Where are the robo-cops?

My hometown of Guelph has been wracked by allegations over robo-calls made in the last election by Pierre Poutine. When the perpetrator is eventually found and charged, I hope the court will go easy on him or her for the deliciously ironic nom de plume. This is no ordinary scallywag!

While I’m not that worked up about such electoral fraud, I am miffed at another form of robo-calls that promote goods and services in which I have no interest. Like a lot of other Canadians, I naively signed up for the “do not call list” in the hope that this would mean fewer telemarketers interrupting my day or my dinner. Good idea, poorly executed.

Of course, I am well aware that huge swaths of commerce are exempt and can continue to call: newspapers seeking new subscribers, businesses with whom I already have a relationship, and pollsters, among others.┬áIn fact, I rarely hear from those groups. I do, however, hear several times a day from outfits who are supposedly denied such easy access. Duct-cleaning is the most popular, followed closely by door and window installations. And that’s after a careful screening of my caller ID in order to let the phone go unanswered when the number or name looks suspicious.

Since the do-not-call plan was launched, I have lodged several dozen complaints on the website of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) where you can blow the whistle on illegal callers. Maybe the CRTC investigates, maybe they don’t. All I know is I have never heard back and the number of scammers continues apace.

I don’t think governments or government agencies should do everything. But I do think that when an agency such as the CRTC undertakes to do something, they should actually follow through. The plain fact is that telemarketers just mock the regulators. When my five-year signup on the do-not-call list expires, I don’t intend to renew. I imagine the number of telemarketing scammers will continue at the pretty much same clip.

Meanwhile, a word to the CRTC. If you do happen to call in response to my complaints, make sure the caller ID says CRTC. Otherwise, I’ll assume it’s just those ruddy duct cleaners again, and I may not answer.

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