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Thursday, February 28, 2008


In 1991, Congress passed a feeble Telephone Consumer Protection Act that provided limited recourse to consumers sick of unsolicited telemarketing calls. It did include the right to sue on certain conditions, but generally was inadequate in stopping what was becoming the number one annoyance in the country. See history. But as we bounded into the 21st century, the consumer had had enough of junk phone calls and demanded immediate relief from what had now become the biggest aggravation in the American household. All, by the way, compliments of the junk mail industry. The public outcry worked, and George W. Bush signed the Do-Not-Call Implementation Act into law on March 11, 2003, followed by the Federal Trade Commission’s opening of the Do-Not-Call Registry on June 27, 2003. The latter was made permanent on February 15, 2008. It put a lot of companies out of business and many lost their jobs, unfortunately, but it made millions of individuals happy. 150 million, to be exact, who signed up not to receive these irritating calls. It took a few years but the “Do-Not” craze has taken shape once again, this time in the form of mailing lists and on the state level. Consumers are finally fed up over the loss of control over their names and personal data, and are looking for ways to take back this control. No help from the federal government, of course, but the states are jumping into the action to do what Congress refuses to do. There is an article in Deliver Magazine, which is a publication of the U.S. Postal Service, which recounts the states’ march toward “Do-Not-Mail legislation, starting with 8 in 2006, rising to 15 in 2007. The momentum is expected to continue. Jerry Cerasale, senior VP of government affairs for the Direct Marketing Assn. (DMA) says the bills are prompted by annoyance over junk mail, unsolicited mail wasting resources, and fear of identity theft from junk mail, which Cerasale says is unfounded. To the latter, I say, you have got to be kidding. How about all those credit card mailings—some pre-approved—that are sent out in the millions each year? The ID thieves are all but guaranteed a new credit card in your name if they are able to steal the mailing. Rep. Sara Gagliardi of Colorado is introducing a bill to establish a statewide registry for people who don’t want unsolicited mail, but at a news conference promoting the legislation, she was challenged by a postal representative. In a piece from the Rocky Mountain News, he reiterated how businesses would close, leading to more unemployment, which is true and regrettable. However, consumers have rights too, and it is their mailboxes that are cluttered by this junk mail. I do agree with Cerasale that these new laws shouldn’t shut off all mailings. Just get rid of what the household does not want: junk mail. There is a way. Give consumers control over their names and personal data, and let them decide what they want, and opt in accordingly.

1 comment:

William said...

Keep up the good work! Your voice on this issue is strong, compelling, and necessary.