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Heard from your local telemarketer lately?

October 08, 2012|By Karin Klein
  • In 2005, an area resident showed little sympathy for telemarketers.
In 2005, an area resident showed little sympathy for telemarketers. (Rich Turner )

On Facebook today, I find sheepish postings from two friends after they yelled at callers who mispronounced their names. That mispronunciation, along with the ubiquitous "How are you today?" is the almost sure sign of another unwanted telemarketer. "We're a carpet cleaning business located in your town..." Really? Never heard of you. What was your address? "Well, not exactly in your town but we're going to be there next week...." They're contractors or credit scams ("The credit security office has been unable to reach you via our previous attempts ...")

But in these cases, one woman gave the entire Do-Not-Call-Registry Bill of Rights lecture to a man who turned out to be from the doctor's office, confirming an appointment. Another lost her cool with what turned out to be the furniture delivery service.

Can you blame them? These days we're not even answering the phone at my house. We just let it ring through to the answering machine. The Do Not Call list has come to be a joke to many boiler rooms. Complaints about bogus calls are up; the number of firms checking the Do Not Call list are down.

And though the feds say they're trying hard to enforce the law that does not allow cold sales calls if you have registered your number -- they did just file charges against an India-based outfit that was scamming people by pretending to be Microsoft representatives who had detected a virus in the householders' computers -- going after just the big boys leaves a lot of annoying phone calls coming in every day.

It's gotten worse in ways; knowing that the chances of getting in trouble are so low, today's salespeople start verbally abusing people who bring up the illegality of the call.

Either the government needs to start taking this very seriously, or get rid of the law. It's not as though the rule has led to fewer phone calls; it just leads to fewer phone calls from law-abiding companies.


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