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If you enjoy dinner more than you enjoy answering the phone with your mouth full, read on!

Did you know...?

Bite telemarketing calls in the ass!

You'll save yourself a lot of time and annoyance by committing to memory this short phrase--or better yet, write it down and put a copy next to your phone:

"Put Me On Your Do-Not-Call List"

I've done it, and it works--I even got a letter in the mail from one telemarketing agency (without even asking for it!) confirming my addition to the Do-Not-Call list. If you don't believe me, read from someone else who says it really works. Telemarketers are required by law to maintain a "Do-Not-Call" list where they put the numbers of people who don't want to receive future solicitations from them. Numbers on the list must remain there for at least 10 years. If you want to be a bastard and play the Telemarketer Mini-Lottery, demand a written copy of their do-not-call policy, which they are required by law to provide. Any telemarketing company failing to provide this owes you $500 under the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act). It might not be a $350 million jackpot, but it'll more than pay for the dinner they ruined.

As always, Junkbusters provides a wealth of useful information on suing telemarketing agencies for violations of the law:

[Feedback]  ``Can I sue companies for illegal telemarketing practices?''

There are U.S. Federal laws that give you specific rights of action. Your state may also have its own laws that let you do this.
  • In Florida, Arizona, Oregon Alaska, ``Asterisk laws'' allow a mark in the phone book to stop telemarketers.
  • In California telemarketing calls to non-published numbers are restricted. (Also known as unlisted, unpublished or private numbers.)
  • In many states, includingWashington, telemarketers are required to register; after you get their name ask them for their registration number and report them if they can't give it.
Other states have statutes in various stages of development.

The federalTelephone Consumer Protection Act allows consumers to sue telemarketers if the company's pattern of calls breaks the law two or more times in a year. Most actions are brought in small claims court for $500. But the law gives them a ready-made defense, which few consumers are willing to go to the trouble of trying to overcome. It appears easier to secure a judgment based on ``technical violations'' such as failure to provide a written policy.If you're determined to litigate, you may want to visit the TCPA Law site, or to spend $10 on a booklet called So You Want to Sue a Telemarketer, available from Private Citizen, Inc. by calling 1-800-CUT-JUNK. See also the Nolo Press publications. 

Fred Elbel shares the following excellent tip on his anti-telemarketing page:

"instead of paying the outrageous monthly fee to have your phone number unavailable, have the phone company list your number as follows:

    [Initial(s)] [Pseudonym*] .......City, State  Phone number

*The pseudonym could be your wife's maiden name, your middle name (that you never use), your grandmother's maiden name (don't use your mother's--that's the security password for many of your banking transactions), or a name of your choosing. This only costs a few dollars and it's as good as an unlisted number. When a telemarketer calls (using phone book information), they will ask for "Mr. or Mrs. Pseudonym", which is as good as saying, "Hello, I want to sell you something." The response to such a call is simple, "Remove me from your list and never call again".

Know Thine Enemy

Dinnertime sales pitches are not the only annoyance brought on by telemarketers. You probably receive calls from some telemarketers and don't even know it! These come in the form of annoying hang-up calls that many recipients attribute to wrong numbers or bored teenagers (bored old farts?) making prank calls. These are a result of the predictive dialing schemes mentioned earlier, and summed up nicely by

But why would a telemarketer call and hang up?
Because more and more scumbag telemarketers are using a device called an autodialer. This piece of technology from hell will actually dial four or more numbers AT THE SAME TIME for one operator. The idea is that half of the numbers will either be busy or nobody will answer. ...Its a great time saver if you are a telemarketer.
While subpart L of the TCPA  (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) makes it illegal to use autodialers (in non-emergency situations) to certain numbers, including cell/pagers, hospital and nursing-home rooms, elderly homes, etc., autodialer use is nearly impossible to prove, and they're legal to use on residential numbers.

An annoying sales call starts at the telemarketing agency, where the *ahem* Sales Representatives (sometimes referred to as "monkeys with scripts") sit at desks with a headset and computer screen. The telemarketing agency's computerized phone system dials several numbers at once, transferring the ones that pick up (and aren't an answering machine, fax line, etc.) to the next available *ahem* representative. A pre-written salespitch script appears on the SR's screen with the necessary personal details, such as your name, etc., filled into the appropriate blanks (hence the common "monkeys with scripts" references). More advanced telemarketing systems allow the SR to type your responses into the computer for instructions on what to do next. Once the call between yourself and the SR ends (swearing optional), the SR goes back into the pool of available telemarketers to receive one of the next autodialed calls. Remember of course that your beef isn't with the representative him/herself--they're just doing as told, trying to make a living and probably making less than you do--your beef is with the evil corporation that hired them and made you run out of the shower to answer their call, and the evil corporation making millions selling your name, phone number and records of your past purchases to evil corporations that want you to answer the phone dripping wet (a not-too-nice electrical hazard, IMHO). In other words, cussing out the rep in most circumstances is rude and won't do any good. You want to cuss out somebody higher up the food chain :)

But Wait! There's More!!
Ready to learn about more evil telemarketing voodoo? See the telemarketing-term glossaries and some scary facts about what's in a telemarketer's database via the links below:

Dirty Data
Telemarketing Glossary | Another one | What's in their database | Telecommunications trivia-stuff | Telemarketing Technical Stuff | Illegal Taping

Prevent Future Telemarketing Calls

While getting on the Do Not Call lists will lighten the load considerably, you still have to jump out of dinner/shower/bed and answer the calls to begin with. Some sales-call-haters prefer to stay off the master lists in the first place and save themselves the trouble of telling off telemarketers.

Telemarketer haters around the world share the following tips:

In a vindictive mood? Want to control the spread of the wildfire that is your personal information? See if you can find out who the telemarketing agency bought your number from, and ride their ass. Ask for a cut of the money they made from selling off your database information. Tell 'em you don't like marketing calls and may take your business elsewhere, to a competitor who has more respect for your privacy. In any event, demanding to know from the next telemarketer where they got their list will most likely make them squirm, and asking to speak to the supervisor/manager/boss/misc. head honcho mucketymuck will make them squirm even more. It can be safely assumed that these organisations might consider you Trouble and think twice about dialing your number in the future.
You'll probably get the runaround at first, "We don't have access to this information...we don't keep track of...we are not at liberty to discuss..." but eventually, you might get hold of detailed info on how your information is propagating. If you can determine with any certainty who's misappropriating your name (use some of the name-tracking tricks above), you'll have those MFers by the short-and-curlies. Now, we start talking lawsuit, and...

Having Fun
If you're just bored, you can use sales calls as a form of free entertainment.


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