The following editorial appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Thursday, Jan. 24:
Things you can say to the next telemarketer who calls:
Marketer: Hello, I represent the blah blah veterans of the blah blah state police foozball blah blah and they’ve authorized my blah blah company to offer you an incredible blah blah at just 2 percent a year!
You: Good evening! Don’t apologize for interrupting our dinner, again. I’m actually feeling a little sad that you and I are about to say goodbye as in forever.
You: Oh, you haven’t heard? Those nice Federal Trade Commission folks in Washington are proposing a terrific new way to stop jerks like you, sorry, my manners. I should say, “hardworking low-paid telemarketers” such as yourself from bothering us in our homes. We’re all going to be able to put our phone numbers on a national list. And once your number’s on it, telemarketers can’t call your home ever again. And if they do it’s an $11,000 fine per call.
Marketer: But …
You: Of course, it’s not a done deal yet. It may take a year. But the FTC’s five commissioners voted 100 percent for the idea. And you know they wouldn’t make a big announcement about this plan if they weren’t already set on doing it.
Marketer: But I represent the nonprofit blah blah society!
You: Sorry, pal, but if nonprofits hire a for-profit company to do their dirty phone work, they’re also going to be barred from ringing anyone on the “do not call” list. There may be some major exemptions banks, airlines, insurance companies.
So, no, dinnertime won’t be utterly peaceful. But a whole lot of companies are going to have to stop taking advantage of people just because they answer their phones. If I were you, I’d look for a new job. Maybe there’s a spot for you in the junk-mail-envelope stuffing or e-mail-spam-sending fields; we haven’t got them under control yet.
Marketer: But what about my rights to free speech?
You: You can free-speak all you want, buddy, but it stops at my ear if I want it to. I own my phone; it’s inside my house. I don’t let salespeople inside my front door so how come you’re allowed in? P-R-I-V-A-C-Y. You know what that means? And can we wrap this up now? I’ve got to contact the FTC to let them know what a great idea this is.
Marketer: But aren’t you interested in the great blah blah I’m selling?
You: I might be. But I gotta run. So give me your home number. That way I can call you before I go to work. At 4 a.m.
(c) 2002, The Philadelphia Inquirer
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