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The Almighty Buck

Telcos Play Both Sides of Telemarketing War 430

Monoman writes "Most Slasdot readers already know this but CNN has an article about how the telcos are reaping profits from selling your phone number to the telemarketers, and selling customers ways to block the telemareketers, and selling telemarketers ways to get around the customers who are paying to have telemarketers blocked and... I think you get the picture. It is nice to see stuff like this in the mainstream media." So either both sides pay the local Baby Bell for its protection racket, or you just pass a law and the problem goes away.
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Telcos Play Both Sides of Telemarketing War

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  • by anthony_dipierro ( 543308 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:22PM (#4566676) Journal
    I don't get telemarketers.
    • by Strange Ranger ( 454494 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:27PM (#4566746)
      The only reason you don't get telemarketers on your cell phone is that you pay for incoming minutes. When we start getting incoming minutes for free the telemarketing war will very likely be waged on that front as well.
      • by Vinum ( 603982 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:39PM (#4566869)
        Good thing my 3-year old daughter screens all my calls for me on my cell phone and home phone. She does a good job, if it is someone I know she is happy to hear from them. If she doesn't know them she babbles on the phone for awhile and eventually hangs up. :) I am cautious because I already happen to have a mechanism in place that records all calls at my house, for my own protection in case my daughter actually agreed to buy something (or her mother called and threatened my life again, heh).

        Kids are great, they also know how to grab the mouse and click on "agree" on those click through licenses. I haven't had to agree to a EULA in the longest time.
    • by EEgopher ( 527984 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:33PM (#4566805) Homepage
      It is too bad their attack is so bilateral. With unilateral mailings for credit cards, I simply scribble all over the application such messages as:

      "Find respectable work."

      or

      "Stop exploiting poor people."

      And the company gets to pay the return envelope postage. With telemarketers, however, we are forced into the uncomfortable twinge of countering our ingrained impulse to be polite on the phone. What my roomate used to do is this: when they start talking, take the phone from your ear, put it to your mouth, and just SCREAM!!!!
      Then laugh as you imagine the dork at his cubicle, ripping his headset off and holding his ear in pain.

      Boost Advil sales.
      Medicate all your pets.
      • Other methods (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Any junk mail that contains a "Business Reply Envelope" is a candidate for "reverse marketing". You simply rip out or obfuscate any references to your name, take all the promotional material and stuff it into the reply envelope for an all-expenses-paid trip back to the sender. I also heard about someone who kept a supply of junk mail on hand, to stuff into envelopes with their monthly payments, especially those who send junk mail with the monthly bill. The junk mail senders create a disposal problem; let them deal with it.

        As for the telemarketers, I think the "loud noise tactics" are just stooping to the level of the bad guys. Instead, you make the standard "Put me on your do-not-call list, permanently" statement AND THEN RING A BELL, WHICH YOU WOULD POSITION NEAR THE PHONE FOR EXACTLY THIS PURPOSE. The telemarketers have little bells that they are supposed to ring when they close a sale. This is somehow supposed to produce positive feedback that lifts the spirits of nearby telemarketers in adjacent cubicles, in a desperate attempt to fight off all the rejection. Anything you can do to discourage or demoralize them should be accompanied by the "ding" sound of a bell, just to let them know who is in charge.
      • by fobbman ( 131816 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @03:05PM (#4567131) Homepage
        Why waste your voice when a small portable airhorn is so inexpensive?

      • Re:What Transpired (Score:5, Insightful)

        by greenhide ( 597777 ) <jordanslashdot @ c v i l l e w eekly.com> on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @03:33PM (#4567510)
        While telemarketers technically get the brunt of our rage, it's the telemarketing company that's at fault.

        I know someone who worked as a telemarketer. She was a nice person. She said that you don't even know who you are calling -- a machine does it for the telemarketer. That's why they frequently stumble pronouncing your name -- they don't see it until the moment you pick up the phone.

        Telemarketing is a thankless job, but it pays well, and for someone who doesn't have a degree -- heck, with the economy the way it is now, even people *with* degrees -- it's a job that pays well without requiring physical exertion or long hours.

        Have you heard what most telemarketers sound like? They aren't thrilled about their product. They're not excited to tell you about it. They're just running through a script they've been given. Most telemarketers I hear sound tired, they sound stressed, they sound worn out.

        If you simply tell them "Put this number on your do not call list" then they are obligated by law to do so and cannot call you for a year. On the other hand, screaming or attacking the person who calls you isn't constructive. It just increases the stress of that person, and, probably, yours.
        • Re:What Transpired (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Dalcius ( 587481 ) <chrism3413+slashdot@gma i l . com> on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @04:05PM (#4567898)
          While I respect your view and will admit that screaming at them is not the nicest thing to do, getting paid to waste my time isn't something I'm going to be nice to you about.

          It's like in the Army. If you do something, you are morally responsible for it, regardless of who gave the order. Shooting Jews because you're "following orders" is still wrong.

          Your friend is among those that choose to waste my time, thus I hold them accountable.

          I should add that I've never done more than become stern and just hang up with telemarketers, so keep the flames down.
      • by goon america ( 536413 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @03:40PM (#4567598) Homepage Journal
        Screaming several times a day for telemarketing calls could strain your vocal cords.

        Instead, I recommend hooking up a small, 5 watt amplifier up to your phone line. Be sure to use a switch that will disconnect your own phone speaker when you turn it on.

  • This seems similar to weapons dealers who sell weapons to both sides. Unfortunately they are selling bigger weapons to the baddies.
  • by tolarianacademy ( 580638 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:24PM (#4566698) Homepage
    a telemarketer tried to sell me one of those telezappers i'm pretty sure it was a prank
    • by Loki_1929 ( 550940 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:36PM (#4566836) Journal
      " a telemarketer tried to sell me one of those telezappers i'm pretty sure it was a prank"

      Call go something like this?

      Telemarketer: Hi Mr. Cantel!
      You: My name is Cantrell.
      TM: Did we catch you at a bad time?
      You: Well, actua...
      TM: Goooood.. If calls like this annoy the hell out of you, you need the Telezapper!
      You: ...
      TM: It gets rid of those annoying dinner-time calls from lowlife telemarketers like myself!
      *hangup*

  • by sirinek ( 41507 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:25PM (#4566704) Homepage Journal
    http://www.ganocall.com [ganocall.com] and you can sign up online.

    siri

  • Pass the Law! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jelizondo ( 183861 ) <jerry.elizondoNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:25PM (#4566709)

    I think the law should be sufficiently broad that no private or public enterprise may sell or otherwise benefit from distributing to third parties any information it has about you that makes you personally identifiable.

    I don't have a problem with any enterprise selling compiled demographics.

    So call (preferably during dinnertime) your representative!

  • cornflakes (Score:3, Funny)

    by prisoner ( 133137 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:25PM (#4566712)
    I know this is off-topic but I can't help it. I was reading one of these threads about telemarketers awhile ago and someone mentioned that whenever one called, he simply replied with "corflakes" I thought it was the funniest thing ever and I've been doing it ever since. I'm not as good as he is/was though. I've only gotten up to saying it 10 times....
    • In a similar vein, I have taken to simply putting the phone down (quietly) and let them blather on until they realise that noone is listening.

      As they say in the article: marketers value THEIR time, but not yours. I like to return the favour of wasting their time without wasting MINE.

    • by thatguywhoiam ( 524290 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:42PM (#4566906)
      I know an even better one. Slightly OT but it was damn funny to me:

      This guy I once knew got so many telemarketing calls (on his cell, no less) that he took to answering the phone like a chicken. He'd just pick up the line and start immediately with the clucking noises. His friends all knew he did it, so they'd just say "Rob" and immediately he'd be like "buk buk buk.. Oh hey what's up." If the other person started laughing, or acting puzzled, he'd just step up the chicken noises. Funny and effective.

      • A former housemate of mine used to answer telemarking calls like this:

        "I'm sorry, I don't have a telephone."

        The conversation usually went downhill from there. Except once, when the caller said "Oh. Sorry to have bothered you, then." and hung up.

    • Oh Bother! (Score:4, Funny)

      by jabber01 ( 225154 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @03:05PM (#4567128)
      Whenever I am in need of some amusement that can only be had by sadistically tormenting another human being, I answer the telemarketting call pretending to be my own next of kin.

      I politely explain to the caller that I had been killed a week prior in a terrible car accident, and that as a result, I am no longer interested in health insurance, long distance service, vinyl siding or a penis extension. This is the source of much amusement.

      I further request that I be permanently removed from their call list, since I am, quite dead, and thus unlikely to be interested in their offer, no matter of remarkably opportune, in the forseeable future. This reduces my future call load.

      If they've not complied and hung up by this point, I become audibly emotional (cue my sobbing girlfriend in the background) and become irate about the insensitivity of the caller, and their corporate policy. This is the fun, sadistic part.

      On occasion, when dealing with a cold-call from a business which clearly got my number second or even third hand, I've claim to have died many months ago, in order to raise the question of validity of the information they purchase.

      Since the marketting calls in my area wax and wane over the period of several weeks, this can be literally hours of fun each week. I highly recommend it.
    • by jweb ( 520801 ) <jweb68@hotma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @03:11PM (#4567202)
      Here's another good one that I pulled on an MCI telemarketer once.

      Salesdroid: "Hello sir. I'm calling you this evening to tell you... blah blah blah.... switching long distance carriers...."

      Me: "I'm sorry, I don't think I can do that. I don't have a phone"

      Salesdroid (prepared response): "Well, sir, that's..... uuuuuhhhhh... you don't have a phone?"

      Me: "Yes. Hey, get off the microwave, I'm trying to cook dinner! (Click)"

      I can just imagine that poor bastard sitting in his cube, his poor automaton braing trying to process such invalid input.
      To this day, it still makes me laugh (and yes, it's a true story).
  • State Opt Out (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jeramybsmith ( 608791 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:25PM (#4566720)
    I live in Tennessee which lets you opt-out of phone solicitation. I have never had dinner interrupted since then. Talk to your state senator and try to get a similar law passed.
    • by martintt ( 512215 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:54PM (#4567023)
      I worked for a Market Research Company, the system we used in the office was to divide up a phone book for an area and flick through it until we had someone from the postcode we were targeting.

      That person was then called (and crossed off in the book).... and then we added 1 to the number and called that and repeat until we'd tried 10 people or called someone who complained we'd already called them.

      This way we got people in the area we wanted and we didn't pay for any phone numbers - the phone book was probably free.

      Occasionally we called the same person twice - but they would be very unlikely to be called more than twice.

      Being X-directory or whatever would have had no effect whatsoever, and we did get a few people complain about this - surprise surprise.

      P.S.
      In my defence we were NOT selling anything, we were asking questions about what people thought of their water board and what they thought its environmental priorities should be.
      I quit after a couple of days anyway (not what I'd signed up for). I'd signed up to call up companies and I see little wrong with calling bored secretaries and asking about what printers their firm uses (they are paid to answer the phone and are quite capable of saying they're busy).

      Next time you're cold-called have *some* sympathy for the caller though as it is one of the most soul destroying jobs out there, having the phone slammed down and taking abuse 20 times an hour.

      --
      If you laid all the cold callers in the world around the equator end to end .... 2/3 of them would drown .... and they'd probably be glad.
    • Re:State Opt Out (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rschwa ( 89030 )
      I live in Tennessee which lets you opt-out of phone solicitation. I have never had dinner interrupted since then. Talk to your state senator and try to get a similar law passed.
      But don't let them cop out with a milquetoast law like Minnesota's. Getting on the MN 'No Call List' keeps everyone from calling.
      Unless, of course, they are:
      A non-profit organization.
      A business with a prior relationship (or 'affiliates' of such businesses).
      Political Groups.
      Businesses that will not complete the sale on the phone.

      So that cuts out exactly who, now? The spam calls I get are exclusively within the abovementioned categories. It's not even worth my time to figure out how to get on 'The List'!
  • Whaaaa? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hayzeus ( 596826 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:26PM (#4566721) Homepage
    Verizon spokeswoman Catherine Lewis says the company isn't playing telemarketers and consumers against each other.

    "I don't think it's a case of we should pick one side over the other," she said. "We do serve both sides."

    So... she's actually saying that Verizon does play telemarketers and consumers agianst each other, but not in a bad way? Huh? I think a little downsizing is way past due in Verizon's PR dept...

  • Straight form the story: ... most Slasdot readers ...

    *chuckle*
  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:26PM (#4566734) Homepage Journal
    According to the suits, the laws that prevent the telemarketers are violating their 1st amendment right to free speech as well as unfairly restricting business.

    Personally I'm glad to see the calls gone, but i do see their point too..

    I expect in the end the laws will be struck down. after a long and expensive ( tax payer funded ) battle. Only one getting something out of it will be the attorneys.

    Of course we all know lawyers play the same game, start up suits and make money off both sides.
    • by Dimensio ( 311070 ) <`moc.uolgi' `ta' `ratskrad'> on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:48PM (#4566971)
      The first amendment does not imply a right to be heard. The DMA has often argued that the first amendment means that they can do whatever they want to pitch an advertisement even to people who don't want it. That's like arguing that I have the legal right to break into your home so that I can argue a political point.

      The DMA is run by crooks and thieves. They're just rich enough to bribe the right Congresscritters.
    • by No Such Agency ( 136681 ) <abmackay@ g m ail.com> on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @03:31PM (#4567490)
      Under NAFTA Chapter 11, companies can sue governments for passing laws which restrict their ability to do business. From citizens.org [citizen.org]:
      Called "investor-to-state" dispute resolution, this extraordinary mechanism empowers private investors and corporations to sue NAFTA-signatory governments in special tribunals to obtain cash compensation for government policies or actions that investors believe violate their new rights under NAFTA.

      I don't know if this would apply here, but I wouldn't be surprised. It's been used already in numerous cases (see link).
  • I usually don't give out my home phone# to anyone, and the only people who call it are telemarketers - that's why I started leaving the ringer off. My cell phone is the # I give to everyone, and I haven't received a single telemarketing call on it.
  • by ites ( 600337 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:27PM (#4566739) Journal
    (Although this is a bit off-topic). In Japan there is a telemarketing craze: call someone once on their mobile, then wait for them to call back. The client pays for the (overpriced) call. So phone manufacturers provide an option to disable the first ring. :-) Now the beepers ring twice and then hang-up.
    • Easy solution, if I get a call from a number I don't know, I don't usually call it back. Not because of cost, just because if they can't be bothered to leave me voice mail, it must not be that important.
  • Sounds like the devices from the movie the big hit [sonypictures.com]!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Does anyone know if they work?

    It just sends the first tone of the "disconnected number" FCC 3-tone code whenever you pick up a phone call. I've seen people [torrez.net] claim you can put the tones [torrez.org] on your answering machine before your message and it should block incoming telemarketers without the $50 cost of the telezapper (as long as you let the answering machine pick up).

    • by Cervantes ( 612861 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @03:08PM (#4567161) Journal
      I used to manage a market research call centre (before i got smart and went back to my geek roots), and we used the same type of predictive dialer that telemarketers use. Funny thing about the telezappers, et al, they only emit a short tone... very short.

      SET pickupdelay +2

      Problem solved. We used to laugh at the people who wasted their money on those things, and then sputtered and fumed at us that we shouldn't be able to get through. Truth is, those things may work for 30-40% of your telemarketing calls, but thats it. Other things, like the delay it can take for the phone lines to connect, also shorten the tone to the point where it stops before the dialer believes you're out of service. But adding a delay before it picks up if by far the most common ploy.

      The other thing people don't realize is that direct callers don't have one big list of numbers that they constantly whittle down. Most do as we did, randomly generating phone numbers, then filtering out the numbers on the no-call list and in cell-phone domains. If your phone gets marked as out-of-order, it will still go back on a list with that same company within a week... they expect your number to be used by someone else quite quickly. And no, just because the company that does sell number lists thinks you're out of order, doesn't mean that they'll never try again. Think of the math... how many people have only had their phone number for a few years? How many people get new phones everyday?

      And, before I left, I heard a wonderful tidbit... the list-sellers may soon set up auto-dial systems that do nothing but call the numbers marked as disconnected. If they ever get anything but that tone (say, because you're on the phone), you go back on the active list, with a little mark next to it that will bias the ranking of your number so that it won't be marked out-of-service for a very long time. It costs them nothing to keep trying your number.

      And yes, for the record, even though I was doing good things (making all those pretty commercials you see on TV and all those shiny ads in the magazines), I still feel dirty sometimes =)

  • easy solution (Score:2, Insightful)

    by yellowcat ( 561852 )
    There's a simple solution to not being disturbed by telemarketers at 8am saturday...don't have a phone in your bedroom. I don't think outlawing telemarketing is the answer to the issue, but definitely coming down hard on a company that is playing both sides of the game would be useful. Especially if they could use existing law to do so.
  • This already exists (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AAAWalrus ( 586930 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:29PM (#4566761)
    In Indiana, this already exists [state.in.us]. Basically, our law states that if you've registered to be blocked from telemarketing, no one can telemarket to your phone unless they are a registered local fundraiser (i.e. Volunteer Fire Dept, etc) or a company you already do business with. In other words, Citibank could call be to offer me the latest services for my credit card. Kinda bites, because Citi is one of the worst for me when it comes to telemarketing. But I don't get any more offers to change my long distance service, thank goodness.

    -AAAWalrus
  • It sounds like The Sneetches [amazon.com] by Dr. Seuss with the Telcos playing the "Fix-it-up Chappie". This could be really amusing.

  • by Schlemphfer ( 556732 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:31PM (#4566780) Homepage

    From the article summary:

    So either both sides pay the local Baby Bell for its protection racket, or you just pass a law [nynocall.com] and the problem goes away.

    I went to nynocall.com about nine months ago, and ever since I think I've gotten one, count 'em, one telemarketing call. And after I got it, I went back to the friendly nynocall.com site, and filled out a report so they could nail the bastards.

    It's amazing what a great piece of legislation, plus a little enforcement, can do to solve the problem. Wish other states would follow New York's lead.

  • A HREF="http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/alerts/d ncalrt.htm">Do Not Call Registry Initiative

    Only a matter of time before Big Business buys this one out.
  • by Hayzeus ( 596826 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:33PM (#4566798) Homepage
    What would be nifty would be the ability to transfer telemarketing calls to a little black box that, upon detecting a pause on on the part of the speaker, says a short, encouraging phrase, like "Tell me more!", "Sounds interesting?", "How do I sign up?", "Do you take credit cards?", "Hold on a sec.", etc. The idea would be to keep the caller on the line for as long as possible. Also useful for in-laws, bill collectors, etc. I shall draw up a patent application forthwith.
    • by ip_vjl ( 410654 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:57PM (#4567053) Homepage
      Route some speech-to-text software into Eliza and have the answers come back via text-to-speech and you could keep them chatting for hours.

      I'm calling to offer you fantastic rates on long distance.
      What makes you think I need fantastic rates on long distance?

      You may be paying 10 to 15 percent too much on your bill.
      Why do you think it is that I may be paying 10 to 15 percent too much on my bill?

      ... and on and on.
    • Re:Autoresponse (Score:3, Interesting)

      by siskbc ( 598067 )
      As pointed out, it should be possible to do this with a modem that interfaces with a sound card. So all you need is a program that captures the incoming stream and detects a pause of say, 1 sec, then plays a semi-random .wav file that the user recorded.

      Does anyone KNOW of any such anti-spam software?
  • $500 Billion??? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by swm ( 171547 ) <swmcd@world.std.com> on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:33PM (#4566802) Homepage
    From the article

    Sales revenue has risen from about $435 billion in 1990 to around $660 billion last year.

    Can anyone comfirm this? $500B is about 5% of GDP.

    Do you spend 5% of your gross income on stuff that telemarketers sell you?
  • Once again, we find that all we ever really need to know about life (and business), we learned from Dr. Seuss ...
  • FWIW, plenty of other people are pointing out other states that have this type of law (I think I saw, Indiana, and Georgia, at least, mentioned).

    Kentucky does as well. http://www.kycall0.com

    I heard a stat a month or so ago (aigh...wish I could remember the attribution for it), that fully 1/3 of the state's households had signed up for the nocall list (Kentucky does it on a per-household, actually, per-phone number, basis). This was right *after* the nocall list took effect in Kentucky. I can only assume that the number of households/phone lines has increased since then.
  • by CySurflex ( 564206 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:33PM (#4566809)
    When I get a call from a telemarketers I try to slashdot them at home by putting them on speakerphone and having my whole family (and the bird) yell at them at once.
  • Is this any surprise? Transnational corporations are some of the most heirarchal, authoritatian, and ruthless organizations to ever exist on the face of the Earth.

    To them, there is one bottom line: profit. Nothing else matters, and if people suffer from it, whether by telemarketing or in a child labor camp in Bangladesh, it does not factor into a corporation's equation.

    Those laws will never get passed, as Congress is thoroughly in the pocketbook of such business, and many of the Congressmen make their money simply by whoring themselves out to corporations.

    Nothing is ever done about the complaints for the do not call lists, and it seems that, due to technology, we're just going to have to put up with spam over all lines, both CAT5 and CAT3, until there's a serious change of government here in the US.
  • by BadDoggie ( 145310 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:34PM (#4566814) Homepage Journal
    I used to live in NY and I like this law, but parts of it will definitely change.

    Telemarketers who violate the law are subject to a fine of up to $5,000 per call.

    BUT...

    In order to comply with the law and maintain accurate internal call lists... The Registry ... is available for a fee of $800.00 per telemarketer per calendar year

    This won't stand up; "Restraint of Trade" comes to mind. Either the list must be made free to telemarketers because it is a law with selective application (no calls only to those on the list) which they must follow, or the fines will be dropped on appeal. You cannot force a company to pay for information it needs to keep itself legal every quarter. Think of the ramifications: if this is acceptable, then why not another law which requires companies to downlaod a list of people on welfare which every company must download for $500/month so that they can report if someone on Welfare is actually working for them? You must take the idea to the extreme when considering it because, come hell or high water, sooner or later some case will test an extreme beyond whatever popped into your noggin before.

    I'm not against charging the telemarketers. I'm against badly written laws which give the telemarketers a way to weasel out in court and which have chilling potential future effects.

    woof.

    Truth is stranger than fiction because fiction has to make sense.

    • Tell that to all the doctors, lawyers, engineers, and accountants that must pay for licensing fees every year in order to continue their practice.
    • Either the list must be made free to telemarketers because it is a law with selective application (no calls only to those on the list) which they must follow
      The telemartketer is free to maintain their own list of people who have opted-in to be called. (How they get such a list is their problem. They could snail-mail a permission form to people, for example.)
      You cannot force a company to pay for information it needs to keep itself legal every quarter.
      Why not? The government forces companies to pay all the time to maintain licenses and permits to keep themselves legal. They also force me to pay for my driver's licence and auto insurance.
  • Sprint Privacy ID (Score:4, Informative)

    by Spazholio ( 314843 ) <slashdot@le x a l . net> on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:38PM (#4566854) Homepage
    Sprint has this feature for $4.95 a month that disallows all non-Caller ID readable calls (blocked, private, anonymous, etc.) But there is a passcode that you can give out to "trusted" friends and family that allows them to bypass the restriction. But those 4 digits are defaulted to the last 4 of your phone number, so it's quite easy for telemarketers to guess (and they do).

    Now, most of us here are probably careful with our information, and giving it out, but I'd say the other 99% of the population aren't. Now, I'm not saying that the telcos aren't using these underhanded tactics, but don't leave user stupidity out of the equation.
  • https://nocall.wisconsin.gov/ [wisconsin.gov] will go into effect this new year. Hurry up to sign up tho, you must register before Dec. 1st. Otherwise you must wait until the next list is created in april!

    cheers!
  • by SquadBoy ( 167263 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:40PM (#4566885) Homepage Journal
    The counterscript [xs4all.nl] is fun and easy.
  • Put my fucking phone number on your fucking no-fucking-call list you fucking asshole.

    Thank you very much.
  • The law doesn't help (Score:2, Informative)

    by Xesdeeni ( 308293 )
    First, shouldn't the telcos be paying for me to be on the list, since they profit from selling my phone # in the first place?

    But second, now I'm getting calls from "licensees" of the state. So now the states are playing the same game as the the telcos.

    Xesdeeni
  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:43PM (#4566914) Journal

    Arms dealers play both sides of the global war.

    Lawyers play both sides of the legal war.

    Congressmen play both sides of the political war.

    That's just off the top of my head. I'm sure the rest of you can think of more.

  • Pass a law as a solution? Well, it helps but it does not solve the problem. The tel-mktrs will call from other areas, etc, etc, etc. Approaches like this share a lot with approaches at "outlawing" porn of any form. As long as there is a market, someone will be filling the market.

    However, Plenty of technical means are available to thwart this annoying form of marketing, like playing sit.wav (the way telezapper works) over the line on incoming calls, not answering anonymous callers, etc.

    Right now, I am in a unique situation since I switched landline service from Verizon to Comcast. Comcast does not have a record of my being their customer (no fault of my own, I filled out a mountain of paperwork, signed, faxed, etc.) so my VM on them does not work. Neither does their billing system for my number ;-) Does not kill the sequential dialers, but it does get rid of others.

    Will have a dedicated computer answering machine on that line soon, with sit.wav followed by random selections of "Deposit change now", "You do not need to dial 1", etc. before the beep to leave a message.

    Others might try the simple message: "Hello... Hello?... HELLO?... I can't hear you, what was that?... Hello?... Hey, I'm not in, leave a message!" as done by Tom Hanks in the movie "Nothing in Common". It wastes the telemarketer's time and gives everybody else a chuckle.

    Otherwise, everybody that needs to contact me has my GSM number, it has VM and all is well with my communications world!
  • by phillymjs ( 234426 ) <slashdot AT stango DOT org> on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:45PM (#4566932) Homepage Journal
    Just Don't Pick Up the Phone
    If I don't recognize the CallerID info, I don't take the call. Period. If it's an important call, a message will be left by the caller, or they'll try my wireless phone if they are important enough to me for me to have given them the number.

    Get on a Do Not Call List
    If your state has legislated a Do Not Call list, get your name on it. It may not help, but it surely can't hurt.

    Turn Off That Ringer
    I only have one ringer on per floor in my house. The basement phone's ringer is set to low volume. The one on the phone in my bedroom gets shut off entirely when I don't want to be disturbed. I got one of those Fone Flasher [radioshack.com] things from Radio Shack for my bedroom. It's positioned so whether I'm watching TV or working at the computer, I will see it out of the corner of my eye.

    Roll Your Own Technology-Based Solution
    Since I already had a computer running the house lights and stuff like that, I just bought a modem that supports Caller ID and got a hold of MacCallerID. Now I can leave the ringers off all the time, and the computer lets me know when someone I want to talk to is calling. I have a whitelist of callers, and when someone on that list calls and the house is not in 'sleep' or 'away' mode, the computer verbally announces their name through wireless speakers scattered throughout the house. During the day I can also hit my server from any machine with web access, and see a list of the last 10 people who have called my house.

    The bottom line is, no self respecting Slashdot reader should have to pay the phone company to rid themselves of the annoyance of telemarketers.

    ~Philly
  • Automated Dialers (Score:5, Informative)

    by futuresheep ( 531366 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:45PM (#4566945) Journal
    A computerized calling machine called the predictive dialer is responsible for the boom.

    The machines dial numbers stored in a database using a mathematical algorithm to predict when a telemarketer will be ready to finish one sales call and start another. When the machine reaches a person, the call is supposed to be transferred to a telemarketer who is just finishing a previous call.

    Automated dialers are illegal in many states, Washington State being one of them. A good story about this:

    Link [nwsource.com]

    Calls made using an automated dialing-and-announcing device for a commercial purpose -- to sell property, goods or services -- are against the law in Washington. Consumers are entitled to $500 in damages for each call.

    Check your states website for information.

    Another good source for your rights against telemarketers:

    PrivateCitizen.org [privatecitizen.org]

  • don't get a regular phone. I just have a cell phone. I need a cell phone, I get decent coverage in my apartment, so why would I need a regular phone? So, I didn't get one. Best thing I could ever do. Haven't gotten a single telemarketing call in two years. I highly recommend this path if you don't need a regular phone. Saves money and it's easy to turn it off :-)
  • by jimm ( 5532 ) <jimm&io,com> on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:47PM (#4566960) Homepage
    Connecticut's "No Call List" is accessible at http://www.state.ct.us/dcp/nocall.htm [state.ct.us].
  • Like a buddy of mine...another thing you can do to fix this problem and keep them out of your hair is to answer the phone saying: "Central Intelligence Agency, how may I help you?"
  • I have a cell phone, I think it's because of that I don't get telemarketing calls. I bet they'll change that one day, though. Fine with me. If I get a call that the caller ID doesn't show up on, it goes to voicemail. If the floodgates open and telemarketers start pestering me, what's gonna happen is I'm going to change my voicemail to say "unsolicited calls unwelcome". That should deter them. Of course, reality may be a different story.

    Hrmm. I wish there was a service that was kind of like voicemail, except it only plays back a message. "Hi, thanks for calling. I don't want to speak with you. If what you have to say is urgent, email me at this address..."

    That'd be worth a few bucks a month to me. Nice thing is: no ringing phones, no voicemail to check.
  • Any Bets? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Loki_1929 ( 550940 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:50PM (#4566985) Journal

    Any bets on whether Verizon's CEO could list all the Rules of Aquisition off the top of his head?

  • AT&T

    I do not have long distance service through them, my number is unlisted and blocked, yet they effectively contact me at least once a month (since they control the local phone service in my area).

    When asked to be taken off their list, they claim it will take a month to go through yet I continually get called. They say they will send me writen notice about my request but I never receive it.

    Anyone else harassed by this 800 pound gorilla?
  • I've had Vonage VOIP service as my second line for almost a year and have never received a single telemarketing call on it. In fact, I hardly ever use the main phone line now...If I didn't need it for E-911 and ADSL, I'd probably take it out all together. www.vonage.com
  • by tiltowait ( 306189 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:55PM (#4567033) Homepage Journal
    Why oh why did you link to the New York one? Don't you know there are more [dmoz.org]?

    There's also an effort to make a national one [ftc.gov].

    And don't forget the DMA lists [dmaconsumers.org].
  • by Chill E. V. ( 562982 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @02:56PM (#4567042)
    Has anyone tried.... An automated attendant something like this: "By dialing this number your are agreeing to the terms and conidtions of this phone line. Please press one to hear the full terms and conitions. If you agree to these terms, please press two now. If you do not agree to my terms please hang up now." If the caller presses two the phone rings. If they press one they hear an hour long message full of legal mumbo jumbo that forbids unsolicited calls. Would that work? If I implemented something like this would I have recourse to sue telemarketers that press two???Just an idea.
  • by Cheese Cracker ( 615402 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @03:07PM (#4567146)
    When I switched to Sprint some four months ago, telemarketers started to call like crazy (8-10
    calls a day) regarding changing long distance etc. I thought... why not wasting their time and
    money by setting up my answering machine to pick up the call on the second ring? (since their
    computer hanged up on the third) Sure enough, they continued to call, and my answering machine
    picked up and they had to listen to my message. (they never left any messages.) It continued for
    four days and then they took me off their list. I've not had a signle telemarketer calling me from
    that day on! I guess they didn't like to get their time wasted and lose money on each call my
    answering machine picked up. :)
  • by Amazing Quantum Man ( 458715 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @03:11PM (#4567187) Homepage
    From AT&T trying to sell me on their local service.

    Now, I use AT&T for my long distance (got a deal with my cell... when the contract's up, I'll probably change), so I had a little bit of leverage.

    This drone wouldn't take "Not interested." for an answer, so I told them, "Hang up NOW, or I will call AT&T and cancel my existing service, and tell them that it was your telemarketing company!"

    They hung up.
  • by dstone ( 191334 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @03:14PM (#4567245) Homepage
    If you've ever wondered about the legalities of recording calls without one side knowing about it:
    Can We Tape? [rcfp.org] (Summary: In most states, it's legal.)
    Though I don't have a link, I am fairly certain this practice is legal in all Canadian provinces also.

    Something to think about, if you've ever considered threatening or cursing at a telemarketer (very likely), or if you find they do it to you (less likely).
  • by MImeKillEr ( 445828 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @03:38PM (#4567578) Homepage Journal
    See it here [xs4all.nl].

    Someone please mirror this and reply to this msg to keep it from getting /.ed...

    • I've actually used that script. It's pretty funny...

      Hey, you know, if it is slashdotted it will come back. Slashdotting is not some permanent erasure but a temporary unavailability. Just bookmark it (I have a "slashdotted" folder) and come back in a week.
  • by spac ( 125766 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @03:45PM (#4567665) Homepage
    This past summer I spent a few months with a large, evil Canadian telecom company. The system in place to obtain an unlisted number or block unwanted calls is simply twisted.

    The telco trained us to only suggest privacy services as a last resort and try to talk a customer out of it if they requested the features.

    Our department was responsible for busting fax marketers that peppered our clients with unwanted junk. But whenever a client called to complain about annoying fax or telemarketing calls they receive at all hours of the night, we had to tell the poor sap to either subscribe to caller ID or spend money to *69 the call. If marketer's number was unlisted, we basically said "tough luck", even when we had the number right on our screen.

    An open apology goes out from me to any of you that might have called me to complain about tele/fax marketers. Sorry everybody, THEY made me to it!
  • by EvilOpie ( 534946 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @03:49PM (#4567707) Homepage
    I think that one of my friends had the best idea for how to defeat telemarketers.

    Now, it's obvious that you have to pay to have for an unlisted phone number, but what you don't have to pay for is a phone number with the wrong information on it. To make a long story short, my friend's phone number was listed in the phone book under Mark Twain's real name.

    Knowing this, one could use the phone book to look for their phone number. But when telemarketers tried to do this, they'd ask for "Samuel Clemens" at which point my friend would reply with "sorry... you have the wrong number."

    Worked like a charm. :-) and he didn't have to pay for services to get rid of telemarketers either.
  • simple... (Score:3, Funny)

    by csguy314 ( 559705 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @04:15PM (#4568020) Homepage
    just cut out the middle-man. Sell your own phone number to the companies. That'll show those telco's!
  • by L0neW0lf ( 594121 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @04:16PM (#4568038)
    If you do not have a "Do Not Call List" in your state, and you get a telemarketing call, state the following:

    "Per the Federal Telecommunications Consumer Protection Act of 1990, I would like to be placed on your federally mandated Do Not Call List. I would like written notification of this, and a copy of your Do Not Call policy mailed to me."

    This law actually exists. I've just memorized the spiel and can repeat it back verbatim. The amount of calls I get has dropped 90 percent. I found out about it when Sixty Minutes had a thing about it several years back, a guy in New York actually keeps track of the people calling him and sues them if they call him a second time. For $20 mailed to him, he'll even submit your name to the proper Do Not Call lists and then go to bat for you legally if someone violates it. Wish I had a transcript of that one.
    • ..."I would like to be placed on your federally mandated Do Not Call List. I would like written notification of this, and a copy of your Do Not Call policy mailed to me."

      Yeah, but then I have to give them my address.

      It's bad enough already that they have my phone number.
  • by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @04:19PM (#4568067) Homepage

    The "No call" lists don't include businesses. They are only for residential lines. This is absurd. When I get a call at home I can let my asnwering machine say "Telemarketers fuck off, all others leave a message at the beep". I can't do that from a business phone. Yet the "No call" lists won't do business lines. Why is that? That's where I need it most.

  • by lordaych ( 560786 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @04:33PM (#4568233)

    I have a cheap-o digital answering machine that I picked up for $15. I keep my ringer off or at least low, keep the volume at a decent level, and set the message to "You've reached blah blah, calls from solicitors will not be returned." This prevents most solicitors from ever getting a hold of me, but there have been a few obnoxious cases where they will rattle off their shpiel, and almost every time it is either due to a political campaign call (in Colorado I've noticed a heavy load of anti-Mike Feely campaigning; whether he's good or bad, his opponent is a scumbag who has sunk to the lowest possible level by calling people with live and automated messages, sending out endless fliers that all repeat the same drivel, etc) or a moronic satellite-dish salesperson. My favorite thing to do when this happens is to pick up the line while they're wasting the space on my machine, and scream "I SAID NO SOLICITORS!" and then hang up. Hopefully that gives them a sufficient jolt.

    Personally I think it's rude to be excessively mean and nasty to telemarketers, especially in this crap economy; sure, there are plenty of better jobs they could be looking for, but it's the idiots who actually buy this stuff that perpetuate the cycle, and not the phone-slaves who feel the need to stick with whatever pays the bills. But when they deliberately waste the limited space on my machine after being told "calls from solicitors will not be returned," I feel they've crossed a line and deserve the worst.

    Another fun thing to do with them is to let my girlfriend pick up the phone, and as she tries to gently wriggle her way out of the conversation without just slamming down the phone, I belt out in my best, loudest white-trash voice "Whattya doin' woman? Who you talkin' too!?" She whines in her best dimunitive dame voice and I yell at her to hang up the damned phone.

    When I was younger and still lived with my parents, I'd just extract a bunch of WAV files from DOOM for DOS using DMAUD, and would create a little batch file to play them back in horrific sequence. *shotgun blast* *imp dies* *demon attack* *human death scream* etc...whoohoo.

  • by sakeneko ( 447402 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @04:57PM (#4568494) Homepage Journal

    I get almost no telemarketing calls whatsoever. This is how:

    • My home phone number is unlisted.

    • My home phone number has voicemail, and the recorded message tells telemarketers to hang up and to add my number to their no-call lists.

    • I leave the ringer on my home phone number turned off, so that people who want to contact me that way must leave a message.

    • I make sure that family and friends have my cell phone number and call it when they want to reach me, not my voice mail.

    • I do not print my cell phone number on my business cards -- if I want someone to have it, I write it on the card by hand.

    In the last few months, I've gotten two or three "prerecords" -- automated callers that left recorded messages on my voice mail. I reported those to the phone company and California AG, since they are illegal. I have never gotten a telemarketing call to my cell phone, and have never been disturbed by one to my home phone number either.

    When California has a do-not-call list, I will list the home phone and cell phone. If that proves to open the floodgates to telemarketers calling my cell phone, I'll just change the number and not repeat that mistake. :)

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