Telephonic irony - "Hello, this is the Do Not Call Register calling"

Filed Under: Featured, Law & order

It was a breach of the law serious enough to attract a $110,000 fine, but you still have to laugh.

The company that operates Australia's Do Not Call Register on behalf of the federal government has been found guilty of making unlawful calls to subscribers on the Do Not Call Register.

I'll tolerate cold callers once each, simply in order to explain to them how little I want them to call again. But until the Australian Do Not Call Register (DNCR) was mandated by an Act of federal parliament, it simply never made any difference to try to opt out, at least for me.

If ever I received one cold call from a telemarketing company, I'd soon get another, and so (as far as I could tell) ad infinitum, regardless of what I said or did to discourage them from calling again.

However, since the DNCR started operating about five years ago, I've been blissfully untroubled.

Naturally, I resent that I had to opt out at all, no matter how much liveliness the telemarketers claim to inject into the marketplace, and no matter how strongly they protest that an opt-in model would act as a damper to the economy.

→ That's the same sort of argument you'll hear against opt-in from web retailers, social networking companies, SEO experts, and many others around the world. It's the sort of argument that resulted in the hideous HTTP compromise known as Do Not Track. You'll even hear that opt-in would stifle innovation, as though bombarding prospective customers with "buy pressure" they didn't ask for, and very probably don't want, could be considered innovation in the first place. Don't buy it. Keep the faith, and keep up the pressure, that we can make ours an opt-in world.

Anyway, once you're on it, the Australian DNC Register really does seem to work, at least in my experience. And opting out once is better than having to opt out over and over again.

So I very definitely laughed at the irony of the DNCR operator (or, more precisely, another division of the same company) breaching the very regulations it is paid to police.

Interestingly, the customers on behalf of whom the unwanted calls were made were from the energy industry - the very sector that used to get my goat the most before I put myself on the DNC Register and achieved some rest.

Maybe the customers of infringing telemarketers should be made to share the liability in cases like this, whether for voice, SMS or email intransigence?

That way they might put more pressure on their cold-call contractors to play by the rules....

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8 Responses to Telephonic irony - "Hello, this is the Do Not Call Register calling"

  1. andrew · 967 days ago

    i found it interesting that it wasn't until i listed myself on the do not call register, that i started receiving calls from not-for-profit organisations that are exempt from the rules.

    i think these organisations have their own list of people not to call though. i tell each of them if they ever call me again, i will not donate to their cause and they don't call back

  2. LordMW · 967 days ago

    I love the suggestion to make the customers of the telemarketing organisations also liable for fines. Having been a 'cold caller' to pay my way through university, I know the telemarketing organisations give no credence to DNC lists nor even a person telling them not to call again - their number just goes back into the 'heap' to be called again in 3 months. There's even a cheer around the room when someone gets a sale off that number possibly years later!

  3. snert · 967 days ago

    I can be a total jerk when I'm called by someone trying to sell me something any time. I will give the phone to my niece, if my sister is visiting, and let the two-year old babble on, tell my my pooch there's a treat if he talks to me and hold the phone close, tell them I have something on the stove and go back to my book and finish the chapter, tell the caller I have a hostage problem and the SWAT team just got here, ask the if they're George pulling my leg again, or insist they're the Bank employee from Nigeria and WHERE THE F@#K IS MY MONEY AND QUIT LYING!!!. I never get called twice by the same people. I simply use my imagination to screw with them. Several times I've had a nice chat with these underpaid folks and shared a laugh or two. Why not? Hey, I'm self-employed and I get bored.
    Do Not Call only works if they're honest but BS works 24/7. If you can get their # and can do it - make a lot of overseas calls on their dime.(Disclaimer - this is a crime, but so, so satisfying) Screw with me and I will screw with you. Turn about IS fair play!

  4. TonyG · 966 days ago

    Despite being on the UK's TPS - the equivalent, I still get pestered. I basically treat every call from someone I don't know as if it is a scam and deal with it politely telling them also if the correct phone number does not come up (I have caller ID) that they are breaking UK law on at least two counts. This usually gets rid of them.

    I have opted out of the public electoral roll (the source of names and addresses) for years, but good old government and council incompetence deemed a year or so ago that all of us who did that should have to opt back out, but failed to tell us or make it clear. As a result, they increased my spam and call load again.

    I have been known to ask callers where they got my details from. One obliged and I was able to deduce that they had been solf the details by a UK bank I did not use, so we can add this as another crime to the UK banking industry.

  5. Mick A · 966 days ago

    My strategy is simple; I say to the telemarketer:

    "...thank you for calling, you may stay on the line and speak to me as long as you like - just two things I need to say before you go any further... 1. This entire call is being recorded and 2. Unsolicited calls to this telephone number are charged to your organisation at £100 per minute. By carrying on speaking to me you consent to both of these conditions. Now, how can I help?

  6. There has been a huge increase in telepest calls in UK this past year. Fortunately this has made the TPS/Offcom determined to take action. So it's worth referring offenders to them. Scams can be referred to

  7. sophia · 964 days ago

    loved your comment i have copied it and will use it. thanks Mick A
    i laughed when i read it.

  8. Anne · 962 days ago

    I have a silent number but still get the occasional call. However when questioning them as to how they got the number they tell me they have a number generation programme that provides the numbers for them to call. No one is safe from these pests. I do tell them that my number is silent and I will be taking it up with the telecommunications ombudsman , no more calls....

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About the author

Paul Ducklin is a passionate security proselytiser. (That's like an evangelist, but more so!) He lives and breathes computer security, and would be happy for you to do so, too. Paul won the inaugural AusCERT Director's Award for Individual Excellence in Computer Security in 2009. Follow him on Twitter: @duckblog