The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is the 1995 law that was supposed to protect…
All of my efforts with telephone providers and regulators are focused on ILLEGAL robocalls. But like most people, I’m also bothered by certain legal calls; the industry refers to these as UNWANTED calls.
This week, my phone rang at dinnertime (6:48 PM) – the Caller-ID showed +1-202-225-8104 / CPTL U S. I answered to hear the recorded voice of Anna Eshoo, the US Representative for my California district, inviting me to stay on the line to listen to her “town hall.” I was told I could stay on the line and I’d be “instantly connected to me and other constituents so we can discuss the important issues facing our country.” (A recording is here.) I waited a moment, and then was told that the “access live event is currently on music hold.” So much for being instantly connected.
As far as I can tell, this call was perfectly legal. It had a legitimate Caller-ID and the caller responsible was properly announced at the start of the call. My number is on the do-not-call list, but politicians conveniently exempted themselves from the TCPA – the law implementing do-not-call.
Given current laws, no action by a regulator or telephone provider against Representative Eshoo is warranted. But as a constituent, I’d ask her these questions:
- Your web site contains several quotes regarding robocalls, including: “The American people are fed up with being harassed by robocalls and texts.” (Here’s a link.) You acknowledged on Twitter that we have a right to avoid unwanted calls. If you know we’re fed up, do you think your best course is to personally add to the barrage of calls?
- No doubt some constituents appreciate these phone meetings. But wouldn’t it be more respectful to invite us via email, and let us opt-in? You could offer a link that I could click and sign up to be called at meeting time – and perhaps you could also offer the ability to hear a recording of the meeting later, if 6:48 PM on Thursday evening didn’t happen to be the ideal time for me.
- Speaking of being respectful, wouldn’t it also be nice if you told me what topics were on your agenda, so I could make an informed decision about attending? And if you told me the format of the meeting, including whether I’d be able to interact and ask a question?
- And speaking of opting, since you are currently intruding into people’s homes unsolicited, how about offering an opt-out function, both on the initial call and via your web site? (I did call your office and they promised to remove me from the call list.)
I appreciate the ability to stay in touch with my elected officials, but I’d like to do it on mutually-agreeable terms. Ultimately, we want to get a handle on BOTH illegal and unwanted calls. Since unwanted is determined by each call recipient, callers need to provide a way to accept and honor that input from us – ideally BEFORE they make their calls, even if legal.