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Telemarketers Plan Counterattack 587

Posted by simoniker
from the saturation-by-other-delightful-means dept.
Chris Hoofnagle writes "CNN reports that companies who heavily use telemarketing are planning to counterattack consumers with a barrage of spam and junk mail in October, when the new do-not-call registry goes into effect. Slashdotters should be aware that, as well as anti-spam email software, there are tools to avoid junk snail-mail, such as Junkbusters' free Declare, Private Citizen's excellent service and the Postal Service's Prohibitory Order service, which is described at the EPIC privacy page."
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Telemarketers Plan Counterattack

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  • RReaahh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by digitalsushi (137809) *
    "We'll be giving the dog what the dog wants to eat," James F. Lyons, president of direct-marketing consultancy Optima Direct told the paper.

    The paper said that in addition to seeing more e-mail or junk mail, consumers who call companies on other business may now have to listen to sales pitches while negotiating voice mail messages.


    Yeah, that's what I wanna hear- I'm a dog, and I get to listen to kibbles and bits and bits and bits next time I call to get my dog neutered. Tell ya what boys, you pull a vo
    • Re:RReaahh (Score:5, Informative)

      by pair-a-noyd (594371) on Wednesday July 02, 2003 @11:22PM (#6355879)
      google a sit tone. sit.wav or sit.mp3
      It's that nasty sounding tri-tone that you get when you call a phone number that's been disconnected.
      Go to wally world and buy a $10 answering machine and a $10 caller ID.

      Hit -record- on the answering machine.
      Play the SIT tone into the microphone at a LOUD level, TWO TIMES in a row.
      Then wait two seconds and say,
      "I'm sorry, the number you called is not taking calls right now, please call back later." and repeat the SIT tone two more times loudly.
      Set the answering machine to announce only, answer on 4th ring and don't let it record messages.

      When the phone rings, look at the caller ID.
      If it's not someone you KNOW or it says, "out of area" or "name unavailable" let the machine take care of it for you.

      They have a computer that dials and listens for human voices. That's why you get silence when you answer it. When it hears you say "hello" it knows there is a living human there and it switches you to a semi-human operator so they can harrass you for 10 minutes.

      The dialing computer hears the SIT tone and it asusmes that it has dialed a phone number that has been disconnected. You number is removed from the dialing databank and won't be tried again until the next billing cycle, they assume that you may have had your phone turned off for nonpayment and maybe get it back on later.

      I swear to you this works. Just do it for ONE WEEK and this shit will almost totally stop.
      And they DO sell/trade/share/rent those number banks with other companies. So after a few months the calls will all but totally vanish.

      TRUST ME, IT WORKS!!

      • Re:RReaahh (Score:4, Informative)

        by PurpleFloyd (149812) <zeno20&attbi,com> on Thursday July 03, 2003 @12:48AM (#6356224) Homepage
        Unfortunately, the problem with this technique is that the (ridiculously popular) Telezapper uses the SIT technique, so telemarketers are reprogramming their machines to ignore SIT tones. What works is to get them to face legal penalties if they call you. Get on the National Do-not-call list. In the meantime, tell them to place you on their do-not-call list; they're required by law to have one, and if they call you again, then they're in for stiff fines.

        A note about one nasty little loophole in this, though: if you ask them to "remove my number from the database" then they have to remove it, but there's no time limit on how soon they can put it in (they could take it out and put it right back in). If you ask to be put on the "do-not-call list," however, then they are in for a world of hurt. Just get the telemarketing company name and ideally the telemarketer's name as well, and send an email to the FTC. They then are fined $11,000 (reduce your tax burden, eh?).

        • Re:RReaahh (Score:5, Informative)

          by pair-a-noyd (594371) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @01:17AM (#6356314)
          The telezapper just uses ONE of the three tones.
          They telemarketers got wise to this and they now only recognize the tri-tone as being legit.
          The single tone the telezapper puts out is no longer useable.
          A REAL SIT tone still gets the job done..

          • Re:RReaahh (Score:3, Informative)

            by PurpleFloyd (149812)
            I have a friend who works for Qwest; he says that telemarketers that ignore the SIT tones entirely are quickly becoming the majority. While the Telezapper may only produce one of the tones, apparently a fair number of knockoff products are on the market that will play all three. Also, the telemarketers don't want to be caught again on the SIT tone trick; they won't let anyone come out with a "Telezapper II" that plays all three and get caught on the same trick twice.

            While I am in favor of technological so

        • by Esion Modnar (632431) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @07:02AM (#6357245)
          This is the only thing that has worked for me. If you have a few extra minutes, just ask them all kinds of stupid questions, but which sound legit for what they are selling. (No "what are you wearing" questions...)

          I had one lady hooked, asking questions about warranty, return procedures, etc. Then I would say "hold on, somebody at the door" and put the phone down for a few minutes, and come back for more questions.

          Finally, after about 25 minutes of this, I asked a question the drone did not have a script for, and the supervisor came on the line. Asked her a few questions, finally got tired of it all, and said, "You know what? I changed my mind. I don't want it after all. Thanks, bye."

          I did not receive another telemarketer call for over a month. (Usually got them once a day...)

          And before you go on about, telemarketers are human too, I used to work as one, etc. Well, I'm human, wish to be left alone, and if polite requests don't work, then this is war. TFB.

        • Another loophole (Score:3, Informative)

          by StringBlade (557322)
          The other loophole (at least with New York's No-Call List) is that charitable organizations are exempt from the list, so you may still get the Arthritis Foundation calling you at dinnertime asking if you'd be willing to snail-spam all your neighbors for donations (happened to me). You can ask not to be called, but of course you have to be willing to perpetually reject charitable requests (which I have legitimate reason to do financially).

          On the other hand, since I've signed up for the no-call list two yea

      • Re:RReaahh (Score:4, Informative)

        by Phroggy (441) * <slashdot3NO@SPAMphroggy.com> on Thursday July 03, 2003 @01:19AM (#6356322) Homepage
        Play the SIT tone into the microphone at a LOUD level, TWO TIMES in a row.

        You only need to play it once. Loud is good though. Call it from a friend's house to see how it sounds.

        Then wait two seconds and say,
        "I'm sorry, the number you called is not taking calls right now, please call back later." and repeat the SIT tone two more times loudly.
        Set the answering machine to announce only, answer on 4th ring and don't let it record messages.


        Completely unnecessary. When the SIT tone is done, record a normal greeting. Set the machine to go ahead and record messages. More SIT tones at the end of your message are annoying and will not help you. Remember that there will be people calling that you actually want to talk to, and you don't want to scare them away.

        A telemarketer's computer will detect the SIT tone (the first time) and remove the number from their list, as you said. Or, a live telemarketer will hear the SIT tone and immediately hang up, thinking the number is disconnected - the faster they hang up, the faster they can move on to the next call, and they get paid commission. Your friends/family/etc. will probably stop to listen to your message, which sounds like a normal answering machine, and they'll just leave a message.

        When you ARE home, answer the phone normally; don't use the answering machine. If a telemarketer calls, simply tell them: "Please add this number to your Do Not Call list." Notice the difference between "add this number" and "remove this number". The SIT tone on the answering machine when you're not home will have the same effect as asking for your number to be removed - it's better than nothing, but you'll always wind up on some other list. Do Not Call lists are taken VERY seriously.

        They have a computer that dials and listens for human voices. That's why you get silence when you answer it. When it hears you say "hello" it knows there is a living human there and it switches you to a semi-human operator so they can harrass you for 10 minutes.

        Wrong. The reason you get silence is, their predictive dialing system got a little too aggressive.

        Basically what happens is, say you've got 500 employees logged in, all on the phone. A phone call takes X seconds on average. It takes an average of Y seconds to dial a phone number, wait for it to connect, and a hapless victim to answer. Based on these statistics, there should be an employee finished with his/her current call and ready to take a new one in Z seconds (Z is X minus how long ago they started their current call). Wait until Z=Y, and start dialing, even though all employees are still on other calls and nobody's available to talk to a victim. As soon as an employee becomes available, connect them to the number you just dialed. The problem is, since Z can fluctuate by quite a bit, you may have dialed too soon, so when Y seconds go by and the victim answers, no employees have finished with the calls they're already on yet, and the victim gets silence until someone becomes available to connect the call to.
        • Re:RReaahh (Score:3, Insightful)

          by pair-a-noyd (594371)
          My ex wife worked in a boiler room calling to sell cable TV subscriptions a few years ago.
          The system they used had a voice recognition system, similar to a modem. Some modems will hear a voice when they dial and send the message VOICE CALL to the terminal and hang up rather than bug the shit out of someone with modem tones in case you dialed a wrong number.

          There may be other methods such as you describe but I personally witnessed the voice recognition system, it switched the line to an operator as soon as
      • Re:RReaahh (Score:4, Informative)

        by ONU CS Geek (323473) <ian.m.wilson@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Thursday July 03, 2003 @06:56AM (#6357222) Homepage

        Uh huh.

        It works?

        Most telemarketers and outgoing call centers use what is known as a Progressive Dialer. Generally speaking, a Progressive Dialer uses ISDN. ISDN has this wonderful ability to have a "Data" channel, basically taking all of the information that would be considered "In band" (e.g., ringing, busy signal, SIT tones, etc) and placing it inside that data channel--so in theory, the ISDN 'channel' only hears voices...no dial tone, no busy signals, no SIT noise.

        That ISDN line knows if your phone really is SIT'ed out, if it really is busy, or what the status of your line is, just by reading the information that your phone company's switch sends it.

        I should also remind you that it's probably against your phone company's TOS to use SIT tones on your answering machine, however, YMMV.

        This is just technical information, and I'm going from my limited experince as a Telephone Switch Operator for a campus that had a little under 3000 trunk lines. It may work for you, but, who knows...it may not.

    • Re:RReaahh (Score:3, Interesting)

      by whovian (107062)
      Well, considering that dogs eat their own feces, I rather dislike having it pointed out to me that I exist as a consumer for telemarketers to dish out their sh*t and to expect me to eat it merrily.

      If it's war they want, then they shall have it.
  • SPAM (Score:2, Funny)

    by joeware (672849)
    I didn't think it was possible, but clicking on the unsubscribe links on the SPAM that I get, has actually stopped most of it, and I have a fairly clean inbox. Now, whenever I check my email, I get disappointed to see no new messages. Maybe it was nice to have SPAM keeping me company.
  • by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hogger@NoSpaM.gmail.com> on Wednesday July 02, 2003 @11:05PM (#6355778) Journal
    Those sleazebags will simply move to Canada, where there is already an overabundance of call centers and phone scammers.
  • sociopaths!!!! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by willtsmith (466546) on Wednesday July 02, 2003 @11:05PM (#6355779) Journal
    These idiots just don't get it, do they. We don't want the crap their schlepping.

    Perhpas we'll need a "do not mail, and do not e-mail" list now as well.

    Seriously, I think spammers should go to jail if they are requrested to stop and DON'T. I'm not even convinced that the death penalty would be considered "cruel and unusual" for these idiots who JUST WON'T LEAVE US ALONE!!!!!
    • by LordLucless (582312) on Wednesday July 02, 2003 @11:43PM (#6355977)
      Yes, we need a list that includes do not mail, do not e-mail, do not phone and do not send carrier pigeons. This list shall be known as that STFU List.
  • Yes... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Pxtl (151020) on Wednesday July 02, 2003 @11:06PM (#6355782) Homepage
    because this will vastly improve the popularity of their products, putting them in the company of Nigerian scams and penis enlargement systems. Very popular indeed.
  • by sahonen (680948) on Wednesday July 02, 2003 @11:06PM (#6355786) Homepage Journal
    It's a lot harder to have a throw-away phone number than an email address. Thank you Hotmail!
  • Comical. (Score:5, Funny)

    by sbszine (633428) on Wednesday July 02, 2003 @11:07PM (#6355790) Homepage Journal
    I love it, the article has a popunder : )
  • STOP BUYING. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by michaelhood (667393) on Wednesday July 02, 2003 @11:07PM (#6355793)
    Stop buying stuff from the companies that do this. Bottom line. Spam and telemarketing works because of idiots. No one will pay cold callers who can't sell 1 out of 1000 sales. Put an end to the insanity, slashdot.
    • Re:STOP BUYING. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by KillerHamster (645942) on Wednesday July 02, 2003 @11:29PM (#6355913) Homepage

      Spam and telemarketing works because of idiots.

      Idiots, yes, but I think a lot of their sales come from the elderly. When people's minds start to weaken with age or illness, they become easy targets for these scumbags. My grandparents were constantly being tricked into buying useless stuff over the phone before they went to the nursing home. I don't mind telemarketers calling me so much, I like messing with them sometimes, but it really infuriates me to see them prey on old people.

      • Re:STOP BUYING. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by zornorph (63846) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @07:22AM (#6357334) Homepage
        Idiots, yes, but I think a lot of their sales come from the elderly.

        Unfortunately, I must agree with this. When I was younger, I took a job doing telemarketing calls. On my first day they gave me a list of numbers and a script to follow. After about an hour, I started to notice that most of the voices on the other end of the phone sounded fairly old. Unfortunately, the older folks were the ones going for the script too, which made me feel pretty crappy, so I threw out the list of 'leads' I had gathered so far and quit the same day.

        We need to put pressure on the companies that hire these types of firms. Without any money to support them, these telemarketing/spam/etc companies will simply go away, as they are motivated by greed.
    • Re:STOP BUYING. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Slurpee (4012)

      Stop buying stuff from the companies that do this. Bottom line. Spam and telemarketing works because of idiots.


      Alternatively, shoot all the idiots. And the elderly. And the naive. And the uneducated. And those who should have known better.

      And when you and me are left...then cold calling us won't work!

      Of course, perhaps it will be easier to stop the telemarketers from calling, rather then stopping people being people (ie idiotic).

    • NO KIDDING!!!!! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I think the front of the Wall Steet Journal today had a graphic on the right side of the front page showing the amount of money spent by industries on telemarketing.

      If I remember correctly, the bar graphs summed up to something around $10 billion (yes, $10,000,000,000) dollars anually.

      So, if $10 billion is being spent on telemarketing, how much are people buying to make that expenditure worth while?

      Somewhere, oh somewhere, there are those idiots spending ATLEAST $10 fucking-billion dollars a year to keep
    • by GGardner (97375) on Wednesday July 02, 2003 @11:51PM (#6356014)
      The problem is that there are idiots on both sides of the transaction. P.T. Barnum would be so proud. If said idiot believes he can get rich quick by hiring a spammer to send out 100 million emails for $100 on his behalf, it doesn't matter if there is 0 response. The spams have already gone out, and even if he doesn't try again, there are thousands of other idiots willing to take his place.
    • by Ryan Amos (16972) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @12:11AM (#6356098)
      If I bought stuff from even 1/1000 of the spam I got, I'd have about 37 college diplomas, a 2 foot long penis and several billion in laundered Nigerian money in my bank account. Alas, it gets caught by my spam filter, so I'm left working really hard for one college diploma, a tiny caucasean penis and almost nothing in my bank account. Thanks a lot, spamassassin >:(
  • by pair-a-noyd (594371) on Wednesday July 02, 2003 @11:08PM (#6355798)
    They want to play dirty??

    They better have some heavy duty security in place. And they better have armed escorts to and from the parking lots. Someone is going to get a belly full someday very soon and they will go looking for a pound of flesh..

    The odds are against them because they so viscously and relentlessly hound and harrass such large numbers of people so endlessly.
    Sooner or later, the numbers say that a certain percentage of their victims will snap..

    And you know what? I won't shed a single tear for one of them. Not one....
    • by MrP- (45616) * <rob@e[ ]emrp.net ['lit' in gap]> on Wednesday July 02, 2003 @11:56PM (#6356041) Homepage
      "Sooner or later, the numbers say that a certain percentage of their victims will snap.."

      Like this guy [yahoo.com]?

      (incase it gets deleted sometime in the future:

      Man Turns Tables on Telemarketer

      DULUTH, Minn. - An exasperated resident turned the tables on a company that hounded him with telemarketing calls, calling it more than 100 times in two days.

      Marc Plaisted said he started calling Minnesota Auto Glass after the St. Peter-based company's telemarketers called him up to three times a day -- even after he asked them not to.

      Plaisted had figured the calls would stop when he signed on to Minnesota's "do-not-call" list months ago.

      "I'm following the law and asking them to be taken off the list and they ignore me and then, on top of it, start swearing at me," he said. "That was where they flipped the switch with me and I said, 'Enough is enough. I'm going after you guys now."

      Plaisted started calling the Minnesota Auto Glass's Duluth office last Thursday, and placed more than 100 calls, he said.

      "I just called them every five minutes and let them know that, no, I don't have a crack in my windshield, because this seems to be something they are very concerned about," Plaisted said.

      A Minnesota Auto Glass manager in Duluth said Plaisted's number had been removed from its list and that proof of the removal would be put in writing.
      )
      • by kramer2718 (598033) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @12:17AM (#6356121) Homepage
        That's a really nice tactic. Unfortunately, it only works with small local companies. Larger companies have phone-trees, caller-id blocking, etc.

        Does anyone know how to find out where a telemarketer is REALLY calling you from?

        Wouldn't that be great, you could sell a telemarketer's number to other telemarketers?
        • by Genom (3868) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @09:29AM (#6358263)
          Does anyone know how to find out where a telemarketer is REALLY calling you from?

          Well, the way I understand it, it works something like this:
          • Company A is trying to sell a widget, and hires Company B (a marketing company) to help them sell more widgets
          • Company B basically coordinates things, but does nothing itself. They outsource to several different companies specializing in various forms of advertising - one for print ads in magazines and newspapers, possibly another to make/run a commerical on the radio or TV, and, of course, Company C, who does telemarketing. (Possibly also having Companies D, E and F do it as well...)
          • Company C's real business is not telemarketing, but selling customer lists, containing phone, email, street addresses, etc... They outsource the actual calling job (along with a calling list) to Company G.
          • Company G has an automated calling device, instead of an actual phone center. They make the call, play a pre-recorded pitch, and refer you to call Company H for more details. Since there's no actual PERSON to talk to, you can't ask to be put on their "Do Not Call" list.
          • Company H (who does no calling, only taking calls, and orders, passing them back to Company C, who then passes it back on to Company A) answers your (rather irate) phone call, asking to be put on their "Do Not Call" list. Since they do no calling, they don't have a "Do Not Call" list at all, and can't help. When you ask who they work for, so that you may be put on their "Do Not Call" list, they may or may not give you an answer, depending on whether they are allowed to give out such "confidential company information".
          • Even if you manage to track it back to Company C, and speak to someone there, since they only outsource to calling companies, and do no calling themselves, their "Do Not Call" list is also useless to you, as it would only be binding for them, not the company doing the actual calling. Again, depending on their policy, you may or may not be able to actually get information on the calling company itself. Most likely not, as it would sabotage their business model if they were to give out that information.
          • Even if you do manage to get added to one calling company's "Do Not Call" list, other calling companies aren't bound by that (and the one you did get on may "expire" after 3 months or so)
          Yes, I speak from personal experience, after attempting to track down and get onto the "Do Not Call" list for whatever companies Disney hires to telemarket their cruises. Whomever they use (I wasn't able to get a company name, because it's "confidential") uses an automated dialer, with a 15 minute sales pitch recording that doesn't care if it's talking to an answering machine or not. My answering machine only holds 15 minutes worth of messages - so one of their pitches makes my machine useless.

          The problem is that there's so many layers, each independant of the others, and each wary of giving out "company secrets" regarding their "business partners", that it's like pulling teeth to get any kind of information out of them. And heaven forbid you actually tell them you're trying to stop the telemarketing calls -- that's grounds for them to immediately hang up on you in most cases.
    • by nettdata (88196) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @12:33AM (#6356180) Homepage
      No shit... some guy pops one of these guys, and I end up on the jury? NOT GUILTY.

      I just wish there was LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE legislation so that no commercial or non-profit organization is allowed to call, by default, unless they can prove that the end user has opted in.

      Oh, you say we've opted in? Well, that opt-in expires every 3 months, at which time they have to opt people back in. That's the way the opt-out stuff works now, at least in Canada.

      They want to discuss the case in court? Then they have to record EVERY call they make for future reference. If their LUDs show they called the number, and they're missing any recordings of the calls in their records, then they lose by default. "But that's expensive, and complex, and costs us money!" Well NOOOO SHIT, and TOUGH LUCK.

      As to the auditing, "keep them honest" part of this process? Make them pay for it... part of the cost of doing the marketing.

      I'm sick and tired of corps/politicians/orgs claiming it is their RIGHT to call me and bug me, and them making ME jump through hoops to try and stop it.

      If that's their right, it should be MY right to beat the crap out of them. Seems fair to me.
  • EPIC slashdotted (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Cowdog (154277) on Wednesday July 02, 2003 @11:09PM (#6355800) Journal
    Here's the relevant section of the page from EPIC. I only included one link, the one to the most important form.

    === snip ===
    Stopping Junk Mail with Post Office Prohibitory Orders

    Individuals may obtain a prohibitory order to stop junk mail from being sent to a residence. This order can be obtained through a law that prohibits the mailing of advertising materials "which the addressee in his sole discretion believes to be erotically arousing or sexually provocative." Practically, this means that individuals can obtain a prohibitory order against any junk mail sender.

    Individuals wishing to obtain a prohibitory order should visit their local post office for "Form 1500" or click on the link provided below.

    The Attorney General's office no longer sues under this statute to obtain damages. However, individuals should still obtain prohibitory orders against junk mailers. By doing so, marketers who engage in saturation mailings (heavily-discounted mailings delivered to every residence in the area that are usually addressed with "Postal Customer" or "Resident") must adjust their address lists so that the materials are no longer sent to the address with the prohibitory order. This results in higher costs to junk mailers.

    * Application for Listing and/or Prohibitory Order (Form 1500), United States Postal Inspection Service [usps.com].
    * 39 U.S.C. Sect. 3008, Prohibition of pandering advertisements.
    * Rowan v. U.S. Post Office, 397 U.S. 728 (1970). "In today's complex society we are inescapably captive audiences for many purposes, but a sufficient measure of individual autonomy must survive to permit every householder to exercise control over unwanted mail...Today's merchandising methods, the plethora of mass mailings subsidized by low postal rates, and the growth of the sale of large mailing lists as an industry in itself have changed the mailman from a carrier of primarily private communications, as he was in a more leisurely day, and have made him an adjunct of the mass mailer who sends unsolicited and often unwanted mail into every home. It places no strain on the doctrine of judicial notice to observe that whether measured by pieces or pounds, Everyman's mail today is made up overwhelmingly of material he did not seek from persons he does not know. And all too often it is matter he finds offensive."
    * Unsolicited Sexually Oriented Advertising, United States Postal Inspection Service.
    * Stop Unsolicited Sexually Oriented Advertising in Your Mail, United State Postal Inspection Service.
    * Postal Bulletin PB 21977, United State Postal Inspection Service, July 30, 1998. "The prohibitory order. This order aids in protecting customers from receiving pandering advertisements through the mail. An addressee may obtain a prohibitory order against the mailer of an advertisement that the addressee determines, in his or her sole discretion, to be offering matter for sale that is erotically arousing or sexually provocative, as defined in title 39, United States Code, 3008. Postmasters may not refuse to accept a Form 1500 because the advertisement in question does not appear to be sexually oriented. Only the addressee may make that determination. The order prohibits the mailer from sending any further mail to the applicant (and his or her eligible minor children included in the application), effective on the 30th calendar day after the mailer receives the order."
    * U.S. Laws on Direct Mail, Junkbusters.

    === snip ===
  • by PingXao (153057) on Wednesday July 02, 2003 @11:09PM (#6355806)
    "We'll be giving the dog what the dog wants to eat," James F. Lyons, president of direct-marketing consultancy Optima Direct told the paper.

    I usually flush shit down the toilet, not feed it to my dog. What goes around, comes around. I predict there will be a backlash against the sleaziest of these direct marketing firms and the slime that hire them. I already refuse to deal with companies that make me play touch-tone tag on their badly designed voice systems.
  • by Arandir (19206) on Wednesday July 02, 2003 @11:10PM (#6355814) Homepage Journal
    "telemarketing are planning to counterattack consumers with a barrage of spam and junk mail in October"

    That's not what the story says. Sheesh, don't the submitters even read the articles? This story isn't about counterattacking anyone.

    Here's a quote that summarizes the story: ''"We plan to shift into other communication mediums, and rely more heavily on traditional TV advertising and e-mail marketing," Allstate acting Chief Marketing Officer Todd DeYoung told the paper.''

    In other words, they will stop using telemarketing and shift over to snail mail and email. Will that email be spam? Maybe, maybe not, but a spam from Allstate is a heck of a lot better than a phone call from Allstate every time I sit down to a meal.
    • by bedessen (411686) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @01:09AM (#6356287) Journal
      Why would there be any question that the email would be spam? OF COURSE IT'S SPAM. If it's bulk and unsolicited, it's spam. Just because it's mainsleeze doesn't mean it's not spam. If Allstate sends unsolicited bulk email, they are just as guily as spamming as the asshat the sends you Make Penis Fast schemes. Don't ever get fooled into believing that "legitimate email marketing" is not a complete oxymoron. 99 times out of 100, when someone says "email marketing" they mean spam. The only bulk email advertising that's not spam is verified, closed-loop, confirmed opt-in mailing lists.

    • by MickLinux (579158) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @01:29AM (#6356344) Journal
      I should also note that Allstate is Sears is the company that back in 1995 was sued by its own middle-level executives, because top-level management sent them to Scientologist "training" that said "cheat the customer", and they quit the training and were fired.

      You can google for that one... but it's out there, and it was in the newspapers at the time. So if you buy Allstate, expect to be cheated.

      But for me, what really caught my notice is that they think I'm a dog. Okay. But keep your spam away too.

      - . - . - .

      I should also note, while I'm at it, that Allstate is by no means the only dishonest/evil insurance company. You have to be careful. For example: do not become a partner of Lloyds of London. Lloyds was discovering that all their asbestos insurance was a huge liability, so they suddenly opened their insurance to new "partners", who were relatively new multimillionaire Americans, and then switched the documentation so the asbestos liability went to them. When the Americans sued (there were about 8 of them), they were all mysteriously murdered within a year. The last I heard was that the heirs of one of them continued the suit, but the law offices of their lawyers, one of them in James City County, were all mysteriously burgled, and the documents stolen. So... umm... realize that Lloyds is owned by murderers before you do business with them. [That was from the Daily Press of Newport News, about 1996].

  • We don't want their god damn advertisements. We don't want to hear them, see them, feel them, or so much as share our oxygen with them. The fact that over 12,000 people signed up with the do-not-call registry on its first day of operation should give these jackfucks a hint that they should keep their unsolicited garbage to themselves.

    I hope I live long enough to see the day when all advertising is banned. All commercial speech. Banned. Eventually, if they keep this shit up, the government will have
    • I hope I live long enough to see the day when all advertising is banned. All commercial speech. Banned. Then after that comes banning of all speech. Let's just give up all rights just because of some annoying companies. Well I hope most people realize that to them we are nothing more than consumers. We live in a consumer society and they want to shove their junk down our throats so they can get rich. The real question is when will we as citizens and people realize how this consumerism is destroying or
    • hope I live long enough to see the day when all advertising is banned. All commercial speech. Banned. Eventually, if they keep this shit up, the government will have a compelling interest in shutting them up, and banning it will be the most narrowly-tailored way of achieving that goal. Champagne's on me.



      Wow. Yours is a great post to read right after watching Family Guy on Adult Swim at 11:30/10:30 Central on The Cartoon Network! I kept on thinking, "Wow, is this guy Stewie or what?"
      • Anything other than word of mouth should be punishable by death. If a product or service is worthy, and if I'm in need of it, I'll find out about it from a friend or family member. We can at least start off with a 500% advertising tax to help now, because it will take a few decades before enough people will agree with me regarding using the death penalty for all convicted advertisers.
    • Advertising keeps Slashdot free. It keeps TV free, it keeps the radio free. Admittedly, the last two I can live without, but you'll have to pay a LOT more to access all of your favorite web sites if commercial speech is banned. Not to mention that advertising sells whatever product YOU are working on. What happens when your product doesn't sell 'cause nobody's heard of it? And don't tell me it can get by just on word of mouth.
    • Not all advertising is bad.

      When the local cable TV co mailed flyers informing us that broadband was now avaliable, we signed up immediatley (DSL wasn't avaliable at the time). The CableCo got another customer and I got the service I want.

      Banning commercial speech will result in recession and crippling of the economy - how the hell can any business survive if they're not allowed to tell anyone that they exist?

      While I oppose telemarketing and spam, I do not at all mind being informed of commercial offers t
  • by BiggerIsBetter (682164) on Wednesday July 02, 2003 @11:11PM (#6355821)

    We all hate this shit, but going off at the Telemarketers and Spammers doesn't work - they've proven time and again that they have no respect for the "consumer".

    Better is a) Don't buy the stuff, and b) Lodge formal complaints with the CEO of the company's using their services. Most of the top-dogs have little idea their marketing departments are doing this shit so let them know, and let them know you don't like it and won't buy their stuff as long as they do it.

  • The more they bombard us, the more we hate them and only idiots who make their own consumer hate them. If they at least wear their brains, they should exercise self-control. For me, personally, I never ever buy any products on any companies that advertise through spam and I believe most of you do too.

    Now, the problem is that what if they advertise some other / competitor product so that the spam makes customers hate these innocent companies? Well, I suppose the innocent companies can sue these spammers fo

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The problem with spam and direct mail and telemarketing is simple: it works. There are people that buy stuff from them. The people that actually buy stuff are the ones that are ruining things for the rest of us.

    So, I propose that we set up a fake telemarketing/spam centre that pretends to be your typical telemarketer. But instead of sending you a long distance plan or penis enlarger, it actually just sends out a pyromaniac to burn your house down if you buy something.

    The best part is it only has to be
  • by sc00p18 (536811) on Wednesday July 02, 2003 @11:13PM (#6355832)
    Another slashdotter said it best:

    "The best way to avoid spam is to never give out your e-mail address to anyone."

    It's good advice. I've been using that method ever since I read that, and it's working beautifully.
    • The tragedy being that after eliminating all legitimate email, that method may still leave you receiving spam.

      One sleazy spammer tactic is to target a domain and autogenerate a zillion possible email addresses, in what's called a Rumpelstiltskin attack. If you have an email alias common or simple enough that you couldn't use it as a password, then it's vulnerable. If it's on some high-profile provider like Hotmail, it will be attacked.

  • by rzbx (236929) <slashdot.rzbx@org> on Wednesday July 02, 2003 @11:13PM (#6355833) Homepage
    Well, ok. First we have RIAA going all out sueing people left and right. Then we have SCO going all out crazy on the OSS and Linux community. Now we have the infamous telemarketing companies "counterattacking" their customers. Next up, grocery stores throwing tomatoes at shoppers.
    Businesses are supposed to provide products and services, not shove them down our throats. It is our choice what we buy anyway, isn't it?

    • They obviously don't think it is our choice...
      I know it's hard for a company to get promoted these days with all the competition, but I agree, this is going too far.

      I always wonder who keeps these people in business, because I know that I never buy from spammers. I even email them and tell them that... ;) But seriously, is it all the 65+ people who just want someone to talk to and so they buy? I don't get it...
  • Hmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Loki_1929 (550940) * on Wednesday July 02, 2003 @11:14PM (#6355839) Journal
    "companies who heavily use telemarketing are planning to counterattack consumers with a barrage of spam and junk mail"

    Not a problem, as I'm reasonably certain that such tactics will lead them to the promised land of lawsuits, Chapter 11, and finally, Cellblock 6A, which houses Bubba's Fudge-Packing Factory. Spam on dear telemarketers. Spam your way to an 8x10 cell where you can push your wares on a 300lbs man who hasn't seen a woman in 15 years.

  • by Chiascuro (179381) on Wednesday July 02, 2003 @11:14PM (#6355841) Journal
    I can understand the logic behind a company who's business model relies on calling customers switching to spam and direct mail when the DNC registry is implemented but why can they not see that the reason it is being put in place is because of them and if they persist they will merely succeed in getting do not spam and do not mail lists created.

    If your business model requires hassling your customers then when they prevent you doing it via the phone it's time to change business models not the method you use to hassle.

    It's self defeating and why business's think that customers want you to cold-contact them I do not know. Find a market, advertise on mass media or in media that your customers read and then sell to them. Don't bother everyone else with your crap.
  • by peyote (9579) <pcg-/.@ais.cx> on Wednesday July 02, 2003 @11:22PM (#6355882) Homepage
    Personally, I don't care much about snail-mail spam. I figure if they're paying for it, the more the merrier. Gives me the chance to use that big, shiny dumpster right by the mailbox.
  • Apparently they weren't spanked as children.

    Seriously, what a childish thing to do! I know they're losing revenue - but that's the point! Sure, 1 out of 10 (stupid) people may bite, but that's 9 out of 10 people that would love to rub their face in year-old Spam (the Hormel kind*). The government - and the people actually backing them for once instead of being apathetic or unheard - have spoken! Perhaps they should get a real job that is more respectable by far - like flipping burgers, cleaning sewer syst

  • Fun ideas (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday July 02, 2003 @11:25PM (#6355893) Homepage
    Telemarketers and spammers alike don't deserve respect.

    If you get mail, try to always reply... on their dime. E.g. when they have business reply stuff.

    Otherwise, if there is a return address mark "dead" on the mail and send it back.

    If you're getting calls always try to find out things about the caller. Ask where they go to school [most are students]. Ask what political party they voted for, etc.

    The bottom line is instead of trying to run and hide from them why not have fun instead? Answer the phone, just don't give them useful information. Lie through your teeth while learning things about them.

    Tom
  • The paper said that in addition to seeing more e-mail or junk mail, consumers who call companies on other business may now have to listen to sales pitches while negotiating voice mail messages.

    Oh, this is great. I could barely contain myself when some credit card company couldn't accept my multiple "I'd like to cancel my (zero-balance) account, please" without subjecting me to twenty questions about why, and would I consider this offer, oh I'm sorry but I have to ask you this, well what if we gave you th
  • Do your part (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Lord_Dweomer (648696)
    Do whatever you can to discuss the issues and downsides of this kind of viral marketing with anybody you can. Speak to people in your industry. I'm doing my part too. I'm in the Advertising Industry, and whenever someone mentions something like this I describe in gory detail the kind of customer backlash they would experience.

    Instead of pranking a telemarketer next time they call, get the phone number of the company on whose behalf they're calling. Get in touch with that companies marketing department a

  • by Necrobruiser (611198) on Wednesday July 02, 2003 @11:35PM (#6355939)
    It appears that consumers are getting overexcited by the hype, and not paying any attention to the details regarding the national DO Not Call list. What it boils down to is that there is no infrastructure in place to deal with any complaints. And there will be complaints. When you sign up for a credit card, or subscribe to a magazine, you become a customer of that particular company, giving them the right to call you. You also give that company the right to share your information with their "affiliates". On October 1st, when everyone and their brother is calling the FTC's as yet non-existent call center to file their complaints, they will discover that they have no legitimate complaint. For the few people who actively send the required opt-out letters to their credit card companies telling them that they do not wish to have their information shared with the "affiliate" companies, when they call to make a legitimate complaint, what are the chances that they will get the required information to make a complaint. According to the National DNC website, "You must provide either the NAME or the PHONE NUMBER of the COMPANY that called you, as well as the DATE OF THE CALL and YOUR PHONE NUMBER. I don't think that there are many telemarketing companies out there that will be very forthcoming with their Name or Phone Number for angry victims, especially when each violation will cost them $11,000. And please note that the FTC does not yet have any specifics on how to file a complaint, or who to file it with. Let's face it; 46 states have had do not call lists for years, and it hasn't stopped the telemarketers yet.

    (offtopic) Additionally, the conspiracy theorist in me thinks that this is the best idea that the government ever had for creating a database of names and numbers and email addresses. Peole are entering their data for the FTC as fast as they possibly can. And with nothing to show for it in the end.(/offtopic)
    • by phritz (623753) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @02:20AM (#6356556)
      Additionally, the conspiracy theorist in me thinks that this is the best idea that the government ever had for creating a database of names and numbers and email addresses.

      This is called the "White Pages." It's how you get in contact with people.

      ...FTC's as yet non-existent call center...

      It doesn't exist yet because the DNC list doesn't go into effect for 3 more months! It would be kind of silly to have a complaint center that receives complaints about things that aren't yet illegal.

      According to the National DNC website, "You must provide either the NAME or the PHONE NUMBER of the COMPANY that called you, as well as the DATE OF THE CALL and YOUR PHONE NUMBER

      Currently, under the telecommunications privacy act, you must pursue legal action against law-breaking telemarketers in small claims court, and with all of that information (and more!)

  • We all know that pissing off the customer is the best way to get him to buy your shit. Uh huh. It appears that a good portion of the population is already sick of the incessant jabbering of commercial speech, which is not unlike the hundreds of monkeys in yonder trees. Perhaps the federal do-not-call list will be the catalyst which incites people to actively boycott companies that insist on harassing them in their private space. One can hope.
  • by adikt (552154) on Wednesday July 02, 2003 @11:37PM (#6355952)
    .. it will save me having to buy all those equally useless newspapers to start the fire with in the cold winters evenings.
    • A few years back, there was an item on the news about a guy who heated his house through a New England winter with junk mail. He was getting several mailbags a day of junk.

      The Post Office was not amused.

      Note -- if you try this, be sure to get bills and other important correspondence sent to a PO box ...
  • by The Famous Brett Wat (12688) on Wednesday July 02, 2003 @11:40PM (#6355959) Homepage Journal

    From the article:

    The paper said that in addition to seeing more e-mail or junk mail, consumers who call companies on other business may now have to listen to sales pitches while negotiating voice mail messages.

    Rough translation: "we will advertise at you by any and all legal means available, no matter how annoying we have to be." I do sometimes wonder if there isn't a viable place for, "just concentrate on giving the customer good service," in this world. Nobody seems to believe in that quaint old idea anymore.

  • by bruce_the_moose (621423) on Wednesday July 02, 2003 @11:42PM (#6355970)
    Don't think so? I'll show you the receipt for the money I send to the phone company to rent the number. As such, calling me to sell me something is nothing short of trespassing--it is using my property without my permission.

    Howizzit telemarketers don't grasp this concept? Howizzit the lawmakers fail to? Whyizzit we have to finely craft laws such as the don't-call-list to leave loopholes so I still have to hang up on the statetroopers whoopee fund. It is so demonstrably clear that my phone number is mine and using it is not free speech. Leaving the loophole is like leaving a loophole that says it is okay for the local repugnican party to put "elect tusch" signs in my yard.

    And same argument goes for my email address. It's mine, I pay good money to my cable company to have it.

    Oddly, snail mail doesn't trespass in the same way. The marketer has to pay to for their soon-to-be-trash to be brought to my house. Then again, I do have to pay to have it hauled away.
  • by johngaunt (414543) on Wednesday July 02, 2003 @11:50PM (#6356005)
    I got a call from a company many days in a row, and it played the nice DTMF tones that cause the phone companies computer to ignore your switch hook, so when you hang up, it doesn't recognize that you have done so. after about 3 days in a row of this, I stayed on the line until I got to a real live person. I asked that I be taken off their list, and was told it would be done, but could take a few days. I Politely asked for the companies name, phone number and address, which was given to me. (it is a violation of federal law not to). I then called the phone company and after getting ahold of a person there with some real power, (this is the hardest part) explained that company A was twiddling with their computers using aforementioned DTMF tones. This is a violation of almost all phone companies TOS. The engineer type said he would look into it.
    The next day, I did not receive a phone call from company A, so I decided to call them, and darn it, there phones had been disconnected.
    True story, it really works. If you are persistent, you can get their phones turned off.
    • I'm very skeptical that they can play DTMF tones at the exchange and get it to not hang up. I don't think control signalling for phone switches has been tones for at least a decade. (I could be wrong though, but I'd be a bit surprised)

      It depends what country you live in, but on some phone systems, the call doesn't get cleared down until the _caller_ puts the phone on the hook (or the callee puts their phone on the hook for a certain period of time and the exchange times out). If your phone system works lik
      • Which raises another issue. Even if the phone spammers AREN'T trying to fiddle with the tones, if you can tell the telco they are, and get their phones cut off, more f'in power to ya man.

        Derek
  • Here's what you do. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Valar (167606) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @12:11AM (#6356099)
    You know those little cards they include, prepayed postage and all, so you can response to order their wonderful products? How convient! Glue a brick to it, so that the postage/address side shows. Now put it in your mailbox. You know how much it costs to ship a brick?
    • by Cederic (9623)

      Better by far is to print off a form letter asking a silly question, and send that to them.

      Then they pay postage for your letter, postage for their reply, and worse, salary/office costs for the person who writes the reply.

      That really really hurts their profitability.
      ~Cederic
  • by callipygian-showsyst (631222) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @12:12AM (#6356102) Homepage
    ..started giving me a "Free" six-month subscription to their daily newspaper. Every morning, a newspaper would appear in my driveway, unsolicited.

    I had to call them about 5 times, and send a FED-EX to the president of Knight-Ridder in order to get it to stop.

    Can you imagine? To stop a newspaper I never wanted in the first place, I had to spend about an hour on the phone and $12 on FED-EX bills!

    The local Police and City Hall (Palo Alto, CA), tell me there's nothing they can do about it. (I guess they're too busy hugging homeless people.)

    The paper weighs about 6 oz, on average. For 6 months thats about 90 pounds of paper. WHat I don't understand is if I decided to deliver, say, 90 pounds of manure "free" to the Palo Alto Police chief, he'd have me arrested. WHY CAN THE SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS get away with this?

  • by anubi (640541) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @01:21AM (#6356327) Journal
    I remember as a kid growing up, we had a bunch of people making a mess at the zoo. They were damaging the property, annoying the animals, and in general making a pretty good general pest of themselves.

    The people spoke amongst themselves and the City Council and it came to be that the zoo would no longer be free. We would have ticket counters and an admission fee. We knew the troublemakers would go somewhere else if they had to pay to get in, and if they were caught misbehaving, they would have to pay again if they wanted back in. It worked. We hated to lose our "free" zoo, but it had to be.

    I hate to think of internet mail-server routing services no longer being free, but we may well get pushed into this because it may be less expensive to deal with a payment system than it is to deal with spam.

    At least one advantage I can think off right off the bat with a payment system is that someone pays... that means someone is accountable for what got sent, and if fraud is involved, there is a direct monetary theft involved. A shopping mall can haul you into court over a shoplifted candy bar. So even if the payment is not much, it *is* a payment and incurs accountability.

    It really bugs me to be forced into this train of thought, as I would much rather consider infrastructures to be public property. But, like the zoo, a pricing strategy may have advantages for controlling unruly pests.

  • Top Three (Score:3, Funny)

    by DiggiLooDiggiLey (683911) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @05:14AM (#6356965)
    The Top Three List of Strange Calls I've Received:

    3. An anonymous death threat. Not directed at me personally, but still it was coming to the family phone number. He informed me that he was "sharpening the knives" among other things.

    2. Some chick who wanted me to repair a wheelchair, because that was obviously what I do. (It's not.)

    1. Some guy calling from Tokyo and wanted to know if I was interested in the stock market and trading. (I live in Sweden, btw.)

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @05:22AM (#6356977) Homepage

    And it's the same as for email addresses. Protect it savagely.

    My friends and family know my home 'phone number and my primary email address. The only company that knows my phone is my telco, and I made sure to tick the "Don't even think of publishing or sharing it" box. My primary email is postmaster@my.domain.com, which is an address that spammers (demonstrably) avoid (they like sales@ though). Companies that insist on having a home 'phone number for me, e.g. my credit card issuer, get given their own number, just as they get postmaster@their.domain.com or uce@ftc.gov for an email address if they have no legitimate reason for knowing it, or their.company@my.domain.com if I do need to hear from them. Funnily enough, I haven't had a single telemarketing call or piece of spam to my home phone or primary email address in three years since I decided on this policy, switched telcos and bought myself a domain.

    It is within your power to protect yourself.

  • by Paulrothrock (685079) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @07:49AM (#6357490) Homepage Journal
    And I can understand why they're switching to spam and direct mail. They've convinced themselves that there are people who want to buy things, and you'd be suprised how easy it is to get people to buy from you, or at least listen to you. There are a lot of idiots out there. I quit because I couldn't stand to be part of that industry. (When I started I really, really needed the money, and I couldn't find another job that fit into my schedule.) Not only do you do something that could get you killed, but the management at these places treat the workers like slaves; scheduled bathroom breaks, no food or drinks or reading materials at the cubicles, tied to the phone for eight hours a day, denied promotions that would take you off of the phones, and forced to be as annoying as possible because there was always someone listening. The management in this industry are the ones to blame, most of the telemarketers there were college kids or single moms trying to make a buck and getting dicked around if they did well. The DNC list is the best thing to happen to this industry, but, like the scum they are, they're fighting the rights of people not to be swindled or bothered. When I was there they told us that the main office, which we give the address and phone number of, is built like a fortress, so don't try to go postal on them, it won't work.

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