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. If junk calls are so reviled, why do they continue; why hasn't an effective law been passed to protect us from this absurd practice? Let's take a look at -
The DMA is a 'trade association' which exists for the benefit of its direct marketing members. They include junk callers, junk mailers (snail & e-mail) as well as outfits that sell private data about you and your family (commonly without your knowledge or permission).
The DMA's president once said; "The goal of the DMA is to discover and to thwart possible government regulation, and we have done it." The DMA also brags that; "Right now the DMA is fighting to make sure that restrictive telemarketing legislation does not pass." The DMA and its members give millions to state and federal legislators to help assure that no effective laws are passed which would protect your privacy from their intrusive behavior.
For example, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 [TCPA, (47 USC 227)] was attacked by the DMA and its members so successfully that a US House Subcommittee majority staff report found that the resulting law and regulations were actually counter-productive to consumer privacy.
Click here to learn about the TCPA; the best law telemarketing firms could buy.
The DMA uses the TPS to undermine your right to be left alone, whether or not you are included on it. The DMA claims that the TPS is 'made available' (note the phrasing) to national (not local or regional) junk calling firms who purportedly wish to purge TPS listees from its sales call lists (it does not cover non-profit or telemarketing-research firms or political solicitations). Though the service is free to consumers, the DMA makes its money by selling the names, addresses and phone numbers of TPS listees to telemarketers.
The TPS was created in 1985 to help the junk call industry appear as self-regulating in order to avoid effective legislation. Indeed, at that time, the DMA's telephone marketing council's chairman-elect said; "[The] TPS will give consumers an alternative to running to their legislators for protection." and "We must develop a strong self-regulatory posture if we are to prevent legislation ." More recently, the DMA's president said the TPS was; "...[their] highly important legislative weapon. "
Here's an example. Ameritech is a DMA member. When people call Ameritech to complain about junk calls, they are told to contact the DMA and list themselves on the TPS. But Ameritech (which also makes junk calls) may continue to junk call TPS listees. Why? Because the DMA says that firms can telemarket their own customers, even if they are on the TPS.
So, if you ever ask a firm about something it sells (even if you don't buy it), the DMA says you are a customer of that firm, and you can be junk called by that firm even if you are on the TPS.
If you list yourself on the TPS you are, in effect, helping the DMA fight legislation that would protect you from junk phone calls, because when legislators introduce effective anti-telemarketing laws, the DMA waves the TPS and says... 'Look, you don't have to regulate us, we regulate ourselves'.
But the DMA will not disclose how many firms purchase the TPS from them, nor will they state how many firms use the TPS for purging purposes. Nevertheless, a 1991 Congressional report found that only 3% of the DMA's own members use the TPS.
Your name, may not be your name, as the DMA sees it.
Is Richard William Smith, the same person as Dick Smith?
His mother may say "Yes" but the DMA may say "No"!The DMA did not set up the TPS to function properly as a do-not-call list. If the DMA intended the TPS to be effective in stopping telenuisance calls , all that would be required would be your telephone number. After all, telemarketers do not dial your name or address.
Yet, if you list yourself on the TPS, the DMA demands you r name AND address AND city AND state AND zip code AND phone number. It them puts all that information into one record (yours) and sells it to junk callers. In fact, the DMA has admitted that, due to the inherent format variations of street addresses , firms that buy the TPS are commonly unable to purge TPS records from call lists. As counter-point, the British DMA maintains a TPS as well. However, their TPS is comprised solely of phone number (and telemarketers are required to use it... and use it only as a purge list).
|What the DMA says:||What the DMA doesn't say:|
|When you register with TPS,
address and telephone number
Your address isn't needed to avoid dialing your number. Yet, the DMA insists you give them (and junk callers) this private data.
|... are placed on a do-not-call file .||
Y our name, address & number are ll put in one record, thus giving junk callers & junk mailers what they need to annoy you.
|This "delete file" is updated four
times a year
... and made available...
The DMA makes it available by selling it to junk callers.
|...to telephone marketing companies
choose to use it.
The DMA doesn't require anyone to use the TPS.
| Your name remains on file for
When was the last time you called somone by dialing their name ? And, will you want junk calls five years from now?
| DMA members
are required to use it!
1) The DMA lets some members avoid that 'requirement'.
2) Plus, most telemarketing firms are not DMA members. If a non-DMA-member hires a DMA-member to make junk calls for them, that member does not have to use the TPS.
3) Even when members do use it, it often doesn't stop their calls
More troubling is that a number of respected publications (including the Wall Street Journal and a direct marketing trade magazine) have reported that the TPS's sister program (the DMA's Mail Preference Service) has been used as a mailing list by those who have purchased it. Indeed, this writer is aware of at least one firm that claims to have used the TPS as a mailing list. This was quite easy, since the TPS includes the addresses of all listees. Note: Private Citizen does not include street addresses in the Private Citizen Directory
|"How can we hope to change our image in the eyes of the rest of the world when we ourselves resent [junk calls] as well?" DMA - State Lobbying Dir.|
|"Telemarketers must continually remind themselves that theirs is the most obtrusive of advertising media." DMA - Senior VP (chief lobbyist)|
|"What some people call harassment is someone else's sales call." DMA - State Gvm't. Affairs Director (lobbyist)|
Let's say a mail-order firm collected the genetic codes of folks who ordered products by mail. The genetic codes would be determined by analyzing the envelope glue licked by the customer. The firm would then sell the genetic codes of their customers to insurance companies who would pay top dollar for it in order to avoid insuring people with genetic markers for certain diseases. Since customers revealed their genetic code by licking the envelope, the mail-order firms would claim people freely gave it to them, and therefore it was theirs to sell. This is a basic tenant of the direct marketing industry. Whatever personal data they can get their hands on, they think they own, and can sell. The result... they get money, you lose privacy.
Now let's assume that folks get upset about the sale of their genetic code, and insist that a law be passed to stop it. A legislator drafts a bill, and before it's put to a vote, the DMA shows up at the legislator's office and makes the following arguments against the legislation (which parallel the DMA's argument against effective telemarketing legislation):
O The law would put thousands of out of work (those who sold genetic codes)
O The law would ruin the economy (the billions spent on genetic codes would dry up)
O The law would prohibit the free flow of information (a basis of the US economy)
O AND ... The law is not needed since -
o firms do not want to sell genetic codes of folks who don't want their codes sold,
o the DMA just created the GPS (Genetic Preference Service),
o the GPS will ' give folks the opportunity ' (note the phrasing) to have their genetic
code removed from databases by listing themselves on the GPS
Of course, like the DMA's TPS and the telemarketing industry:
O most direct marketers will not use the GPS
O if a firm wished to get the GPS, they would have to pay the DMA for it
O any person wishing to be on the GPS, would be forced to give the DMA their:
Name - Address - City - State - Zip - AND GENETIC CODE !
This absurd premise is the same one used by the DMA's TPS, which works so well to stop effective telemarketing laws. Never mind that most folks do not want to be telemarketed (just as most folks would not want their genetic code sold). Ignore the fact that the vast majority of direct marketers do not use the TPS (nor would they use the GPS). Pay no attention to the DMA's requirement that you must divulge your name, full address and telephone number to be listed on the TPS, when all that is required to avoid dialing a phone number, is the phone number itself. (Should you give personal and private information about yourself to outfits populated by firms whose business it is to make money off of such data?)
Let's talk about the money - Example; AT&TAT&T is a DMA member. Between January 1, 1995 and October 16, 1996 AT&T gave $2,600,000.00 to the campaigns of federal legislative candidates. Even more telling: AT&T gave 108 times more money to incumbent House Congressional candidates than non-incumbents.
Why? Perhaps the direct marketing industry rewards legislators who dutifully thwart legislation that would protect us from their 'privacy intrusive' business practices. Note that their are hundreds of 'privacy' bills introduced by state and federal law makers every year. Yet very few become law; and those that do, are generally gutted of effective enforcement measures.
Furthermore, DMA members are without shame as they use our lawmakers as nickel/dime legislative prostitutes. Yes, it is strong language; but that's what we call people who take money to screw people.
As reported in the New York Times, Congressman Dan Burton (R - IN) has been a member of the U S House for 16 years. All that time he wanted to play golf in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am Tournament. Well, suddenly (3 weeks after Burton became the Chair of a House committee that will award $5 BILLION dollars in federal telecommunications contracts) he finally got his wish. You see, AT&T is a DMA member, and sponsors the tournament, and it was AT&T that invited him. AT&T also sponsored a fund-raising dinner for Burton after the tournament. Burton said he had sought a tournament invitation from AT&T since 1986 (of course he wasn't in charge of awarding federal contracts that may go to AT&T... until now).
And what would a golf outing be without a nice practice round with Robert Allen (AT&T's Chairman and CEO). Guess what! Allen and Burton played a practice round together; and who knows what they talked about. Gee... didn't AT&T invite you their Pro-Am Tournament? Didn't you play golf with AT&T's Chairman? Well, just become the motive force behind a $5,000,000,000 telecommunications contract and you'll find out how 'friendly' AT&T can get.
By the way; AT&T then gave Burton a $7,000 campaign contribution. Let's see... a 5 billion contract divided by a $7,000 campaign contribution... hmm; if AT&T gets the contract, that's a 70,000% return on investment. Telemarketers must consider it 'an investment in good government'.
Besides being a DMA member, AT&T also makes telemarketing calls. At a 1990 Congressional hearing, AT&T was forced to admit they were making 60 million junk calls a year.We give lawmakers our votes. But DMA members give them millions of dollars.