]
posted by muckster at 7:53 PM on September 24, 2003


Heck, if this is over turned, then I'm all for having to pay to recieve calls. Like other countries. This would stop them, same as fax junk mail. They can't call your cell or fax b/c it costs you (in the US), but landline incoming is basically free (althought it's not REALLY free).

..just a tought.
posted by tomplus2 at 8:27 PM on September 24, 2003


I have an easy way of dealing with telemarketers... they ask if I'm there and I say 'hold on a second', put the phone on hold and go back to doing whatever I was doing.

I've tried doing the counterscript and stuff but well... that's just too much like work, and it didn't stop phone calls. This doesn't stop calls either, but it's easy for me and expensive for them.
posted by mosch at 8:46 PM on September 24, 2003


So can telemarketers call me while this case is being appealed, or not?

Funny you should ask. Last March, a federal judge ruled that telemarketers had to comply with the new regulations while they appealed, because they "were not likely to win their case." That judge, it should be noted, was Judge Lee West of Oklahoma - the same judge who just asked Congress to make its intentions clear to the FTC:

The telemarketers had asked West to suspend new rules that require them to reduce the number of hang-up calls and get explicit permission before putting charges on credit-card accounts. West said that while the new regulations might hurt the industry, they would help the public as a whole.
“There is a strong public interest against abusive and invasive practices and acts by the telemarketing industry, and the Court finds that public interest is best served by the immediate enforcement of these two regulations,” West said.
The Direct Marketing Association, a trade group that includes telemarketers, released a statement saying it was disappointed by the decision but would press on with its case. An FTC official said she was happy with how the case was going so far.
“We’re pleased with the court’s order. It’s consistent with the position the Federal Trade Commission has taken in this proceeding,” said Eileen Harrington, associate director for marketing practices at the FTC.


Congress seems more than willing to clarify things for Judge West, so this seems a minor setback for the national do-not-call list, at best. But I don't think anyone can accuse West of kowtowing to the telemarketing industry.
posted by mediareport at 8:52 PM on September 24, 2003


Now with no law to protect you, the telemarketers will just run down that list number by number trying to sell you everything they can think of.

Why would a telemarketer waste money calling a bunch of people who don't want to buy things from telemarketers? These companies don't exist to piss you off, they exsit to make money, and if pissing you off won't make them money, they won't do it.
posted by kindall at 9:00 PM on September 24, 2003


Obviously you've never been trained as a telemarketer kindall. Just because we all think we don't want whatever crap it is they want to sell us doesn't mean you can't convince a portion of us to buy it. You're right, though. They exist to make money and it's worth it to them to piss off 99% of the people to find the 1% who will make them money.
posted by betaray at 9:15 PM on September 24, 2003


As someone who has done business to business telemarketing (cold calls) I have to say that it's one of the worst jobs you can have simply due to the abuse that you have to put up with. And you absolutely can't fight back. Arguments, insults, curses, the whole nine yards. I try to be gentle and prompt with telemarketers when they call me, because I feel sorry for them.
posted by insomnyuk at 10:42 PM on September 24, 2003


The odds are even longer on people who took the time to sign up for the list than they are on the general population, and I think telemarketers would find the list unprofitable. Far less than 1%, I'd bet. (I wonder what the breakeven percentage is for telemarketing? I know for bulk mailing it's around 1%, so if your mailing gets a 2% response rate you're doing fine, and if it pulls 3% you're ecstatic.)

I didn't sign up for the FTC list, as I have an unlisted number and have found that extremely effective. The simple fact is that the vast majority of telemarketing lists are bought from the phone companies. Sure an unlisted number costs a little money, but it also stops more than telemarketers. And I don't have to worry that I've accidentally given my number to the very people I'm trying to keep it from.
posted by kindall at 10:52 PM on September 24, 2003


This article was published in Salon a couple of months ago (warning: Gotta watch an ad unless you're a subscriber), and provides a take on the subject that really hasn't been brought up in the discussion here yet.

(No, I'm not pro-telemarketing, but like the article indicates, it seems there's a whole lotta stuff this sort of legislation hasn't considered.)
posted by nath at 12:29 AM on September 25, 2003


why should anyone have to pay for caller id or an unlisted number or "privacy protection" (ha!) screening, just to avoid telemarketing shite... when the telcos are obviously profiting from it, at the same time they are not only selling your info to the telemarkers, but also creating and selling countermeasures to those very things you're paying for?

in escalation, arms always win vs. armor in the end.
posted by dorian at 12:37 AM on September 25, 2003


Last time this was discussed here (or the time before that, or the time before that - I can't remember) I mentioned that thanks to my peripatetic globehopping expaterrific lifestyle for the last 15 years, I've only received about 2 or 3 telemarketing calls, ever, and that was when I was living in Australia. When it happened, though, I was filled with a fury both unseemly and somewhat terrifying to my wife (in part because I loathe the phone as an instrument of the devil even without fucknards using it to cold call me and try and sell me shit).

Is there something wrong with screaming "FUCK OFF," either legally or ethically (followed by "Do not call this number again/take this number off your list" or something to that effect)? Seriously, I can't believe (as I mentioned last time I think) that people are willing to endure those calls, and I'm interested in your fightback strategies.

Given the choice, I'd rather not have a phone, to be honest.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:01 AM on September 25, 2003


No, you should spend money to join the twentieth century, now that it's the twenty-first.

Why?

Seriously, why? I had an answering machine, and I had voice mail (at separate times). The answering machine died a while back and I realized that I hated it. Most of the people I wanted to hear from didn't bother leaving messages anyway. (If I don't answer they head straight for the e-mail. They know how to find me.) The only messages were from people I didn't particularly want to talk to. (Hey, how can you avoid those "can you come in to work on your day off" calls if you have an answering machine? You can't! They know you got the message! ;) So why spend money to buy another machine if it doesn't particularly benefit me? Oh boy, if I get one I can listen to all the click calls from predictive dialers. Whee! As someone said above: answering the phone (or the door, for that matter) is not an obligation. It took me a long time to realize that but I've been much happier since.
posted by litlnemo at 5:45 AM on September 25, 2003


My easy cure: answer the phone in another language than english. Moshi Moshi, Pronto or whatever language you feel you can get away with. Your friends will think you have a funny habit and get used to it, telemarketeers will hang up. It works like a charm.
posted by dabitch at 9:32 AM on September 25, 2003


A bill has already been introduced to give the FTC authority. The House considered it today, and sources say it'll be passed immediately. As Tauzin said, "When it comes to passing legislation, Congress can be a real slow beast, but when 50 million Americans are mad, it can be a real fast rabbit."
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:02 AM on September 25, 2003


It just passed. Neither THOMAS nor the House Clerk's roll call votes page reflects this yet -- very fresh news.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:08 AM on September 25, 2003


sorry, don't mean to dominate -- here's the roll call vote tally. The news is rolling in as I type!
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:09 AM on September 25, 2003


dominate away! this is great news...
posted by dorian at 10:47 AM on September 25, 2003


I just called my local phone service provider and added Call Intercept to my monthly phone bill, for the low, low price of $5/month.

Now anyone with any kind of irregular caller id listing has to listen to a recording and identify themselves by a special code before my phone rings. So, if you're anonymous, unlisted, unknown, out of area or anything else, better email me for the code, or else my friends at Verizon are gonna send you away.

I don't consider $5 to be all that onerous, especially since 90% of my calls during solicitation hours are telemarketers. And,l it works a whole lot better than relying on lawyers not to weasel out of rules that other lawyers wrote.
posted by Irontom at 12:19 PM on September 25, 2003


It's being discussed in the Senate right now.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:22 PM on September 25, 2003


Sen. Ensign just said the bill would be passed in an hour. Waiting, waiting....
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:26 PM on September 25, 2003


Congress says go ahead, in a 412-8 vote.
Dissenting votes from Ron Paul, R-Texas; Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.; Kendrick Meek, D-Fla.; Tim Ryan, D-Ohio; Ted Strickland, D-Ohio; Lee Terry, R-Neb.; Rob Bishop, R-Utah, and Chris Cannon, R-Utah
posted by whatzit at 1:39 PM on September 25, 2003


Not Congress, the House. Senate is calling the roll for a vote now.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:11 PM on September 25, 2003


Just passed the Senate! Now it's up to the President.

The Senate's roll call votes page hasn't been updated yet, but I watched it on C-Span.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:43 PM on September 25, 2003


95 yeas. 0 nays. Whoo Hoo! Now I go home.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:54 PM on September 25, 2003


looks like another judge wants to wear his ass for a hat.

where the frell do they come up with these judges who somehow think this is a 1st amendment issue?
posted by dorian at 5:13 PM on September 25, 2003


This is one heck of a showdown, and I'm actually impressed at how quickly Congress jumped in after their uninvolvement was cited in the first judge's decision. I agree that the second judge's grounds will be tougher to overcome, though - basically requiring the final venue of the battle to be a courtroom and not the Capitol.

I think the First Amendment issue comes into play because the do-not-call registry makes a distinction between the types of calls allowed versus those forbidden - not just between commercial and individual, but between charities and politicians and pollsters. Sounds like a "content" restriction to me. Then again, IANAL. (Obviously.)
posted by pzarquon at 5:34 PM on September 25, 2003


Just to help kindall understand why telemarketers are not deterred by those who put there names on the DNC list.

The very first thing that they teach you as a telemarketer, and I assume in most high pressure sales environments, is not to take no for a answer. When you tell them that you're not interested, have the every hung up? No, they generally say something like, "While I understand your concerns, sir, but..." and continue trying to sell to you.

The point is that they can still make money off of people who initially don't want your product. Signing a DNCL is easy, but having to say "no" over the phone is much harder. I really don't know what the rate of return on call campaigns are, but it doesn't really matter, as long as it makes the telemarketer money then they'll continue calling you.
posted by betaray at 5:50 PM on September 25, 2003


After a bewildering week of court reversals and breakneck congressional action, the Federal Trade Commission is acknowledging that its anti-telemarketing service has, at least for now, been placed on hold.

"You can still put your number on the national registry," the FTC said in a statement posted Friday on its Web site, "but for now, telemarketers are not required to comply with it."

posted by rushmc at 5:23 AM on September 27, 2003


The bill will be sined into law today. You can watch the ceremony, even.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:40 AM on September 29, 2003


It's the law. Now it's up to the courts.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:22 AM on September 30, 2003


Here's a reasonable and well-written discussion of the legal and constitutional issues.
The classic example is the 1993 Supreme Court case Cincinnati v. Discovery Network, in which the city of Cincinnati tried to prohibit news racks containing advertisements, on the ground that the news racks were ugly, without also prohibiting news racks containing newspapers, which were equally ugly. The Supreme Court found that the distinction violated the First Amendment, because Cincinnati had no reason for playing favorites. The city could have banned both kinds of news racks, or none, but it could not ban only one if the basis for doing so applied equally well to the other.
posted by ook at 9:53 AM on October 4, 2003


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