Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Your cell phone number just turned up on a telemarketer's list

7/6/06 update: "jm" writes in the comments that the following post is not exactly correct. Check the Federal Trade Commission for further information. I went ahead and registered my cell phone number anyway. Thanks jm. Oops -- it wasn't jm. It was "anonymous." But I'm plugging jm's Web site anyway.

Starting on 7/1/06, all cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies.

You will be charged minutes for telemarketing calls.

Take your phone number off of the telemarketing list by contacting the National Do Not Call list: 888-382-1222,

Your name will be removed from the list for five years.

Speaking of getting undesireable phone calls, Lisa's getting weird calls in the wee hours of the morning which sound to me suspiciously like telemarketing calls originating in offshore phone banks where they have their international clocks set wrong.

I recently acquired a new BellSouth phone account. After the phone line was turned on, almost immediately, the phone started ringing off the hook. I hadn't yet connected the answering machine, so I couldn't screen the calls. Nevertheless, I figured I wouldn't know the person calling my phone number -- I never shared the number with anyone I knew.

I guessed the calls were just telemarketing solicits. Well, then the phone just kept ringing, and at odd hours -- like early in the morning -- so I started answering. Strangely enough, no one ever answered on the other end of the line. I started thinking that BellSouth must have immediately sold my phone number to a list company.

Telemarketing companies run like factories with automated dialers that send an answered phone to a worker when they aren't on the line with someone else. If there aren't any workers available to talk to you when you answer, you'll just hear silence on the other end.

I was getting calls five or six times a day -- very annoying. I called BellSouth to ask them to block the number calling me, but the operator told me he didn't have that information. What?!! They always used to know the numbers calling you. He said I'd have to call *69, and then call back BellSouth to tell them what the number is.

Okay ... I played along. I waited for the next time I got a call, answered, and hung up, but when I dialed *69, I got a recorded message telling me that the service wasn't available.

That's when it started to click. I remembered that when I originally called BellSouth to get phone service, the representative kept reading scripts to sell me additional services, or worse, would just add services to my account explaining what they were without asking me if I wanted them. After about ten minutes of this, I just had to tell him to stop selling me things I wasn't interested in buying. I said I just wanted basic no-frills phone service. I guess *69 isn't included in the basic service, so I was SOL.

Meanwhile, the ringing continued. If the phone was nearby, I'd answer, but there was still the empty silence on the other end.

Finally, one night, the phone rang and someone responded when I answered. A woman with a silky voice and a lovely Indian accent wanted to thank me for my time. I politely asked her to cut to the chase and tell me what she was selling.

Guess what she was selling?

BellSouth long distance!!!


I said I was positively not interested, and that I was going to cancel my BellSouth account immediately.

I haven't received any more mysterious phone calls.


At 7/05/2006 08:19:00 PM, Blogger oyster said...

Many thanks for providing this information.

At 7/05/2006 11:01:00 PM, Blogger LisaPal said...

I put my cell phone on the Do Not Call Registry early last month and have never had any telemarketers aside from Sprint's own call me. (I guess they figure that, as my service provider, they're exempt.) So, I don't think my early morning call was anything but a very wrong number... (maybe they wanted area code 540 in Virginia?) or someone's idea of a great little joke.

My mom put her home number on the Do Not Call Registry about a year ago and she stopped getting the telemarketing calls until maybe a week or so ago. All of a sudden, they started again. A few days ago, I answered one such call and interrupted the agent's pitch to ask what company he represented. When he answered, I thanked him and said that the only reason I wanted to know was so I could report the violation of the DNC order. It was Dish Network. The agent hung up immediately. I did it again when the next telemarketer called later that evening. There have been no calls since.

I've also told idiot customer service reps who refuse to serve my interests as customer, (kinda like the AOL schmuck that Ernie the Attorney clued us in on) that I'm recording the call --and if they're trying to pull some kind of scam, I'll tell them it's at the request of the Attorney General's office. This has been a pretty effective tactic.

At 7/06/2006 05:23:00 AM, Anonymous humidhaney said...

Hello, may I speak with Mr. Schower.

I am not calling to sell anything, just wish to share an opportunity.

Do you have trouble keeping up with blogs in the local market? I do, I know that. It is a big problem.

Well with you can free yourself from that burdon. If you have a few minutes I can share with you the benefits of . . . . . . . . . . . .

At 7/06/2006 07:08:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Urban Legend:

"Telemarketing to cell phone numbers has always been illegal in most cases and will continue to be so"

At 7/06/2006 07:40:00 AM, Anonymous JM said...

I got rid of my BellSouth service after Katrina. A few days after the levees broke I spent a morning calling around the various non-local utilities, credit card, etc. Couldn't reach BS directly, but the long-distance carrier could connect me to them. Turned out BellSouth's "policy" on billing evacuees was: our computer says there's no reason you couldn't use your service; our computer says your connection is just fine; of course we're billing you.

So I disconnected the service there and then.

I heard they later changed that, but I never went back - Matt from work told me about Vonage and I've used them since. Funny how non-monopolies give so much better service!

At 7/06/2006 07:54:00 AM, Blogger Schroeder said...

Good call jm (hee hee)!

I thought that was the case, but you know what, I don't mind playing it safe. I registered my cell phone number anyway.

Thanks for the FTC link!

At 7/06/2006 08:52:00 PM, Blogger Schroeder said...

Ha -- you are a devious one aren't you Lisa. It's a good thing no one knows who we have for an Attorney General. He's probably on the BellSouth payroll.


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