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The Courts Government Spam News

Suing Telemarketers Made Simple 351

Posted by Hemos
from the run-them-through-the-ringer dept.
Lord of the Distinctive Rings writes "Telemarketer calls victim in wee hours. Victim is lawyer. Victim sues telemarketer. Hilarity ensues, as recounted in narrative replete with links and information on how you too can sue up the wazoo." Well, one's certainly not ever going to get rich or anything going after telemarketers on a one-off basis, but every bit helps, I think.
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Suing Telemarketers Made Simple

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  • I can't wait... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by stev3 (640425) <sasper&gmail,com> on Monday May 05, 2003 @08:46AM (#5880621) Homepage Journal
    I can't wait for the National Do Not Call List to take effect.

    HURRY UP!!
  • by amembrane (571154) on Monday May 05, 2003 @08:47AM (#5880631)
    I've had friends who have had to do this to make ends meet. The key to this business is speed, so if you really want to make it ineffective, keep them on the phone as long as possible. Doesn't matter to me, I haven't had a land line since the last millenium. =P
    • by Kierthos (225954) on Monday May 05, 2003 @08:51AM (#5880666) Homepage
      Hrm... unsolicited telephone calls using an automated voice that doesn't clearly identify the business or person?

      Shit... I should have stayed on the line those last 12 time whoever the prerecorded hell it was called and tried to offer me a Disney vacation... I could have afforded to go by now...

      Kierthos
    • Your strategy for dealing with the intrusive and obnoxious is to listen longer? More power to you, buddy. Also, see earlier /. Cell-e-marketers are on the way.
    • by Erasmus Darwin (183180) on Monday May 05, 2003 @08:57AM (#5880709)
      I once did this with an automated recording. I discovered by chance that hitting '7' on my phone caused the recording to start over, so I spent a bored afternoon hitting 7 and tying up their system for a little over an hour. I was watching TV at the time, so pressing a button on the phone every minute or two wasn't that much of an inconvenience.
      • by chrysrobyn (106763) * on Monday May 05, 2003 @10:18AM (#5881422)

        That reminds me of the time my parent's answering machine got into an infinite loop with an autodialler. Somehow, the answering machine beep caused the spiel to restart and that spiel ended with a beep. That beep, I guess, was misinterpreted as an attempt to access the remote "check my messages" feature of the answering machine. The password failure resulted in the same beep. Which, if you see above, caused the spiel to restart -- and end with a beep.

        The 60 minute tape was filled with the same spiel 60 times in a row with two beeps to seperate.

    • Does it really matter how long you keep an autodialer on the phone, as the author was called by one?
      • by realdpk (116490)
        If it has 1 line, certainly. If it has 4 or so like the author states, you'd probably have to coordinate the "defensive attack" Operation Telephony Freedom.
    • by hipster_doofus (670671) on Monday May 05, 2003 @09:09AM (#5880788) Homepage
      Whenever a telemarketer calls me, I always keep them on the phone and use this fun script [xs4all.nl] against them! It's generally a great time for me and everyone in my vicinity.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 05, 2003 @09:15AM (#5880821)
      Back in college, we were on the A-list for credit card bills. Hardly a day would go by when I wouldn't get a fat envelope of "You've Been Pre-Approved" nonsense, or a phone call at around 7 in the evening. Anyway, eventually, a simple "I'm not interested" *click* wouldn't do. So, we got creative, and decided to have some fun.

      Eventually, one of my roomates, Matt, discovered the best solution. Once, a telemarketer called, and asked, "Are you Matthew *****"? His reply: "I don't know". Yes, that's right. "I don't know". As in, "I don't even know my own name, I'm definitely not responsible enough to own my own credit card. You must have dialed into a Home by mistake. Try this number again and Big Nurse will open up a can of tele-whoopass on you". Needless to say, he wasn't bothered for another three months. Before that, it was about twice a week. And that, my fellow readers, is how to get rid of telemarketers.
    • by shachart (471014) <shachar-slashdot ... chnion...ac...il> on Monday May 05, 2003 @09:22AM (#5880878)
      Ohhhh.... This is soooo much more than just keeping one of them busy. In fact, you screw up their ENTIRE operation, even if they have 100's of telemarketers. Why? Explanation below:

      In order to raise the productivity of their employees, they save them the time dialing, recognizing answering machine, ringing-and-ringing, busy signals, tone waiting etc.

      How? The use these machines which are called predictive dialers. Why predictive, you ask? because they predict when the next agent will end her call, and based upon lots of parameters (call duration, busy signal rate by time of day, time to recognize voicemails etc.) - will place a call BEFORE that agent hangs up, so the moment she hangs up - she has the next call ready for her, with an actual person on the line.

      Now, it is rather clear that if you hold just one agent on the line for a LONG time, then you screw every statistics the predictive dialer has, and so the agents lose sync with the dialer, and as a result - their productivity dives....

      Which is what we wanted.
      • by tekunokurato (531385) <jackphelps@gmail.com> on Monday May 05, 2003 @10:19AM (#5881441) Homepage
        It's absolutely true- I interned at a credit card company last summer running the dialer program. It's like being an air traffic controller- everything runs smoothly as long as the calls are predictable, but the dialer algorithms run really poorly and inconsistently when calls go on for long periods of time.

        It's not just while the call is goin, either- the dialer uses that call as part of its statistics for the entire calling job, so for several hours it's running on poor data.

        It was a fun couple of summers (I never did outward calling, but I took inward, angry, card-cancellation calls the first summer I worked there), but I'll never do that again!
      • Yes, but isn't the point of their calls to eventually find some idiot who is actually interested in their product/service? Presumably, that call will last much longer than the standard "Not interested, FOAD! *click*". So, when they get a "live one" to place an order, that messes up the predictive dialer? That makes no sense.

        Perhaps there is a way to signal the dialer when they get a sucker on the line, so as not to mess up the stats?
      • by sehryan (412731) on Monday May 05, 2003 @11:50AM (#5882356)
        That's a little incorrect.

        The dialer is dialing a certain number of calls based upon how quickly the agents are coming available. If you keep an agent on the phone for longer than a few seconds, the dialer recognizes this and drops them from the number of agents that will be available.

        After all, they are trying to sell you something. The dialer has to be able to compensate for long calls, because I doubt any agent can sell you something in the time it takes someone else to hang up.

        And just so you know I am not talking out of my ass, I used to be an admin on a dialer, so I do have some experience with this.
    • by PHPee (559830) on Monday May 05, 2003 @09:25AM (#5880903) Homepage
      Keeping them on the phone is a good idea!

      While reading these comments (at 9:15am), I got a call from an obvious telemarketer (couldn't pronounce my dad's name right...) so I decided to keep them on the phone, just to see how long they would actually wait (I'm unemployed, and living at home, so I've got nothing but time on my hands). I told her to hold on while I got my dad, and proceeded to just sit there listening. I didn't say another word for the entire 13 minutes and 42 seconds that the telemarketer actually waited for me to come back! I almost burst out laughing several times when I heard her sigh or start humming a little tune.

      It brought a smile to my face on an otherwise boring, unemployed day of my life...
    • While you're keeping them on the phone, try to talk them into another career.

      For "charities" (police benevolence society or whatever), ask them how much goes to the "cause", and how much is used for admin and overhead. They'll offer an 800 number, try to get THEM to call the number. I try to convice them they are working for crooks. Quote GWB's "you're either on the side of good, or the side of evil".

      I don't know if it does any good, but it always makes me feel better.
    • I tied up a telemarketer one time for about 10 minutes when they called during supper. I have a high pitched voice for a man, so when they asked for "Mr. L," I handed the phone to my 1 1/2 year old son who was just learning to talk. My wife and I nearly wet our pants watching our son talk on the phone to this telemarkter. Needless to say, we had a very entertaining dinner.

  • Sweet. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 05, 2003 @08:48AM (#5880642)
    Another reason for me to sit by the phone on a saturday night. I mean..... to bad I'll be out hanging with the ladies.

    Ring....Please Ring..

  • Finally? (Score:5, Funny)

    by jonjohnson (568941) on Monday May 05, 2003 @08:53AM (#5880677) Homepage
    It's about time people do something. Let me recall two funny incidents: Brother in-law: "Yes, Oh? I get something free? What's that? Oh that sounds great... What else can you guys offer me?"... (Ten minutes later)... "Well, can I talk to your supervisor? Thank you. .... Yes, I hear you have some great offers, but you see, Colorado has a no-call list and if you don't honor that ..." The hilarity of the situation was the fact that i'm sure they thought they had another sale, then it turns into another 20 minute lecture. The best transaction was from my stepfather, while my friends and I were watching a movie in the living room. "Hello? Umm... let me check. IS MR. HIND-ER-LITER HERE (pronounced incorrectly of course)?" (In another yelling voice, somewhat feminized this time, he replies to himself) "NO, HE'S NOT BACK FROM HIS PAROLE MEETING FOR KILLING THAT SALESMAN." (back to his voice) "OH, THAT'S RIGHT. No, I'm sorry, he can't come to the phone right now. Bye." Makes me wonder how much of these funny things do go on...
    • by mekkab (133181) on Monday May 05, 2003 @10:59AM (#5881857) Homepage Journal
      IS MR. HIND-ER-LITER HERE (pronounced incorrectly of course)?"

      Considering your screen name of jonJOHNSON I'd say that is QUITE a mis-pronounciation!
  • This is cool (Score:5, Informative)

    by rf0 (159958) <rghf@fsck.me.uk> on Monday May 05, 2003 @08:54AM (#5880680) Homepage
    This gives a nice HOWTO on suing people who abuse the system. Here in the UK there is a opt-out system in the form of the TPS (Telecomunication Protection System) to stop people doing this sort of thing. Failure to comply get at £10,000 fine. Haven't had one call since signing up :)

    Rus
    • by T-Kir (597145) on Monday May 05, 2003 @10:47AM (#5881729) Homepage

      I signed my parents Pub up on this list and the Fax Preference System (and the Mail P S), and within two months the amount of sales calls and reams of wasted fax paper went down to zero... a customer of ours was lamenting to us about the same problems with his phone and fax line, and he wouldn't believe us that it worked (one month later though he was most impressed).

      Ever since signing up to this opt out scheme, we've only ever had ONE sales phone call, and fortunately I was there to 'casually' inform them that if we were not removed from their (and any company shared) contact list, that they were liable for a very big fine, and that they were in violation of the opt-out list to which they are meant to adhere to and risked criminal prosecution for violation of (not sure if it was true, but it added significant weight to our argument)... it's a call that left me feeling very empowered for a change!

      TPS Online [tpsonline.org.uk] - with links to the sister sites for FaxPS, MailPS and even e-mailPS... although I never bothered with the latter, considering the amount of e-mail sources that is way out of their control.

  • by Shoten (260439) on Monday May 05, 2003 @08:54AM (#5880688)
    I, like the person who wrote the article, live in DC, and have been bothered by a pre-recorded telemarketer...in this case, a "non profit" that seems not to exist except as a front to accept donations. I'd elaborate more, but I'm off to the courthouse now...:)
    • Re:Yes! YES!!!! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheViffer (128272)
      The bad thing is that "non-profits" do not have the same restrictions as a business.

      Do not need to use do not call lists, can call you over and over, can use pre recoreded messages.

      I think 75% of the Tele calls I receive to day from from such "non-profit organizations".
  • Andy Rooney sez... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheArmageddonMan (646744) on Monday May 05, 2003 @08:55AM (#5880694)
    Three Little Words That Work !! (1)The three little words are: "Hold On, Please..." Saying this, while putting down your phone and walking off (instead of hanging-up immediately) would make each telemarketing call so much more time-consuming that boiler room sales would grind to a halt. Then when you eventually hear the phone company's "beep-beep-beep" tone, you know it's time to go back and hang up your handset, which has efficiently completed its task. These three little words will help eliminate telephone soliciting. (2) Do you ever get those annoying phone calls with no one on the other end? This is a telemarketing technique where a machine makes phone calls and records the time of day when a person answers the phone. This technique is used to determine the best time of day for a "real" sales person to call back and get someone at home. What you can do after answering, if you notice there is no one there, is to immediately start hitting your # button on the phone, 6 or 7 times, as quickly as possible. This confuses the machine that dialed the call and it kicks your number out of their system. Since doing this, my phone calls have decreased dramatically. (3) Another Good Idea: When you get "ads" enclosed with your phone or utility bill, return these "ads" with your payment. Let the sending companies throw their own junk mail away. When you get those "pre-approved" letters in the mail for everything from credit cards to 2nd mortgages and similar type junk, do not throw away the return envelope. Most of these come with postage-paid return envelopes, right? It costs them more than the regular 37cents postage "IF" and when they receive them back. It costs them nothing if you throw them away! The postage was around 50 cents before! the last increase and it is according to the weight. In that case, why not get rid of some of your other junk mail and put it in these cool little, postage-paid return envelopes. One of Andy Rooney's (60 minutes) ideas. Send an ad for your local chimney cleaner to American Express. Send a pizza coupon to Citibank. If you didn't get anything else that day, then just send them their blank application back! If you want to remain anonymous, just make sure your name isn't on anything you send them. You can even send the envelope back empty if you want to just to keep them guessing! Eventually, the banks and credit card companies will begin getting their own junk back in the mail. Let's let them know what it's like to get lots of junk mail, and best of all they're paying for it...Twice! Let's help keep our postal service busy since they are saying that e-mail is cutting into their business profits, and that's why they need to increase postage costs again. You get the idea ! If enough people follow these tips, it will work---- I have been doing this for years, and I get very little junk mail anymore.
    • by ergonal (609484) on Monday May 05, 2003 @09:10AM (#5880792)
      If you want to remain anonymous, just make sure your name isn't on anything you send them.

      I don't know how the system works where you live, but here a lot of "Reply Paid" stuff is barcoded and they could (theoretically) find out who you are by scanning that barcode.

      • Good point! Not a prob for me, though. I like to think they tear up the junk apon getting it back and scream my name, like in Wrath of Khan. Good point, still.
      • Wouldn't that be even better? This way they know what to expect from you and (hopefully) that will result in less spam from them. Simple calculation: this potential customer costs us more maney than we can possible earn from this him/her.

        And since you do nothing illegal, no need for fear! In the easiest case send them their empty envelope back. You can always say that you forgot to put something in.

      • by Guppy06 (410832)
        " but here a lot of "Reply Paid" stuff is barcoded and they could (theoretically) find out who you are by scanning that barcode."

        The barcode you refer to (a long one just above the delivery address or in the bottom right-hand corner, right?) is simply their mailing address in barcode format. It's to speed up the delivery process somewhat.
    • by tmark (230091) on Monday May 05, 2003 @09:23AM (#5880885)
      "Hold On, Please..." Saying this, while putting down your phone and walking off (instead of hanging-up immediately)

      Actually, the *people* (as opposed to the companies) who make the telemarketing calls often *love* when people do this. It gets their talk time up; it shows their superiors that they're can keep someone on the phone for a long time, presumably talking about their product. I'd even bet the telemarketing companies (assuming they're hired by whoever is selling the product) like it too. The only party who doesn't like this is the company paying for telemarketing, but the telemarketers themselves often love it.
      • by LotusNailo (652865) on Monday May 05, 2003 @09:24AM (#5880898)
        Maybe so but talk time is up while sales are down. I don't think the company likes that very much.
      • by christopherfinke (608750) <chris@efinke.com> on Monday May 05, 2003 @10:58AM (#5881841) Homepage Journal
        Actually, the *people* (as opposed to the companies) who make the telemarketing calls often *love* when people do this.
        I worked as a telemarketer for a fairly large newspaper in southern Wisconsin during high school, and yes, I did love it when people would set the phone down and leave. It gave me more time to do my crossword puzzle, and I didn't even have to try selling a thirteen week subscription at our new low, low rate. Strangely enough, with this nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic, I was "let go" after about a month...

        But seriously, telemarketers get paid a base rate per hour ($7.00 in my case), plus an hourly bonus based on how many sales he/she made. For example, if you made three sales in the 4pm-5pm hour, you would make $9.00 in that hour. If you consistently made six sales an hour, you would be making about $12.00 an hour. In my case, I wasn't bothered by people putting me on hold because I was still making over minimum wage, but without the hassle. I imagine people who do this full time wouldn't be pleased when people, such as me, play stupid games to keep them on the phone. I've been on the other side of the games, so I feel it's my duty to return the favor.
    • by Schnapple (262314) <tomkidd@via[ ]as.com ['tex' in gap]> on Monday May 05, 2003 @09:34AM (#5880972) Homepage
      start hitting your # button on the phone, 6 or 7 times, as quickly as possible. This confuses the machine that dialed the call and it kicks your number out of their system
      This sounds a lot like the TeleZapper, the $30 brick that plays the little "doo-dah-dee" sound that means the line is disconnected. Of course, from what I've heard, the telemarketing computer systems are getting wise to this sort of thing and before long (if not already) the TeleZapper will be useless. As a result, I can't help but think this technique Rooney mentioned is obselete already.

      More specifically, my information says that when you don't hear anyone on the other line what has happened is that the system they use which automatically calls people based on the average call time of their employees, has misestimated when to call (or all the employees are unavailable), so there's a silent pause. If the pause is long enough, the computer simply hangs up. Consequently, anyone who calls me from an unlisted number and gives me silence for three seconds or so I hang up on. If it's someone important, they'll call right back.

    • Sounds like one of my Granddad's plans. He used to wrap up bricks and tape the postage paid subscription cards in magazines to the outside and drop it in the mail. He knew it wouldn't make them stop putting them in his magazines, but I guess he figured that they would pay for it.
    • by ebh (116526) <ebh-slashdot@hyperr e a l.org> on Monday May 05, 2003 @11:13AM (#5882009) Journal
      You can even send the envelope back empty if you want to just to keep them guessing!

      If you really want to keep them guessing, throw in a pinch of cornstarch.

      • Just like saying b-o-m-b in the airport. Please don't do this. It's one thing to send back ads in the envelope. It's entirely another to force the building to be evacuated and put people through the distress caused by thinking that they may have been exposed to a potentially deadly virus. I know. My girlfriend was in the Hart Senate Office Building when it was evacuated due to Anthrax.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 05, 2003 @08:56AM (#5880702)
    I get like 2 of these calls a week, none of which announce the business name, some of which arrive after 9 p.m. However, these scumbag telemarketers have their numbers show up as 'Out of Area' on my caller id. How do you identify the offending company then?
    • that's illegal too (Score:2, Insightful)

      by krog (25663)
      I believe that telemarketers are prohibited by law from blocking their phone number, so add that to the list of infractions.

      (IANAL etc)
      • That might be out of bounds in the US, but it isn't here in Australia.

        We don't have to pay to receive calls, though :-)

      • by skarmor (538124)
        While it is illegal for a telemarketer to intentionally block their phone number it is still possible that the CallerID (CLID) information will not be sent due to system limitations. Digital Exchange Access (DEA) Line-side and V-Net Service, which do not support the transmission of calling party number comprise a large percentage of line-side connections.
    • You can't, but the telco can. Unfortunately, they don't seem to be required to give you that information. At one point, before I started insisting on DNCs and saw the dropoff, I actually opened a case with the cops and had traces on my line -- of course, I got a form letter from the telco saying they couldn't "find enough information to generate a complaint". BS.

    • Well, in theory they're only going to make money if they give you a way to "buy" their product. Find out what the machine is trying to sell and go from there...
    • by Sounder40 (243087) on Monday May 05, 2003 @09:47AM (#5881092)
      Absolutely, positively, answer these calls! Talk nicely to the poor dweeb on the other end of the line, and find out the name of the company. Politely refuse the offer. Then report them to the Federal Trade Commision [ftc.gov] (assuming you're in the states.) It is illegal. This will not necesarily produce an actionable case, but if you and your fellow pissed-off citizens do it enough, then they will get swatted.
    • by p.rican (643452) <spammesilly@@@gmail...com> on Monday May 05, 2003 @11:37AM (#5882248)
      The telco is not blocking the caller ID information. Caller ID is not guaranteed to work out of what is called your 'LATA' (Local Access Transport Area) If you live in NY, your LATA number is 132 which covers all 5 boros of NYC, Westchester County(?), Long Island and a little piece of Greenwich CT. The caller ID information is stored in a database that's part of a separate packet network called SS7. Your telco provider makes a 'dip' or databse query into a CNAM database to get caller ID info based on the number that is calling/called. This SS7 network is used in setting up calls and tearing them down as well as a myriad of other features it can provide. If Caller ID was guaranteed to work across the country between every carrier in the US, the length of time it would take to setup a phone call would be prohibitively long...That's just the basic jist of it. You don't realize how much goes on from the time you pick up your handset, dial some digits and get audible ringing.. Hope that clarifies the situation for you. Please don't mod me down as GEEK
  • ARS? (Score:5, Funny)

    by arvindn (542080) on Monday May 05, 2003 @08:57AM (#5880713) Homepage Journal
    Anywho gave me the caller's name - I'll call him "ARS"

    Did you leave out the 'E' at the end?

  • This sounds like some poor schmo who was sold an autodialer and forced his (now unemployed) secretary to program it. Sucks that the lawyer had to go after a legit business owner that actually works hard for that $500.

    Too bad he couldn't just extort the name of the phone number list seller out of the guy, and go after "the dealer."

    • by nuggz (69912) on Monday May 05, 2003 @09:20AM (#5880865) Homepage
      Yes he is likely a legit business owner.
      But he did at least 2 things wrong.

      #1 He is calling people in the middle of the night, this is not acceptable.

      #2 He didn't identify himself when he called, this is also a violation.

      Both of these are wrong, you take away #1, and you're left with #2, which at the very least meant that he didn't properly look into what he was doing.

      Also I hate telemarketers, and door to door soliciters, I just tell them no I won't support their cause because I hate people calling/coming to my door.
      • #3 PROFI... Sorry, I mean he considered telemarketing a legitimate activity to begin with.

        Telemarketing is the perfect example of "Just because it's legal doesn't make it alright". Why we go after pot smokers but consider telemarketers off-limits is a question that's yet to be answered.

    • I don't know about getting the list. With an autodialer, the list might be simply "The Telephone Directory." After all, simply stomping through the numbers is a lot cheaper than buying a fully qualified list of customers. Some legit direct mail companies pay in excess of one or two million dollars for a list of a thousand names. (Eg, 1000 Rich professionals who have just gotten married. 1000 Rich professionals who have just bought a house etc...)

      A landscaper who is too clueless to know that an autodialer i
    • Whatever ,troll (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mekkab (133181) on Monday May 05, 2003 @09:34AM (#5880974) Homepage Journal
      I live in Rockville, and I constantly get calls from that handyman service.

      Guess who I DON'T call when I need my gutters cleaned?!

      Just because you run a business doesn't mean you are gauranteed to make money and not have honest efforts to plug your business backfire in your face. And if you ignore the laws governing your conduct don't be surprised when you get slapped.

      Now I know your retort will be "well! The law code is so hard that the average person can't understand it and can't afford a lawyer to double check the legality of every action! WAAAAAAAA!"

      My response? He just got a lesson in the law. And it only cost him $500.

      Life isn't fair. Get a helmet and an unlisted number.

      P.S.- The Washington Post had a great article on all the scam handymen in the region. So while you say actually works hard for that $500 I say he ripped off some old lady while cleaning her gutters and "reshingled" her roof. Both of our conjectures have one thing in common: there is no proof of either of them.
    • by wowbagger (69688) * on Monday May 05, 2003 @09:58AM (#5881234) Homepage Journal
      Sorry, but I don't buy the "but he was just an honest businessman who made a mistake" line.

      He bought an autodialer with the expressed intent of telemarketing his business. He knew that what he was doing is held in very low regard by the general population, and he did it anyway.

      The arguement you often hear of "but I was just trying to make a living" applies equally well to crack dealers as to telemarketers.

      In fact:

      Wowbagger's top 5 reasons why crack dealers are better than telemarketers
      5) Some people actually WANT what the crack dealer sells.
      4) Crack dealers don't knock on my door while I'm having dinner and say "You want to buy some crack?"
      3) When you tell them you aren't interested, crack dealers leave you alone.
      2) Crack dealers don't give your name and number to other people (except, perhaps, to law enforcement).
      1) Crack dealers AREN'T TELEMARKETERS!

  • by disc-chord (232893) on Monday May 05, 2003 @09:01AM (#5880742)
    At this point most people use their cell for everything. Especially with the competing providers offering more and more free minutes, you may actually find it's a lot cheaper to go cell only. I'm personally saving $15 a month.

    But here's the sweet bit... You never get telemarketed at! (Obviously you shouldn't be doing stupid stuff like giving it out to businesses.) And you don't have to worry about annoying late-night calls, as most providers give you free voice mail, so you can just turn off the phone or put it in silent mode.
    • You never get telemarketed at!

      Care to share the secret with us? My wife and I both changed our cell phone numbers recently and within days we were recieving telemarketing calls. I had mine for less than a day or so and I got an automated computer voice trying to sell me a way to avoid calls like this in the future!

      Of course in my case it may have been different - I got a call from someone trying to track down someone else, so I probably had someone's old phone number, but I can't explain my wife's as an

      • as far as I know, it's illegal for telemarketers in the US to call cell phones. This is because it is the person reciving the calls that pays for the call.

        I have only recived one telemarketing call on my cell phone over the last 2 years i've had it. and that was AT&T Broadband (who i use for cable modem, and cable TV) who has the number listed as contact for my current service. They were trying to sell me an upgrade to digital cable. I said, "This is a cell phone, it is illegal to call cell phones,
        • You were wrong. It is not illegal to place calls to a cellular phone when you use that number as a contact method. Since you provided your number to the company for the knowing purpose of having them use that method to contact you, then you have provided prior express permission. I use my cell number for Columbia House memberships because, and they have contacted me. On the first call, I simply said I wasn't interested and hung up. My fault, I know, since I did not asked to be placed on the Do-Not-Call list
    • by SnowDog_2112 (23900) on Monday May 05, 2003 @10:13AM (#5881375) Homepage
      This might not be an attractive option for some people. For example, dialing 911 from a cell phone doesn't always do what you'd expect. In many areas, it connects you to the state police, or even the highway patrol (the assumption being that you're probably on the road, I guess).

      Likewise, dialing 911 from a landline and leaving the phone off the hook will usually result in somebody coming to investigate, as they can figure out where you are. Not always so with a cell phone.

      In a medical emergency, those minor differences could turn into life-or-death differences. Some folks just aren't willing to take that risk.

      We're not quite at the point where the majority of people are comfortable with losing their normal phone service. In my home, for example, I get lousy reception on my mobile phone -- if I'm talking on the mobile phone, I'm usually confined to finding the "right spot" in the house and not moving much. Even then, the difference in quality is clear (no pun intended).
  • Every time one of these telemarketer articles comes up, I wonder "what are they talking about?". Here in Australia there is VERY little telemarketer calls. Anyone know why this is? Is it just me, or do other Australians receive a lot of telemarketer calls? I don't think my phone home has received one in a few years. What's Australia doing right, or telemarketer companies doing wrong? Is our population too small?
    • Re:Australia (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Hellraisr (305322)
      We have the same thing here in Canada. We rarely get telemarketing calls.. probably once or twice a month. I have heard that in some parts of the USA, a person can potentially get up to 9 calls per day from telemarketers.

      That's just crazy.. But of course, they wouldn't be doing it if they didn't make money off of it, so the best solution is to have no-one ever buy anything over the phone from a telemarketer. This would be the same reason that spam is still going strong. Enough people actually buy the
    • Maybe you get lucky. I get about 3 a week here in Perth - and I have an unlisted number.

      Doesn't stop me putting them on hold, though :-)

  • Spamming already exists on the gray fringes of legality/ethicality (is that a word?) I can't imagine that charging a penny a letter would slow down a dedicated spammer at all. They'd simply send them without paying and continue to spoof / hide / relocate as required.

    This, like many laws aimed at criminals, would make things marginally more inconvenient for honest people while ignoring the criminals.

  • Still get calls? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by g(zerofunk.org) (596290) on Monday May 05, 2003 @09:05AM (#5880771) Homepage
    I was having a problem with calls at all hours of the day. I finally added the 'disconnected' tones to the first part of my answering machine message, which you can find from a google.com search, and since then I get maybe 2 calls a week rather then the 10 a day I used to get.
    For anyone who wants to cut down on calls, without trying the approach of using the courts, I would higly suggest this method.
    g
  • Ok... This might be a bit trollish, but...


    Someone needs to explain to me why "hilarity ensues" when an attorney sues a telemarketer, but it doesn't ensue when an attorney sends a cease and desist order?


    Shouldn't the attorney have just called this poor landscaper up and asked him to stop making calls first?

    • And really, it wasn't all that hilarious either...
    • Shouldn't the attorney have just called this poor landscaper up and asked him to stop making calls first?

      Yes, a rational person would probably try that, but as a lawyer, hell, he didn't even have to chase an ambulance for this job, it came to him!!

      You can't give a lawyer a potential, direct, personal lawsuit and expect them to "turn the other cheek" LOL

      Telemarketers are a pain in the ass.....I've been playing modem handshakes at the automated calls recently, in hope that it'll think its a data/fax line.

    • Two reasons:

      1. /. stole the phrase from fark.com [fark.com], who puts in on just about every other article.

      2. It's "funny" when someone you hate suffers. For example: If Bill Gates was diagnosed with a terminal cancer, the /. crowd would LOVE it. If Torvalds came down with the same cancer, it would be the biggest tragedy in geek history.

      It would be a geek tragedy.
  • by horati0 (249977) on Monday May 05, 2003 @09:12AM (#5880800) Journal
    "Greetings friend. Do you wish to look as happy as me? Well, you've got the power inside you right now. So use it. And send one dollar to Happy Dude, 742 Evergreen Terrace, Springfield. Don't delay! Eternal happiness is just a dollar away."
  • every drop helps (Score:4, Interesting)

    by John_Renne (176151) <zooi.gniffelnieuws@net> on Monday May 05, 2003 @09:18AM (#5880847) Homepage
    Allthough an individual might not get rich out of these practices, the power of the mass counts. By sharing this information with the rest of the world more people can sue. Maybe $500 won't hurt the telemarketeer but I bet 1 million people all suing for the $500 will...
    • Re:every drop helps (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tmark (230091)
      Maybe $500 won't hurt the telemarketeer but I bet 1 million people all suing for the $500 will...

      And how much will 1 million x (costs of conducting a trial) hurt our legal system ? Are there even 1 million lawsuits filed in the entire U.S. each year ?
  • by mr.nobody (113509) on Monday May 05, 2003 @09:22AM (#5880881)

    Exactly where was the "hilarity?" This is just a short article on how he tracked down the guy with some simple online tools and then sued him under a law he was familiar with. There isn't even any wackiness or insanity here. It's just, well, kinda boring.

  • by MikeFM (12491) on Monday May 05, 2003 @09:27AM (#5880920) Homepage Journal
    I am pretty sure that many - if not most- small claims judgements are never paid off. It's usually recommended that you not even bother if you're going to need to pay for a lawyer or collection agency. It might be worth $20 if you could spare it - just to hassle the telemarketing folks, but I certainly wouldn't count on a pay off of even $500. Sure you'd probably win your judgement but would they ever actually pay you?
    • Ah... but a judgement in court (even small claims court) goes on the persons credit history... (and stays there even after it is paid) and a few unpaid judements dont look good at all when trying to apply for credit....

  • by 91degrees (207121) on Monday May 05, 2003 @09:34AM (#5880964) Journal
    I mean, sure $500 is a reasonable amount for a single violation. Most businesses could afford that. But if a lot of people decide to sue, then it strikes me that this would be like the RIAA's recent claim of the GDP of several countries.

    This is irritating, but do we really thin kthe crime is bad enough to charge an individual a potential $5 000 000 (assuming 10 000 irate victims)?
  • by gosand (234100) on Monday May 05, 2003 @09:37AM (#5880994)
    Seriously, which is worse in this country, the annoying-ass advertisers/marketers or the legal system?

    At first I was all for this attorney, but then I read his comment about filing in small claims court being "addictive". You know what? Instead of enacting revenge, and passing on all of the bad feelings that you accumulate, why not try to change things by starting with yourself?

    Ironically, people who are angry all the time piss me off! Hey, the marketer had it coming, but do you think the $500 the lawyer got really did anything? If the guy is cold calling people, he doesn't have many scruples, and will get that $500 back somehow. He didn't learn any lesson. Now you might think that the solution is that EVERYONE should sue him, but it isn't. We've created this money driven society ourselves, so who can blame the people who try to capitalize on it. What, you think you are above it? Have you ever cheated on your tax returns, tried to screw some company because of a pricing error, voided a warranty on a product and tried to return it? Even if you have never been taken in by greed, now is not the time to start. Hey, it's tough, I know. But I have finally just become so sick of it that I am trying not to be like that. But in the U.S. it is very hard, because we are all about money money money, consume consume consume.

    We are ALL part of this society, and the only way to change it is by starting with yourself. I am not about to cheer a lawyer for suing a telemarketer, any more than I would cheer Hilary Rosen for kicking Bill Gates in the nuts.

  • by His name cannot be s (16831) on Monday May 05, 2003 @09:44AM (#5881058) Journal
    "a heaping serving of Revenge, The Dish Best Served Cold(TM); "

    Heh-heh, well said!
  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Monday May 05, 2003 @09:46AM (#5881070) Homepage
    I got one of these one Sunday morning when I was feeling grumpy. I asked the guy at the other end who he was ``I want to know who I am talking to'', I also said ``Do you promise to give me £1000 if you try to sell me anything'', and was told to ''fu*k off'' (sic, well, if you replace the '*').

    I dialed 1471 & got their number (unusually, they normally hide their number), and called the BT telephone nuisance line. They told me that they get 100,000 calls a month about telephone spam. They looked up the number & said that they knew the company well, but aren't allowed to tell me who they were.

    They told me to phone 0800 398893 the telephone preference people. I followed the procedure and gave my number. A month from that date it is a criminal offence for these guys to phone me, I gather that they do obey it since there is a fine of several thousand pounds per call.

    Hopefully that will be the last time that these vermin bother me.

    Oh, I think that this guy may be one lawyer that I don't immediately regard as a social vulture.
  • Moreover, I knew a little about the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA),

    A TCPA that protects the consumer? That's some good irony! For a second there I thought through my knee-jerk acronym recoginzing radar that the TCPA (which is a specification and an organization, not a law of course) had been expanded to cover phone fraud and annoyance.
  • by fudgefactor7 (581449) on Monday May 05, 2003 @10:24AM (#5881488)
    I used to work for a telemarketing firm (yes, I'm still filled with self-loathing over it, thank you very much--you know, the scent never leaves?) and routinely we would record our calls (for verification)--standard procedure. If we ever called anyone and they said that they were going to record the conversation, we were under orders to terminate the call immediately and remove them from the calling list.

    Worth a try, I've never used it because I only get calls that are just dead air...must be the Illuminati or something.
    • So you're saying you may have routinely violated state laws in regards to recording? Multiple states have 'all-party' recording laws. All parties to a conversation must be aware of the recording.

      The dead air calls are caused by automated dialers. A telemarketer will typically have more lines than sales people. Say you have 20 lines and 10 reps, the lines would all be dialed..some get busy signals, so are not in service, and some get answered. The first 10 people that pick up instantly get transferred to a
  • Win-Win (Score:3, Funny)

    by Michael_Burton (608237) <michaelburton@brainrow.com> on Monday May 05, 2003 @10:28AM (#5881540) Homepage

    Oh, good. There aren't enough lawsuits.

    Telemarketers vs. Lawyers in an epic Battle to the Death!

    I know a lot of people who would consider that a win-win situation.

  • by transient (232842) on Monday May 05, 2003 @11:01AM (#5881870)
    AT&T once called me at work to sell me long distance service. When I answered the phone by stating my name (which I'm sure most people do at the office) the telemarketer asked if she'd called a business. When I said yes, she simply apologized and hung up. I can only assume that my work number has been permanently erased from their records.

    So now I answer my home phone as if I were at work. Mwahaha!

  • by BTWR (540147) <americangibor3@@@yahoo...com> on Monday May 05, 2003 @11:07AM (#5881941) Homepage Journal
    Greetings sir! Please send $1 to Happy Dude!
    Evergreen Terrace, Springfield
  • by Ayandia (630042) on Monday May 05, 2003 @11:12AM (#5881995)
    Although he passed away six years ago, my home phone is still in my grandfather's name.

    I frequently get marketing calls for my grandfather, and I've found that the BEST response is:
    "I'm sorry, he's dead. Can I take a message?"

    They very rarely leave messages, although one or two have asked when would be a better time call back.
    • the BEST response is: "I'm sorry, he's dead. Can I take a message?"

      This is, indeed, the best response..

      In the late 80's, I started getting phone calls for "Leanne" - they came at all hours of the day and night, and from different people.. Since I'd had the phone number for 3 years, I could only assume that this "Leanne" person couldn't remember her own phone number.

      After a couple of weeks of this, I was woken up at 3:30 in the morning by one of these calls.. when they asked for Leanne, I told them "No,
  • by rjnagle (122374) on Monday May 05, 2003 @11:18AM (#5882047) Homepage
    I hate to deliver the bad news to you guys, but with the advent of cheap international telephone calls, the next logical step is for telemarketing calls to move overseas. Companies that make this move will no longer have to worry about TCPA and can literally call anytime. Perhaps the check to this lies in the companies that telemarketers promote; if they are big and international, they might be subject to TCPA, but it's doubtful whether Bangalore telemarketers for ATT put ATT at any risk of liability. I have been gathering evidence for some small claim TCPA actions. If you want to cost these companies money, demand that they send a written copy of this policy. (Although most telemarketers don't know this, TCPA requires it! If they don't, they are subject to a $500 penalty). And even if they do send it, it imposes a cost on telemarketing calls. More info at junkbusters [junkbusters.com].
  • by raoulotoole (456383) on Monday May 05, 2003 @11:43AM (#5882295)
    Like others, I have used otherwise unproductive time to play with these people.
    Instead of asking them to hold on or following a script I enjoy the opportunity of letting my imagination run wild. I find the funniest exchanges take place with plain old phone sex. If you're good you can keep them on the line for more than 15 minutes. The object is to keep them on the line until YOU decide to end the call.

    Start with-
    Are you wearing underwear? What color?
    Ask if they're touching themself during the call. Tell them you are.

    Ask if they are over 18. If they say yes, ask if they would like to meet in person. Tell them you will send them a plane ticket. Or tell them you'll meet them at the side door at the end of their shift.

    They either won't know what to say or will tell you the call is being recorded. Say "I know... I listen to my tapes late at night..."

    You get the idea.
  • by slappy_guru (230776) on Monday May 05, 2003 @12:03PM (#5882474)
    Wait until Friday afternoon:

    1] If the return fax is an 800 # great!
    2] If not make sure your fax # is on an unlimited long distance plan
    3] Tape 3-4... 8.5 by 11 sheets together
    4] Write on them "UNSOLICITED FAXING IS AGAINST FEDRAL LAW!!!!"
    5] Feed into fax machine and tape the first sheet to the last sheet.
    6] Program the return fax # into your fax.
    7] Hit send key !!!
    8] If you feel like it stop the call on Monday, unless you have already run the junk faxer out of paper and the call is already stopped!
  • by bani (467531) on Monday May 05, 2003 @02:03PM (#5883591)
    the worst telemarketer fraud is from companies operating in canada, in order to avoid US law. canadianus telco rates are low enough that its economical enough for them to operate like this.

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