I received the oddest phone call yesterday, a robocall from DirecTV (from whom we currently receive our television service). It went more or less exactly like this:

Hello, my name is Diane, and I’m with DirecTV. From time to time, we like to call our customers with information about our latest promotions and specials, but we cannot call you with these, as you’re on our do-not-call list. We’d like to offer you the opportunity to update your status with us; press 1 if you want to remove your listing on our do-not-call list, or press 3 if you want to stay on the list.

Does anyone else find this the slightest bit weird — receiving a call from a company which acknowledges that they shouldn’t be allowed to call you, and asking if you still want that to be the case? In any event, the phone call is in explicit violation of DirecTV’s own “Do Not Call Policy”, which in part reads:

DIRECTV’s Outbound Telesales Department is a department within DIRECTV that engages in telemarketing to existing DIRECTV customers. The Outbound Telesales Department will not call any DIRECTV customer who has communicated his or her desire not to be called.

Given that DirecTV was fined $5.35 million back in 2005 for violating the federal do-not-call registry, you’d think that the company would be exquisitely sensitive to the ways in which is decides to make marketing telephone calls. After receiving the call yesterday, I thought that perhaps DirecTV was being clever — regardless of whether I want calls from them or now, by calling me they couldn’t be violating the do-not-call law because I’m an established customer of theirs. Turns out that I was wrong, though — according to the FTC (see question #9), they must adhere to the wishes of any established customers who don’t want to receive marketing calls, or they face an $11,000 fine per call. Looks like it’s time to file a complaint.

Two updates: first, it looks like I wasn’t the only one to get the phone call; pity for them they stirred the Consumerist beast. Second, it looks like there’s a bug with the FTC do-not-call registry complaint form; if you, like pretty much every American, have a phone number that’ll expire off the registry soon and you update your listing, you’ll be unable to file any complaints for 31 days because the FTC system thinks yours is a totally new listing. That’s stupid.


Think of it in this context:

Creepy ex-boyfriend: “No, I’m only coming within 50 feet of you to ask you if you’d like to lift the restraining order, so this isn’t actually a violation of the restraining order…”

Yeah, right.

• Posted by: Stan Taylor on Sep 24, 2007, 11:38 AM

This is why they invented Caller ID dude!

• Posted by: Peter T on Sep 27, 2007, 8:19 PM

These companies are getting worse in customer service, I called Adelphia the other day after my Cable went out. I stayed on hold for 45 minutes just so they can tell me that the whole city’s cable is out.

• Posted by: DirecTV Satellite on Oct 4, 2007, 1:25 PM
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