Wednesday, September 24, 2003
Stick This In Your Horn, Telemarketers 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
This news development makes me want to reach out through the phone line...and strangle someone. With their headset cord.

On the eve of the implementation of the National-Do-Not-Call List - which over 50 million Americans had signed up for, of their own free will and intention - an Oklahoma court has ruled that the Federal Trade Commission did not have the authority to set up the registry in the first place. I'm not certain whether the Oklahoma ruling will deep-six the list altogether, but it is extremely frustrating for people like me who signed up months ago, in anticipation of quieter days and evenings without some telemarketing jerk trying to sell me something on the phone.

Some sources say that over 2 million people will be put out of work if the List goes into effect. So 2 million people make their living harassing folks over the phone? I'm sorry, but I don't really pity them. It's no different than if they had been employed as door-to-door salespeople pitching the same products...same deal, different technology.

I don't want to have to turn off the ringer, or pay for expensive screening technologies that inconvenience people I want to speak to. Even unlisted phone numbers don't help, if you're battling sequential computer dialing systems that barrage every number in a row.

What telemarketers can't seem to face is that the vast majority of people simply do not want to be interrupted by ringing phones for the purpose of being sold something. In the days of door-to-door sales, your doorbell might ring, say, a couple of times a week by some poor shlub selling vacuum cleaners or insurance. Today, it's not uncommon to have the phone ring several times an hour with telemarketing calls. That's just ridiculous.

Picture this: dozens of salesmen lined up outside your house, all waiting for their turn to knock on your door as soon as the previous suitcase left. Wouldn't you be tempted to open the front door and scream, "get out...and STAY OUT!! ALL OF YOU!"

That, in effect, is what the National Do-Not-Call List is. A collective primal scream of millions yearning to breathe free of once-in-a-lifetime deals, fraudulent products and nonexistent "prizes."

Also, consider that the National Do-Not-Call List is actually doing telemarketers a favor. By enumerating the phone numbers of people who do not want to buy anything over the phone, they can concentrate on the 150-plus million people who didn't sign up. Maybe they'll have better luck selling to them. They'll certainly have less wasted effort, and less on-the-job stress from people like me who tell them where to insert their handsets.

I mean, do you actually personally know anyone who has bought something via an unsolicited telemarketing call? I, for one, don't.

If 50 million average citizens didn't mind having their lives constantly interrupted by ringing phones, they certainly wouldn't have overloaded the FTC's web servers for weeks, tripping over each other sign up for the Do-Not-Call List.

To me, that's a message saying, "leave us the hell alone" - loud and clear.