The Columbus Dispatch

August 14, 1995

Reynoldsburg woman sues, using obscure law

By Randall Edward, Dispatch Staff Writer

Kathy Chiero went to court to prove that she could do more than hang up on pesky telemarketers.

Using a relatively unknown federal law that protects consumers from unwanted sales calls.. the Reynoldsburg woman won a $500 judgment last week month against Colorado Prime.

The New York­based direct­sales grocer has asked a Franklin County Municipal Court to overturn the judgment issued by a court referee in the small claims division.

Chiero, who works out of a home office and has three children says she has a "zero­tolerance policy" with telemarketing calls.

"They're an invasion of my privacy,'' she said. "I have three small children, and I measure everything based on how much time it takes me away from my family."

She already was fed up with calls that interrupted her work and family dinners when she learned of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act approved by Congress in 1991. Early in 1994, she began keeping a log of the telemarketing calls.

She asked the name of the telemarketer and the company sponsoring the solicitation, she said. Then she told the caller not to call again.

The law says such a demand must be obeyed for 12 months. It does not apply to nonprofit organizations or to cases in which the consumer has an established business relationship with the company represented by, the telemarketer.

Before the year was up, Colorado Prime called back ­ the only company to do so.

Chiero sued in small claims court and won a $500 judgment after a hearing before Referee Julius J. Nemeth. Colorado Prime's appeal is pending before Judge Janet E. Jackson.

Because Chiero did not prove that the company's­ actions were deliberate, Nemeth said, he did not award the $1,500 penalty granted to consumers who prove that the company knew it was violating the law.

Al Stillman, Colorado Prime's manager of custom relations, said company executives were out of town that week and could not be reached for comment.

Court documents filed by company officials say Colorado Prime has established a "Do Not Call" list ­- as required by law -- for people who ask not to be bothered. It gave the court a list of 888,997 names.

The company admits making two calls to the Chiero home but said that in both cases Chiero or her husband indicated they were not interested in the product. Neither said not to call again, company officials told the court.

Chiero thinks she will win the $500 eventually and already has promised to give it to friends who are overseas missionaries. She believes Colorado Prime is fighting the case over more than $500.

"The telemarketers’ worst nightmare is that consumers will find out how this law works and will hold them accountable," Chiero said."

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