Do Not Call List -- Red Hot, Big Loopholes
I really love Al's Morning Meeting. It's a great place for stories like these. For example, the whole Do Not Call idea may not work. Some of the biggest users of telemarketing are exempt. From the column:
Long-distance phone companies got an exemption for their nightly slam calls. There's an irony in there someplace.
So, really, what is this Do Not Call registry protecting us from? Not a whole lot, especially since the FTC and the FCC can't figure out what's actually going to be enforced by that list.
Airlines got an exemption, which I suppose is cool if they're calling to let you know that they've gone bankrupt and your flight is canceled.
Banks and credit unions got an exemption, probably to offer the newest consumer credit package: zero-percent auto loans with zero-percent savings accounts.
Insurance companies got an exemption, too, so they can call and tell you that your rates are going up as a result of their lousy investments of your premium money in the stock market.
Wait, there's more.
Charities got an exclusion. Hmm ... I'm beginning to wonder whether this list is really going to cut down on my dinner-time calls after all.
Telephone surveyors don't have to honor the list, either. Does it seem like the loophole is expanding?
And, I'm sure George W. was happy to note, the new Do Not Call list does not apply to political organizations.
Finally, there's the biggest loophole of all: The Do Not Call list can be ignored if the company already has an existing business relationship with you. So, if you once gave $10 to the Tinker Toys for Tiny Tots Trust, you'll be hearing from them again.
So say the list does serve its purpose. Telemarketers will have to find other ways to bug us, so expect the amount of spam and junk mail to rise sharply.
Update: Since the articles are no longer on Fortune.com, I've linked to a Web Archive or Google Cache version of them where possible. If anybody has good copies of these articles, let me know.
Update on 10/02/05: Two years later, the list still isn't working.
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