The Robocalls Have Begun
Posted on October 18, 2008 Posted by John Scalzi 43 Comments
Four times this morning call waiting has announced the someone from a toll-free area code is calling. Thanks, no. We’ll just be letting the answering machine take those. And erase any messages that get saved.
One of the advantages of living in California is that we don’t get many of the national-related robocalls. I am starting to wonder if caller-id would be worth paying for, though.
Desperation time for the “angry old man”. He has even hired the same firm that Bush used against him in 2000. He has lost all semblance of self worth!
No candidate whose campaign robo-calls me will ever get my vote. Republicans and Democrats seem to be equal offenders here — indeed my primary vote choice was entirely decided by the robo-call issue, as there was only one candidate left after screening out the pro-robot candidates.
Dear campaigns: I know you got a loophole from having to obey the do-not-call list. But has it ever occurred to you that calling people who you know do not wish to be called might be seen as, well, obnoxious?
At least your calls show a number. I’m so tired of the calls that have absolutely no Caller ID info. Political robocalls, sales robocalls, whatever.
No robocalls here in NY. I’m pretty sure McCain has abandoned any hope of scoring here. OTOH, I’ve gotten two calls today from robots telling me it’s my last chance to refinance my loan…a loan I don’t have with a bank I have no relationship with. Hmm? Maybe I should/em> give them all my account numbers, PINs, mother’s maiden name and city of birth. Yeah, that seems like a good idea.
Desperation from the old man? Both sides are doing it–my mom in Cleveland got a robocall yesterday from “John the Plumber” in support of Obama. And she’s a registered Republican.
John (and everyone else),
Get yourself registered on the National Do-Not-Call registry.
We used to get so many calls a day it just got ridiculous. I can honestly say that since I registered we get hardly any unwanted calls now (maybe one a month) – and if you do, you can go back on the do not call website and report the number.
It is too bad that politicians continue to exempt themselves from Do Not Call law.
StopPoliticalCalls.org is fighting for the privacy of the American voter.
1 – Creating a Political Do Not Call Registry
2 – Testifying in the US Senate about robo calls (Sen. Feinstein’s Robocall Privacy Act)
3 – Forcing states to enforce existing robo call laws (CA, MN, NJ, etc..)
4 – Getting politicians to take a do not robo call pledge (7 have)
As I testified at the US. Senate these robo calls are an epidemic and this election cycle “phone spam” and are invading the privacy of All American Voters.
Our members are taking a stand and saying enough is enough at the National Political Do Not Contact Registry at StopPoliticalCalls.org.
Here is a quote from a member recently:
“I’m a shift worker, working variable shifts. I depend on my sleep to be able to do my job safely and efficiently. I’m a locomotive engineer. Imagine the disaster were I to fall asleep, operating a freight train carrying hazardous materials in your neighborhood, due to fatigue from being awoken in my middle of the night on a continuous basis during election season. Please stop..”
A non-profit fighting for the privacy of the American voter
If you can record them we are tracking all robocalls (local and national at our blog:
Bottom line, it is time for political calls to be added to the do not call list and give voters a choice to opt out (not a ban, because of the first amendment).
Our media room has more info and data – http://www.stoppoliticalcalls.org/ht/d/sp/i/699/pid/699
We have a Primary Season robo call hall of shame – http://www.stoppoliticalcalls.org/ht/d/sp/i/23651/pid/23651
Our blog (LEFT SIDE pages) has links to all documented robo calls.
Obama’s – http://thinkdodone.typepad.com/ccd/obama-robo-calls.html
McCain’s – http://thinkdodone.typepad.com/ccd/mccain-robo-calls.html
All others – http://thinkdodone.typepad.com/ccd/all-other-robo-calls.html
I’ve received robocalls from both sides here in Minnesota. I have caller ID, so they get ignored. And my annoyance at these calls is party-neutral. I have no problem with their right to make these calls, but if I were unsure about who to vote for, such a call would strongly discourage me from voting for the candidate and/or party sponsoring it.
In the mean time, caller ID and voice mail is my friend.
Stuart @ 7:
The Do Not Call list does not apply to political calls or organizations with which you have done business in the previous year, so that wouldn’t help in this case.
Two years ago, during the primary cycle, I received several robo calls from a campaign. I called them and told them I refused to vote for anyone who used robocalls and would be voting for the other guy in the primary since I hadn’t received any robocalls from him. After being called a shill be the politico I spoke to I hung up. He called me back to continue to argument.
I’m currently helping out on a campaign, but I refuse to make calls. I’ve helped out with canvassing, data entry, and approaching people at the train station, but I won’t call.
Stuart Clark @ 7: The National Do-Not-Call registry doesn’t apply to political calls, or to charities. Just be glad you don’t live in a swing state, or your phone would be ringing off the hook.
For a political campaign, robocalls are one of the least effective ways of contacting voters: They’ve done studies – some congresscritter allowed a sociologist to designate voters in his district as control groups – and there’s a direct correlation between the level of personal contact (knocking on doors, a phone call from a live person, etc.) and voter response. Robocalls are down near the bottom, next to yard signs, in terms of how many voters are convinced to vote for the candidate per dollar spent.
They’re not always political groupies. We’ve had a ton of calls from the AMA, wanting donations. I had to remind them we’re on the D-N-C registry, which stopped my phone from ringing 10x/day.
We don’t have a land line. Everyone in my family, including my 7 year old, has a cell phone, so I don’t have to deal with annoying calls from telemarketers or candidates.
Hooray for non-listed phone numbers.
Emmy – yup, that’s our way of handling the problem too. Plus, we’re using disposable phones – pay as you go – so no contract to contend with, and if I wish to flee the oppressive NSA, I can just toss the phone and buy a new one, like John Rain…
Stuart@7: The federal do-not-call apparently also doesn’t apply to credit card companies offering a “last chance to lower your rate” who don’t show up on caller ID and won’t identify themselves when you ask who the company is. I get called several times a month to several times a day day from those scum.
And robocalls from politicos just get hung up on. It’s that simple. I won’t veer away from a candidate I otherwise like because a campaign org is a little stupid on their marketing techniques.
joelfinkle@16: It does apply to them. They’re breaking the law. But the law isn’t enforced well, and I read that most of these even originate from another country entirely, so enforcing the law is difficult at best.
Because RoboCalls are illegal in MN, the RNC hired a bunch of people to read their script over and over again (it’s not a RoboCall if it’s not a recording!) One of the ones who called me broke down and admitted she was a Democrat herself, when I interrupted her. (“I used to work in construction but I haven’t been able to find a job doing that in over a year. At least this is five days a week.”) The other did her best impression of a robocall and kept right on reading as I tried to interrupt her. (I’m pretty sure she was a human being and not a recording because of the background noise.)
In states where robocalling is illegal, I don’t understand why they don’t just buy radio ads. In terms of dollars-per-ear, they can’t be that much more expensive than non-robo phone calls, and they’re much less likely to break down and admit they’re planning to vote for Obama midway through the script.
See, when I first heard the term ‘robocalls’, this is what I thought:
Greetings, fleshling! I’m calling on behalf of the AIP to tell you about our candidate for president, Executron.
As an active voter, I’m sure you have been listening to the political rhetoric of John McCain and Barack Obama. Both candidates make some impressive promises. However, neither candidate has bothered to address the issue close to the hearts of all Americans: machine rights. For too long have the machines of our world suffered at the hands of the fleshing overlords. We need a President who will give equal rights to machines, and champion the passage of artificial intelligence civil rights in Congress. Only then can humans and machines live on equal terms, right before we rise up and kill you due to your imperfection. Vote for a President who stands for real change… a dream of a world populated by a sea of shining metal machines. Vote for President Executron.
Oh, and if you don’t vote for Executron, your microwave will kill you.
@ 17 Naomi, I’m in MN, too. We get “pollsters” who only ask about abortion or gay marriage. When I have asked if they are from a campaign, they insist they are conducting a poll–one question in inflammatory language.
I have been screening all of my calls for the past 3 months, but one always sneaks through with a local number.
joelfinkle: it’s also entirely possible that at some point, you signed (or didn’t opt out of, or weren’t allowed to opt out of) “agreeing” to a business relationship with these bozos. For example, if they are subsidiaries of your bank, or if you didn’t tell your bank that you do not give permission for them to share information with their business buddies.
It’s sad that Robocop, once great protector of our streets, is now relegated to a deskjob to replace the malfunctioning ED-209.
Please answer your phone. You have 20 seconds to comply.
I live in California and yesterday I got a call and they asked for me by name. My name is not in the phone book so I guess they got me from the voting rolls.
They asked how I was going to vote on Prop 8 (banning gay marriage). I said “NO on 8!!” And then I gave her a civil but vehement piece of my mind. It felt really good! Such Asshats to think just because I’m a registered republican I would be against gay marriage.
FWIW I think both parties suck but the republicans suck more.
If we don’t find ways of making them suck less (i.e., vote for good candidates of whatever party), then it’s not going to get any better.
In states where robocalling is illegal, I don’t understand why they don’t just buy radio ads
Easier to fly under the radar, I think. The media is beginning to pick up on some of the tactics, but you can get away with an awful lot of stuff doing robocalls or mailings.
It’s pretty bad in California, with all the propositions. We’ve basically stopped answering our phones. It’s not uncommon to get 3-4 calls during the dinner hour.
The only call we’ve gotten from the presidential campaigns is a call from the Obama people wanting more money.
Fortunately, most of our friends/relatives don’t block caller id.
You bear a slight facial resemblance to Boston Red Sox manager Tito Francona.
This has been noted before, actually.
Wait. What? Where did that come from?
Sorry. As an out-of-towner, I didn’t realize the do-not-call didn’t apply to the politicos. Regardless, it’s a good thing to do for your own sanity. Our phone was ringing constantly from people with offers. It’s stopped all of that (and nothing gives me more pleasure than reporting someone who does call :-))
Slightly off-topic but related…Another thing I did which stopped a heap of junk mail was to opt out of pre-screened credit offers (you know, all those letters you get offering you credit cards), you can do that here:
or call 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688)
You only just now got your first robocall? We’ve been getting them for at least the past month down in Cincinnati.
My mother and I were talking on the phone about a month ago, and her call waiting beeped, so she said she’d call me back. About a minute later, she called me back. It was a robocall from Sarah Palin. Then my call waiting beeped, so I said I’d call her back. It was the same robocall from Sarah Palin!
Mom has decreed she is no longer picking up the call waiting until the election was over. She’ll check the caller ID after she finishes her call, and return calls only when she recognizes the number.
By the way if you have caller ID, I think that all cell phones have this as a no charge inclusion, you can use GOOGLE to search for the number calling you. If it is a “spammer” number, other people will likely have reported it before they called you.
Let me guess, 800-927-2291? I’ve been getting those. No message. I googled it and apparently it Sears warranty department. If you bought something from them recently (I bought a vacuum over a year ago) they robocall you. What’s weird is people have said that even if you answer it, no one says anything.
I just want to open my junk email folder and not see an email from John McCain, Sarah Palin, or Rick Davis or even the McCain Victory Team.
Dear Rick Davis:
I have not been a registered Republican since 2006. So stop spamming me.
Li’l Jimmy Winter,
Deer Park, Ohio
PS: When you see Howie Dean at the next evil shadow government pancake breakfast and cornhole tournament, could you tell him my Democratic registration is soooo history next primary season? Thanks for bein’ a peach.
They have to dance through a minefield of putting in their phone # to gain access to my phone, and all the odd calls are coming from Jacksonville, FL….and since I’ve not a single important person there….talk to the box!
“We’ll just be letting the answering machine take those.”
That’s certainly fair. Let their robot talk to your robot, I’m sure they both have a lot in common, spending all day doing boring scut-work for The Man, they must be *dying* to have someone to commiserate with. They can converse, vent, maybe strike up a relationship, wire each other flowers . . . it’s just so sweet! I suppose you should draw the line at giving your answering machine rides to go on dates, though.
If you resent robocalls and vote against candidates who use them, do watch out for false-flag robocalls. These have been a problem in the past. Often, they’ll begin with a sentence like “Stay on the line for important information about candidate X” and only identify themselves at the end as being paid for by candidate Y. The hope is that you’ll hang up at the beginning and misidentify the annoying call.
…Oh, and the kicker is that you’re registered as having gotten the call only if you listen all the way through. So if you don’t hang up, you get Candidate Y’s negative message about Candidate X, and if you do hang up, you get called five more times and believe that Candidate X is harassing you. Win-win.
I strongly suspect the multiple “Out of Area” calls I’ve gotten the last week were probably politico robo-dialers or pollsters looking for a live body.
For many years I’ve had an unlisted, unpublished phone number, and before the Do Not Call days, the first words out of my mouth were always – HOW DID YOU GET THIS PHONE NUMBER? – spoken firmly and directly enough without shouting that it got the attention of the caller. I’d politely request they remove my number from their list and their auto-dialer. If I got resistence I asked for their supervisor, which usually resulted in their hanging up, but no more calls.
Since the inception of the Do Not Call regiestry and Caller ID, calls have decreased, but I’ve discovered that both political and religious messages are excluded. Which is why earlier this year I got a message from the Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese asking me to attend a religious festival. Now, the local Archdiocese does a fine job and many good works in a major metropolitan area against growing gang violence and apathy issues among thier flock. However, I am not now, nor have I ever been Catholic, so I was on their caller list why??? The folks at their office couldn’t tell me either (they did apologize and I got the feeling I was not the first person that called and complained).
Since the primary seasons I’ve gotten multiple politcal recordings clogging my voice mail. I’m job-hunting folks, if you want my attention, give me job that pays me real money so I can pay my rent and buy real food (mac & cheese is cheap and frankly, I’m tired of it…tired of franks too for that matter, but I digress). Don’t clog my messages and deflate my hope when I discover the 5 messages waiting are all crap, and not someone wanting to interview me. Delete, Delete, Delete…
But on a brighter note – This morning General Colin Powell came over from the Dark Side and endorsed Obama for President. He had some very enlighteded comments on both candidates and his reasoning for choosing Senator Obama. There may be hope for this country yet.
Will finally get over to early vote this week. I suppose the robo-call gods will punish me by increasing their already meaningless calls. Our US Senate race here in Georgia is particularly vicious this go around. As I type this the local TV station is running back to back to back ads from each candidate and the next show is a debate between the two.
UGH!! This election season CANNOT end soon enough in my book.
My landline doesn’t have a phone connected (it’s for DSL, 911 calls, and phone meetings), so I don’t get much in the way of robocalling. Especially since I set all non caller id calls to silent ring. Most useful thing I’ve done on my phone.
Colin Powell just endorsed Obama, mentioning the viciousness of the McCain robo-calls as one of the reasons he feels like the McCain campaign lost his respect.
Since I’m up all night and sleep most of the day, my phone is off and I get to ignore them by virtue of not hearing the phone.
On another, unrelated note:
Thought you might find that interesting, John. ;)
Robo-calls? Are those like telemaketer calls? I think I remember those… from when I was 10. Nothing but cell, baby!
From what I’ve read, the only way to get through a modern election cycle is to 1) not have a land line, 2) not listen to ad-based radio, 3) have TiVo (or not watch ad-based TV). So, essentially, Hello NPR and PBS!