how soon we forget

Hey Canadians!

Remember the National Do Not Call List registry?

It was (is!) a web site where you could register your phone numbers — home phone, cell phone, the works — and make sure that companies didn't tie up your phone lines trying to sell you crap. There were some exceptions, which are very clearly explained on the web site, but overall it meant that those after-dinner sales pitches were off your phone and out of your face forever.

In theory.

I don't know about you, but of late it seems to me that I've been getting more of those stupid calls. Since I've been spending my winter vacation at home feeling ill, the resentment of dragging myself out of my sickbed just to find out someone who can't pronounce my last name wants to pitch a chimney flue cleaning service at me has been, uh, increasing. Just ask any of the poor saps who have called me lately.

Then I remembered that the DNCL was only good for so many years, at which point you had to re-register your number.  Aha! Must be that time. So I went and did it, and the web elves who work for the government served me up this page:

(In real life, my actual home phone number displayed, of course.)

Okay, so if I, and everyone else who hit the registration web page as fast as they could, are good until 2013, then what's with the increase in phone solicitations?

Two possible explanations.

One: companies that you already deal with are allowed to call you up and pitch more stuff. So are politicians, newspapers, charities, and a bunch of other organisations. I have learned that if you say the magic words, "I do not accept phone solicitations. Please take me off your list," you can get these calls to diminish, but it takes many tries before it works.

Two: just like many people predicted, companies that indulge in telemarketing just waited a few years until they figured things had settled down, and have quietly started calling people again.

Consider this a public service announcement. If your number is a Canadian phone number and you are registered on the DNCL, you can complain about unsolicited calls via the web link I gave above. You have to know the number that called you, which is a pain for people like me who don't have caller ID, but it can be done.

If you have a Canadian phone number and are not registered yet, you may still do so using the link at the top of this post.

And if you get companies calling you, especially if they sound like some offshore outfit with a poor grasp of which country they're even calling, you can always use the magic words, "I do not accept phone solicitations. Please take me off your list." A professional marketer told me if you use that phrase, any self-respecting business will remove you from their list, because they know it's a waste of call time to try to contact you for a sale. If the person calling you doesn't understand what you mean (the caller I had this afternoon found the statement confusing), just say, "Add me to your kill list." That's telemarketing lingo for a list of numbers the auto-dialers will skip because, again, they know they won't get a sale by calling that number.

It can be a hard slog, but it's worth it for the peace and quiet. Don't forget.