Monday, January 08, 2007

Do Not Call Registry

After receiving yet another phone call from Dish Network, I have begun thinking about the National Do Not Call Registry. I have been on the registry for a year, and the calls definitely seemed to go down after I got on there, except for the calls from Dish Network - at least eight in the last year.

I even confirmed with the registry that my number was listed there. Then I filed a complaint against Dish Network. My wife asked about all the calls we get from companies where we have accounts, like the phone company. They are allowed to call us unless we specifically ask them not to. If we even make an inquiry with a company they can call us for three months after the inquiry.

I called the phone company and they agreed to take me off their call list. I still need to call the one credit card that pesters us with phone calls (the other credit card companies don't call us) but at least I know I can.

All of this led me to think about what it takes to make this registry work. Obviously it requires that people get themselves on the list. Their website even warns that if someone calls with an offer to get you on the registry for a fee it's a scam. Registry is free and is the responsibility of anyone who wants their number listed. The second thing that is required to make this work is that people need to report violations. This is easy to do at the site. Just make sure that you have the name of the company, or the phone number they called from. Also, you must list the date they called. If the call is not within 31 days of your registration with the registry, and it is not from:

  • a charity
  • a political organization
  • a poll (where they don't offer to sell anything)
  • or a company where you are doing business

then it is a violation which will be investigated.

I guess it's like every other aspect of a representative government - how well it works depends entirely upon the participation of the citizens.

UPDATE 1/11/2007: I just got another call from Dish Network. I filed another complaint.


Jason & Denise Black said...

What happens if we follow the personal responsibility road a little further?

In the above example, personal responsibility has to be taken in order to get on the do-not-call registry. However, the program is still a government bureaucracy funded at taxpayer expense (unless of course fines for non-compliance fund the program). To take full responsibility, rather than leaning on the government for support, is rather simple, in this case.

First, if unwanted sales calls are annoying to me, I can choose to not answer the phone unless I know who it's from (caller ID is pretty cheap these days). I could also choose to unlist my phone number, as phone books are the primary source of numbers used by telemarketers. I could also buy an inexpensive device that blocks telemarketing calls - available all over the place - so that the phone doesn't even ring when they call.

To look further even than these avenues - if a large majority of individuals would refuse to do business with companies that engage in telemarketing (and spam, for that matter), their work would become less profitable, and they would find less intrusive ways to advertise. They only call and e-mail now because it's working. If they stop making money at it, they'll stop doing it.

I'm not exactly complaining about the do-not-call list - I'm on it myself. I like what it does. However, I do recognize that so much of what we, as Americans complain about (such as unwanted phone solicitation), need not be brought before our local or federal government. We are big kids and can handle these things on our own.

I sometimes wonder what great things could be accomplished by government if it weren't constantly trying to placate the ever present, childish complaints of an overindulged public.

Much, if not most, of what government does these days can be handled by private citizens taking personal responsibility, by private organizations working to improve society, and by private entrepreneurial businesses seeking to make a buck by providing a wanted service for pay.

Now I can put away my soap box.

David said...

You are absolutely right. Mind if I publish some of your comments on the front page of the blog?

Jason & Denise Black said...

Go for it.

David said...

Thanks. It's posted here.

The Tufted One said...

In addition to contacting the Opt-Out directory, here are some addresses I've written letters to get off of direct marketing lists. Some of the links I've found helpful (with explanations of what each company does) are:

Additionally, I've contacted my current credit card companies to get them to take me off their advertising lists. (Citi Cards is especially bad at this.) If you want to do this, the key phrases you want to include in your letters/phonecalls are:

"remove me from your telemarketing lists"
"limit information disclosed about me to your affiliates"
"limit information disclosed about me to your non-affiliated third parties," and the best one
"remove me from all promotional Citigroup products mail, all statement inserts and all statement-attached convenience and balance transfer checks except where required by law"

After doing this (and calling CitiCards twice to remind them to get me off their lists), they have listened, and now I only get my statements from them in the mail. Hooray!

David said...

Tufted One -thanks for that info. I would never have guessed that you could get a credit card company to stop sending convenience checks and balance transfer checks with their statements.