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Telemarketers and Cell Phones? 569

Posted by Cliff
from the don't-try-and-sell-me-something-on-MY-dime dept.
jjshoe asks: "I have received one bumbling voice mail from a woman who seemed very confused as to why I wasn't there, like her auto dialer transfered her call to my cellphone in time for my voice mail, one missed call, and one in which I actually talked to the woman. My concern is that this all costs me minutes, which of course equals money. What laws are out there for me? What bills are out there waiting to head their way towards becoming laws? What can I do to be compensated for time? After I screamed at the tele-marketer lady she said she would mark me as a wrong number, but I still don't believe this is enough." Considering most tele-marketers use auto-dialers, would it be so hard to grab the definitive list of area-code/extensions that are exclusively used for cellular phones and just apply that to their dial-out lists?

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's website was the only site I could find that had any information on cellphones and solicitation.

Note the first question from 'JOHN PUHATCH':

Q: Regarding the sole use of wireless phones as an alternative to a land line connection, as I have done for nearly two years: You stated that tele-marketers do not call wireless phones. If only that were the case. Tele-marketing agencies have regularly contacted me on my cell phone concerning everything from vacation homes to long-distance service. My assumption is that these agencies secure my cell phone number by buying information from the plethora of forms and applications that require home telephone numbers but leave no place for a cell phone.
And the answer basically amounts to, although we do have some protections, we can still be screwed:
'A: [...]In short, John, you lost your chance at a telemarketing-free life when you filled out those forms with your phone number. May others learn from your mistake.'
Does anyone have any advice on things I can do to get these tele-marketers to stop calling on my cellphone?"

Most land-based phone companies allow anonymous-call blocks these days. Are there cellular phone companies doing anything similar?

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Telemarketers and Cell Phones?

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  • by squarefish (561836) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @05:09PM (#3817668)
    just ask this guy. [slashdot.org]
  • Don't answer (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sllort (442574) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @05:09PM (#3817675) Homepage Journal
    My cell phone is my only phone. When you have "home phone" as a required field on most order forms, you have to give out something. Then, later, someone calls to sell you a hotel vacation, or Viagra. You can tell them it's your cell phone, and ask them where you can bill them for your minutes, but they just hang up on you.

    These days, I just don't answer blocked ID's, and my voicemail says so. You need a valid caller ID to call me. Yes, it's pathetic and sub-optimal, but it's the system our lawmakers have left us with. Pay to be harassed, or become unavailable.

    Of course, I always buy the Viagra, so it's not that bad a deal.
    • Re:Don't answer (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dattaway (3088)
      You can tell them it's your cell phone, and ask them where you can bill them for your minutes, but they just hang up on you.

      I did this. They didn't hang up. But I did find out it was FirstUSA who gave out my number. After telling them I wished to be put on their no call list, they told me it would be three months before that would take effect. I told them this was unacceptable.

      I also learned that these no call lists are only valid for one year at which time they can opt me right back in. Nine months of no calls by that *one* company? It was a coincidence that I was over my airtime minutes that month and paid 25 cents a minute for that nonsense. No thanks.

      I promptly cancelled my credit card and the calls still came rolling in. It was satisfying to tell them why I was cancelling my card. That didn't stop the calls either. My final solution was to change my phone number. Other companies know this is my "home" phone number, yet I haven't been getting calls since.
      • Re:Don't answer (Score:5, Informative)

        by slamb (119285) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @06:55PM (#3818528) Homepage
        They lied. What they said contradicts the Telephone Consumer Protection Act [jmls.edu].

        First, to answer the poster of this story. The TCPA forbids calling at the callee's expense. From this page [junkbusters.com]:

        In addition to prohibiting charges to protect residential privacy, the TCPA and our rules prohibit calls that impose costs on the called party (e.g., calls to paging and cellular numbers, facsimile advertisements).
        After telling them I wished to be put on their no call list, they told me it would be three months before that would take effect. I told them this was unacceptable.

        As well you should. I do not believe the TCPA allows them any time whatsoever. If they hang up and immediately call back, that's their one allowed error for the next twelve months. After that, you can charge them $500 per call.

        I also learned that these no call lists are only valid for one year at which time they can opt me right back in

        That's not what the TCPA says. This page [the-dma.org] at the Direct Marketing Assocation says that telemarketers must:

        # Maintain a "do not call list" and honor any request to not be called again. When such a request is received, the requester may not be called again on behalf of the business for whom the solicitation is made. One error is allowed in a twelve month period. Subsequently, the soliciting companies are subject to penalties.
        A person's name must be kept on the "do not call list" indefinitely.

        I think the people who call just always try to weasel out of the terms and get you to agree. I try to be verify specific:

        • I find out what company is calling me ("We're calling on behalf of Sprint..." "Yes, but what company do you work for?") and say they may not call me again. I keep track of that.
        • I say "put me on your do-not-call list" rather than "take me off your list".
        • If they say "it will take 30 days", I say "it had better not".

        Actually, browsing that Junkbusters site, they have a script [junkbusters.com] for you to keep by the telephone. Looks handy.

        • DNC List Rules. (Score:3, Informative)

          by ImaLamer (260199)
          First things first.

          You must prove they called you on purpose. The burden of proof is on you. It isn't like you get that second call and viola! you get a check. There is court time involved.

          You must also ask to speak with a supervisor. If a non-supervisor talks to you claiming they are a super that is good enough for you - you have no way of knowing. But you have the right to request a supervisors help, and you you must in order to guarantee you will win your case.

          While working for the local "Enquirer" newspaper here in "Cincinnati" [hint hint], I learned that when a sales rep takes your number down to be put on the DNC list they can legally just throw them away because sales reps are known to screw up the process. You won't win in court claiming "well John promised me..."

          Also some other tips:
          The caller won't give you their full name. They don't have to because they have the same right to privacy that you enjoy (remember, it's the company that insists on calling you - they just want to get paid).

          The FTC has strict rules against cursing on the phone. You can yell at them and say what you want, but they have to show restraint or you can win up to $10,000 dollars, sometimes more.

          Lastly: It's bad business to call cell phones - how can you even tell if they want your product ;-)

          We had special lists which help pager and cell numbers- we ran it across our main lists to remove them. That is the only good thing we did there.

          The best thing was when I got an auto-dial number which for some reason just had a local TV station's audio play 24/7. It was great to listen to TV while not doing anything.
    • Re:Don't answer (Score:5, Informative)

      by gid (5195) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @05:36PM (#3817945) Homepage
      These days, I just don't answer blocked ID's, and my voicemail says so.

      I'd love to do that, but unfortunately my sister's cell phone shows up as a "blocked id" she's in PIttsburgh w/ Nokia and I'm Gaithersburg, Maryland w/Sprint PCS. Kinda annoying, because if it weren't for that, I'd wouldn't answer blocked id's.

      My current solution is once that I sniff that's it's a sales call, which usually takes me all of 2 seconds after noticing that no one greets with "hello" right away, because most sales calls are made by a machine that does dialing, once it determines that it's a person on the line, it passes the call to a human who does the talking, which can take a bit. Anyway I simply respond with "This is a cell phone, please don't call this number again".

      For the above reason of how sales calls are placed I know some phone companies can give you a spam trap. Which basically means everytime someone calls you, the phone company takes the calls, asks the caller to press 1 to talk to a person, and then passes the call on to you. I had a friend who lives in Key West that had this feature, I wish more phone companies did, or maybe they do, and I just don't know.
    • "You can tell them it's your cell phone, and ask them where you can bill them for your minutes, but they just hang up on you."

      I have a feeling that would be as effective as asking them where you can bill them for the use of your land line (which you also have to pay for). You're the one that gave them your phone number, you're the one that answered, and so the telemarketers feel content in placing the blame on your shoulders.
      • Re:Don't answer (Score:3, Interesting)

        by 1010011010 (53039)
        The difference is that, cell phones are billed by the minute, and land lines are fixed-cost. You don't pay more to get a marketing call at home, but you do pay more to get one on a cell phone.

        I would bill them for the minutes. If they refuse to identify themselves, report them immediately to your provider for making harassing calls, and demand to know who it was so that you can (1) bill them and (2) block them.

        Another alternative: never answer your phone unless you recognize the number. Everyone else cal leave a message in your voicemail and get a call back.

        I would like to see a PGP-type authentication system in phones, where you can elect to have people you know ring the phone and others not. You give a key or token to people you want to be able to call you, that uniquely identifies them to you. Their phone signals your phone with thay key.

        I wouldn't mind seeing a law requiring caller-id on telemarketing calls, and accompanying hardware to automatically clock telemarketing calls. The phone companies can log EVERY call, so if there was a special code I could dial after getting an unwanted call -- *99 or something -- and the phone company logs it as such, that would be good, as well. I'd like to get a list of companies flagged on my bill each month.
  • Last I checked telemarketers weren't allowed to use cellphone ranges for phone spam (unless you somehow opt in, which I'd suppose theres a great chance of).

    If I got a call on my cell with some "company" offering services to me, you'd bet that I'd be demanding to speak to management and taking down their name and number.

    I think with some phone providers you can actually report those calls to them too and get a possible refund, or get the business blocked.
  • I tell them I'm on a cellphone and it's illegal for them to call cellphones in accordance with the 1997 Telecom Act, since we end up paying for the minutes. Then I tell them I'm a telecommunications consultant for Qwest/XO/Whoever. I then tell them to take me off the list, ask who they are, and them tell them that I am reporting them to my local Public Utilities Commission.

    That should work. (No idea if it REALLY works or if its even correct, but if they're calling my spamming my cellphone, screw 'em.)
  • by akiy (56302) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @05:11PM (#3817701) Homepage
    Some good information on decreasing the number of junk phone calls you get located here [junkbusters.com].

    A magical phrase is, "Place me on your do not call list."

    • Sure, you *could* go that route... or you could have a conversation akin to:

      Telemarketer: Hi, I'm Joe from Work Hard Industries, I'd like to talk to you about our Wang Big Supermower!

      You: Sure Joe, I'd be happy to hear about your Wang Big Supermower if I can first talk to you about Jesus.

      Unfortunately there are instances where that doesn't work. Some people apparently like to talk about Jesus... go figure.
      • A buddy of mine comes up with some good anti-telemarketer lines. A couple of weeks ago he was called up by someone hocking the local paper.

        Telemarketer: Hello, would you like to recieve the [local paper]?
        Guy: I... can't read.
        [pause]
        Telemarketer: At all?
  • by Saggi (462624) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @05:13PM (#3817718) Homepage
    Even if you mask out mobile numbers for the auto diallers, several telecompanies are providing a combined service that will redirect you home phone to you mobile. In that case you will end up receiving the message on you mobile phone anyway.

    In regards to time, I'll usually just say goodbye...

    But time is an issue. Just think about spam, commercials, etc... but I believe it would only cloud up things if we should start making new laws. What about using existing laws about harassment.
  • Rare occurrence. (Score:2, Informative)

    Being someone that installs and services auto-dialers I can say for a fact that if you get a marketing call on a cell phone it is a mistake. It is illegal for them to call your cell phone because of the very fact that it directly costs you money. I have not had a marketer call me in 2 years because I have only a cell phone. The people who make number lists for auto dialers cross-reference their list with a list of cell phone number blocks. Most of the time the mistakes are made by small in-house call centers.
  • IIRC, I read somewhere that the reason that telemarketers don't call cell phones is because most plans are "per-minute", meaning that time you spend on the phone is time that's costing you, unlike the flat-fee for unlimited phone usage on your house phone.

    Because of this, telemarketers could be held monetarily liable for the minutes (which equal $$$ in mobile phone plans) that you "lost" talking to them.
  • If all you have is your cellphone and no home phone # like me, get a dedicated Voicemail number, they're like $5 a month and you can make it seem like its your home number with an answering machine. Give this number out as your home number on everything, then just check it every so often. Don't ever give out your cell number. It's cheaper than having a home phone line and you can give it to everyone, even credit card companies, which are the worst telemarketing offenders.

  • by peterdaly (123554) <petedaly@ix.net c o m . c om> on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @05:15PM (#3817739)
    A guy I work with gets calls a few times a week (usually at odd hours, so he gets voicemail.) The calls usually are along the lines of "Hey this is -firstname- from -companyname-, the state says it is ok to dig. Thanks, seeya." When he does answer, the people don't seem to want to talk and tell him who they were expecting to get.

    We to this day don't know who the callers are trying to get, but there sure are a lot of callers, and whoever is supposed to get the calls sure digs a lot of big holes.

    Someone probably has a document in their customers hands with the wrong cellphone number on it. Makes for a good laugh every now and then.

    -Pete
    • by zulux (112259) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @05:24PM (#3817823) Homepage Journal
      A friend of mine had a phone number that was a two digit tranposition of a local Pizza Hut. When one of their stupider customers would call, he'd politly take their order, but would tell them that they coulden't deliver to their area as IT WAS FULL OF MAN EATING PIZZA MONSTERS. He'd then hang up.

    • Haha, you just reminded me of Kramer doing movie phone. "Why dont you just tell me what movie you want to see..."
    • I moved in my house about 6 months ago and got two "new" phone numbers. The lady that gave out the phone numbers was nice and tried to get us numbers in the older exchange for this area, rather than the newer one, that differs by one digit and confuses people.

      Anyway, to the point, apparently my phone numbers have been held by at least the following:

      Some stoners
      A very old lady
      Someone who signed up for ever spam offer out there.

      I'm thinking the last two are probably one in the same.

      The stoner's friends calls are the most annoying. I pick up, say hi, they say, "Hey bill I got the stuff", then realize they called the wrong number and freak out. This would be OK if these people figured it out the first time, but apparently, they are either very dense, or this guy had a lot of friends.

      The other callers are very old people, I'm usually nice to them, but they take a while to get straightened out, and tend to ramble about who they were trying to reach.

      Then there's the issue of the people that call my fax number.... over and over and over. You'd think the telemarketers and people calling the number would realize after several weeks that it was a fax machine, but no dice. Eventually I turned off the ringers on the extension and just gave up.
      • The stoner's friends calls are the most annoying. I pick up, say hi, they say, "Hey bill I got the stuff", then realize they called the wrong number and freak out. This would be OK if these people figured it out the first time, but apparently, they are either very dense, or this guy had a lot of friends.

        Ahem:

        A friend in need is a friend indeed.

        But better still is a friend with weed.
        Or something like that.
      • Then there's the issue of the people that call my fax number.... over and over and over. You'd think the telemarketers and people calling the number would realize after several weeks that it was a fax machine, but no dice.

        I had the exact oposite problem. My old phone number used to be a fax machine somewhere. Not only did it get calls from a bunch of companies, it was also on onw of those fax spam lists. I got at least 6 a day, at every time of day.

    • I'm still waiting for the inevitable news story that some guy is driving in their car, answers their cell phone which turns out to be a telemarketer solicitation and ends up crashing into a supermodel's car because he wasn't paying attention to the road.

      GMD

    • A guy I work with gets calls a few times a week (usually at odd hours, so he gets voicemail.) The calls usually are along the lines of "Hey this is -firstname- from -companyname-, the state says it is ok to dig. Thanks, seeya." When he does answer, the people don't seem to want to talk and tell him who they were expecting to get.

      Hmmm. Very fishy. Maybe it's mafia hitmen who are following the advice of those public safety tips and making sure to avoid buried powerlines before they go digging any graves!

      GMD

    • Driving from Texas to California via Kansas and Denver, got stuck in a surprise snowstorm. After 3 hours of first gear (in an MR2 with summer tires!) and no place to pull off and put on my chains, finally did a 360, a 180, and another 180, and decided my luck had run out, so I dumped it off the side in a snowbank. No damage, not hurt, but decided it was time to get my money's worth from AAA. While waiting for them to call back, a telemarketer called! "Hello Mr Smith, how are you doing today?" I said I was stuck in a snowback. "Oh, you live in the mountains? We have a special offer today on credit card insurance..." and I hung up. Clueless.
    • Re:Could Be Better (Score:2, Interesting)

      by kuroth (11147)
      True Story:

      In 1995, I was fresh out of college with a relatively useless liberal arts degree.

      A friend of mine had a little web company, and he was giving me piecemeal work - html, content sorting, stuff like that - after finding out that I was pretty comfortable with computers and learned things quickly.

      Still, I was poor. Canned-beans-three-meals-a-day poor.

      We (a roomate and I) moved into a new apartment a few months later. Our new phone number apparently belonged to an IT consultant before it came into our possession. We used to get five or six calls a week from headhunters looking to hire him for various jobs.

      One day, I started talking to one of the headhunters. Ten minutes later, I had an interview for a $25 an hour job, despite my lackluster qualifications and limited experience. A week later, I was hired.

      In the seven years since then, I've learned a lot more, worked a lot of contracting gigs, and eventually started my own consulting company. We're not huge, just a few guys, but we make a decent living and do a vast majority of our work in bath robes. :)

      See, telemarketers aren't always bad.

      Kuroth

  • Cash in! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chmarr (18662) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @05:16PM (#3817755)
    According to the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act), it is illegal for a business to dial mobile phone numbers for unsolicited telemarketing. Unless there are some weird circumstances on how they got hold of your phone number, you've just earned yourself $500-$1500. Congratulations! You now just need to figure out how to claim it :)

    A good resource for this kind of thing is Junkbusters [junkbusters.org]
    • The TCPA also provides for the same ammount for each spam fax you get. Unfortunately, tracking down and nailing spamfaxers can be difficult, although not impossible [junkfax.org].

      I'd expect the average telemarketer is a little less savvy about the subtle nuances of the TCPA and might be a decent target, especially in the case of cell phone spam.

  • Actually, the real question is: why do you have to pay when someone calls you? The answer is simple: the phone system is broken. Fix it, and solve all the problems at once without any kind of bill or lawsuit. Easier said than done, but Europe, Asia, Africa and South America managed it (not sure about Australia). Granted, they leapfrogged the US by going to GSM directly. That's not a reason to stay behind.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @05:22PM (#3817809)
    Me: Hello, Hello?
    Telemarketer:Hello sir, I'm calling from [some bank name]. I'm offering credit cards at special low rate.
    Me:Yeah, what cards are you offering?
    Telemarketer:We offer AmEx, Visa, Mastercard, and Diners Club.
    Me: Cool, put me down for all 4!
    Telemarketer: Pause... Umm, we only give you the one with the best rate.
    Me:Oh, Ok, put me down for all 4.
    Telemarketer:Pause. Ok, sir, I just need you to answer a few questions... Is your household income over $1000.00 per month?
    Me: Nope.
    Telemarketer:Ok, um household is EVERYONE in the home. Is it less that $1000.00?
    Me: Yep, we make around $750.00 per month.
    Telemarketer: Is this Mr. Mike Douglas?
    Me: Nope.
    Telemarketer: Who is this?
    Me: Who is this?
    Telemarketer: My name is Mike Pringle.
    Me: What are you selling?
    Telemarketer: I'm offering credit cards. Who is this?
    Me: This is Mike Pringles. I'm Offering you a low low rate credit card, would you be intrested?
    Telemarketer hangs up.

    Solid Gold!
    • Usually I just say something like "Hang on, lemme take these clothespins off my balls" if its a guy.

      If its a chick I say "What color panties are you wearing?". If they don't hang up they'll either keep talking, or make a smart ass comment. Thats when I bust out with "It doesn't matter, I strangle 'em with whatver color they have on anyway."

      That does the trick, normally.

    • On two separate occasions, I've gotten calls from telemarketers... while riding in an elevator! This wasn't on a cell phone. It was the little elevator emergency phone.

      Me: (after some looking to see where the ringing was coming from, opening the little door, and picking up) Um... Hello?

      Telemarketer: Good afternoon. This is the Seattle Times we have a very special...

      Me: Do you realize you've reached an elevator?

      Telemarketer: (puzzled pause) Uh...Sir, let me check if we have your correct address...

      Me: It's the 17th floor.. no wait.. the 18th.. no, wait.. now it's the 19th...

      (And so on)

      Apparently some office building are rigged so that even the elevator extensions have direct-dial...

  • by _Quinn (44979) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @05:22PM (#3817810)
    Not _all_ European ideas are bad ones. :)

    -_Quinn
  • thats nothing... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by r00tarded (553054) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @05:23PM (#3817812)
    wait till they start sending you SMS messages. its easy as hell to crapflood your phone with automated text messages.
    • att is starting to do this. They probably think it's ok because they're only spamming their own customers, but it still pisses me off to no end when I get one. There sales guy I usually work with has had a few complaints but his higher-ups haven't figured out yet what to do with people who insist on not getting any spam. Go figure.
  • I live in Los Angeles, and cell phones have the same area codes as residential phones. If they're just dialing numbers, what tells them a particular number is a cell phone? Is there a list of prefixes that are reserved for cell phones?
  • would it be so hard to grab the definitive list of area-code/extensions that are exclusively used for cellular phones and just apply that to their dial-out lists?

    That's not so easy as a lot of people forward their home phone to their cell phones. I do always take in telling the telemarketer who thought they were calling home that they have called me on my cell phone and that it's costing me money to talk to them. Some guy actually told me to send him a bill.

  • by pommiekiwifruit (570416) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @05:24PM (#3817829)
    In the UK:
    • All cellphone numbers start with 07. Other ranges of numbers are reserved for various things. There was much disruption while the phone number for London changed from 01 to 071/081 to 0171/0181 to 020(7/8) though - a boon for all stationary reprinting companies :-)
    • You can opt out of all junk phone calls by joining the Telephone Preference System. This applies to landlines as well as mobiles. If they ring you when you are on the TPS, you get medium large amounts of cash from them.
    • You don't pay for receiving calls, unless you are out of the country and are on a roving tariff (in which case you pay the bill for calling from your home country to the country you are currently in). It seems absolutely crazy to charge to receive calls, as this would cause the penetration of mobiles to drop dramatically as it would exclude poor people (e.g. many teenagers). Generally people I know receive lots of calls, and then spend up to their limit of outgoing calls and wait until they get more money.

    Introducing those changes should help you.

    • In the netherlands it's even better, there's a mobile operator that actually pays you 0,03 euro per minute when someone calls you.
    • You don't pay for receiving calls, unless you are out of the country and are on a roving tariff (in which case you pay the bill for calling from your home country to the country you are currently in). It seems absolutely crazy to charge to receive calls, as this would cause the penetration of mobiles to drop dramatically as it would exclude poor people (e.g. many teenagers).

      You're right. Despite the seeming ubiquity of cellphones in the US, they've achieved nowhere near the penetration they have in the UK. This is probably one of the reasons why.

    • If they ring you when you are on the TPS, you get medium large amounts of cash from them.

      Ah, so that's why we're putting new cover sheets on our TPS reports [imdb.com]!

  • Call me, please! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by saberwolf (221050)
    I love getting marketing calls on my cellphone. Possibly because we don't pay for incoming calls in the UK and possibly because I find it an intellectual challenge to keep them on the phone for as long as possible (in the knowledge that it's probably costing them 15p/minute to talk to me).

    Yes, I have a lot of time on my hands. ;-)

    Why on earth do Americans pay to receive phone calls?
  • by pthisis (27352) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @05:26PM (#3817845) Homepage Journal
    Telemarketing to a number where the recipient has to pay by the minute is illegal under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. See the U.S. Code, Title 47, Chapter 5, Subchapter II, Part I, Sec 227.

    I got rid of my land line 3 years ago in favor of a cell phone and haven't had a single telemarketing call since then. I'm pretty surprised that you have; they're liable for a $500 fine for each such call placed.

    Sumner
    • I have two phones plugged into my Pipeline 75, and get probably one a day or so. PacBell (California) provides 12000 minutes (200 hours) per month with the basic service; after that it's 3 cents the first minute and 1 cent per minute afterwards. Any idea if this counts towards that $500? That would be a lot of fun!
      • Does this apply to per-minute ISDN?

        Talk to a lawyer (perhaps after looking up that section of the U.S. Code [cornell.edu] to see if you think it's worth it).

        Oh, and bookmark that link. Keep it around. It's the law of the land, worth knowing about. You can't just read it in a vacuum (parts of it aren't at all enforceable because of Court rulings [cornell.edu], executive orders [archives.gov], the Constitution [archives.gov], or for other legal reasons), but it's worth knowing about if you live in the U.S.

        Sumner

  • I worked for a call center for a short while and on occasion we would need to make outgoing calls if requested by customers. Any outgoing calls to cell phone numbers were automatically disabled and could not be made even by the executive manager of the call center. I say this because it demonstrates that it is possible to avoid calling just cellular phones.
    The outgoing call system did have a few false positives (marking a number as cellular when it was not) but I never did see a false negative.
  • The UK is different (Score:4, Informative)

    by Albanach (527650) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @05:27PM (#3817867) Homepage
    There are a number of reasons that we in the UK are protected from this.
    • We don't pay for incoming calls. The result is the calling party pays the bill - and calling cell phones during the day can be expensive - circa 30p (40c) /min.
    • We have a regulated scheme by which you can opt out of all telemarketing calls - the telephone preference service [tpsonline.org.uk] Click to sign up now. Companies calling numbers listed on the TPS face a 2000 GBP fine.
    So you have two things to pursue. Campaign for the calling party to pay the cost of their call, and campaign for the government to legislate to make one country wide telemarketing opt-out list with fines for companies that ignore your request. Sadly I don't see either happening in the US any time soon.
  • http://antitelemarketer.com/ [antitelemarketer.com]

    I'm not connected with this site in any way, but I've used info from there to rid myself of 90% of telemarketing calls. And I've had some fun with telemorons in the process. :)
  • Considering most tele-marketers use auto-dialers, would it be so hard to grab the definitive list of area-code/extensions that are exclusively used for cellular phones and just apply that to their dial-out lists?


    NY has so many phone customers, they had to start using 917 for landlines, which used to be only used for cell phones. Since then, I've gotten a few spam calls.
  • I noticed Radio Shack has been advertising this device TeleZapper for $49 which sends a "disconnected" tone up the line everytime you answer a phone call so telemarketers with autodialers automatically tag your phone number as disconnected. Anyone have one of these things? I guess it'd be difficult to tell how well it works if number of spam calls received is still > 0.
    • by stoolpigeon (454276) <bittercode@gmail> on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @05:57PM (#3818106) Homepage Journal
      Let me start w/a disclaimer. I am not a telemarketer. I do run a predictive dialer but we are using it to call people who owe us money. If they pay their bills I do not bother them. If you don't do business w/my company, or keep your account current you will never hear from me.

      The TeleZapper is a neat idea- I wish I would have thought of it. I would think it is helpful in limiting telemarketers but probably not a 100% solution. There are a couple reasons.

      The first is that when the TeleZapper sends its little chunk of a SIT tone to the dialer it means that that dialer will mark your number as out of service. That dialer will most likely not call you again during that day. (This may not be true though depending on how the dialer is set up.) Whether or not you get updated in that company database depends on whether or not that company even has a database. And when do they update the dialer's results.
      I do jobs for clients where there is never any storage of bad results from my dialer. We handle way too much volume to bother with it.

      If they do keep a database to cull out bad results then this company may stop calling you altogether. But if you are on other lists w/other companies then they may keep calling. You should get the picture.

      The second main reason it cannot stop all telemarketers is that it does not work on all dialers. (specifically a Mosaix dialer like the one that I run) The telezapper does not send out the whole SIT tone, just the first part. For some dialers this is enough. (Davox is one I've been told) But our dialer will just hang in there since the whole tone doesn't come across the line. (and remember it doesn't send the tone until you or your answering machine pick up the line.-- your phone still rings- you pick it up and hear the tone and if it is effective noone is there. It's just you going hello? hello?)

      It's cheap and I've considered buying one. I think any reduction in telemarketing calls is pretty good. So I'm not trying to slam the product but the ads are somewhat optimistic in what the product can do (can't blame 'em there)

      .
    • When I moved a year ago and got a new number, i was amazed my how many telemarketing calls I was getting. Working at home, perhaps I just noticed it more, but it was at least 3 calls a day.

      To see if the telezapper might work, I recorded the SIT tone onto my answering machine before my message and lowered the ring count to 2 rings for a month. Screened all calls. Now I recieve maybe one a week. I don't think I want that tone every single time I answer the phone, so I just keep in on my answering machine and bumped the ring count back to 4.

      I highly recommend doing this if they are driving you nuts. Here's a .wav of the SIT tone [flash.net].

  • "from the don't-try-and-sell-me-something-on-MY-dime dept."

    What, is local telephone service now free? Somebody better tell the baby Bells, then.

    Cell phones or land lines. The only difference is how you're billed.
    • Incomming calls on land lines *are* free. You pay for the dial tone, and assorted taxes and fees. The people that call you about the greatest deal in the world are spending their money.

      If your home phone is a cell phone, you pay extra ( or it costs minutes) for every call the phone is a part of, incoming or outgoing.
      • Incomming calls on land lines *are* free. You pay for the dial tone, and assorted taxes and fees. The people that call you about the greatest deal in the world are spending their money.

        But while they are calling you, you can not use the product that you pay for, for the intended purpose that you bought it for. Assuming you didn't get a landline for the single purpose of receiving spam calls... :) So it does cost you, even if it's difficult to put a price tag on it.

  • In the U.S., ask what company is calling. Then say "Put me on your do not call list." Say nothing more. That is very effective, since they can be sued in small claims court if they call back. Use exactly that language and nothing else, the sentence has legal meaning. This works perfectly for me.
    • by Tackhead (54550) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @06:32PM (#3818385)
      > In the U.S., ask what company is calling. Then say "Put me on your do not call list." Say nothing more. That is very effective, since they can be sued in small claims court if they call back. Use exactly that language and nothing else, the sentence has legal meaning. This works perfectly for me.

      Although this has cut down on some of my phone spam volume, folks should be aware that:

      1) It only has meaning for the telemarketing company that called you. When XYZ Phonespammers of Texas puts you on their DNC list, they can rename themselves to ABC Phonespammers of Texas.

      2) It only has meaning for a year, then they can call you again.

      Those of you lucky enough to have statewide do-not-call lists are in a somewhat better position, because all your state's telespammers are required to use it. Problem is...

      3) ...your entry on the Colorado no-call list doesn't protect you from XYZ Telemarketing of Colorado opening up a call center and operating as XYZ Telemarketing of Nevada.

      The only solution is a nationwide do-not-call list.

      I know this solution will work because...

      the DMA is scared shitless of it [dmnews.com].

      You don't have a lot of credibility, to be perfectly honest," Harrington, the FTC's director marketing practices, told the audience of approximately 50 telemarketers.

      If telemarketers had adhered to the present rules, which give each company one shot at each consumer and require them to honor all DNC requests, a national DNC list would not be under discussion, Harrington said.

      Am I just being paranoid? No - my experiences with telemarketers evading the current TCPA regs mirror those of Eileen Harrington - FTC's point-person on the do-not-call issue.

      In her own personal experience, Harrington said, she was aware that telemarketers often try to circumvent the rules by hanging up when consumers ask to be placed on their DNC lists, or by denying that their calls are for sales purposes, then trying to make a sale. Technology, such as predictive dialers, is being abused, Harrington said.

      Finally, in what were probably the first honest words to come out of a telemarketer's mouth in all of recorded history, we have this gem:

      <WHINE> Eventually, everybody is going on the list," said Art Conway, president of DialAmerica Marketing. "If you create this national do-not-call list, the way you have it proposed, we're going out of business." </WHINE>

      Hey, Art. Fuck off, and stay fucked off!

    • by guttentag (313541) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @06:33PM (#3818397) Journal
      I typically do this, but one day I got a call from someone trying to sell me AT&T long distance. As usual, I said, "put me on your do not call list."

      "All right," she said, "I just need your name."

      "You don't need my name. You just need to put the phone number you just called on your do not call list, as required by law."

      "I can't put you on the do not call list unless you give me your name, address, phone number, email address and answer a few questions about why you don't want to save money with us."

      So I told her my name was John, I live at 123 Main Street, and my email address is abuse@yahoo.com. At that point she hung up on me. Someone else called from AT&T the next day, looking to sell long distance. I told him about the ordeal I went through the day before, and he promptly hung up.

      Ever since then I just put them on hold whenever they call. "Yeah, I'm really thinking about switching my long distance, because I make so many calls and my bill is so huge. Can you hold on for a minute?" Five minutes later: "Hi, you still there? So what was it you said you were offering? Uh huh. Oh, hold on a sec, it's my call waiting." And then I leave them on hold for about an hour before hanging up.

      My roommate prefers to waste his time driving them crazy. He'll wait for his turn to speak, pick some abstract word, like "Cheese" and stick with it.

      "So how are you doing today, sir?"

      "Cheese."

      "I'm sorry, I didn't catch that."

      "Cheese."

      "Um... OK. I'm calling from AT&T and we thought you might like to take advantage of the opportunity to save some money on your long distance bill."

      "Cheese."

      • Heh.

        When I was a young, pimply faced pre-adult (as opposed to now, when I'm a middle aged pimply faced childish-adult,) the only jobs I could get were with telephone soliciting companies.

        Now this was in the days before (a) do-not-call lists, (b) war-dialers and (c) calling-line ID. We worked from pages torn from the local phone book, holding our heavy 2500 set [csus.edu] phones uncomfortably to our ears as we vainly tried to sell whatever warez we were pushing for minimum wage.

        People didn't scream at us that much in those days, but you always got a few who did. When it happened, you made a "stress relief" call, to one of your carefully collected list of numbers of people who were either (a) always drunk, or (b) never home and had answering machines.

        My favourite was leaving messages that their moose was sick and they'd better get down to the vet's office soon before it died. The next day, you'd leave another message, saying the moose was dead and "confirming" their name & address to send the large bill for the funeral to... and leaving as a phone number that of a pizza store.

        Ah, fourteen...

      • One of my finest moments was getting a call from Sprint offering to change my long distance service.

        "I'm sorry, I don't have a phone."

        (pause, pause, pause) "Then how am I talking to you?"

        "I'm... not really sure."

        (pause, pause, pause) "Thank you." {click}
  • I thought that telemarketers were required to use directories of numbers to do their business, that they couldn't just dial sequential numbers.

    Otherwise, why the heck do I pay extra each month for an unlisted number?
    • An auto-dialer or probably more accurately a predictive dialer does not just dial a sequence of possible phone numbers. (though you could do so with one)

      They are actually really neat pieces of equipment with an unusually high geek factor if you ask me.

      Anyways what they do is allow call centers to increase productivity enourmously. Say you've got 10 agents sitting in their little cubes and you want them to call 10,000 phone numbers. If they sat their punching buttons on phones all day you'd never get it done.

      So you load those 10,000 numbers into a dialer. It can dial the numbers flawlessly and quickly. Then - to make it even quicker, you set parameters for the dialer to pass the call to an agent. Say- a human voice picking up (dialers can tell the difference between people and answering machines). Now my agents never even see the bad numbers, people not home etc.

      The dialer knows that there will be calls like this so for the 10 people it is making 20 or 30 calls at a time. A dialer coordinator monitors the situation and can slow down or speed up the dialer accordingly.

      Any telemarketing company w/any amount of technology is using a dialer. It is really useful in other businesses where you make lots of calls as well - say collections.

      And they do lots more but that's the quick and dirty.

      .
      • The dialer knows that there will be calls like this so for the 10 people it is making 20 or 30 calls at a time. A dialer coordinator monitors the situation and can slow down or speed up the dialer accordingly.

        But clearly the coordinators, if they do exist, don't ever slow down the dialers enough. Everybody I know gets those answer-and-wait calls all the time. They're a majority of telemarketing calls at my home; in other words, when we answer the phone it is more common to get dead air than a live telemarketer.

        So not only do we get the nuisance of telemarketing, more than half the time the telemarketer's time is deemed more valuable than ours. I am disgusted by that attitude on the part of the telemarketing industry.

        • Yeah- they are running too fast and you are getting kicked into the outbound queue.

          On our dialer we can see real time how many callers are going into the queue and how many calls are abandoned while in queue. We try to keep that number as low as possible to keep our call penetration up.

          In another post above regarding Telezapper there is a good link to a site where you can download the sit tone for a disconnected number. The guy who has the link put it on his answering machine and it looks like it was pretty effective in cutting down on telemarketing calls.

          So simple- so obvious and I never thought of it before. I'm going to set up my answering machine that way tonight.

          .
  • When a telemarketer calls just say "Hold on a sec I'm drivin..." then scream and hang up the phone. My cell happens to have a little flap I slam shut to end the call with that added sound effect.
  • I recently switched to cell phone only, giving up my dependence on a land line. When people ask for my phone number I go through the following routine (which assumes I don't want to give them my data):

    Question to whoever: Why do I have to give you my number?
    Salesperson Bob's Answer: Oh, uh, we just need it to, uh...
    I tell Bob: No.

    I keep my phone and they don't get any info on me. I am probally there to get a item, not give them anything.

    Question to whoever: Why do I have to give you my number?
    Salesperson Bob's Answer: We have to have it for corporate.
    I tell Bob: No
    Bob Replies: I need the phone number or I can't complete your order.
    I tell Bob: Let me speak to a manager.

    I again keep my phone number giving them nothing. If I have to give a number or I can not purchase the item, then I go somewhere else. Yet again, I am there for an item not to pander to their database whims.

    If you give them your phone, then you might as well give them your address. After all, they are probally going to ask for that too. So now you have spam on two fronts (phone and smail).

    Sometimes they ask for my email. So...

    Salesperson Bob: I need your email address.
    Answer: Sure thing. It is G... double E... T... B... double E... N... T... @hotmail.com

    Somehow telling them double E just bypasses some section of the brain and they fail to realise I am telling them to get bent!
  • Pause (Score:2, Informative)

    by ASP (3295)
    Do what I do. Most places with auto-dailers have more outgoing calls than people, so it takes them 5 seconds or so to get to the call. When you answer and get no response in 3-4 seconds, just hang up. Still costs a little, but I've found it works. I also don't answer calls sometimes from private numbers as well as anything that comes up 800 or 888 on call display.
  • It would be fun when a telemarketer calls my house to tell them I recently said to block my number..... Then I'll sue!
  • I was thinking about setting up a 1-900 number for forms that require a phone number. I'd charge them like $10/min or something similar, and that way I'd be more than happy to have the tele-marketer explain everything to me, in minute detail, twice.
  • It's for Louisiana residents only. I think all states need to adopt this stance. I'm curious to see how this all turns out, I think most businesses outside of the state will be fighting the scope of this.
    Like they say, we've got the best politicians money can buy here ;)
    I can't report on how well it works as I've been on the list for 3 days now. See http://host.ntg.com/donotcall/ [ntg.com] for details. Here's a sample from the site:

    What is my responsibility as a business owner soliciting in Louisiana?

    Businesses wishing to engage in telephone solicitation of residential subscribers within the state of Louisiana must purchase a copy of the "Do Not Call" register. This register will contain the telephone numbers of consumers who prefer not to be solicited. In addition, all telephone solicitors should obtain a copy of the Louisiana Public Service Commission regulations (General Order dated November 7, 2001) pertaining to the Louisiana "Do Not Call" program.

    Does the law apply to companies located outside of Louisiana?


    Yes. The law applies to all telephone solicitation regardless of origin whereby calls terminate within the State of Louisiana.

    What happens if I violate the law by calling someone on the register?

    Businesses who unlawfully call numbers on the register will be in violation of Louisiana Public Service Commission's "Do Not Call" Regulations and will be subject to fines up to $3,000 per violation for residential telephonic subscribers over the age of sixty-five and up to $1,500 for all other residential telephonic subscriber violations.

  • A UK perspective (Score:2, Interesting)

    by caveman (7893)
    A couple of points from the UK.

    Over on this side of the big pond, the cost of calling mobile telephones is still orders of magnitude higher than making national or local calls, and in some instances comparable (or even more expensive, if you use some of the specialist long-distance carriers) to making international calls. Example: Calls to mobiles are charged at anywhere from 18.90 to 26.05 pence per minute including tax during the daytime. Compare this to international rate calls to the USA at 14.00 and Australia at 22.00 pence per minute. (Source: BT [bt.com] price list). The cost alone is usually sufficient to put people of making calls to mobiles. SMS (text messaging) spam is become more popular though.

    The UK Direct Marketing Association, which is the self regulatory body for direct marketeers in the UK run a scheme called the Telephone Preference Service [tpsonline.org.uk] or 'TPS'. From personal experience, I have found this scheme to be particularly effective against junk callers.

    The same bunch also run a postal-mail and fax opt-out service, which is apparently also fairly successful, and an Email service, which I'm somewhat sceptical about (not giving my addressesout anyway, I shouldn't be on their lists). (and most of my spam comes from the USA anyhow) Under the Telecommunications (Data Protection and Privacy Regulations) 1999 [hmso.gov.uk] it is an offence for any company engaged in direct marketing to call numbers listed on the TPS. Those who do can be 'shopped' straight away on the TPS site. One difference I noticed with the USA version of the TPS [dmaconsumers.org] is that in the USA, you can still be called by local traders, charities and religious groups, AND your number only registers for five years. In the UK, local traders, charities and religious groups are included in the act.

  • Yes, I know Verizon is evil, but they have one redeeming quality: Call Intercept.

    Basically, if you get an unlisted or anonymous phone call, the caller has to say their name *before* the call goes through. It gets electronically recorded & then repeated back to whoever answers the phone. The answerer then has the option to accept the call or hang up. Why not something similar for cell phones? Mine already has Caller ID, this wouldn't be a stretch (and I would gladly pay extra for this feature).

  • Last time someone telemarketed me, I went into the Monty Python & The Holy Grail French Taunter bit.

    "YOU TINY MINDED WIPER OF OTHER PEOPLES' BOTTOMS! NOW GO AWAY OR I SHALL TAUNT YOU A SECOND TIME."

    Silence. Then this tiny little female voice with a wry slant said, "Next you're going to tell me you're already got one, right?" Made my day (and probably hers) and we ended up chatting. Too bad she lived 6 states away. ^_~

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