Delusions of Grandeur

Revenge at last!!!

Posted on: September 13, 2003

Tonight as I logged on to AOL I saw a familiar face looking out at me. Not at all unusual, since there are usually several celebrities in the news and AOL News does the admirable job of reporting all their very important 🙄 activities. This time, however, I saw Dave Barry’s picture and an intriguing headline “How to Irk Telemarketers”. Having been awoken three times this morning alone by the vicious breed of subhuman know as the telemarketer I was intrigued and clicked on the link. I’ve copied and pasted the AOL News article as well as the original Dave Barry article from the Miami Herald. I found both immensely amusing! Turns out the tables have been turned on the telemarketers and they’re now having to worry about recieving unsolicited phone calls due to Dave Barry publishing a major telemarketing group’s phone number in his article. I can’t wait until that national do not call list goes into effect. I put all of our numbers….including our cell phone numbers and my work number…..on there the first day it was available. Incidentally seth also put them on there not knowing that i had taken care of it……I choose to think of it as insurance 🙂

MIAMI (Sept. 12) – Telemarketers are now screening their calls, instead of the other way around.

The American Teleservices Association isn’t laughing at Dave Barry, not after the Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist for The Miami Herald listed the group’s telephone number in his Aug. 31 column and sparked a flood of phone calls to the group’s offices.

Barry told his readers to call and ”tell them what you think.”

”I’m sure they’d love to hear your constitutionally protected views! Be sure to wipe your mouthpiece afterward,” Barry wrote.

Thousands of Barry’s readers have done as they were told, forcing the association to stop answering its phones. Callers now hear a recording, which says that because of ”overwhelming positive response to recent media events, we are unable to take your call at this time.”

”It’s difficult not to see some malice in Mr. Barry’s intent,” said Tim Searcy, executive director of the ATA, who said the added calls will be costly to his group because of toll charges and staffing issues.

Barry hardly sounded apologetic.

”I feel just terrible, especially if they were eating or anything,” he said. ”They have phones like the rest of us have phones. Their attitude seems to be if you have a phone, people are allowed to call you.”

ATA officials have said about 2 million of the 6.5 million people working at telemarketing call centers across the nation will lose their jobs because of the rules that established the nationwide ”Do Not Call” list.

Barry also attacked that logic in the same column.

”Of course, you could use pretty much the same reasoning to argue that laws against mugging cause unemployment among muggers,” he wrote. ”But that would be unfair. Muggers rarely intrude into your home.”

Barry’s column is syndicated to about 500 newspapers across the country.

AP-NY-09-11-03 1321EDT

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Posted on Sun, Aug. 31, 2003

Ask not what telemarketers can do to you
DAVE BARRY

There’s just over a year to go before the 2004 presidential election, and everybody in the nation is extremely excited. Except of course the public. The public, shrewdly, pays no attention to presidential politics until all of the peripheral dorks have been weeded out, and it’s finally time to make a selection between the two main dorks left over.

So what does the public care about right now? Telemarketers. The public hates them. It hates them even more than it hates France, low-flow toilets or ”customer service.”

We know this because recently the Federal Trade Commission, implementing the most popular federal concept since the Elvis stamp, created the National Do Not Call Registry. The way it works is, if you are a member of that select group of people (defined as ”people with phones”) who do not wish to receive unsolicited calls from telemarketers, you can go to http://www.donotcall.gov and register your phone number. Starting Oct. 1, any telemarketer who calls you will be locked in a tiny room with a large, insatiable man who will force the telemarketer, repeatedly, at all hours of the day and night, to change his long-distance provider.

No, sorry, that was the original concept. But the law is pretty strict: For each call to a registered number, telemarketers face an $11,000 fine. This program is a huge hit with the public. Already 30 million American households have registered; this figure would be even higher if it included all the Florida residents who tried to register but accidentally voted for Patrick Buchanan instead.

And how has the telemarketing industry responded to this tidal wave of public hostility? It has issued this statement: ”Gosh, if these people really don’t want us to call them, then there’s no point in our calling them! We’d only be making them hate us more, and that’s just plain stupid! We’ll try to come up with a less offensive way to do business.”

No, wait, that’s what the telemarketers would say in Bizarro World, where everything is backward, and Superman is bad, and telemarketers contain human DNA. Here on Earth, the telemarketers are claiming they have a constitutional right to call people who do not want to be called. They base this claim on Article VX, Section iii, row 5, seat 2, of the U.S. Constitution, which states: ”If anybody ever invents the telephone, Congress shall pass no law prohibiting salespeople from using it to interrupt dinner.”

Leading the charge for the telemarketing industry is the American Teleservices Association (suggested motto: ‘Some Day, We Will Get a Dictionary and Look Up ‘Services’ ”). This group argues that, if its members are prohibited from calling people who do not want to be called, then two million telemarketers will lose their jobs. Of course, you could use pretty much the same reasoning to argue that laws against mugging cause unemployment among muggers. But that would be unfair. Muggers rarely intrude into your home.

So what’s the answer? Is there a constitutional way that we telephone customers can have our peace, without inconveniencing the people whose livelihoods depend on keeping their legal right to inconvenience us? Maybe we could pay the telemarketing industry not to call us, kind of like paying ”protection money” to organized crime. Or maybe we could actually hire organized crime to explain our position to telemarketing-industry executives, who would then be given a fair opportunity to respond, while the cement was hardening.

I’m just thinking out loud here. I’m sure you have a better idea for how we can resolve our differences with the telemarketing industry. If you do, call me. No, wait, I have a better idea: Call the American Teleservices Association, toll-free, at 1-877-779-3974, and tell them what you think. I’m sure they’d love to hear your constitutionally protected views! Be sure to wipe your mouthpiece afterward.

In closing, here’s an:

IMPORTANT REMINDER — Mark your calendar with a big ”X” on Sept. 19, which is the second annual National Talk Like A Pirate Day. This is the day when everybody is supposed to talk like a pirate for very solid reasons (see http://www.talklikeapirate.com).

Last year, the first National Talk Like a Pirate Day was a huge success, as measured by the number of messages on my answering machine consisting entirely of people going ”Arrrrr.” So if you’re feeling depressed — if you think the world is in terrible shape, and one person like yourself can’t make a difference — remember this: You’re right. So you might as well talk like a pirate. It’s easy! For example, when you answer the phone, instead of ”Hello,” you say ”Ahoy!”

Then you hang up. Scurvy telemarrrrrketers!

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