I found myself trying to be the good guy in the situation and do my best to actually remove people from the call lists by marking them deceased and that.
But even still the companies would always somehow get those numbers back into circulation hoping that nobody would notice.
Shady shit, glad I don't do that anymore.
But this also proves something. From what you've written you knew you were doing something that was wrong. As one example:
"We sold worthless stuff trying to pursued (sic) them into using it over much better and more established companies"
But you had to earn a living so you did that. Now I don't know what your particular situation was or how badly you needed the job (proverbial relative dying of cancer or you would be homeless?) but it might be the same premise that the people running the business operate under. Everybody of course draws the line at a different point in terms of the "harm" they are willing to do. They feel that what they do is ok or possibly de-minimis but what someone else is doing on a larger scale (a guy who did what you did for 20 years or owned the business) is "bad".
I'm curious (and not being judgmental that you worked there as we all have different lines) why you kept that job when you saw what they were doing?
I only worked there for 3 months, then I told my boss to go fuck herself and walked out.
Edit: and no offense taken, if you have any questions in regards to what little bit I do know about such a crappy industry let me know. I am somewhat knowledge in it.
Funny enough my current job is at a call center for a GPS company. I don't do any calling though.
edit: Or maybe he just wanted money for Spring Break...
It was still a terrible and shitty job, but it paid a few bucks better than minimum wage and the company was fairly lax on attendance (I was 17, so I had different priorities and a general lack of responsibility).
The worst day of my two or three months at that job was when I got put on a calling campaign for some mega-church. I felt terrible asking people who probably didn't have the money to donate to give up their money to this organization that was clearly raking in tens of millions a year and whose leader/minister/whatever was a multi-millionaire. Thankfully, I only had to do that one day and had so much motivation not to take in a single dollar, that I failed to land a single donation and was moved the next day to trying to get people to do balance transfers on their credit cards. Still annoying, but at least I didn't feel like I was robbing people by appealing to their faith and handing their money over to some evil creep.
> I already had three violations on my hand, but I knew I could get two more pretty easily. The next day, I called the alarm company and asked to be put on their internal Do Not Call list, and asked for a copy of their Do Not Call policy. A few days later, David called me again – violation number four.
So he manually dialed, because of previous conversations indicating a genuine interest in the product(s). And that's a violation? Suddenly all interest in and respect for the author just went down the drain as far as I'm concerned.
Honestly, I feel like you are totally abusing the law in this situation. At the first available opportunity, you should've asked to be placed on their DNC list without expressing false interest in their products. Then you would've been in the right by sueing for the first an all subsequent calls. It seems that you went about this in the most malicious way possible, even going so far as to essentially trick them into violating the law.
Sure, the fact that the bad guys are "playing dirty" doesn't mean it's moral for the good guys to do the same.
But in this case, simply lying that "that sounds interesting" before telling them he wasn't interested any more doesn't seem too serious. It's certainly not illegal.
You have a product yourself, if I contacted you and implied I was interested in becoming a customer, and we got to talking about it over the phone, would you look up your DNC list every single time before calling me just in case I had, since we last spoke, contacted a colleague of yours to be put on it?
This is what I read:
It says: you can't call someone that says "Don't call me"
However, if you have a written policy to try your best and follow the law and generally your business follows the policy, then you are not liable for violating this rule if it was a simple mistake.
So the case of David calling him back a few days later may have been an honest mistake. But the if the business did not have a written policy in place, have training of the policy, maintain a list of DNC numbers, etc. then they are liable for the mistake.
That's how I understand it. So it seems the law is forgiving for businesses that are trying to follow the law. But I am not a lawyer, so my reading comprehension skills are worth very little.
That's the entire point of sanitising your lists. When someone asks you to stop calling them you remove their number and stop calling them.
Lists of names/numbers are for cold-calling, and yes, cold-calling should check any opt-outs first.
Once you are actually having conversations with a specific person about an actual sale, lists are no longer part of the equation. There's not a salesman in the world who, if asked by a customer to call them back (as happened in this case) would check a list before calling them back. It just wouldn't happen, ever. And frankly it shouldn't be expected to happen, the only time it would ever be useful to check a list is the very rare occurrence where the customer is trying to catch you out by telling you he's interested but he actually isn't.
> Five9 helps you comply with this legislation by letting you upload your company's supplemental Do Not Call list, which prevents these numbers from being dialed by your outbound and autodialer campaigns, and even manual calls placed by agents. In addition, you can automatically track requests for Do Not Call from inbound return calls, and enable agents to fulfill callers' requests to be placed on the Do Not Call list in real-time.
It's easy stuff if you're trying to be legit. There are a lot of companies that don't make that effort.
It's not like he got in touch with a sales guy who was going to take him to dinner. He just got to a human at a telemarketing company. They are just cogs in a larger machine.
It is so much better if this incident sets a standard for their company and the telemarketers are forced to validate each time irrespective of their past association with the callers.
Other than random, unexpected cases of people trying to trick you, any customer in the world would, if they changed their mind about being interested, wait for the call back and say it then, not contact someone else at the company to be put on a do not call list.
I would hope that companies do more due diligence when a customer is not calling back. Maybe the customer changed their minds. The problem with telemarketers is that they don't care about what customers are thinking and so someone else went ahead and called him.
What I would prefer is (and this is where I think I don't want to give any inch of room for the sales person) is that they constantly have to be aware of what the customer's latest situation is. I would prefer all telemarketers get trained this way and not intrude. Don't you think this is better?
When I receive another email I just delete it. I'd rather go on with my day and do productive things then getting all bent of of shape about it.
BUT! I agree some telephone marketing campaigns can be down right harassing. But 4 calls over 2 months? I would have just sent them to voicemail and deleted them without listening. To each his own, I suppose.
Basically the fact that they called him without reason and avoided providing their actual contact information would seem to make a judge question the relationship they might have.
I also suspect that the company actively breaking the law as part of their business model must know something about the laws they're tangling with, and they settled with him for $4K rather than actually to go to small claims court over $7500.
So thanks for the concern, but plenty of the oh-so-valuable karma points heading my way by now, just a couple of people who disagreed right at the start!
Urgh, I hate Karma on HN. I'd much prefer to see other people's comment scores than not see them. And I'd much prefer not to see my own than see them. What irony.
But then, I started to think about what is the whole point of his exercise? If it was to make money out of this, then it comes off as sleazy. I would like to believe his idea was to actually "give it to them" rather than make money out of them (at least to begin with).
Anyway, I think what matters to me is, if this is THE ONLY WAY to ensure I can both get out of their pesky calls as well as rub it to them by taking some money out of them, I might do it too. End of the day, I feel there has to be an end to the kind of crap telemarketers do and if this is one way to weed them out, so be it.
Another idea would be for banks to offer special credit card numbers, that get automatically flagged as bogus purchases. Any bank offering such a service? If I ever use the magic number, the transaction is perceived to go through, but it's actually tracked and no money is exchanged. Not sure if it's doable with respect to Visa and Mastercard networks.
A credit card that allows you to make purchases but never transfers any money? I'm not sure you've quite thought that through.
Why do the phone networks route calls with faked originator numbers. I can see why they don't block genuine numbers (that terminate at an actual phone) -- to get you to pay for blocking. But surely they can tell that an incoming call from a foreign call centre with a local number is fake.
Recently I've had calls, in the UK, from numbers where the [given] originating number doesn't exist. Why any phone company would route these is beyond me. (They're faked because we're signed up to do-not-call lists and they don't want to be sued). More to the point is why the regulators (OFCOM) let the phone companies get away with routing such calls.
Now, when you call me, the HS gets "the call". It then contacts the VS. The VS will assign a temporary phone number to my cell, and send this number back to the HS. The HS then sends this number back to the switch making the call. That switch will then call the temporary number, hitting the VS. The VS sees that number and since it assigned that number to my cell, knows to "ring" my cell phone.
And that's just for cell phones. That doesn't cover call forwarding, for instance.
 Number portability adds another layer of indirection to this.
Unfortunately the phone #'s are always random and AT&T just wants to sell me a service that allows me to block up to 30 phone numbers. But they're calling from more than 30.
Instead of the government doing this (and being self-funded), why not do it commercially? Just set up thousands of personal phone numbers (honeypots) and just wait for the calls to roll in.
Naturally issues like tracking down the callers and filing mass lawsuits would generate problems the startup would have to overcome, but you'd be at an advantage because you'd have plenty of data at your disposal. Eventually you'd learn more about the branch of law that deals with these infractions and how different jurisdictions handle the cases.
What are the ethical side effects?
1. If your business became large enough, and it became a realistic outcome that telemarketers who use illegal tactics would have to pay damages like the 4k one in this article, the ROI for telemarketing may decrease to the point that it's not used any more.
The National Do Not Call Registry is only for personal phone numbers. Business-to-business calls and faxes are not covered by the National Do Not Call Registry.
The title is incorrect. He threatened to sue but didn't actually do it. Which I'm all for.
I received, just yesterday, a call from a company claiming they could reduce my credit card interest rate to "up to 0%", but it was obviously a scam as he said he worked both for Visa and Mastercard, claiming it was "the same company and they both use the same Reduce Interest Rate department". I unfortunately lost my nerve a little and called him out, after which he became much more familiar, aggressive and even insulting. Don't have anything beyond a phone number and a name (which is probably fake). Wish I could find the nerve to do this myself.
> I wrote back giving them the dates and caller IDs of the calls, and when I didn’t hear back in a week, I filed my suit.
He just settled out of court before appearing in front of a judge.
> Wish I could find the nerve to do this myself.
Why don't you? What do you have to lose, aside the time trying to track them down?
As for trying it myself, I guess it's simply because whenever I get into such a situation, I lose my nerve, butterflies invade my stomach, and I can't think straight. Just calling Visa to try to report it gave me the same kind of jitters, I really hate it.
I will, however, report the information I have in my possession to my local police department. That way perhaps I'll lead them to something, if I'm lucky. Nervous or not, I can try to do my part.
Them: hi I'm blahblah and I'm calling about your credit card
Me: is this about one of my existing cards?
Me: which one?
Them: all of them
They couldn't tell me which of my cars the warranty was up on, and would get nervous and hang up.
Of course, since I don't technically own a car, it was a trick question any way.
This make anyone else cringe?
I especially like his use of "appreciated". I'm sure I appreciate getting a recorded call telling me whom I should vote for.
Colleagues of mine in sales sometimes telemarket - in that they will cold call potential customers, but only people they have researched and genuinely think might want to advertise with us, and the track record of a.) people called who end up spending money with us and b.) of those people, the ones who are happy and become repeat customers, does show that in this situation telesales works great for both us and them.
On the other side of good telemarketing, I'm in a position to get plenty of cold calls / cold emails myself, business related, and it's not rare for me to get one that genuinely interests me, and sometimes leads to me spending money with them and getting good results from it. So I don't mind getting those calls/emails.
Outside of business I find them horrific, I've never had a good cold-call to my home landline or my mobile, presumably because for non-business sales it isn't worth doing any research into who I am and whether I'm a valid target.
(But yes, I agree with your judgement in this particular instance.)
I think it's mostly about targeting - don't just call tons of people with no reason, but focus on particular people who have a high likelihood of becoming a customer. Then call them with salespeople who know the industry, be helpful and courteous, and take people off your list who don't want to be called. And, of course, follow the law.
Unfortunately, there's so much bad telemarketing that the good stuff has gotten drowned out, so it's easy to see it all as bad.
There is no "good" telemarketing that gets "drowned out." What you are doing is wrong.
The calls thereafter, when he's stringing them along...not so sure. Once you start saying "I'm interested, tell me more"...I think the company has a fairly solid claim of having a business relationship...if not legally, certainly ethically.
I would be interesting to find out what would have happened in court.
Even with the most business-sympathetic judge, he should at least allow for the first couple of calls to be admitted as violations because in those cases he clearly did not have any semblance of a business relationship with them.
The most consumer-sympathetic judge would allow all calls to be counted against the company as the person did explicitly ask to be put on the DNL. He expresses an initial interest but then decided he didn't want anything to do with the company.
Hopefully we will see a followup post that explains how Impact Dialing gets away with it, but I suspect that they benefit from all the fear and uncertainty.
1) Subscribe to the federal and state Do-Not-Call lists for each state you're going to call people in. Don't call anyone on those lists unless you have a business relationship with them. It's legal for Comcast to call you to upsell you to a better package if you're a Comcast customer, even if you're on the federal DNC list.
2) Keep a copy of your Do-Not-Call policy on file to provide to callers if they ask for it.
3) If a caller asks to be put on your Do-Not-Call list, do so and don't call them again.
4) Don't spoof your caller ID as anything but your business or the business you're calling on behalf of.
I could've easily missed something, but that's the gist of what I got from reading the federal telemarketing acts. There's also lots of technical details on performance thresholds for predictive dialers and such, so that you don't get too many of those calls where you pick up and nobody is on the other end as the autodialer was too aggressive.
It's kind of odd that you'd make the initial post about how people need to do robocalls right and then you make a blanket statement how political campaigns are exempt.
If the populus don't want unsolicited calls when did the politicians decide that they should over rule them and what's the protection against this sort of action happening in more serious situations?
That's called business.
(And since they are criminals anyway, they have no incentive to settle with me, since even if I win I'd never be able to collect.)
The calls I have gotten are for credit reduction or other dubious services and the impression I get is that their whole operation is shady and secretive - and perhaps not even a legitimate business at all. When one of those wakes me up at 8am on a Sunday I thirst for their blood!
There are 3 I tend to get. 2 of them are from places that I clearly did give my number too, one of which is a non-profit I've asked to stop calling me and the other is a car company that keeps trying to get me to trade in my car. The third is something in spanish that starts off with "felicitations, eres el ganador ..." which is where I hang up every time. Fortunately those have become rare lately. All are to my personal cell phone.
I'm glad to hear someone did something in one case.
My grandpa has long had the habit of shoving junk mail into the business reply envelopes for other junk mail. Hilarious, but I'm not quite that mean. But my grandpa used to work for the USPS, so maybe it's his way of supporting his old employer. :-)
I would LOVE to do that, though.
I assume to boost backlinks. What's more link-baity than a telemarketer mouthing off about telemarketers?
I did it because I gave up trying to opt-out of every company calling me. The point is to irk them by keeping them on the phone (they are paid mainly by commissions so every second wasted counts) to the point they will flag me as a 'time-waster' and not call anymore.
It works surprisingly well.
I get constant sleazy robocalls on a business line.
Before I go on, yes, I do have way too much time on my hands, and a hugely immature area in my brain.
I like to go for creative abuse. Immediately I start arguing and generally giving them a hard time, winding up to virtual verbal abuse until....
...two things happen. They hang up, and never call back. Bonus: I feel better for getting some stuff off my chest. Dirt cheap therapy which they pay for!!!! Triple win. Yay!!!!
Dunno what its like in the US but here in the UK it seems that these people are not allowed to hang up. Big no no, from what I can tell. So, a great game is to time how quickly you can get them to hang up, or how long they can last out.
Should I grow up and generally get some sort of life? Yeah, probably.
I've tried to countersell stuff, just for fun. "listen, glad you called, coincidentally I have this great 6 yr old laptop, which you might be interested in. It's only £239.99. What do you think? I accept paypal..."
Once I got transfered to a "team lead", who prommised to think about it and call back. He never did...
Did he just opt-in on his own website?
You could for example have a white-list but that's won't quite work for most people.
"We are calling to talk about your car. Do you know that you can get a lower car insurance in your state. There is some new law that lets you blah...blah...blah. Press 1 if you would like to sign up."
"Do you know Obama is from Mars. He has an Alien living inside of him and telling him what to do. Do not vote for Obama"
This is very common for political campaigns as those are also except from some laws that a design to stop these.
This kind of thing should be settled in civil court - as it is.
violence: an unjust or unwarranted exertion of force or power, as against rights or laws
I would say some would label stealing a car as a violent action. But of course different people's definition will vary.
(I would think even scammers stop wasting time on people that are not likely customers)
It is fairly non confrontational (especially to the voice on the line) and a very direct signal that you are a dead lead.
When I did that in the UK (when I was moving overseas, as it happens) I found that it was a really effective way of bypassing all the usual retention nonsense and, i'd presume, any follow-up calls. If you're moving out of their service area, there's literally nothing they can do to keep you on their service.
I'm not sure what the precedence is for internal DNC lists v. national DNC registry v. existing business relationships though, so they may still be at some legal fault.
When you order a phone line, should the Phone Company put you through a detailed and exhaustive screening process mandated by their lawyers because they've been sued for the contents of calls that some of their customers have made? Should they then be allowed to monitor your calls for violations of their AUP? I mean, if they're responsible for the content of your calls then they need to be able to monitor them, right?
No, I completely disagree with you. Phone Companies aren't responsible for how their communication channels are abused any more than road builders are responsible for the getaway of bank robbers who use roads.
Cable Companies' are a little different. Mainly because they tend to be the carrier of the content, the creator of the content, and the beneficiary of both. This wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the fact that in many areas they have a government-enforced monopoly on the biggest data pipe into our homes.
The real issue is that phones were ever allowed to ring in the first place. They should all just leave a message which should then be stored until a I chose to listen to it. Then in the future, calls from that number could be allowed.
In addition the phone company could allow you to preunblock certain numbers, such as those from your schools and hospitals.
For starters they could let you block calls from unknown numbers.
Indeed, they could require some sort of licensing for numbers/entities originating large volumes of calls.
They could also disallow caller id blocking.
But the reality is abusive telemarketing tactics are a substantial revenue stream for them, so they dont give a shit.
I don't think it's beyond the pale to suggest that phone companies don't allow scammers on their network. Look what happens to ISPs who allow spambots. And there's no policing of content required, merely responding to valid third party reports.
The phone company doesn't need to police anything -- they just need to identify the endpoints of a call when a subpoena is issued.