The Canadian National Do Not Call List: A Farce

Like many Canadians, when the National Do Not Call List was implemented, I went and registered my two home phone numbers, my one fax number, and both cell phone numbers in my family. I think I saw a drop in the number of telemarketers calling me, but it’s hard to say. This morning I as informed, by my mother of all people (I’m usually the one informing her of things like this), that this list isn’t quite what it appears to be. I’ll quote from the Wikipedia entry:

“In November 2008, it was reported that the CRTC had received thousands of complaints from Canadians about the implementation of the Do Not Call List. People reported that they had actually experienced a notable increase in the number of calls since registering for the list, and were starting to get calls at cellular phone numbers that had never received telemarketing calls before. In January 2009, numerous media and consumer advocacy organizations reported that anyone can use false information pretending to be a telemarketer and download the list for a $50 fee. It only took their reporter ten minutes to do so. The list is likely being downloaded and used as a telemarketing list overseas, where there’s little that can be done as the CRTC has no jurisdiction outside of Canada. On February 2, 2009, A Toronto Star headline labelled the CRTC’s do-not-call list a “disaster”, and the article recommended Parliament return to the original version of Bill C-37 by eliminating all exemptions. It further recommended cross-border cooperation to resolve jurisdictional issues and immediate tough enforcement to send a strong signal to violators.”

I had assumed there was some sort of “blind protocol” set in place here where the telemarketers would be required to do a database comparison with the Do Not Call List database, and numbers on that list would be purged from the telemarketers database. That’s the only system that would make any sense – yet it seems the system the government implemented was to bundle up all our phone numbers, hand it to the telemarketers, and say “Hey, don’t call these people, m’kay?”. Talk about naive! These telemarketers can then take that list of phone numbers and sell it on the international markets, or even pass it to their US branches to use as a calling list. Worst of all, they’ll get access to phone numbers that have never been put into the hands of telemarketers, such as cell phone numbers. What a mess.

  • I’m not sure if the U.S. Do Not Call list works the same, but when I signed up for it, I did not notice a decrease in the volume of incoming calls. My phone literally rang every 20 minutes all day long with “Unavailable” calls. When I answered and informed them that I was on the Do Not Call list, I was told that for whatever reason, this particular telemarketer was exempt from obeying the Do Not Call list.

    At the time, I worked a support job, so I listened to the phone ringing all day at work, and my blood pressure could not take listening to it ring constantly during my time at home. I finally talked my wife into ditching the land-line and switching exclusively to cell phones. I should note that in addition to being on the Do Not Call list, I was also paying for every call blocking and call intercept service Verizon offered. My phone still would not stop ringing with people that I didn’t want to talk to.

    My wife and I recently moved her parents in with us. They insisted on installing a land-line in my house, even though they both have cell phones. Sure enough, that freaking land-line rings all day long. I’m ready to pay them to get rid of it.

  • emulle1,
    That sure sounds frustrating! Maybe you should invest in one of those call-blocker boxes, the kind that require human intervention to bypass…

  • chrisgohlke

    I highly recommend the “Screen Machine” if you can still find one anywhere.

  • Hmm. I looked up The Screen Machine, and the fact that it kills the ability for voicemail to pick up makes it pretty useless to me, even if I did feel like making anyone who calls me press a button before it makes my phone ring (which would be a hassle for people calling from Bluetooth headsets, etc.). Seems like more trouble than it’s worth IMO. 🙂