Just when it seemed that our esteemed Congress had taken definitive action—in record time—to save us all from floods of miserably annoying phone solicitations, wouldn’t you know that our marvelous courts—always protecting the rights of someone, but never yours or mine—would again step in and mess it all up.
Yes, indeed. This is the same beneficent court system that discovered a constitutional right to privacy, previously undetected for over 180 years, a right so profound that it guarantees, nay celebrates unrestricted abortion on demand. Yet, our federal government cannot figure out a way to promote the most basic notion of privacy: the right to be left alone.
In a classic and politically motivated turf battle, the Federal Communications Commission took over enforcing the Do-Not-Call list, after the Federal Trade Commission was prohibited from doing so. For their part, the big telemarketers, including AT&T, claim that they will abide by the wishes of those on the list.
“It’s good business,” says AT&T spokesman Bob Nersesian. “It makes no sense to call people who don’t want to be called.” Wow! What a concept. Did it make sense to call these people before a formal list existed? I’m absolutely overwhelmed at this stunning insight, coming, as it does, from the world’s leading telecommunications company.
To be sure, the current Do-Not-Call registry is not perfect, since it exempts political and charity solicitors, and as such could be deemed “unfair.” But it’s a start. Consumers had nowhere else to turn, since even having an unpublished number provided little protection.
Most folks, at least the first time out, felt that it was important, for security reasons, to give their home phone number on credit card and mortgage loan applications. Little did they know that this private information would be sold and re-sold to every telemarketing pest in the English-speaking world.
Nearly every article on this topic mentions that telemarketing is a $275 billion industry. Frankly, I have a real hard time believing that number. Bear in mind that the revenues of mighty Microsoft are about $32 billion, and the revenues of AT&T itself are also in this range. My take is that this figure is grossly inflated by referring to the value of all transactions made over the phone, and not simply outbound solicitation telemarketing. I guess it’s not difficult to fool a journalist.
And, it’s not difficult to fool the companies paying for all of this outbound telemarketing, either. If there are more than 50 million people on record who hate a medium so much that they will take the time to purposefully opt out of it, what does that say about the medium? 50 million is a gigantic percentage of the cohort in question, and surely reflects the sentiments of many more who did not put their number on the registry.
I seriously doubt that any metrics can be proffered that would justify this form of marketing communication, but few seem to ask for the data. Besides, it’s much easier to just keep doing what they’ve always been doing.
It truly boggles the mind that while most companies bust their chops to find the very, very lowest airfares and rates for coffee service, they seldom spend a moment to revisit such basic matters as the efficacy of outbound telemarketing.
How ironic that they will now be forced to do so, courtesy of the public and the Feds. Do you feel empowered, or what?