I Love Telemarketers
I feel really bad for telemarketers. Everybody is out to get them. Here’s an article in the Post-Dispatch about Missouri’s No Call list:
In Missouri, more than 2.5 million phone numbers are registered on the state’s No Call list. (Missouri residents can join the federal list too, which will also get them enrolled on Missouri’s own list. Illinois residents enroll directly through the national registry.)
Attorney General Jay Nixon has aggressively enforced Missouri’s law, filing 130 lawsuits and collecting $1.7 million in penalties since July 2001, when the list began.
Here’s why I love telemarketers. First, they can be entertaining. Sometimes they introduce themselves with economic non sequiturs, like, "What if you could sell your used car at above the market price?" Second, it’s much easier to quickly say, "No, thanks," to a telemarketer than to deal with the people who aren’t soliciting anything but just have wrong numbers. I usually keep my cell phone off, a habit inspired by professors’ ire when students’ cell phones ring, but today I left it on for about two minutes after making a phone call and was immediately contacted by someone looking for "Charlie:" "Is this the Charlie who called me last night? No? Are you sure?" And when answering the phones at SMI, I’ve fielded inquiries from people looking for everything from homeless shelters to hardware stores. Unfortunately, a law can’t solve that problem.
I do see the need for some restrictions on soliciting. People should be able to leave their fax machines on without getting all their paper used up by mortgage ads. But, in general, I’m not a fan of No Call lists. This is just one more indication that I am a unique, special person, since everyone else loves those lists. In fact, I expect some of my colleagues to post rebuttals about why the No Call list is saving humanity. Dave S., Dave R., Justin, Eric, any thoughts? Maybe I should give them a call. …