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Call for Change

2004-09-14

Category: politics

I just had to hang up on a phone survey guy. That's something I haven't had to do for a while. I got rid of my home phone and only have a cell phone, so the whole telemarketing, phone survey thing had gone away. Apparently, it's back. Normally, for a survey, if it's something short and relevant, I'll be nice and help them out. If it's going to be too long I'll turn them down. Of course, that was before it started using up cell minutes and costing me money.

The fellow was rude, would tell me that I phrased my answers wrong for the survey and then would ask the same question in a different for. Seeing that the survey wasn't in the bounds of my friendliness, I hung up. (Note: me hanging up at that point is far more polite than me explaining to the caller why I'm hanging up.) The same "Caller ID not available" showed up on the following two calls. I didn't answer.

To begin with, all such outbound calling operations are morally wrong. There is no reasonable person who wishes to receive such calls. The typical person would agree that there should be a ban on such calls. We have a federally mandated "Do Not Call" list because the American people do not want to be called. So why are these places allowed to exist?

The companies who run these things say they provide a valuable service. If you ask a pimp, he'll tell you that he provides a valuable service. That's right, prostitution is just as valuable a service as telephone selling and surveying. Both are considered to be morally wrong by the general populace. We have laws against one but not the other.

Some people say the call centers provide work for low-income people and bring cash into the community. Again, so does prostitution. In fact, you can throw in gambling, drug manufacturing and distribution, as well as murder for hire as businesses that provide jobs and money for low-income people. Obviously, by this reasoning, the fact that call centers bring in cash doesn't automatically save it from the chopping block. If we can have laws against those other enterprises, surely outbound commercial calling can be axed.

Some may say I'm being a bit too extreme. They'll say that those other endeavors hurt people, or at least increase the risk of harm. People who say that haven't been watching the news. They haven't listened to the stories about the victims of phone scams. They haven't heard of those unfortunates who have been bilked out of their life savings by a creative phone solicitor. By having laws prohibiting all such phone-based businesses, the potential victim will know right away, "if they're calling me, they're a criminal by default."

The more libertarian viewpoint would say that people should be free to do what they want. Prostitution should be legal in their eyes. Many libertarian leaning people want drugs to be legal too. They say these things are voluntary and only cause harm to persons willingly entering into the situation.

I won't argue these points here. I will say though that when a telemarketing or phone survey person calls me on my cell phone it costs me money. That means that they are causing me harm and I am not willingly engaging in this activity. My phone is for my use and they should not reduce my cash without my authorization. Even the libertarian mind set can see where out bound calling centers that cold call individuals are a source of harm and should be prohibited.

Make sure to write to your legislators (or call them repeatedly to drive the point home) and ask them to prevent outbound call centers.


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