Date: Mon, Mar 6, 2000 10:24 AM
Subject: Telemarketing Review--Comment. FTC file No. P994414
This is a comment on telemarketing as it is conducted in the US today and applies to the FTC's current review of the Telemarketing Sales Rule:
While one hears about scam artists preying on the elderly using telemarketing scams, the most annoying aspect of the current rules is that they permit telemarketers to call anyone until 9 p.m. everyday regardless of whether the call recipient is interested in receiving these calls. I get calls all day long taking up space on my answering machine, at 8:59 in the evening and on Sundays. Businesses claim that peoples' phone numbers are somehow "public property" and they shouldn't have to obtain permission to call because they are offering valuable services or products to consumers. My view is that my time is of equal importance. Why should I have to get up and answer the phone several times during the day and evening in order to tell telemarketers that I'm not interested? Why should I have to use an answering machine to "screen" my calls in order to avoid unecessary phone conversations with strangers wanting to sell me something I don't want? I know that rules exist the require companies to take one's name off the call list if requested. This actually takes alot of time since (a) you have to break into some prescripted sales speil and get them to listen without arguing about it or (b) you might be talking to a computer or a recording. It doesn't work. This whole issue is tied to a much larger one regarding the availability of all kinds of personal information on every US citizen to businesses willing to pay for the data. One way telemarketers get my number is through the phone company. I have to pay Bell Atlantic not to list my phone number! I have to request them not to sell my name and number on listings!... and who knows if this"opt out" feature actually works? Things have come to a pretty pass when companies use computers to simultaneously dial multiple phone numbers and only connect the first person to answer the phone - all the rest of us answering those types of calls answer the phone to "dead" air. I have elderly parents who are going deaf. By the time they reach the phone, computers have directed these types of calls to some other lucky recipient and my parents have wasted their time rushing to the phone. Families with children shouldn't be subjected to calls if they don't want them, especially in the evening when parents are trying to put babies and older kids to bed.
The answer to the never ending aggravation of telemarketing calls is to establish an "opt out" list that telemarketers must abide by. Regulators would be doing everyone in America a favor by taking into account the average citizen's desire to not be bothered by annoying phone calls. These calls are an annoying intrusion into citizen's private homes and technology is making it easier and cheaper for telemarketers to expand this practice. Please take positive action to limit businesses' excessive access into our homes!
Bridget E. McCurdy