Do Not Call - Seriously

Posted Oct 8, 2003
Last Updated Nov 1, 2011

As soon as I learned about the national Do Not Call registry I was quick to sign my number on the list. No one in their right mind would pass up the opportunity to rid themselves of the annoying calls.

Well over the last few weeks we've been bouncing back and forth on this as the news has explained that telemarketing associations have fought the registry in court. One day the Do Not Call registry is a go, the next it’s off.

My first reaction to the court’s decision (that the Do Not Call registry was unconstitutional) was outrage. But when I read the judge's decision I was a little shocked to find myself at least understanding where the judge was coming from—since the Do Not Call was only censuring the speech of telemarketers according to content (and not banning unsolicited calls from political campaigns, charitable organizations and the like) the registry was, in effect, violating the Constitutional ban on the government giving support to one opinion over another.

But while I could see the logic, the decision fails to see the whole picture.

First, I've never seen any law banning the well known "No Soliciting" sign placed in the front doors of most businesses and quite a few homes. Everyone feels perfectly free to post such a sign at their door. Ironically, it's a good thing for salesmen, since it is a blatant notice explaining that it would be a waste of time to try a sales pitch with the owners of the sign. It really says, "Don't bother wasting your time and my time on a product or service I neither need nor want." Salesmen are taught to be pushy, for sure, but only a stupid salesman spends his time where there is no chance for a sale.

The national Do Not Call registry is absolutely identical, in principle, to the "No Soliciting" sign. It's merely hung in a different window. Isn't it my right to say, "I don’t want to hear you babble!"

Of course the telemarketing industry is upset with the list. But let's face it… telemarketing is something we all hate. Whenever a telemarketer calls my household I give them an unkind piece of my mind. There is zero percent chance that any telemarketer is going to make a dime off of me—unless he's offering to build me a new home and get me a nice car for about $10. In other words, he's not going to make money off me anyway. And it's probably the same for everyone else who signed up for the list.

Those of us who signed the list weren't buying anything to begin with… so the clamor about billions of dollars lost to the telemarketing industry is a sham. Perhaps people will lose jobs because the amount of telemarketers needed to cover the remaining territory is less, but that's not such a big deal—those workers would be doing themselves and society a better favor by producing rather than babbling.

I guess it's too much to ask for a cool law to actually go through. The day the Do Not Call list was supposed to go into effect, a company called me to talk about changing to a new gas provider. "We don't have a gas bill" I said and hung up. A few days later I got a call from someone wondering if I was happy with my phone service. I said, "Yeah… haven't you heard of something called the Do Not Call list?"

"Oh," said the woman. "You're on that list?"

"Yes," I said, "Seriously… don't call me."

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