From a business etiquette point of view, I would categorize SPAM as any communication that is unsolicited, unwanted and impersonal. And it's not limited to e-mail. Telemarketing calls are a particularly invasive form of SPAM, which are, by all accounts, universally hated.
When I heard that the federal government was instituting a National Do Not Call Registry (NDNC) I was hopeful because our government was taking steps to protect the privacy of its citizens but concerned that it would end up being a toothless tiger due to the public sector's inability to take a hard line on things and the fact that it turned management of the list over to a Telecom giant with a spotty customer service record.
So, it was with mixed emotions that, I added our household to the list 16 months ago. Could it possibly be that after the requisite 30-day clearance period, we could enjoy relaxing evenings free of interruptions from charities, newspapers and politicians? Alas, no! For reasons not readily apparent, these groups are exempt from the NDNC registry. Since they represented at least 75 per cent of the telemarketing calls we received before registering, things were not looking good. I called the Canadian Radio & Television Commission to ask why they had chosen to allow some of the most prodigious telemarketers to continue their shenanigans but a recorded message informed me that all of their lines were busy and to leave a message. I gave up.
But it's important to stay positive right? At least I'd finally be free of those endless calls from my bank and credit card providers with their "amazing, limited-time offers" to buy cheap life insurance or that pesky lawn aeration company I hired a year ago and didn't like. Woops, wrong again! Frustratingly, organizations that I have done business with at any point in the past 18 months are also exempt from the list. That meant I would continue to hear from any number of companies that I have a relationship with because, as a person participating in society, I need to have credit cards, put money in a bank, stay in hotels, etc.
That second list of exemptions were responsible for another 20 per cent of our pre-NDNC registration calls, bringing the quantity of unwelcome calls I would continue to receive to around 95 per cent of the calls I was already receiving. It turns out the only calls that would truly disappear, were those from a random group of moving companies, landscapers and telephone fraudsters. While those have decreased since we registered, we continue to receive a nightly call from an organization calling "on behalf of Microsoft" informing us that our computer is at risk and we need to immediately download $400 worth of software to protect our network from impending doom. A quick Google search, revealed unsurprisingly, that this is a huge fraud and suprisingly that it has actually worked on many Canadians.
With this knowledge, I called the NDNC office to file a complaint. Foiled again! The nice person who answered the phone asked for the name and phone number of the telemarketer. The funny thing about people operating telephone fraud scams is that they usually don't share this info. I gave him the limited details I had and he told me that he would submit the complaint on my behalf but could not guarantee anything since it was likely outside of their jurisdiction. He suggested I call Phonebusters, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. I called six times over the course of one day and got a busy signal every time. Not, an opportunity to be placed on hold while waiting for a representative but an actual, old-fashioned busy signal. Again, I gave up.
While fraud schemes seem to operate outside legal boundaries, I don't see why the Do Not Call registry can't provide Canadians with the option to eliminate all unwanted calls. Since I haven't been able to get an answer from the CRTC, can anyone shed light on why so many organizations are exempt from the process?