Scott Hardie | September 30, 2003
Does anyone here have enough knowledge of the law to know whether telemarketing really does qualify as protected free speech, as two judges recently ruled? It doesn't seem like it should.

First of all, telemarketing is commercial in nature, not the act of a private citizen. For some reason, I'm reminded of 10-15 years ago, when my state government (Illinois) lifted the ban on women going topless in public. People opposed the legalization on moral grounds, of course, but then there were the people who were afraid that every male-oriented business in the state would start employing topless women to drive up business. So, the state put in a clause that women could go topless in public only as private citizens, not for commercial purposes. And to my knowledge, it's been that way since.

Second of all, telemarketing is unavoidable within reason. If you have a phone, you're going to get called with a sales pitch, and you're likely to get many such calls. If someone is demonstrating in public and we don't like their message, we can leave and go somewhere else. If someone is broadcasting something we don't like, we can tune to a different channel. It's not that way with your phone, when the message comes right to you. And don't even say that you have the right to ask, "put me on your do-not-call list," because that line doesn't work. I've been a telemarketer and been called relentlessly by the same companies for a long time, and from both perspectives, I can verify that telemarketers ignore that line.

Third of all, telemarketing is still legal! You can still telemarket to your heart's content. The creation of the national do-not-call list protects citizens' right to privacy; it does not deny telemarketers' right to free speech. The law does not restrict free speech in content or in nature, what it restricts is who can be subjected to that speech, and joining the protection list is voluntary. I fail to see how the first amendment covers telemarketing calls, but then again, I have no background in law. I want someone to help me understand.

I can say one thing in support of the telemarketers: This list will definitely hurt them financially. Over and over, I hear people ask why the list isn't good for them, since they can stop wasting their time by calling the people who would hang up on them anyway. The thing is, not all of the 50 million who joined the list are the people who hang up. Many of them may hate telemarketers, but are weak when the calls come, and they wind up buying something or agreeing to a visit despite themselves. These are the people off whom telemarketers make most of their money. It's a shame, and the practice needs to stop, but the public shouldn't have any illusion about how much business the telemarketing industry is going to lose because of this list.

Scott Hardie | September 30, 2003
Hmm. I read that the first judge ruled against the do-not-call list because it only blocked commercial callers, not political parties and charities. All right, let's block those too! If members of Congress give up on the do-not-call list entirely to save their own telemarketers, instead of rewriting the laws to do what's right, I hope they'll get the massive public outcry they'll deserve.

Jackie Mason | October 1, 2003
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Aaron Fischer | October 7, 2003
I agree... all unsolicited calls (with the exception of wrong number dialed) should be illegal. If you don't know me, I probably don't want to talk to you anyway. Also, who are the total DUMBASS IDIOTS that actually buy the SHIT these guys are trying to sell???

Anna Gregoline | October 7, 2003
My boyfriend did telemarketing for a short while, and he said that the people who bought the most stuff were elderly - lonely and wanting someone to talk to. Sad.

Scott Hardie | October 8, 2003
I do have to say, I've noticed the shortage in sales calls since October 1st: Only one so far, versus about two every day prior to that. I am grateful for this list.

Anna Gregoline | October 8, 2003
I seem to have received fewer too - I hope it keeps up.

Jackie Mason | October 10, 2003
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Matthew Preston | October 11, 2003
Another benefit of only having a cell phone? Solicitations are illegal. I haven't had a phone solicitation in nearly 4 years.

Scott Hardie | October 11, 2003
Jackie - I've gotten those calls trying to sell light bulbs. Wtf? Light bulbs! Why don't you sell toothpaste and kitty litter by phone too while you're at it? The call I got was for charity, and the lady wouldn't take no for an answer. She told me about how my $70 purchase of light bulbs (those better be some goddamn good light bulbs) would go to so-and-so charitable organization, but I kept telling her that I was broke; I had about five dollars to my name. Eventually she seemed to get it that I wasn't going to pay $70 for light bulbs, so she started trying to sell me the $35 "special." I think I eventually hung up.

Matt: That's one of the big reasons why I wanted to make the switch. But I've been reading lately that telemarketers are soon to break down even that barrier. Here's one article. It's depressing.

Anna Gregoline | October 11, 2003
I couldn't do the cell phone thing cause I need a phone line for TiVo. Can't give up the TiVo, no sir.

Scott Hardie | October 14, 2003
Understood. But that's one of the reasons why I won't get a TiVo, is because it must use my phone line. In this age of digital cable and on-screen menus, it won't be very long until cable companies integrate a PVR into the box. Unless you keep it for years, that will make it cheaper too, since you'd probably pay a small amount each month to rent the box (plus other normal fees) instead of paying $300 for a box and the monthly fee.

Scott Hardie | October 14, 2003
Now that the do-not-call list is such a wild success, I hope it emboldens the government to do something about spam as well. Sure, we can't stop all spam, but when almost all of it comes from something like twelve people, and we know who they are and where they operate, yeah I think we can put a big dent in it.

Scott Hardie | June 2, 2004
Man! You never truly appreciate something until it's gone. It didn't cross my mind in preparing to move that I would have to re-enter myself into the do-not-call registry and wait another three months for it to take effect. I get almost two dozen sales calls a day, and mostly from the same handful of companies according to the caller ID. It's not twice what I had before the DNC, but it is an increase, and it sure reminds me how annoying telemarketing calls can be.

Melissa Erin | June 2, 2004
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