(NASHVILLE) – My mother comes from a generation where a ringing phone meant a family member, friend, or neighbor wanted to talk. She’s approaching age 90 now, and many folks her age will literally risk a broken bone to answer a call. This includes calls that unbeknownst to her are unsolicited sales pitches conducted in violation of the state’s Do Not Call list.
Although the Tennessee General Assembly passed legislation in 1999 to allow citizens to block telemarketing calls by adding their phone number to the Do Not Call List, some solicitors try to skirt the law using an exception written into the statute. That exception allows the telemarketers to call when a business relationship has been established within the last 12 months. Some unscrupulous solicitors have construed any conversation that isn’t “I’m on the Do Not Call List” as establishing that relationship.
There are steps you can take to at least cut down the number of telephone solicitations you get. If you don’t hang up during that two seconds of dead air, do not talk to the salesman except to tell him or her that you are on the Do Not Call list. The company is required by law to respect your listing or face civil penalties. Any other conversation could be construed as “doing business,” and under the law, the solicitor may call you back later.
Some telemarketers may disguise their real intentions. You might be “invited” to take part in a survey, or offer opinions on consumer products. In the end, however, you’ll be invited to buy something and they have “established a relationship” as required under law. Again, tell them that you are on the Do Not Call List and direct them to make sure that this fact is added to their company register. Do not engage in any other conversation with the solicitor.
Finally, there is a recourse you may take upon receiving a call. Those persons on the Do Not Call List may file a complaint with the Tennessee Regulatory Authority regarding unsolicited telemarketers who call in violation of the law. The Registry’s complaint form asks for the phone number called, the date of the call, the name of the telemarketer, the number or name reported on caller ID, and the product or service offered for sale. You may provide any other documents or copies of call records that will be of assistance in the explanation and support of your complaint as well.
Persons can register for free on Tennessee’s Do-Not-Call list, maintained by the Tennessee Regulatory Authority by going to www.tn.gov/tra <http://www.tn.gov/tra> or by calling 1-877-872-7030 from your home phone. You can also put your number on the national do-not-call registry by calling 1-888-382-1222.
As with all government programs, there are exemptions and exceptions; in other words, this step won’t stop all calls, but registration is simple, free, and will go a long way to shutting down this nuisance.
Sen. Jim Summerville (R-Dickson) represents Cheatham, Dickson, Hickman, Humphreys, and Robertson counties in the State Senate.