Sep 23, 2003 Volume 3 Issue 15
It's time to get real
"More ways to stop telemarketing pitches, junk mail"
In a week (October 1) the nationwide "do not call" system launched by our "friends" in Washington ... the Federal Trade Commission ... becomes a happening thing.
Our industry is on the receiving end of a full frontal attack by the FTC. These guys seem to forget how and why we got to be land of the free and the home of the brave. And truly the greatest civilization this earth has every known.
This is nothing more than a reminder ... an article from 78 days ago follows. I suggest you sit as you review what is being said about us. And further, don't have anything close that you can throw - because you just might be tempted. Talk about one sided journalism ... this is it.
Dow Jones/Associated Press Jul. 7, 2003 07:37 AM
NEW YORK - If you signed up to block those annoying telemarketing calls with the Federal Trade Commission, don't stop there.
As many as 10 million people signed up in the first three days to limit sales calls at home through a nationwide "do not call" registry, according to the FTC, which launched the service June 27.
But people who wish to reduce sales pitches across the board may want to consider additional services - some of which have been in place for years. Most other services will require more effort - and even money - than the do-not-call registry, but they could help limit companies from plugging up your mail or e-mail box, as well as reduce home phone calls.
First, start with the do-not-call registry if you haven't already done so. This government-sponsored service allows consumers to block many commercial calls by filling out a simple form at http://www.donotcall.gov . You also can call toll-free at 1-888-382-1222. If you register by Aug. 31, you should start receiving fewer telemarketing calls by October because telemarketers are given up to three months from the date a person registers to stop calling.
Still, you're almost certain still to get sales pitches from other areas, but you're not defenseless. For instance, you can limit junk mail by stopping those pre-approved credit card offers. In place since at least 1996 has been a toll-free phone number that allows you to do just that. Call 888-567-8688, or 888-5-Optout, and the main credit bureaus - including Equifax Inc., Experian and Trans-Union - will stop the credit card companies from checking your credit without your approval.
You can ask to have it stopped for two years or permanently. If you choose to make it permanent, you will have to mail back a signed form they give you, said Norm Magnuson, a spokesman for Consumer Data Industry Association, a trade group for the credit bureaus.
Pre-approved credit can allow people to easily shop for credit. But they can also clutter the mailbox and one's susceptibility to identity theft. Thieves are known to snatch these offers from mailboxes and garbage cans and apply for credit under a false name and address.
The Direct Marketing Association, a trade group for direct marketers in Washington, also gives people a way to reduce junk mail. Go to the Web site http://www.dmaconsumers.org to excuse yourself from mailing lists, e-mail lists and telephone sales pitches from DMA's 5,000 membership organizations, said Louis Mastria, a spokesman for DMA.
You have to get off lists for each medium - telephone, e-mail and mail - separately. DMA members who don't currently do business with you will be blocked for five years. You can stop e-mail solicitations free of charge online, but you have to pay $5 to scratch your name off any mail and telephone lists.
To evade this fee, you might want to mail an old-fashioned letter with your name, address and request to get on the preference service, said Mastria. To get off mailing lists free, the address is: P.O. Box 643, Carmel, N.Y., 10512. To remove your name from telephone lists free of charge, the address is P.O. Box 1559, Carmel, N.Y., 10512.
Finally, limit solicitations by asking the companies with whom you do business to not sell or share your personal information to other companies.
Companies are required to contact their customers once a year to allow them to "opt out" of having their information sold or shared. But these notices often end up in the trash because they're written in legal jargon, or they get to the point too far into the letter to keep people's attention, said Steve Blackledge, legislative director with Calpirg, a consumer advocacy group in Sacramento, Calif.
If you haven't seen any letters to opt out, "you're not alone," said Blackledge. But this also means you will have to make the effort to contact the companies yourself one-by-one, and in some cases by mail.
For help opting out, go to www.opt-out.cdt.org, created by the Center for Democracy and Technology, an activist organization in Washington.
Good luck eliminating all direct-marketing solicitations. Most services, including the FTC do-not-call list, allow for certain exceptions, usually for "existing business relationships," or companies you currently deal with. In most cases, that's a good thing - but it may also mean new mailings every time you buy someone a gift.
Also, asking a company to not share your personal information is typically ignored when it comes to a company's so-called affiliates. And for some companies, this means dozens, if not hundreds, of affiliates can legally share your personal information even if you opt out, said Blackledge.
Finally, nothing will stop fraudulent solicitations, which seem to be so prevalent in e-mail. An April report by the FTC said that the majority, or two-thirds, of all commercial e-mails contained false information of some sort. That's just not going to go away, Blackledge said.
Now, to a more pleasant collection ... and fun, too
If you're a newspaper reader you'll enjoy this "oldie but goodie" list.
If you don't get your news, the comics, sports, fashion, entertainment and whatever else turns you on from a newspaper, you still may enjoy these descriptions of the USA newspaper marketplace.
1. The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.
2. The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.
3. The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country, and who are very good at crosswords.
4. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don't really understand the Washington Post. They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie charts.
5. The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country, if they could spare the time, and if they didn't have to leave LA to do it.
6. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and they did a far superior job of it, thank you very much.
7. The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's running the country, and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.
8. The New York Post is read by people who don't care who's running the country, as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.
9. The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure there is a country or that anyone is running it; but whoever it is, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped minority feminist atheist dwarfs, who also happen to be illegal aliens from ANY country or galaxy as long as they are Democrats.
10. The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country but need the baseball scores.
11. The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.
... and one more Idea
An eon ago Burt Dubin came into my life. And has stayed. We continue to swap ideas.
One area of common ground is we're both speakers. And, Burt is a "teacher" ... working with professionals helping them grow to masters - as well as new comers just breaking in to the speaker business.
To learn more about what Burt might offer you, visit his exclusive resource and most interesting web site. Plus, you may wish to opt-in for his FREE E-zine. It's easy - surf to www.SpeakingBizSuccess.com and take a tour. Or send an E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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