Are you tired of receiving those annoying sales calls that seem to interrupt you every evening? Do you continually ask the question to the open air “I thought this was illegal now, why am I getting these calls?” We all hate getting the annoying calls, but before you curse and yank the phone from the way, ask yourself a few questions:
- Did you recently agree to be contacted about something?
- Did you sign up for a drawing of any kind, whether online or through a drop box at a shopping center or movie theater?
The list can continue, but hopefully, you get the idea. Since the “Do Not Call” laws and lists were established a few years back, many people naively figured this would put all telemarketing out of business and all calls would cease. There were exclusions written into this law that allowed for calls to be made under certain circumstances.
First, political and non-profit organizations along with survey groups were all exempt. Personally, I find these some of the most annoying of the bunch, but there you have it; they can call you. Second, if you have conducted business with a group in which you provided your phone number, they have a designated period of time in which they can legally contact you, even for advertising purposes. Third, and this is the kicker, if you have in the course of your transaction provided consent to be contacted by an organization or to share your information with other companies to be contacted then they may do so. This is where you often get caught.
Online transactions are the most notorious for including consent, either by checking a box or by a statement saying you agree to the terms and conditions of this offer/site by completing this transaction. This is a legally binding contract, so if you want to avoid further contact, read carefully before completing that transaction. This is part of how they stay in business, continuing to offer you additional products and services. Realize if you consent to be called, getting a call is not inherently an evil act on the company’s part; they are simply acting in the hopes that you really are interested in their services as you indicated by your previous actions.
What You Can Do About It
If you are receiving calls and simply tired of it, whether it is your “fault” or not, there are steps you can take to get rid of those calls. It may take a little time and effort for a few months, but it will work. I have done it and seen the results.
First, get on the federally managed Do Not Call List (donotcall.gov). This is a simple step you complete online, with a valid email address required to validate you are not simply entering a bunch of phone numbers. There is a phone number to call to get on the list as well, but if you are reading this you obviously have the capacity to be online. If you haven’t done this step yet, then you simply are not serious about stopping the calls. Once you are on the list you do have to allow one month (31 days) for call centers to receive the updated list and then most calls should cease.
Now, and this really shouldn’t be a huge surprise, but not all call centers operate within the laws. I can hear the virtual guffaws already! Those that are sloppy about sticking to the mandated do not call laws to give the rest of the business a bad name, but it catches up to them only if some people are willing to make some noise about it. Then again, refer back to the list above and realize that if annoying calls are a result of your actions, making noise will get you nowhere.
Use an Anti-Telemarketing Script
The folks over at JunkBusters.com have published what is really an effective script if you are willing to take the few moments it takes to run through it. While you frustrated with getting a call it may be difficult to remember to calmly ask these questions, so I recommend you print out a copy to have available by your phone(s).
Every time you get a call you consider junk, just ask the questions in this script. If they answer no, you may be able to sue them. Be sure to put your phone number on the National Do-Not-Call registry by visiting http://donotcall.gov or by calling 1-888-382-1222.
- “Are you calling to sell something?” (or “is this a telemarketing call?”)
- “Could you tell me your full name please?”
- “And a phone number, area code first?”
- “What’s the name of the organization you’re calling for?”
- “Does that organization keep a list of numbers it’s been asked not to call?”
- “I would like my number(s) put on that list. Can you take care of that now?”
- “And does the company you work for also make telemarketing calls for any other organizations?” (If they answer no, skip the next question.)
- (If yes) “Can you make sure your company won’t call me for any other organization?”
Visit their site for the full version of the script that includes some follow-up questions and comments as well. Though what I have described here should not be considered legal advice, and the same is mentioned at Junk Busters, but they even point out some of their “money questions” that if answered incorrectly and documented can give you grounds to take them to small claims court to be compensated for their illegal actions.
Just Doing Something Makes a Difference
I have found that by simply entering on the do not call list was the most effective action for the bulk of the calls. We still get the occasional outfit that will call us and I am fairly good at remembering to ask to be placed on their do not call list, which most companies will honor. I’ll typically give a company the benefit of the doubt and leave it at that. When I get repeated calls from an outfit, though, I step it up a notch with some of the ideas above.
Really, this is all it takes to get most telemarketing out of your life. I still get the political pollers and occasional survey and non-profit calls, but even those, for the most part, are limited due to my actions above. I am guessing hoping I have made my way to some blacklist that indicates calling my home just isn’t worth the time.