MYTH: Historically, the FCC has prohibited voice providers from blocking calls. FACT: Providers have extensive…
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.