Ah… Peace and quiet. Brought to you by your friends at the United States Federal Trade Commission via their National Do Not Call Registry. Undeniably, one of the greatest inventions since Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876.
Americans who have registered almost 150 million phone numbers on the DNC Registry can’t be wrong. People were fed up with what the telemarketing industry had done to the telephone system in the United States. Families were being harassed every day of the week by telemarketers who would ring your phone all day long, usually hanging up without saying a word (known in the industry as “abandoned” calls), usually the result of the irresponsible use of predictive dialing. Even if they did stay on the line long enough to speak to you, nobody wants to be annoyed twenty times a day by unsolicited sales pitches. If this occurred on your home phone, it stole your time and your peace of mind. If the calls came in on your cellphone, they also stole your money, since most cellphone subscribers pay for all incoming calls.
The telemarketing industry succeeded in hijacking the American telephone network, arguably the most reliable and most advanced telecommunications network in the world. The statistics are as staggering as they are disgusting. Companies out for a quick buck were abusing the American public by putting in place infrastructure at nearly 9,000 call centers around the country that could dial hundreds of millions of calls per day, many of which would be abandoned. If you or I constantly placed calls to strangers and hung up as soon as they answered, I can assure you the police would be knocking at your door in no time. Yet here was an industry (outbound telemarketing), which, according to this 2002 document at FTC.gov, employed over a half-million individuals (in outbound telemarketing alone) and which was expected to grow to over $400 Billion a year (by 2006), doing essentially the same thing, but on a grand scale… and getting away with it. I think the telecom carriers that provided facilities and calling capacity to these telemarketers are just as culpable as the ISPs and bandwidth providers that profit from the activities of spammers, turning a blind eye to the problem in the name of profit.
Indeed, placing your number on the Do-Not-Call Registry does work. Unsolicited calls to RoutingByRumor’s phone numbers have been virtually non-existent since they were added to the DNC list. And when that rare unsolicited telemarketing call does come in, I do two things. I inform the caller that the number they dialed is on the DNC Registry, and I file a complaint with both the FTC and my state’s Department of Consumer Affairs.
If you haven’t done so already, add your number to the do-not-call list. You can join the Do Not Call Registry here. You’ll be glad to know that since the government recently decided to make the National Do Not Call Registry permanent (see this article and read the legislation here), your number will not be dropped from the list after five years, as was originally planned. You will not have to re-register a phone number you’ve already placed on the Registry.
Fortunately, the free-for-all is over. The greed and irresponsibility of telemarketers and the businesses that employed them has destroyed their industry. While the law still permits unsolicited telemarketing calls in some cases, such as on behalf of political campaigns, charities and for telephone surveys, hopefully those loopholes will soon be eliminated. Now all those former telemarketers can look for legitimate, respectable jobs.
Maybe what the world needs now is a Worldwide Do-Not-Email Registry that will do for the spam problem what the Do-Not-Call Registry did for the phone system in the United States.