We have been getting more and more sales calls lately.  I try to take the time to report them to the do not call lists, both for our state and for the country.  We are supposed to get $100 for each violation (where the caller pays $1000).  But, I haven't ever gotten any money.

My new theory is that the do not call lists don't really have anything behind them, and companies now know that, so don't bother checking the list.

Today, Clean Net USA called (again) and I asked to be removed from their internal list (again) and they refused.  At least he was honest this time.  Last time, she said she would.  This guy didn't even want to give me his name, though he forgot that he gave it at the start of the call.  He said it wasn't his fault, that they use salesgenie.com, so it was their fault.  I called their national number, and he couldn't believe that they would call a number on the do-not-call list.  Joe Pierre said he would remove my number, so we'll see if he follows through.  I also placed a complaint with the Maryland Better Business Bureau, since companies seem to pay more attention to those complaints.  And since they have now called twice, it is no longer a do-not-call issue, since they refused to remove the number from their internal list.

Just for fun, I called up Sales Genie, and asked my good friend Vic (I used a free trial of sales genie years ago to see if I would actually want to use it for sales leads, when I was trying to see how to find new customers) and he said that he checked his database and they have various information about me, but not my phone number.

For those of you interested in the privacy side of things - I didn't leave a message with him, but he called back anyway (I guess the caller id was saved in his phone) AND I got an automated email from him with their latest promotion -- I'll have to check whether there is a cookie in my browser from two years ago when we talked - note that the email address his system used is not one that is public, but is the one I gave him a long time ago.  How it had those tied together, I have no idea. 

Posted by Jon Daley on December 10, 2007, 4:20 pm | Read 107085 times
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Interesting. When I went to type this post, I noticed that there haven't been ANY spam comments in the last five days, where typically there are probably 10 or so a day that make it through the filters.

We have been talking about different methods for changing some things to work better for LifeType folks, and I have a beta version on my site. It appears that it is working quite well!

Posted by Jon Daley on December 10, 2007, 4:30 pm

Good for you for at least trying to hold their feet to the fire. I've pretty much given up, because (1) most of the calls we get these days are political, and much as I would like to stop those altogether, they're exempt, as are non-profit organization, our second biggest source of unwanted calls, and (2) when challenged, the callers claim "prior relationship," which is sometimes true -- although I fail to see why doing business with a firm for one thing gives them the right to try to sell me an unrelated product. Also, if you've ever signed up for a free something, or filled out a survey for a company, that counts as a "business relationship." Which is no doubt why they offer the gifts and send out the surveys....

Posted by SursumCorda on December 10, 2007, 4:45 pm

I think the main problem is that you shouldn't give your phone number to any business for any reason. The phone is an in your face sort of technology. You don't turn it off when you're not using it. The right way to do things would be for phone technology to be able to use PGP keys for a whitelist that you'd add all your friends to. People who aren't on the list can use email to initiate contact. If everyone demanded this, you'd never get another unsolicted phone call. All the spam and invite requests would go to email which would be easier to filter and time shift to a time convenient for you to sort out.

But no one ever listens to me.

Relying on the law for this is retarded. As if you could capture your call preferences in a law.

Posted by Mike on December 11, 2007, 8:42 pm

I think it is awfully hard to not give your phone number to any business ever, so not really a realistic solution.

At least, not if you want to be able to buy things on the internet with a credit card. (though I think the only reason the phone number is needed is to verify you are who you say you are, when they check with the credit card company - one credit card of ours has a secret keyword thingy that pops up when buying stuff online, if the vendor supports it; it is a nifty idea, but not enough people support it yet to count on it).

I think the law is actually pretty good (although I don't think there should be exceptions for non-profits, surveys, political, etc. calls), if only the attorney general would actually fine the companies that are disobeying it (and follow through on giving the consumers the 10% the law requires). Any company who I haven't explicitly done business with can't call me. And any company that refuses to remove me from their list after being asked to, even if I have "done business" with them is also fined. That would end all calls that I don't want, so yes, it does match my preferences in this case.

Posted by Jon Daley on December 11, 2007, 10:12 pm

I suspect the reason s/he doesn't fine co's is because it costs too much to prove that you had no prior business relationship and that you told them not to call you. It's your responsibility to prove that anyway.

The law isn't that you have to have done *explicit* business with them. Only an affiliate. So you give your number to a biz, they can give it to every affiliate and then you'd have to tell each affiliate not to call. Good luck with that. In the meantime you probably did more business with an affiliate anyway.

Can't prove it because they won't tell you from whom they got your number? Too bad for you. It's not their job to help you prove your case.

If you wanted them to not be able to give your number to affiliates then they'd have to find a different way to verify your card then by phone. Their ccard processor is an affiliate after all. I'm sure there's plenty of other ridiculousness that these sorts of laws can cause. It's just a bad way to deal with the problem. Plus in reality, if the law really affected major businesses ability to pester you, they'd lobby for it to be changed.

Posted by Mike on December 12, 2007, 5:50 am

Also, you know that guy you told me about who likes spam? Why should you get to define a law that will restrict his ability to get spam phone calls assuming he'd like those too? If we do the "phone firewall", he can just accept all, you and other normal people can use a blacklist, and I can use a whitelist. A do not call list is totally fixed, one size fits all (it doesn't even match your prefs currently) and is inneffective too.

Posted by Mike on December 12, 2007, 6:08 am

I don't think you understand the do-not-call list. There isn't any language about affiliates.

The guy who likes spam wouldn't sign up for the do-not-call list, that's simple.

And it did work for years, so not completely ineffective.

"Placing your number on the National Do Not Call Registry will stop most telemarketing calls, but not all. Because of limitations in the jurisdiction of the FTC and FCC, calls from or on behalf of political organizations, charities, and telephone surveyors would still be permitted, as would calls from companies with which you have an existing business relationship, or those to whom you’ve provided express agreement in writing to receive their calls."

"By purchasing something from the company, you established a business relationship with the company. As a result, even if you put your number on the National Do Not Call Registry, that company 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.

An established business relationship with a company also will be created if you make an inquiry to the company, or submit an application to it. This kind of established business relationship exists for three months after the inquiry or application. During this time, 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."

"Q: I’m happy to have the choice to limit telemarketing contacts, but there are some telemarketing calls I don’t mind receiving. Is there a way to allow only certain companies to call?

A: Yes. If you give a company your written permission to call you, they may do so even if you have placed your number on the National Do Not Call Registry."

I wonder if the problem is that I have used our phone number for Lime Daley in some places. I wonder where I put it? Maybe in Google Local.

Posted by Jon Daley on December 12, 2007, 10:12 am

Well good luck trying to collect fines owed you.

BTW, my company received a call from you saying that you'd love for us to call you during dinner. Did you not? Hmm, well according to our records, you did. Sorry about that. Sure we can update our records. I'm guessing that we won't receive a similar call from you for a couple of weeks at least. That'll probably depend on if we have any new products. Have a nice day.

End Scene.

:) :) :) :)

Posted by Mike on December 13, 2007, 6:38 am

I suppose, like anything, it is all a matter of how many people they annoy, and who takes the time to make a class-action law suit, etc. etc. for some companies who choose not to follow the laws. So, yeah, I am not expecting a check any time soon.

Posted by Jon Daley on December 14, 2007, 1:46 am

Just for fun (weird idea of fun, I know; maybe it was because I was angry) I tried to get more information from the latest sales call. It was from someone trying to sell health insurance, who claimed he had an exemption from the Do Not Call list because America is so interested in health insurance right now! When I tried to get more information he gave me to his supervisor, who gave me their website but wouldn't give phone numbers or addresses -- claiming, perhaps correctly, that they don't have them at the call center.

The reason she gave is that our phone number is listed as a business, and business numbers can't be on the List. I hope that is not true, since that pretty much defeats the List for people with home-based businesses who have no need for a second, business-only line but still don't want junk calls. Or those whose number has at any point been associated with a business, as ours was before we got it, which is why we still get fax calls at three o'clock in the morning.

Posted by SursumCorda on January 10, 2008, 12:16 pm

Just got a call from the Attorney General's office, regarding my complaint against CleanNet-USA. They are a Canadian company, and so don't feel the need to obey US law.
The guy who called was quite nice, and answered a number of questions to my satisfaction, and some of his below comments are "personal opinion and not that of the office".

He said that more and more of the complaints they get are against international companies, who purchase USA numbers and then make their calls from there. He didn't think purchasing caller id would help all that much, since they put in all sorts of numbers and names to get around caller id blocking.

He also said that companies in the US who are ignoring the law typically declare bankruptcy when they are hit with the $10,000 fine for violating the do-not-call list, and open up under a new business name.

He said that legitimate companies that aren't going to declare bankruptcy probably just consider the fines part of the cost of business, and perhaps they get enough income from the calls that don't generate complaints that it is worth it to them.

He didn't say it, but didn't seem to be surprised that I thought it wasn't working as well as it used to. He did object to my wording in the complaint that it didn't work at all.

It is nice to get feedback from the office, so at least you know they are working on it.

My tax dollar at work...

Posted by jondaley on January 28, 2008, 5:32 pm

I have been looking into a couple other phone systems. I signed up with Grand Central a long time ago, but never really used the service. It does have some nice features. I have a friend who has used it for a while, so I'll have to see what he thinks. I also got an email about onebox.com, that might be more appropriate for Lime Daley (since grandcentral says it can't be used for commercial purposes, which is too bad). I emailed them a couple days ago and they haven't gotten back to me, so that is a bad sign.

I need to decide if it is worth it to have that service for Lime Daley. The pricing is higher than I'd like (5 cents/minute if I have the 400 minute package, or 1.5 cents/minute if I have the 2000 minute package). I also have been wondering about upgrading our internet connection (and then maybe trying out VOIP again, particularly Speakeasy, where they provide both the internet and the phone, so can't blame issues on anyone else), since we currently have the cheapest Verizon package available. Verizon doesn't seem to be getting around to putting FIOS in the city, so I have been considering other options, though the price is annoyingly high, and none of the providers have a decent upload speed, which we would take advantage of. If I could get folks around Bloomfield to get internet from me, I could afford to get a really fast line to Bloomfield. I think it would be interesting to run a fast wireless service to this part of the city. But, I don't know if I could get people to sign up. The service would be significantly better than any of the regular residential ISPs available, since it would use the redundant internet connections that Lime Daley uses for its hosting.

Posted by jondaley on January 28, 2008, 5:47 pm

I never even considered international phone call laundering. Shame on me.

Posted by Mike on January 29, 2008, 10:54 am
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