Tuesday, August 18, 2009

PSA: Do Not Call List

Giveaway is still going on here (until Friday)! I'll wait for you to go enter. Promise.


Tonight, my husband got a random telemarketer call. Again.

You wouldn't think this would be too out of the ordinary, except for a few things. We're on the do not call list. And it was to his cell phone. From a business that neither of us has ever heard of.


This is what the do not call list is intended to prevent. And the law prohibits telemarketing to cell phones. Period.

For landlines, there are also restrictions once you have been on the national Do Not Call registry for 31 days unless you have an existing business relationship (including asking for information from the company/applying for a product), it is a not-for-profit organization, conducting surveys or political polling, or it is a business line being called. This includes collections calls. However, once you have requested to be placed on that individual do not call list, they must add your number and can no longer call. Oh, and no telemarketer can call outside the hours of 8am to 9pm (your local time).

If someone is violating this, you have recourse. Click here. That will take you to an FTC (Federal Trade Commission, the governmental organization that regulates telemarketing) website where you can fill out a complaint form with as much information about the call as you can remember and provide.

Why would you want to fill out this form? First, it gives the FTC an idea of who to go after to shut down those businesses not following the law. Second (and my favorite reason), violators can be fined up to $11,000 -- and no, that's not a typo -- per violation. Depending on how many people they called and how many report it, can you imagine what kind of damage that kind of a fine could do for repeat violators? It kind of makes me smile to think about it.

I rarely get calls on my cell. Very rarely. My work Blackberry, I'll get some more mostly because a Spanish speaking person (making it fun to get off their lists) paid no bills before abandoning the number that was eventually assigned to me. When I get a telemarketer, I do have a very effective strategy though -- when I get a live person.

I interrupt the sales pitch to:
a) ask who is calling to be sure I have the name of the company to file a complaint against
b) request that I be placed on their do not call list -- which by law they have to do for ten years
c) ask if they realize they're calling a cell phone (assuming I'm using a cell), which a violation of FTC regulations -- this usually gets some very flustered responses
d) if it is a repeat offender, let them know that I have already requested to be placed on the do not call list and that I am now filing a complaint with the FTC. When I pull out this card, it's generally the last time I hear from a company.

When my husband walked in the room to complain about the telemarketer, I asked what he did about it. He had just hung up on them. He wasn't aware of his alternatives, but once I told him he filed a complaint. I didn't realize this wasn't common knowledge, and I hope that it helps some of you.

But in order for it to work, you have to sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry here.

There are misconceptions against this, as well. This is not a site that telemarketers can go to and purchase phone numbers. Signing up for it will not increase the solicitations you receive. It does take 31 days for your number to be updated by companies using the database, but it will work. And due to new changes in the law, the registry is permanent for the phone number and not just for five years, as when it was originally created. It is safe. It is secure. And it works.

Just ask my now happy husband.

This Public Service Announcement brought to you by an annoyed consumer who got fed up and read up on all the telemarketing regulations she could find once the do not call registry was created.


morninglight mama August 18, 2009 at 10:26 PM  

LOVE that you've compiled all the info here. I've signed us up, and I've also reported a company to the FTC! Don't call me folks!!! :)

Roxane August 18, 2009 at 10:34 PM  

ohhh Good to know! really now I really know how to stick it to the man. Thanks for that i'll let my friends know!

Tara R. August 18, 2009 at 10:51 PM  

Great info. I cut my telemarking calls to practically nil by getting on the do not call list. I still get calls from non-profits or surveys, but they have to remove you from their call list if you request it.

Laura August 18, 2009 at 11:07 PM  

Gah you guys are a tough crowd :) Sometimes in the dead of 40 below winter telemarketers can be really nice to talk too.

Cookie August 19, 2009 at 12:25 AM  

wow! You are really on top of things! I didn't know that about cell phones. To be honest, I haven't gotten a telemarketer call in a while.

septembermom August 19, 2009 at 6:48 AM  

Michelle, thanks a lot. I appreciate all this information. I didn't know that it is illegal for them to call cell phones. Now I plan on getting rid of these telemarketers once and for all.

WeaselMomma August 19, 2009 at 7:13 AM  

I get these calls all the time even though I am on the do not call. Luckily only 1 has ever come to my cell phone.

Pat August 19, 2009 at 8:14 AM  

Great strategy to deal with these annoying lawbreakers! I will go and sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry AGAIN.

Tina August 19, 2009 at 10:42 AM  

Thanks for the information. I'm one of those people that try to "sell" something back to the telemarketer. Yeah, pretty lame I know. But, it makes me laugh.

MaBunny August 19, 2009 at 11:34 AM  

Good for you Michelle! Those marketing calls really are a pain in the butt!

Steph at Problem Solvin' Mom August 19, 2009 at 11:49 AM  

Great summary! We were so tired of getting telemarketing calls at home, even though we were on the do not call list, that we decided to ditch the home phone...we weren't using it nearly enough to justify the cost anyway, but I'll bookmark this in case we start getting calls to our cell phones!

Life with Kaishon August 19, 2009 at 7:31 PM  

I always feel so bad for telemarketers. I don't buy their wares, but I do listen and say something kind. 'Cause I know how many mean things they hear all day!

Mrs4444 August 19, 2009 at 10:31 PM  

This is great advice. I like that you listed the steps. Hubs hangs up, too. Tsk tsk.

P.S. I'd like to suggest that you add a link to HonestandTruly in your sidebar of the review blog (it would not let me use my back button to get back here.)

Michelle August 20, 2009 at 8:25 PM  

morninglight mama - And trust me... given the costs of everything, if you don't want to be called, they don't want to waste the time and money calling you!

Roxane - It's not so much sticking it to the man as ensuring that those who don't play by the rules are punished and hopefully learn to play by the rules.

Tara - Yep, exactly! If you ask, they have to do it. The one thing I forgot to mention, too, is that you should open and read those privacy notices you get every year and call the 800 number there to be added to the company do not call list if you don't want them to telemarket you.

Laura - Yeah... we don't talk to strangers in the supermarkets, either :)

Cookie - I try! Congrast on avoiding those calls.

Kelly - Yep, they can't call to a number where you have to pay for the call, so cells are out. There are people who are ok with being telemarketed and buy from them, but ... I like to choose what to buy not have it chosen for me.

WEaselmomma - Lucky you. Did you get the "Sears" one that was going on around here lately? Sears actually had to do an apology saying it WASN'T them calling.

Pat - Once you're signed up, you're signed up. It's getting the ones at the edges that you make that last bit of difference for you.

Tina - And if laughing works for you, then go for that strategy. What happens then?

MaBunny - I like doing research and figuring things out. Can you tell? ;)

Steph - We ditched ours about five years ago, too. It helps us a ton, but every once in awhile, someone calls us anyway!

Life with Kaishon - I do feel badly for the people, but again -- they don't want to waste their time with people who don't want to listen, so the registry helps reduce that. And the people who call and AREN'T following the rules? I have no sympathy for them.

Barb - Thanks for pointing that out. I'd meant to do so and forgot. It's added now :) And I'm glad the steps help!

JOE TODD August 23, 2009 at 7:28 AM  

I react in many different ways to telemarketing calls. Sometimes I just hang up and sometimes I talk on and on and never buy anything. Sometimes I'm polite and sometimes not Sometimes I try to sell them something

BPOTW August 23, 2009 at 7:17 PM  

I always gave them a hard time when they called ; )

Angie's Spot August 23, 2009 at 7:48 PM  

You are officially my "go to" woman for research! Thanks for the fab info! I'm off to register my cell phone which has been invaded by so many telemarketers of late that I keep the ringer turned down most of the time. Grrrr.

Michelle August 27, 2009 at 8:26 AM  

Joe Todd - I like your strategy... but I don't have the patience for that (shocking, I know). I'd rather avoid all the annoyance in the future.

BPOTW - Oooo I love that you're using past tense there. Nicely done!

Angie - Aww, thanks! And because it's a cell, you should not have to register it. Calls to cells are prohibited because you need to pay for the calls. You can just start threatening to report :) Or gently alerting them to the fact that they're calling a cell. Whatever!

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