Quotes from 2000

December 31, 2000

"I signed up for it [Oregon's State mandated 'Do Not Call" list] and the effect was Instantaneous. It was amazing."

Jan Margosian, a spokeswomen for the Oregon attorney general's office. From USA Today, Don't-call Laws Raise False Hope For Peace, Quiet, December 22, 2000. Ms. Margosian can be reached through the Oregon Attorney General's office at: (503) 378-4732.

C.A.T.S. Comment: Why does Oregon's "Do Not Call" list law work so well? Well it seems that the law is strictly enforced and fines are handed out to violators as a mater of practice. Perhaps the FCC could learn from that. The FCC has yet to cite a telemarketer for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) despite the fact that the law has been in effect since December, 1992.

December 24, 2000

"The association is nothing if it isn’t credible. How credible can the association be with those kinds of allegations floating around its chairman?"

Jon Hamilton, a past president of the American Teleservices Association, commenting on new president Gordon McKenna's alleged misuse of company funds. From DM News, TeleQuest Founder Oversees ATA, But No Longer Runs Firm, December 15, 2000.

C.A.T.S. Comment: When has the ATA ever been credible? A good first step would be to require their members to follow the ATA's code of ethics, and to oust those members who won't. Currently, this is not being done.

December 17, 2000

HOMEOWNER: "You're aware that you're supposed to give that?" [Referring to proper identification as required by law.]

TELEMARKETER: "I ain’t supposed to do a motherf---ing thing. Who the f--k do you think you’re talking to?"

HOMEOWNER: "Uh, you called me at home."

TELEMARKETER: "So what? But what you talking about I’m supposed to? I ain’t supposed to do s--t but live and die."

A telemarketer caught on tape by a consumer. From Dateline NBC, airdate December 3, 2000.

C.A.T.S. Comment: Is it any wonder why consumers are fed up with the telemarketing industry?

We wrote to the American Teleservices Association and asked them to comment on the above exchange between their industry representative and the consumer. We will post their answer, should they choose to respond.

December 10, 2000

"Telemarketing is kind of like the guy that goes into a bar and pinches every woman that he comes to on the behind, until he finds the one woman who’s not offended by that behavior. And to me that’s what telemarketing is. They’re literally harassing thousands of people until they get one person that doesn't find that behavior offensive."

Diana Mey, a housewife and consumer activist against the telemarketing industry. Ms. Mey recently took MCI to court for repeated calls. MCI finally settled out of court for a sum of $5000.00. From Dateline NBC, December 3, 2000.

C.A.T.S. Comment: Well said, Ms. Mey. It's nice to see a consumer "pinch back" and win. We at C.A.T.S. salute you!

December 3, 2000

"I have no doubts that the very politicians who used -- and abused -- telemarketing during the weeks before the election will be the same politicians who regulate against using telemarketing and other direct marketing tools when their constituents get fed up with the intrusion.

"To all you companies who abuse telemarketing like this: You will be the ones who cause more stringent regulation for all of us and ultimately will lead to your own demise."

Carol Worthington Levy, Creative Director, Worthington Levy Creative, in a letter to the editor of DM News entitled "Election Telemarketing Was a Waste of Time, Money". Publish date: November 20, 2000. Ms. Levy can be reached via e-mail at carol@worthington-levy.com.

C.A.T.S. Comment: Thank you, Ms. Levy. We couldn't have said it better ourselves.

November 26, 2000

"I think that Bob Arkow [founder of C.A.T.S.] should work more with the telemarketing industry instead of against the telemarketing industry."

Donna Bryce, vice-president of Edge Teleservices commenting on The Edge with Paula Zahn, Fox News Channel, June 19, 2000.

C.A.T.S. Comment: In all fairness to Donna, and her husband Bill, they run a top-notch telemarketing firm that takes compliance with the law seriously. They are however, the exception to the the rule in the telemarketing industry.

When we have made attempts to work with the telemarketing industry, we are usually ignored. Despite several calls to the American Teleservices Association regarding some of their members non-compliance with the law, the calls are not returned, nor is any action taken.

It is the industry's own arrogance that will eventually destroy it. For that we should be thankful.

November 19, 2000

"Please take a moment to speak with one of our representatives who'll be calling you soon. It's an opportunity to learn more about the communications solutions that increase sales, generate leads and lift response rates to new heights!"

Kurt Metzler, Vice President - Sales for Western Union, talking about his company's new product, the Custom Letter© "Self Mailer."

This product, which resembles a Western Union Telegram, is just another piece of junk mail designed to fool the consumer. Western Union claims that the deceptive mail product gets an 85% "open and read" rate. Mr. Metzler can be reached at (800) MAILGRAM.

C.A.T.S. Comment: The mantra of the telemarketing industry is "We don't want to call anyone who doesn't want to be called." If a marketer were interested in this deceptive mail advertising product, he could simply call the "800" number listed above and purchase the service. But now Western Union intends to call the marketers who had clearly rejected the offer, and pitch it to them again! So much for not calling people who don't want to be called.

Western Union, a company rich in history, provided the first commercial telegraph service. For a company that, for over 100 years, has sent messages, they now need to get the message: Sleazy marketing practices ultimately do not work.

Please, Mr. Metzler, put us on your "Do-Not-Gall" list.

November 12, 2000

"I even received a call from the owner of an online hotel advertising and reservation service that claims to be receiving a 46 percent response to a broadcast fax campaign to link hotels to the site for $99."

Rich Simms, a development manager for the software and video division of DialAmerica Marketing Inc., Mahwah, NJ, a full-service inbound and outbound telemarketing service bureau. From DM News, Integrating Outbound Telemarketing Into Your E-Commerce Plan, November 7, 2000. Mr. Simms can be reached at Dial America's toll free number: (800) 531-3131.

C.A.T.S. Comment: Mr. Simms' suggestion to use "broadcast faxes" to promote a web site lacks one small detail -- it is ILLEGAL! Sending "junk faxes" is a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act or TCPA, and carries a $500.00 civil penalty per fax.

We decided to check Dial America's compliance with the TCPA by calling their customer service line (800-215-8647) and asking for a copy of their "Do-Not-Call" policy. The TCPA requires a telemarketer to make their "Do-Not-Call" policy "available upon demand;" yet after three tries, we were unable to get one. What we DID get was hung up on, and told that "Dial America does not supply that information." Eventually, we managed to find someone who actually offered to mail us the policy.

Dial America is a member of "Telewatch", an organization which claims that their members fully comply with the law. It seems to us that Telewatch isn't "telewatching" closely enough.

November 5, 2000

"The ATA is just starting from the ground up again. People may be a little nervous to come because of last year."

Betty Lou Kliewer, a national account executive at Pacific East Research Corp., describing the attendance at the American Teleservices Association's (ATA) annual convention at Orlando, Florida this year. Ms. Kliewer described the traffic at the convention floor as "terrible". She can be reached at 800-665-8400. The ATA's toll-free number is 877-779-3974.

Some exhibitors speculated that problems within the ATA that came to light at last year's convention may have impacted this year's attendance. During last year's convention in Nashville, TN, association leaders revealed to the gathered membership that the alleged mishandling of $310,000 by former president/CEO J. Scott Thornton had put the ATA in a financial hole that could have killed the organization.

C.A.T.S. Comment: It seems the ATA has not yet fully recovered from last year's scandal. The ATA has a code of ethics but does not require its members to follow it; yet it tells legislators that more laws are not necessary to regulate the telemarketing industry due to "self regulation".

How can the ATA self-regulate the telemarketing industry when it can't regulate itself?

October 29, 2000

"A second issue is the wave of TCPA-like lawsuits that will result if the law [The Know Your Caller Act] is enacted. Many consumers do not know what a T1 line is. They might see 'unavailable' on their caller-ID registers, hear about law on the news and sue in small-claims court. Regardless of the result of the first concern, telemarketers would be forced to sort out the issue in innumerable small-claims cases--an expensive and time-consuming proposition."

William Raney, an attorney at Copilevitz and Cantor PC, commenting about the Know Your Caller Act, a proposed act of Congress that makes it illegal for telemarketers to block their caller ID. From DM News, Legislation Could Bring Restrictions, October 23, 2000. Mr. Raney can be reached at (816) 472-9000 or at braney@copilevitz-cantor.com.

C.A.T.S. Comment: It is a fact that T1 lines in use in the United States routinely transmit caller-ID information. We suspect the real blame lies with telemarketers' predictive dialers, which block the caller-IDs by design. The real reason telemarketers want to block caller-ID is that consumers will have no idea who called when they are "abandoned" by predictive dialers. As Joe Shields pointed out in a previous quote of the week: The practice of initiating dozens of hang-up calls until the call center can throw the pitch "at their convenience" will be exposed by requiring transmission of caller ID.

Rather than blame T1 lines, perhaps Mr. Raney should advise his clients to simply obey the law. That would certainly reduce the lawsuits they may face.

October 22, 2000

(This weeks quote and comment are provided by Joe Shields, a Systems Engineering Specialist in the aerospace industry.)

"Basically, you're punishing both the reputable telemarketers and those that are fraudulent."

Jason Todd, Communications Manager at the American Teleservices Association (ATA) commenting about the Know Your Caller Act, a proposed act of Congress that makes it illegal for telemarketers to block their caller ID. From DM News, Congress Weighs Telemarketing Bill as 106th Session Closes, October 4, 2000. The American Teleservices Association can be reached via their web site at www.ataconnect.org or toll free at (877) 779-3974.

C.A.T.S. Guest Comment: No one is being punished here. It is common courtesy to introduce oneself on the phone before beginning a conversation. The telemarketing industry has refused to do so by purposely blocking caller ID.

The practice of initiating dozens of hang up calls until the call center can throw the pitch "at their convenience" will be exposed by requiring transmission of caller ID.

(Thanks, Joe, for your contribution!)

October 15, 2000

[Catalogs are the] "most effective and frequently used traditional direct marketing technique. Telemarketing, Radio and TV were all found to generate only mediocre return on investment."

H. Robert Weintzen, CEO of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), commenting at the DMA's Net Marketing and Conference & Exhibition in Boston earlier this year. The DMA can be reached at www.thedma.org. From DM News, Show Traffic Was Light But Good for Some, October 2, 2000.

C.A.T.S. Comment: Studies conducted by the DMA earlier this year found consumer acceptance of telemarketing to be lacking. Now the DMA admits that telemarketing produces a "mediocre" return on investment.

We at C.A.T.S. ask why any company would continue to use telemarketing in light of the DMA's research?

October 8, 2000

(This weeks quote and comment are provided by Joe Shields, a Systems Engineering Specialist working in the Aerospace Industry.)

"But the technology problems that inadvertently block caller ID generally lie with the phone companies that serve call centers, not the telemarketers."

A comment from the American Teleservices Association in regard to the Know Your Caller Act, a proposed act of Congress that makes it illegal for telemarketers to block their caller ID. From DM News, Congress Weighs Telemarketing Bill as 106th Session Closes, October 4, 2000. The American Teleservices Association can be reached via their web site at www.ataconnect.org or toll free at (877) 779-3974.

C.A.T.S. Guest Comment: This is not a phone company problem! According to the FCC, 99% of all switch boxes within the US were capable of transmitting caller ID by 1995. Telemarketers purposely set an "override" to this capability by transmitting caller ID from the dialer instead of the switch (caller ID is blocked at the switch) and code the transmitted caller ID signal with the "unavailable" bit set.

(Thanks, Joe, for your contribution!)

October 1, 2000

"They do not provide sufficient disclosures in their pitches. They do not adequately maintain do-not-call lists. They misrepresent the nature of the goods and services they offer. They are the "damn-the-torpedoes, full-speed-ahead" segment of the industry that could care less about the consequences of their actions as long as they can squeeze a few dollars out of the public.

In short, these are the companies that wind up on ABC’s "20/20" and NBC’s "Dateline" every year. However, these companies account for a miniscule, nearly insignificant percentage of telemarketing calls placed each year."

Tyler Prochnow, attorney at Lathrop & Gage, Kansas City, MO, and counsel to the American Teleservices Association (ATA). From DM News, "Keeping An Eye on Outbound Calling, September 18, 2000. Mr. Prochnow can be reached at: tprochnow@lathropgage.com.

C.A.T.S. Comment: Time Warner. GE Capitol. U.S. Sprint. America On Line. "Miniscule" and "nearly insignificant"? These companies are major players in the industry; and all were charged with telemarketing violations. Some settled out of court; others paid a judgment.

As counsel for the American Teleservices Association (ATA), Mr. Prochnow should suggest to his client that those companies who violate the law, as well as ATA's code of ethics, should be booted out of the organization. But then, who would be left to go to their conventions?

September 24, 2000

"Outbound consumer calling usually leaves a bitter taste: customers hate the interruption and agents quickly tire of hang-ups and verbal assaults."

Angela Karr, Senior Editor, Customer Interface Magazine (formerly TeleProfessional Magazine), "High Energy -- Courtesy calls reduce disconnect rates for Southern electric utility," September 2000 issue. Ms. Karr can be reached via e-mail at akarr@advantastar.com or at (319) 984-6799.

C.A.T.S. Comment: When Ms. Karr reviewed our website in November 1997, wherein we were suggesting (and still are) that most people did not want to receive outbound telemarketing calls, she was "slightly nauseated by their [C.A.T.S.] ability to skew facts." Ms. Karr now agrees with our point of view.

We at C.A.T.S. are slightly nauseated that it's taken Ms. Karr almost three years to see who's really been "skewing the facts".

September 17, 2000

"If today's society offered a kinder, gentler business ambience, one would expect telemarketing scripts to be subject to a final pass/no-pass inspection by somebody -- anybody -- who has a nodding acquaintanceship with primitive sales psychology. You'd think they'd know a telephone pitch is dead in the water unless it makes at least a feeble attempt to establish rapport. But rapport has given way to its sworn enemy, arrogance. Who advises these people, anyway?"

By Herschell Gordon Lewis, the principal of Lewis Enterprises, Ft Lauderdale, Florida. Mr. Lewis consults and writes direct response copy for his clients worldwide. Author of 24 books, his latest is a revised edition of "On the Art of Writing Copy." From Direct Magazine, CURMUDGEON-AT-LARGE: The Decline and Fall of Telephone Manners, September 15, 2000.

C.A.T.S. Comment: We agree with Mr. Lewis; telephone pitches are awful. It's obvious that the industry hasn't taken "Basic Sales 101."

Between badly written scripts and poorly trained sales callers who don't even attempt to establish rapport with their prospects, is it any wonder that America has had it with junk calls?

September 10, 2000

"Being less annoying is something the telemarketing industry definitely needs right now. Even DMA [The Direct Marketing Association] President/CEO H. Robert Wientzen admitted as much at last month's 16th Annual Telephone Marketing Conference and discussed two of the biggest issues facing telemarketers: predictive dialers and do-not-call lists. Hardly an issue of DM News goes by without something negative being said about the teleservices industry, usually in the form of legislation wending its way through Congress or at the state level."

Tad Clarke, Editor in Chief of DM [Direct Marketing] News, commenting about the DMA's recent study of the public's perception of the outbound telemarketing industry. From DM News, EDITORIAL: Telemarketing's Mission: Impossible or Difficult?, July 7, 2000.

C.A.T.S. Comment: For an industry whose livelihood depends on delivering sales messages to consumers, you would think they'd get the message. America wants to be left alone!

September 3, 2000

"I felt like the little guy finally wins against some multibillion-dollar corporation that's arrogant and doesn't abide by the law. I told that CEO I was going to see him in court, and after I got done in court, I was going to tell every newspaper that would listen about my case, and that's what I'm going to do."

Gerry Standefer, a 46-year-old chef from Mentone, California, who won $5,026.00 from America On Line (AOL) for repeated telemarketing calls. From USA Today, Man rings up victory vs. AOL telemarketers, August 3, 2000.

C.A.T.S. Comment: Gerry Standefer is quite a chef; he certainly cooked AOL's goose! To add icing to the cake, AOL failed to pay the judgment as required by law, and only came through after Gerry threatened to go to the media.

AOL, like other corporate giants, feels they are above the law. We applaud chef Gerry for serving them a piece of humble pie. Let them chew on that for a while.

August 28, 2000

"You've got to go to legislators in your state and tell them you are thinking of expanding, and tell them that if they pass that legislation, you are going to think about going someplace else. You've got to have operations in that state and go in there telling them that you bring jobs to the state and pay taxes."

A teleservices industry executive, who asked not to be identified, commenting on how to fight telemarketing legislation at the state level. The comments were made at the DMA (Direct Marketing Association) roundtable discussion group. From DM (Direct Marketing) News, DMA Roundtable: Local Lobbying Essential, June 28, 2000

C.A.T.S. Comment: It's an indisputable fact that the telemarketing industry creates jobs. It's also an indisputable fact that the industry's current turnover rate is as high as 300% per year. How come they don't tell that to the legislators?

August 20, 2000

"What will marketers do when they can't call anyone because the entire country has opted in to an I'd-rather-watch-paint-dry-than-talk-to-a-telemarketer list? The DMA's [Direct Marketing Association's] own study found that more than half of consumers said telemarketing calls are 'always intrusive' and 'never offered opportunities.'"

Tad Clarke, Editor in Chief of DM [Direct Marketing] News, commenting about the DMA's recent study of the public's perception of the outbound telemarketing industry. From DM News, EDITORIAL: Telemarketing's Mission: Impossible or Difficult?, July 7, 2000.

C.A.T.S. Comment: No argument here, except that we feel the industry does offer opportunities -- the opportunity to have your dinner turn cold, to have your privacy invaded, to be bombarded by unwanted sales pitches. .

August 13, 2000

"Thank you for making me aware of your request to have your name and telephone number deleted from our calling list.... Should you change your mind at any time and wish to have access to future opportunities, please feel free to call us at (330) 668-1400."

From a cover letter and "Do-Not-Call" policy sent by Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Management Corporation's Sr. Vice President - Telephone Marketing Operations. For the record, InfoCision's "Do-Not-Call" policy is one of the best we've ever seen.

C.A.T.S. Comment: We left a voicemail for Mr. Brubaker, asking if, in his 25 years in the industry, anyone had ever asked to be taken off the "Do-Not-Call" list. His secretary called us back, saying that to the best of Mr. Brubaker's knowledge, no one ever has.

It seems to us that the only "future opportunity" consumers will want to access is the opportunity to be on every company's "Do-Not-Call" list.

August 6, 2000

Crabby Road, a cartoon series that appears in various newspapers across the country. From the Florida Sun Sentinel, July 12, 2000.

C.A.T.S. Comment: Telemarketers have certainly carved their way into American pop culture as a privacy-invading nuisance. What will it take before they get the message....their own comic book?

July 30, 2000

"People are very curious -- and they're increasing irritated -- about how we got their phone number, as well as other information we seem to have at our fingertips."

H. Robert Wientzen, president/CEO of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), commenting about a study commissioned by the DMA which found that 52% of all telemarketing calls were "always intrusive" and "never offered opportunities" and less that 10% of the survey's respondents had favorable things to say about telemarketing. From DM News, June 23, 2000, Wientzen: Research Shows Consumer Dissatisfaction with Telemarketing.

C.A.T.S. Comment: In view of the DMA's findings regarding the public's view of telemarketing, why would any company want to engage in an act that irritates it's customers? You can ask that question at: www.thedma.org.

July 23, 2000

"We have customers in Tennessee saying, 'Don't call me. If you call me again, I'm going to sue.' And the [Tennessee statewide 'Do-Not-Call list] law doesn't go into effect until July 1, and these are our own customers."

Sheila Mushin, director of training and quality assurance at Grolier Books, a direct marketer of clubs. From DM (Direct Marketing) News, June 26, 2000, Do-Not-Call Lists, Predictive Dialers Causing Legislative Headaches for Marketers.

C.A.T.S. Comment: Even though Tennessee's State-wide "Do-Not-Call" list law didn't take effect until July 1, consumers were already prepared to take legal action. In view of the public's disdain with outbound telemarketing, and the competition keep customers, why would any company engage in a practice the angers it's customers enough to sue? Wasn't the goal of customer relationship management (CRM) to keep customers, not to lose them?

July 16, 2000

"New Yorkers have a particularly effective technique against telemarketers and other outbound callers. A Nov. 7, 1999 article in The New York Times entitled 'When New York is on the end of the line' revealed that call centers pay agents who call New York City higher wages and specially train them to cope with the residents' legendary verbal abuse."

From Call Center Magazine, The Pressure on Politicians, July 2000, by Breandan B. Read. Mr. Read can be reached at: 917-305-3321 or via e-mail at bread@cmp.com.

C.A.T.S. Comment: California could learn well from New York. The New York legislature passed a statewide "Do-Not-Call" list bill, something that the California State Senate could not do (see our Hall Of Shame).

Since our politicians won't act on our behalf, maybe we should take "New Yawk" speech lessons instead.

July 9, 2000

"Consumers have had enough schlock, they’ve had enough crap. We’ve been giving it to them for 50 years over the phone."

From DM (Direct Marketing) News, Thursday, June 22, 2000, DMA Speaker: Insurance DMers Need to Improve Communications, by Jon Hamilton, president of JHA Telemanagement Inc. Mr. Hamilton can be contacted at (610) 347-0724. See DM News online at www.dmnews.com. By the way, the word "schlock" is a Yiddish word meaning junk or garbage.

C.A.T.S. Guest Comment: It's nice to see that a member of the telemarketing industry finally admits the value of its products and services. Despite Mr. Hamilton's best efforts, consumers will probably get even 50 more years of more schlock, more crap.

July 2, 2000

"The [Arkansas 'no rebuttal'] law thus requires telemarketers to guess about when to end some conversations prematurely and to make that guess at their own peril -- breaking the law can involve a jail sentence. But the privacy of the consumer can be defended in a less intrusive manner by the state’s do-not-call list, which allows consumers to opt out of solicitations without making the telemarketer guess when to end the call."

From DM News, Wednesday, June 21, 2000, Free Speech Ruling and Telemarketing, by: William Raney, attorney, Copilevitz & Canter PC. Mr. Raney can be reached at: (816) 472-9000 or copcankc@copilevitz-canter.com.

Mr. Raney is objecting to the Arkansas "no rebuttal" law, which requires a telemarketer to stop the sales pitch once the consumer gives an indication that he/she is not interested.

Last month, the American Teleservices Association testified before the Federal Trade Commission that they were opposed to statewide "Do-Not-Call" lists (see our "quote of the week" for June 18, 2000). Yet in Raney's opposition to Arkansas's "no rebuttal" law, he endorses the use of a statewide "Do-Not-Call" list.

C.A.T.S. Guest Comment: The telemarketing industry doesn't want state do-not-call lists, does want, doesn't want, does want.... Excuse me Mr. Raney, but both faces of the telemarketing industry are showing and it is not a pretty picture!

Our thanks to Joe Shields for both the quote and the comment. You can e-mail him at: antitele@texas.net

June 25, 2000

"It's my impression that people dislike the folks in the telemarketing industry more than they dislike politicians. I didn't think that was possible."

U.S. Congressman John Kascih (R-Ohio) speaking on The Edge With Paula Zahn, Fox News Channel, June 19, 2000. To send the Congressman a comment click here.

C.A.T.S. Comment: Telemarketers spend millions of dollars fighting effective legislation of their industry. While they may win some battles in our courts, they continue to lose the most important court battle of all -- the court of public opinion.

June 18, 2000

"If any provision of the [Federal Trade Commission] Rule should be considered for possible amendment, the section that provides that the Rule will not pre-empt state regulation is an important area of concern. Specifically, we would urge the Commission to enact an amendment that restricts the creation of state administered Do-Not-Call lists."

Comments of the American Teleservices Association (formerly the American Telemarketing Association) on the review of the Federal Trade Commission's Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR). Source: The American Teleservices Association web site at: http://www.ataconnect.org. To read the actual comments click here.

C.A.T.S. Guest Comment: The telemarketing industry consistently states they do not want to call people who do not want to be solicited. Yet they tell our legislature in the above statement that the majority of their members find state administered Do-Not-Call lists to be overly burdensome.

How about a national call list? Let those who want telephone solicitations opt-in to a national Call-List. Why should the 90% who don't want the calls have to opt-out? The size of a national Call-List should not be too over burdensome.

Our thanks to Joe Shields for both the quote and the comment. You can e-mail him at: antitele@texas.net

June 11, 2000

I was surprised to learn that many of the hang-ups we get are from these predictive dialers. It seems ridiculous that the public should have to tolerate these irritating hang-ups just so telemarketers can make a few more bucks.

California State Assemblyman Herb Wesson, Jr. (D-Culver City), in a March 2, 2000, press release announcing his proposed legislation, AB 2721, which would make it illegal to program a predictive dialer to dial more calls than the telemarketer can handle. To send a message to Assemblyman Wesson click here.

C.A.T.S. Comment: Kudos to Assemblyman Wesson. It's heartwarming to know that there are still SOME politicians with common sense. Even more ridiculous than having to tolerate those irritating hang-ups is having to tolerate those irritating politicians who would vote against this common sense legislation.

We at C.A.T.S. promise to add to our "Hall of Shame" the names of those politicians who oppose Assemblyman Wesson's bill.

June 4, 2000

(Question:) "What's the difference between a catfish and a telemarketer?
(Answer:) One is a scum sucking bottom feeder; the other is a fish."

Joke overheard from a commuter on Metrolink, Los Angeles' high speed rail system. Date: Thursday, June 1, 2000.

C.A.T.S. Comment: It's comforting to know that, in a world so politically, socially and racially divided, at least there's one issue we can all agree on . . . Everyone hates telemarketing.

May 28, 2000

"An abandoned call (sometimes known as a nuisance call) is a connect made by a dialer for which no agent is available, leading to abandonment of the call by the dialer."

From Sytel Limited's web site. Sytel is a major telemarketer in the U.S., Great Britain, and other parts of the world. To view the page click here.

C.A.T.S. Comment: Even the industry defines abandoned calls as a nuisance. If I were to call a residence and hang up, I could be prosecuted under the malicious mischief statutes. But when telemarketers do it, it's "just business".

State Assemblyman Herb Wesson, Jr. (D-Culver City) has proposed a bill to prohibit abandonment when telemarketers call you, and prohibit leaving recorded sales pitches on answering machines. To view the bill click here.

Wesson needs your support. Let your assembly person know your feelings. To reach them click here.

May 21, 2000

"No industry can claim professionalism with the sort of turnover rates that have long been considered acceptable in outbound telemarketing. These rates run from 70% to 100% in many of the centers with whom I have worked."

Clifford Hurst, president of Career Impact, a training and advisory firm. From a speech delivered at the fall 1998 American Telemarketing Association convention. Source: Teleprofessional Magazine, Will We Kill the Goose?, November 1998. Mr. Hurst can be reached at: (207) 646-8399 or at careerimpact@cybertours.com

C.A.T.S. Comment: Does it come as any surprise that employees who sit and get rejected all day long eventually quit? If the outbound telemarketing industry wants to lower the turnover rate, they should stick to their own mantra and not "call anyone who doesn't want to be called." Then their employees -- and the public -- would be a lot happier.

May 14, 2000

"I learned that all the [Federal] legislators seemed to be amenable to opening up a dialogue. I don’t think any of the speakers were so defiant against us that we couldn't have a chance of making them understand our position."

Stuart Discount, president of Tele-Response Center Inc., Philadelphia, PA. Mr. Discount is referring to the meeting last week between the American Teleservices Association and various members of Congress. From DM News, "ATA Plans More Active Role in Legislative Issues," May 11, 2000. Mr. Discount can be reached toll-free at: (800) 371-1300.

C.A.T.S. Comment: Although 70% of the public feels telemarketing is an invasion of privacy, Congress continually fails to pass effective legislation regulating the industry. Yet ATA members, who spend millions of dollars in campaign contributions each year, find that Congress is "amenable to opening up a dialogue" with them. As always, it's such a comfort to know we have the finest government money can buy.

May 7, 2000

"However, more than a year later, just over 180,000 individuals have signed up for the Georgia [State Do-Not-Call] list. I am no math genius, but the calculator function on my computer says the 180,000 residents on the list represents less than 3 percent of the 7 million residents in Georgia.

"I am no policy guru either, but it seems a little frivolous for these states to be spending all this time and money on a program that will be used by 2.5 percent of the population."

Tyler Prochnow, attorney at Lathrop & Gage, Kansas City, MO, and counsel to the American Teleservices Association. From DM News, "States Embracing Do-Not-Call Lists", April 27, 2000. Mr. Prochnow can be reached at: tprochnow@lathropgage.com.

C.A.T.S. Comment: I am no businessman, but it seems to me that fighting a law with high-priced attorneys (such as Mr. Prochnow) which affects only 2.5% of the potential customer base is a complete waste of time and money, especially since those 2.5% are unlikely to buy from a telemarketer anyway.

For an industry that claims "We don't want to call anybody who doesn't want to be called," their actions don't seem to match their words.

April 30, 2000

"Shock shook my mouse when I clicked on a recent online survey, conducted by the company essential.com, about telemarketing. The results were not final on April 4, the last day I checked, but they were stark and startling. More than 98 percent of 1.73 million respondents reported anger over telemarketing calls, with 84 percent describing themselves as furious."

Thomas K. Keller, Smith Beers Yunker & Company, a charity fundraising organization. From DM (Direct Marketing) News, Troubled Times for Raising Funds Through Telemarketing, April 28, 2000. Mr. Keller can be reached toll-free at: (800) 698-6537.

C.A.T.S. Comment: The telemarketing industry usually dismisses such surveys by telling us that "the industry sells 50 billion dollars worth of products and services by telephone." What they don't tell us is that those figures are for both inbound and outbound telemarketing.

A young politician once said, "Tell the same lie often enough and people will believe that it is the truth." The industry continues to tell this "lie" over and over again to keep legislators from passing effective regulation of the outbound telemarketing industry.

Oh, by the way. . .The name of that young politician? Adolph Hitler.

April 23, 2000

"As editor of a trade publication, it is not my job to be a cheerleader for associations or their causes, it's to inform the readers of news and events important to them. Mabe and his CD fit the bill, and for me to ignore that would be a disservice. Likewise, for me to get up and say, "Tom Mabe is a jerk," is preaching to the choir. If you don't think the telemarketing industry has problems, check out Mabe's message board and see what the public has to say. "

Tad Clarke, editor-in-chief, DM (Direct Marketing) News. From "Balancing the Editorial Score Card," DM News, February 28, 2000. Mr. Clarke can be reached via e-mail at tad@dmnews.com. You can check out Tom Mabe's message board by clicking here.

C.A.T.S. Comment: It seems Tom Mabe's message board has attracted a few telemarketers, even some so daring as to post to it (using pseudonyms). But most telemarketers (and editors of marketing magazines) are still afraid to post a topic or a response. Could it be they are afraid of the response they'll get from a public that's fed up with the daily invasion of their privacy?

April 16, 2000

"In a call center environment -- especially an outbound call center -- a day doesn't go by that at least a couple of teleservices agents don't comment that they were verbally abused by customers who hate telemarketers.

"The dejected agents often are left feeling that the outside world does indeed view them as agents of Satan whose ceremonial duties are to call unsuspecting consumers and interrupt their dinner or to leave inbound callers on hold for eternity. In this scenario, hell is sitting in a tiny cube, facing rejection eight hours a day, every day. "

Sandra Herman, director of marketing for Transcom, Carmel, IN. She can be reached at (317) 818-4900 or by e-mail at: sherman@transcomusa.com. From DM (Direct Marketing) news, "Do Telemarketers Serve Devil's Food Cake?", April 10, 2000.

C.A.T.S. Comment: What does Ms. Herman expect when her agents invade people's privacy, a warm welcome? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that a vast majority of people are offended by telemarketing calls. In fact, the only ones who don't realize this is the telemarketing industry itself.

Tom Mabe, producer of the CD "Revenge On The Telemarketers, Round 2," has a bumper sticker that reads, "If you can read this, you're overqualified for telemarketing."
Maybe he's onto something...

April 9, 2000

"Conventional telemarketers aren't the only ones you can say goodbye to using the TCPA. The law also covers high-tech telemarketers. So, if you get a pre-recorded solicitation, or if your fax machine is tied up with a sales pitch, each violation could be worth 500 bucks in small claims court."

Stone Phillips, Dateline NBC host. First airdate, November 15, 1995.

C.A.T.S. Comment: That's right! The "junk faxes" clogging your fax machine could be worth big bucks! Take a minute to review our new "junk fax" page. After all, it's just the fax, Ma'am.

April 2, 2000

“Yeah, people tell me all the time, 'Tom, they're [telemarketers] just doing their job.' Yeah, so are drug dealers, so are prostitutes. It doesn't make it right."

Tom Mabe, humorist and songwriter, responding to comments from Tim Searcy, spokesperson and board memeber for the American Teleservices Association on Extra, air date March 28, 2000. Mr. Searcy claims that antics used in the making of Tom Mabe's new CD, Revenge On The Telemarketers, are "hurtful" and can ruin the whole day for telemarketers who are "just doing their job." Tom Mabe can be contacted via his web site at: www.tommabe.com. Mr. Searcy can be contacted at Optima Direct, (703) 918-9000.

C.A.T.S. Comment: Mr. Searcy objects to Tom Mabe's "hurtful" treatment of unwanted callers "just doing their jobs." We'd like to ask Mr. Searcy about all the sales calls from people "just doing their jobs" that ruin the whole day for invalids, day sleepers, etc. When members of your industry, "just doing their jobs," call and ask to speak to a loved one no longer with us, isn't that hurtful? My mother-in-law still gets sales calls for her husband, who passed away over a year ago.

A word of advice, Mr. Searcy: Before you condemn Tom Mabe for ruining a telemarketer's day, perhaps you should look at the thousands of days your industry keeps ruining for the rest of us.

We offered Mr. Searcy a chance to respond, but as yet, he has not done so.

March 26, 2000

“Considering the extraordinary amount of exposure the suit has received, you’d think I’d be the last person on earth anyone from MCI would want to call. You can well imagine my shock and surprise when not quite a month after the [Federal Trade Commission] forum I picked up my phone to find myself speaking to yet another MCI telemarketer. ”

Donna Mey, private citizen in a letter to the editor of DM News. Printed in DM News, March 6, 2000. Ms. Mey has filed suit against MCI under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) for repeated calls. The suit has gained quite a bit of media attention, including Court TV and People magazine, which named her one of the 25 Most Intriguing People. Despite the attention the case has had in the media, they called her yet again.

C.A.T.S. Comment: MCI offered Ms. Mey $5000.00 to settle the case, on the condition that she not reveal the mere existence of the complaint with anyone else. She refused, and is going to court.

Hats off to Donna Mey! Rather than take the $$$, she is making her case to the Federal Trade Commission, the Direct Marketing Association, and the Federal Communications Commission.

C.A.T.S. salutes you, Ms. Mey!

March 19, 2000

“They're so obnoxious. I'd have three or four kids by now if it weren't for those damn telemarketers calling at the most inappropriate times.

Humorist and songwriter Tom Mabe commenting on his new album, Revenge On The Telemarketers, Round Two, available on Virgin Records. From People Magazine, February 28, 2000, Talking with .....Tom Mabe. For more information about the record, or to purchase a copy, visit www.tommabe.com.

C.A.T.S. Comment: Telemarketing as a means of birth control? Perhaps Tom has discovered the one useful function of the industry.

March 12, 2000

“Some consumers were saying they thought they were being stalked or harassed. I think they might have felt somewhat comforted that it was just a telephone machine, but there really is a great annoyance factor there.”

Marsha Goldberger, director of ethics and consumer affairs for the Direct Marketing Association, commenting on the use of predictive dialers and the abandonment rate. Predictive dialers often are set to "over-dial" calls, and as such, some people will get hung up on.

C.A.T.S. Comment: Why all the fuss about predictive dialers? The DMA merely needs to look to the law for guidance. The TCPA states that: "A person or entity making a telephone solicitation must provide the called party with the name of the individual caller, the name of the person or entity on whose behalf the call is being made, and a telephone number or address at which the person or entity may be contacted....."

Since they made the call, i.e., connected with a consumer, they are required to identify--Period.

March 5, 2000

The teleservices industry has spent an enormous amount of time and energy in the past several years to counteract this preconceived media bias. Now, the job of mainstream media is to sell newspapers, obtain ratings, whatever. But it seems to me that the special privileges guaranteed the media by the First Amendment also carry some responsibility to offer the other side of the story, even if it may not do anything for circulation or ratings.

Tyler Prochnow, attorney at Lathrop & Gage, Kansas City, MO, and counsel to the American Teleservices Association. From DM News, "Media Should Look for Positive Stories," January 24, 2000. Mr. Prochnow can be reached at: tprochnow@lathropgage.com.

C.A.T.S. Comment: Each time the media does a telemarketing story, they seek out industry representatives for comment. Sadly, very few come forward to offer one.

KCBS TV in Los Angeles recently did a story on the telemarketing industry. When the Special Assignment Team asked the American Teleservices Association and the Direct Marketing Association for "the other side of the story," they both declined. How ironic, considering the industry makes its living by talking.

February 27, 2000

Why some states want to prohibit the use of predictive dialers entirely is beyond me.... Many people I know....are quite content with the effects of predictive dialing. They know telemarketing isn't going away. Dead air allows them to recognize a telemarketing call and hang up without having to fend off a pesky sales rep. And in these days of cordless phones, the calls don't force people off their couches the way they once did. As a result, the unintended effect of predictive dialing is that telemarketers' calls are less intrusive than they're intended to be.

Tad Clarke, editor in chief, DM (Direct Marketing) News. From his editorial, Predictive Dialing's Dead Air? A Marketer's Problem. Mr. Clarke can be reached at: tad@dmnews.com or at (212) 925-7300.

C.A.T.S. Comment: What Mr. Clark DIDN'T say was that after the "quite content" consumer hangs up on the predictive dialer, the consumer will STILL have to fend off the pesky sales rep on a future call. So now, instead of ONE intrusive call, consumers must deal with TWO OR MORE intrusive calls. We know of one consumer who received more than 20 hang-up calls before getting a live sales rep.

Is this an example of the use of predictive dialers making telemarketing calls "less intrusive than they're intended to be"?

Frankly, Mr. Clark, we think your readers deserve better.

February 20, 2000

“The definition of ‘commercial purpose’ is a little vague. It’s not clear how far removed you have to be from the actual commercial transaction to no longer be considered a commercial purpose.”

Tyler Prochnow, chief counsel for the American Teleservices Association, commenting on the fact that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) prohibits pre-recorded calls to a residence for a commercial purpose. From DM News, Update: Complaints Spur BulkRegister to Rethink Campaign, February 18, 2000. Mr. Prochnow can be reached at: tprochnow@lathropgage.com.

C.A.T.S. Comment: Allow us to assist you, Tyler. When a call is made to a consumer for the purpose of encouraging the purchase or rental of, or investment in, property, goods, or services, that call is made for a "commercial purpose".

Please, Mr. Prochnow, put us on your "Do Not Gall List." (Do we need to define that for you, too?)

February 13, 2000

"Today, we kick off a campaign of sweet revenge against email spammers and their telemarketing brethren. We're going to give them a taste of the Internet as a weapon used against them."

Mike Johnson, executive director of Voter Revolt, a political organization specializing in consumer issues. C.A.T.S. and Voter Revolt are sponsoring an initiative statute that, if passed by the voters, will ban unsolicited telephone calls and e-mails to California residents. From a press release to be issued to various members of the media this week.

C.A.T.S. Comment: This is the chance for California consumers to say "No" to the spammers and junk callers. By signing the petition form and mailing it in, we can finally take control of our phones and e-mail boxes.

February 6, 2000

"I never thought the 5-to-7 [p.m.] time period was sacred anymore anyway. These aren't the days of 'Ozzie and Harriet' anymore, where people come home from work and eat dinner at 5 p.m."

Wayne Gattinella, president at Memberworks North America, Stamford, CT, which uses telemarketing to offer various products and services. Mr. Gattinella can be reached at (203) 324-7635. From DM News, No Action Anytime Soon on Telemarketing Bill, January 28, 2000.

C.A.T.S. Comment: We at C.A.T.S. find it provocative that the Republican-controlled Congress, which constantly harps on "family values", would take no action to allow families to have peace and quiet during the dinner hour.

Our thanks to Joe Shields for the quote.

January 23, 2000

"A couple of years ago, I read an interesting letter written to an advice columnist:

'I have a brother who is a telemarketer. I have another brother who was electrocuted for mass murder. My mother is a hopeless alcoholic and a prostitute, and my father sells narcotics to school kids. Recently, I met a girl who will soon be released from prison after serving five years for armed robbery and I want to marry her. My question is: If I marry her, should I tell her that my brother is a telemarketer?'

- Disgusted in Delaware "

Larry Latimer, V.P., TBC Consulting Group. From DM News, Scripting Helps Agents Make The Call, January 20, 2000. The premise of his article is that most Americans hate junk calls because of poorly written scripts and bad delivery by telemarketing agents.

Mr. Latimer can be reached at: (770) 395-0988 ext. 13 or latimer@sellbyphone.com.

C.A.T.S. Comment: None needed.

January 16, 2000

"Virtually everyone finds junk telemarketing phone calls and e-mail intrusive and annoying. Yet politicians refuse to put a stop to them. With this initiative, we are saying loudly and clearly, 'stop bugging us."'

Mike Johnson, executive director of Voter Revolt, a political organization specializing in consumer issues. Voter Revolt is sponsoring an initiative statute that, if passed by the voters, will ban unsolicited telephone calls and e-mails to California residents. From DM News, December 4, 1999.

C.A.T.S. Comment: In order to qualify for the ballot, this initiative needs 420,000 signatures. C.A.T.S. is providing assistance to Voter Revolt. If you are a registered voter in California or want to help in this effort to rid our homes of electronic garbage, please e-mail us.

January 9, 2000

"Telemaketing has always been a numbers game to some extent, but some programs are so numbers-oriented that they don't take into consideration whether the person is a good prospect."

Joan Mullen, vice president of industry relations for Ron Weber and Associates, a telemarketing firm. Ms. Mullen is also chairperson for the Board of Governors of TeleWatch, an industry advocacy group. From Target Marketing Magazine, The Scenic Route, April 1999. Ms. Mullen can be reached at (800) 835-6584, ext. 131.

C.A.T.S. Comment: People who place their names on "Do Not Call" lists are clearly not "good prospects." So why does Ms. Mullen's group, TeleWatch, openly oppose legislated "Do Not Call" Lists?

Please, Ms. Mullen, put us on your "Do Not Gall" list.

January 2, 2000

"There will always be individuals who dislike telemarketing, no matter how many quality ingredients you add to the recipe. But thankfully, they are the minority. However, if call quality is not a priority of every organization utilizing telemarketing, the minority will grow into a majority. If you follow the recipe outlined above, you'll cook up a telemarketing effort that your customers will love."

Chris Repholz, senior vice president and a founding partner of TPG TeleManagement Inc., a Yardley, PA-based telemanagement consulting firm specializing in remote monitoring, sales training, script development and call center consulting. From Target Marketing Magazine, Good Will Hunting, How to create, cultivate and keep your prospects' good will, March 1999. Mr. Repholz can be reached at (215) 369-0300.

C.A.T.S. Comment: A respected national survey firm has found that 82% of residents consider junk sales calls to be a nuisance or invasion of privacy. Another survey, published in Telemarketing Magazine, disclosed that 70% considered them an invasion of privacy. Hardly the "minority" that Mr. Repholz would have us believe.

If Mr. Repholz wants to "cook up a telemarketing effort" that his customers will love, may we suggest the following recipe:

Combine 15 oz. of gray matter with a pinch of common sense. Mix well till reality sets in.

Our thanks to Private Citizen Inc. for the demographic info.

TPG Telemanagement Responds: Click Here.

Quotes from 1999