Despite "Do Not Call," Phone Calls Keep Coming

By: Roger Sheppard
By: Roger Sheppard

Here's another way to combat them

If you're like me, you hate Tele-Marketing calls. I signed up for the Do-Not-Call list several years ago. But since the law was written by Congress, it comes as no surprise that it benefits elected officials.

That's why lots of calls still get through, particularly recorded messages from candidates in the days leading up to elections.

And like the one I got recently from a young woman, representing some sort of an organization involved in the health care debate.

I'm not upset with her. She was just doing her job. I have several friends who have either been involved in tele-marketing or still are. They're good people just trying to make a living.

This was not a tele-marketer for an outright for-profit organization. That would violate my do-not-call status. It was for some political action committee or lobbying group on one side of the health care debate.

She proceeded to read from her prepared script, telling me that many people are opposed to the legislation, because it would increase health care costs rather than bring them down.

She then asked if I agreed with that opinion.

First, she tells me that other people are opposed to it, and then she asks me if I agree with them!

Talk about skewing the results!

I told her that I don't think most of the people who have answered her survey have read enough of the not-yet-finished plan to be able to definitively say whether they agree or disagree with the statement that it will merely raise costs. It's an extremely complex piece of legislation that cannot be fairly summarized with one short statement.

There was silence on the other end.

She then rattled off the name of a website that I could visit to learn more about the plan, or at least, the view of the plan as paid for and posted by the folks paying for her, to call my house, in the middle of dinner.

My usually response when people call me asking for my opinion is: "Are you going to pay me for my answers?" When they say "no," then I say, "Well, since your company is being paid to gather this information, I should be paid for helping your company make money." They usually hang up before I finish.


That's one thing I'll say about the folks from Nielsen who do television surveys. They pay people to keep track of what they watch on TV. And believe you me, they pass along those costs to broadcasters, cable companies, advertising agencies, and anyone else curious to know what people are watching, from an objective source.

So, other than making sure you're on the do-not-call list, the only way to fight survey-takers is to tell them: when you're ready to pay me cash for my opinions, call me back. Until then, don't bother.

That's this week's editorial.

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