Do not call: A program that’s working
September 14, 2004
Once in awhile, it’s good to salute a government program that works, makes our lives better and doesn’t cost us much. Why? Because they’re rare.
This one would be the federal do-not-call registry, which began almost a year ago and has been giving most of us a little extra peace and quiet in our homes.
More than 63 million telephone numbers have been registered since October 2003. We can attest that the nuisance calls have been greatly reduced.
Most telemarketers got the message, but some still have to be reminded. The registry has received 100,000 complaints so far, including some about a Las Vegas company that apparently thought enforcement of the do-not-call laws would be lax.
Instead, the Federal Trade Commission has gone to court against Braglia Marketing Group for calling more than 300,000 numbers on the do-not-call list in an attempt to sell time-share properties on Atlantic City.
“This is a pretty simple case because our requirements are pretty clear. You can’t call numbers on the registry. These people did,” said Eileen Harrington, the FTC’s associate director for marketing practices.
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Here’s the kicker. The fine for violating the do-not-call rules is $11,000 – per call. That puts Braglia Marketing Group on the hook for as much as $3 billion in fines. That should get their attention.
In fact, the threat of fines has gotten the attention of every company that makes telemarketing calls. No one wants to screw up, so most have been diligent about keeping abreast of the do-not-call registry.
The telemarketing industry has argued the restrictions and fines violate freedom of speech, but they should have thought of the consequences before making all those annoying phone calls. An industry that couldn’t manage to regulate itself found out that 63 million people and their families believe telemarketers should feel free to call somebody else.