03 Nov The major flaw with the CRTC’s Do Not Call List, no one knows about…
Whether it’s telemarketing, or the up sell from a company you already do business with, or someone asking who’s going to win your vote in an upcoming election, we all get telephone calls from people other than our family and friends; some wanted, and some, well, not so much.
The latter possibly coming in the form of an automated message, from someone named ‘Igor’ asking if we need moving services, or duct cleaning.
Regardless of the nature of the call, and whether it’s wanted at the time or not, the telephone is still probably the best form of communication for businesses. It makes it possible for your business, in real time, to ask questions, provide responses, and with that, easily convey tone, emotion and, when needed, urgency to your customers.
The telephone also provides us, as consumers, with some very helpful features, thanks to our telephone service providers, like Call Waiting and Conference Calling, which afford us the luxury of talking to people at our convenience, and in a way that is efficient for us as busy individuals.
The problem is, like with any other form of communication, the telephone became abused, prompting the government to get involved in an effort to curb the problem of misuse.
However, long before the federal government announced the CRTC’s highly touted National Do Not Call legislation in December 2004, there has been a major flaw with the basic framework of the National Do Not Call List here in Canada. It’s one that the CRTC has yet to address, almost no one knows about, and it unfortunately prevents it from functioning as it was intended to, resulting in people getting calls, even though they’re already registered on the list, and in many cases consumers receiving calls from organizations they’ve never done business with.
Remember those helpful features the telephone service providers offer? Those great features that make using the telephone that much more convenient for us?
Well, it’s those same features that are the crux of the problem. Those features, in and of themselves, make it impossible for the National Do Not Call List to function as intended.
You see, in order for those telephone features to work, they require a telephone number to be associated with them. That means your Call Waiting has a telephone number associated with it, in order to allow that second call to come through while you’re talking with granny about that pie you wished she’d bake for your birthday, and your Conference Calling has its own separate telephone number associated with it, in order for you to flash-hook and get a dial tone to add your friends to the conversation you’re already enjoying about what you’re going to do this weekend at the cottage.
And… the telephone numbers associated with these features… almost 100% of the time… are telephone numbers which previously belonged to another customer before you.
And… guess what… The telephone service providers NEVER tell you these telephone numbers are associated with your features. In fact, unless you get a well-trained customer service representative on the telephone, they will actually try to tell you this is not true.
During my 19 years in the call centre industry here in Canada, I’ve spent 16 years of it working intimately within the area of telephony. I’ve worked directly with technicians associated with the biggest telephone service providers here in Canada, and they have confirmed this to be true. I can assure you; this is not speculation on my part. It’s backed up by data and cold hard fact.
I’ll give you a real-life example:
Jimmy Johnson has a home telephone number of 705-555-1212. He’s had this number for the past 15 years. But now Jimmy is moving to beautiful British Columbia. He contacts his telephone service provider and advises he’s cancelling his service due to the move out of province. The service provider ends the telephone service on the move date, and add our good friend Jimmy’s telephone number back in to the pool of available numbers in that area code.
Suzie Sampson lives in the same area as Jimmy did, within the 705 area-code, and has a home phone number of 705-444-8989. She asks her telephone service provider (the same one Jimmy used) to set her up with the Call Waiting feature. The service provider is happy to oblige and, in order to provide this feature, they pull a telephone number from the available pool of numbers; you guessed it… it’s the number that used to belong to Jimmy… you’re smart!
The service provider tells Suzie the feature is active and ready to use. They never tell her about the additional number now associated with her telephone service. Nor does that number ever show up on her monthly statement.
So, where’s the problem in that?
Well, Suzie starts getting calls from organizations trying to reach Jimmy, BUT, the calls shunt to her main number, so she believes they are calling her on 705-444-8989; never knowing that they are in fact calling 705-555-1212.
Suzie’s already registered her home number of 705-444-8989 with the CRTC, and threatens the companies calling her with a complaint for breaching the Do Not Call rules.
Because the companies calling Suzie are respectful and responsible in following the CRTC’s rules, they scour their call tables and databases looking for Suzie’s number, not knowing that it was never her number they were calling in the first place.
I’m sure you can see how this begins to unravel and how quickly it spirals out of control, with everyone looking in completely the wrong places for answers.
What does this mean day to day for consumers who have registered and placed their telephone number on the CRTC’s National Do Not Call List?
It means, while it gives consumers a warm and fuzzy feeling when it comes to their National Do Not Call List submission, they may not be completely stopping calls from [legitimate and responsible] organizations that subscribe and are registered with the CRTC’s National Do Not Call registry. Unless the consumer has contacted their telephone service provider and requested the numbers associated with their telephone features, and subsequently added those to the list as well.
And, what does this mean for those legitimate & responsible organizations? The organizations that have been diligent in registering with the CRTC, spending hundreds or, in many cases, thousands of dollars purchasing Do Not Call Lists to scrub against, to ensure they are not calling consumers who wish not to receive calls?
It means those organizations will be subject to the verbal assault of angry consumers insisting they are registered with the National Do Not Call List and should not be receiving calls. Worse yet, they could be subject to a CRTC investigation, or possibly a hefty fine, for calling telephone numbers they don’t even realize they’re calling; telephone numbers they in fact have no way of preventing themselves from calling.
What needs to happen to fix this problem?
It’s simple really… The CRTC need only insist that telephone service providers disclose the telephone numbers associated with each and every feature associated with each consumer’s subscribed telephone service. With this one simple requirement, the National Do Not Call List instantly works [in its technical sense] the way it was intended to; saving everyone a lot of frustration.
But, sometimes simple is just too difficult.