For the week of February 3, 1999  thru February 9, 1999  

Goodbye tele-tyrants

Telephone solicitors have most people hopping mad and the Idaho Senate has decided not to take it anymore.

The Senate approved a bill that would prohibit phone solicitors from contacting people who do not want the calls. The House should follow the Senate’s lead.

It would work like this: The state would charge a consumer $10 to register with the state for three years. Telemarketers would pay $15 for the list and be subject to a maximum $5,000 fine if they contact anyone on it.

Yes! Will it work? No one is sure, but it’s worth a try.

The bill was drafted by Attorney General Al Lance whose office fields more complaints about telemarketers every year than any consumer issue. Charitable solicitors, political contacts and opinion surveys will be exempt.

Think of it. Uninterrupted dinner hours. Quiet Saturdays.

No more sprinting to the phone for an important call only to encounter "a special offer." No more tele-tyrants haughtily offended that you are less than delighted and entirely ungrateful about their fantastic credit card or long distance rates.

No more trying to convince folks you’ll never meet that you really do not want to talk to them and that talking faster won’t change that. No more lying about whether the "decision-maker" is at home. No more pretending you don’t speak English or are deeply psychotic.

No civilized person would think of barging into another’s home uninvited, yet companies anxious to sell their wares think nothing of it. It’s ironic that we may have to pay to keep them out when they weren’t invited in the first place.

Still, it may be worth $3.33 a year for the satisfaction of giving telemarketers the boot and escaping tele-tyranny.


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