The Sound of Silence

Lest it slip by unnoticed, the Supreme Court ensured a more pleasant dinner hour for consumers by turning down a challenge brought by the nation's telemarketers to the national "Do Not Call" law.

Last week, the court let stand a 10th US Circuit Court decision that upheld the do-not-call registry as a reasonable attempt to safeguard privacy - trumping the telemarketers' charge that the list infringed upon free speech.

Certainly, the list has been effective in keeping annoying, unwanted marketing calls from ringing the phones in American households.

And to show just how irksome those calls have been to citizens, the do-not-call list now has some 57 million phone numbers registered.

Pollsters (who, understandably, have been calling more people in recent weeks) and charities are exempt from the list. So are calls from businesses that already have an existing relationship with the consumer (encompassing everything from mortgage to phone companies, though, that no doubt can feel overly intrusive to some consumers).

Still, even those calls somehow seem more manageable, now that the telephone din in American homes has been so dramatically reduced.

And, a year after the list was created (Oct. 1, 2003), dire predictions of the disruption to the telemarketing industry simply haven't materialized. Many telemarketing businesses have retooled, some by consolidating; others by moving into different lines of work.

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