Break the Chain Don't Call Us, We'll Call You

Created 8/7/2003 (8/7/2003) For those of us who are convinced that telemarketers are the spawn of Satan, the announcement of a national Do Not Call registry that would instantly stop the calls from coming was music to our ears. But those clever callers may have found a way around the law. Or have they?

SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT

This is something to look out for

This is to all of you that signed up for the "do not call" law.

This week I received a card in the mail that looked alright-- It said "vote for your favorite cola - Pepsi or Coke- and receive a complementary 12 pack." It didn't look suspicious--but for some reason I kept looking at it.

THEN I FOUND IT !!

At the bottom of the card there is a VERY small statement. It is SO small it is hard to read--but here is what it says:

"By completing this form, you agree that sponsors and co-sponsors of this offer may telephone you , even if your number is found on a do not call registry or list. "

This REALLY upset me and I just wanted all my friends to be aware of this way to get around the "do not call" law !! Just think how many people will send this in and their do not call registry will be NO GOOD !!

The company's name is MARKET SOLUTION.

Please send this to all your friends that signed up for " do not call" . I think this is just one of what we will get in the future--so READ EVERYTHING before you SIGN AND SEND !! AND TELL YOUR FRIENDS ABOUT IT!!!! PLEASE !!!

END CHAIN LETTER TEXT

On June 27, 2003, The Federal Trade Commission began taking registrations for the first-ever National Do Not Call list. The registry is just one of many new consumer protections implemented under the FTC's new Telemarketing Sales Rule.

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Beginning October 1, 2003, marketing companies will be required to search the registry every three months and removed registered numbers from their databases. Any company that fails to do so could face steep fines for each call to a registered number.

Despite being lauded by consumer protection groups, the rules for the registry are peppered with vague restrictions, exceptions and loopholes. For instance, not all calls are covered - Political organizations and charities are exempt.

The chain letter above is no doubt influenced by another provision in the rules. According to the FTC:

"Even if you put your number on the National Do Not Call Registry, a company with which you have an established business relationship may call you for up to 18 months after your last purchase or delivery from it, or your last payment to it, unless you ask the company not to call again. (In that case, the company must honor your request not to call. If they subsequently call you again, they may be subject to a fine of up to $11,000.) Also, if you make an inquiry to a company or submit an application to it, for three months afterwards the company can call you. If you make a specific request to that company not to call you, however, then the company may not call you, even if you have an established business relationship with that company."

That companies might use give-aways, sweepstakes and other gimmicks to "trick" consumers into giving them permission to call is not unbelievable, since the FTC is not really clear on what constitutes "an established business relationship" or "an inquiry to a company." After all, many companies originally built their calling list by offering something for nothing in the form of sweepstakes, free samples and more. I have not been able to confirm the existence of the card described above, but I have found similar offers with nearly identical disclaimers.

The bottom line is there is no such thing as a free lunch. Businesses do not offer freebies or prizes simply out of the goodness of their hearts. They have always stood to benefit greatly from their generosity. We'd all be better consumers if we keep that fact in mind.

Several states have passed or are considering legislation to create a State Do Not Call list, close the loopholes in the federal rules and give local authorities increased authority to go after violators. It seems to me that, rather than spending too much energy on this chain letter, a better use of your time might be to contact your state legislators and encourage them to back these efforts. Break this chain.

What Do You Think?

Category: Armchair Activism
References: DoNotCall.gov, Snopes.com

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