You come home from work after a long day, sink into the tub for a moment of reprieve and just as your muscles begin to relax … the phone rings. You dash out and grab it on the last ring only to be greeted by a telemarketer who mispronounces your last name.
Surely most every American has had their bath, dinner, favorite movie moment or (you fill in the blank) interrupted by a telemarketing call, and if you're like most Americans it's an everyday occurrence.
While you may not give in to telemarketing sales pitches, many do. In 2002, the telemarketing industry brought in over $11 billion in revenue, according to the U. S. Census Bureau. This is a huge profit by any standard, but when you consider that it comes from only 3,245 U. S. telemarketing bureaus it becomes clear just how massive an industry telemarketing calls have become.
Every year, telemarketers make some 8 billion calls, which worked out to about 100 per household in 2002. They do have some restrictions-Federal law prohibits telephone solicitations before 8 a. m. or after 9 p. m. , and when they do call telemarketers must provide their name, the company for which they work and a phone number.
As though sales calls aren't bad enough at home, complaints of telemarketers targeting cell phones are increasing-and in this case it's not just a waste of your time because you're the one paying for the air time. Though federal law does prohibit telemarketing calls using an automated dialing service to cell phones, it doesn't prohibit direct calls and many do get through.
If you want to dramatically reduce the number of telemarketing calls you receive, there are several actions you can take.
1. The National Do Not Call Registry
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) created a national registry of phone numbers that are blocked from non-exempt telemarketers. Over 60 million phone numbers have been added to the Do Not Call Registry since its launch.
The Registry is one of your best bets to reducing telemarketing calls: 92 percent of people who used the Registry said they are receiving “fewer calls" and 78 percent said they're getting “far fewer calls" or none at all, according to a Harris Interactive poll,
There are two ways to add your number to the list:
1. Online at www.DONOTCALL. gov
2. By calling 1-888-382-1222 (TTY 1-866-290-4236) from the number you want to register
Note: Certain telemarketers are exempt and may still call numbers on the Registry. These include charities, politicians, telephone surveyors and businesses that have a prior relationship with the person they're calling (banks, airlines, phone-service providers, etc. ). Businesses that you've given permission to call are also exempt.
How to File Complaints
If your number has been on the Registry for at least three months and you receive a call from a non-exempt telemarketer you can file a complaint with the FTC. To do so visit www.DONOTCALL. gov or call 1-888-382-1222 (TTY1-866-290-4236) and have the date of the call and the phone number or name of the company who called you ready.
2. Ask Telemarketers to Take Your Name off Their List
When a telemarketer does call, ask them to remove your name and number from their list. They are required to add your number to their own “do-not-call" list and keep it there for 10 years. If your number has been on the Do Not Call Registry for over three months and the company is not exempt, you may also want to file a complaint (see above) with the FTC.
3. Keep Your Phone Number Unlisted
There is typically a monthly fee to keep your telephone number unlisted, which means it won't be listed in the local telephone directory nor will it be available through Directory Assitance (411) or telephone operators (0).
This will cut back on the number of people and companies that have access to your number, however, according to the Federal Communications Commission, there are no laws against the collection of unlisted telephone numbers, and in some cases unlisted numbers can still be obtained from a directory assistance operator. They may also be sold to other organizations or people with whom you have done business in the past.
In fact, industry experts say that one way marketers gain access to unlisted numbers is from the customers giving out their numbers themselves, via surveys, product registration cards and credit card applications. The numbers are also gathered from public records like property data.
Here's what to say when telemarketers call you. Just follow the script if you don't want any more junk calls:
1. Are you calling to sell something? or Is this a telemarketing call?'
2. Could you tell me your full name please?
3. And a phone number, area code first?
4. What's the name of the organization you're calling for?
5. Does that organization keep a list of numbers it's been asked not to call?
6. I would like my number (s) put on that list. Can you take care of that now?
7. And does the company you work for also make telemarketing calls for any other organizations? (If they answer no, skip the next question. )
8. (If yes) Can you make sure your company won't call me for any other organization?
9. Is it clear that I never want telemarketing calls from anyone?
10. Will your company keep my number on its do-not-call list for at least 10 years?
11. And does your company have a written policy that says that on paper?
12. Can you send me a copy of it?
13. What's your supervisor's first and last name?
14. What's your employer's business name, address and main telephone number?
15. Are you calling for a tax-exempt nonprofit organization?
16. Is this call based on a previously established business relationship?
You may need to ask to speak with a supervisor if they can't answer your questions. Before hanging up, check that you have all their answers written down, then say goodbye. Add the date and time to your record. (Is it between 8 a. m. and 9 p. m. , when such calls are prohibited?)
Copyright (C) 1996-2005 Junkbusters Corporation. Reproduced by permission under the GNU General Public License
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