Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Freedom from Telemarketers

In America, and certainly in Oklahoma, people face frequent intrusion into their homes by telemarketers who telephone them at all times of the day and night. Telemarketers buy lists of people and their phone numbers and then have armies of low-paid salespeople call and try to sell them everything from magazines to vacations. The telemarketers train their salespeople well in ways to suck victims into a conversation and ultimately a purchase decision. People don't like being disturbed at home but oddly enough, enough people succumb to the telemarketers that it remains economical for the telemarketers to continue to sell this way.

Fortunately, we have "caller ID" which tells us who is calling us on the phone so we can decide whether we want to answer the phone or not. Telemarketers, on the other hand, use special numbers which are blocked from being displayed on caller ID screens. They do this so the people they call can't know for sure who is calling - and they sometimes answer the phone anyway. I never answer the phone if the caller ID is not displaying a caller or number I know - except today, my daughter answered the phone and handed it to me. It was the FOP, the Fraternal Order of Police wanting a donation. I told them I was on the national and state "do not call lists" and don't call me again. Unfortunately "charities" like the FOP are exempt from the "do not call list". Shame on you FOP for harassing people at home. According to USA Today: A recent study by the Massachusetts attorney general found that charities received an average of 26 cents of every dollar raised by professional telemarketers last year. The telemarketers pocketed the rest.

We live in a free country but unfortunately, we do not yet have the freedom of privacy at home - the freedom to answer our own phones without having a *&^%*^ salesman interrupt our homelife to ask for money. The freedom from telemarketers should be tacked onto the the Bill of Rights.

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