DirecTV Calls Customer On Do-Not-Call List To Ask If They Want To Hear A Sales Pitch Anyway

My phone just rang. Caller ID reads: Out Of Area… do I pick up? I did.

It was an automated DirecTv call. “You have asked us not to call you. Because you are on our Do Not Call List, we can’t call you with all of our super-awesome special promotions…” The recording goes on to ask me to hit a button to opt-out of their Do Not Call List.

Dear sir. I say what the fuck? I specifically told them not to call so they call to see if its okay to call. They can contact me. They have my email/physical address. And what’s up with the “Out Of Area” bullshit on Caller ID instead of “DirecTv Marketing”.

Yeah, this isn’t a huge ordeal but it is really annoying.

Couldn’t this also be considered telemarketing? They’re pitching the pitch. Do the Federal rules enforcing the Do-Not-Call list not apply to robots? Nina says she then called DirecTV and gave them a thorough tongue-lashing. Unfortunately, this may have no effect on whether she gets one of these calls again, as robots have no shame.

DirecTV has a history of telemarketing to subscribers on the Do-Not-Call list, for which it paid a $5.3 million fine in 2005. Guess it didn’t make enough of an impression.

Comments

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  1. UpsetPanda says:

    Let me get this straight. You put yourself on a do-not-call list, only to be called by a telemarketer. It sucks, but it actually makes sense because you are a DirecTV subscriber. Many companies do not exempt you from their own advertisements unless you specifically tell them to. If you weren’t a DirecTV customer, than you could make an issue about it, as they shouldn’t have been allowed to call you.

  2. zentec says:

    DirecTV has been pushing my buttons lately. I received three phone calls telling me all about the great new features that’ll appear on my Tivo sometime in 2009. Oh, and by the way, there’s some great deals on upgrading to HD, and if I do I can get six months of Showtime for free.

    I guess no really means “just a few more calls…”

  3. not_seth_brundle says:

    What MissJ said. Sounds like this isn’t covered by the federal DNC list but rather by DTV’s own opt-out policies, since this is a DTV customer.

  4. ArtDonovansLovechild says:

    Still, the fact that they admit you are on an internal DNC should mean they know not to bug you. I know some companies have a policy in place if you are on their internal DNC but are a customer they will call when your contract comes up OR a new product is available. Still, sucks.

  5. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    The DNC list does not apply to companies with which you have a business relationship. Current/former customer, you filled out a comment card, you entered a contest, you filled out a credit application and removed it from the store!!, etc. etc.

  6. war59312 says:

    Well if they call me I will sue for all of you!

    Since I am not a customer and never have been!!

  7. faust1200 says:

    I’ve had Directv for about 6 years and they’ve never called me once. However I did read about Directv being heavily fined for violating no-call regulations. I guess I’m lucky.

  8. Trai_Dep says:

    Dr Cos – hehe. Liked your ref to a past Consumerist story.

    Hey, speaking of robocalls that evade DNC List people. I’ve been getting robocalls (carpet cleaning at first, now Improve Your Credit – NOW!!) that seem designed to evade angry people calling or getting them reported.

    * Must listen thru entire recording before you can speak to someone

    * Hitting any digit ends phone call

    * Hangs up if goes to voicemail

    * Calls during the day, when many people are away

    It’s like it’s a stealth telemarketing scheme.

    I’m in CA. Anyone else run across this?

  9. homerjay says:

    I SHIT YOU NOT! I was just reading this article and the phone rang. My wife answered and said “Its DirecTV asking if we want to be taken off their Do Not Call List.”

    I like them and all, but as soon as that little fiberoptic line outside my home lights up, I’m so outta there.

  10. TechnoDestructo says:

    Metatelemarketing.

  11. CumaeanSibyl says:

    Sounds like it’s not the federal DNC, it’s the DirecTV DNC.

    Which raises the question: why would they even bother having a DNC in the first place if they’re just going to call people on it anyway? Somebody’s getting paid to compile a list that doesn’t mean anything at all.

  12. legerdemain says:

    No! Don’t call them!

    About two months ago, I called them to get pricing because I was thinking about buying a television. I didn’t give any info or make a purchase, but two days later, and every two days after that, they’d call and try to sell me something.

    After giving them an earful, they started calling and hanging up, presumably when a human read notes, but after the robot hit my digits. After a couple of days, they started calling again.

    I used to be in sales, and know how much time wasting customers suck. I became a time waster. I asked about Disney and HBO and Showtime. I asked about HDTV, and if I could get three units. I asked about installing one in my shower, to hook to the tv there. I asked about the PVR, and HDMI. I asked about HDMI-CEC. I talked to them for about thirty minutes, then, when I told them I was getting my card out, I said:
    “Oh, hold on; I nearly forgot. I’m not going to buy this because I told you I wouldn’t if you kept calling me! Geez, what was I thinking! I guess I was just wasting your time!”

    I haven’t had any calls since.

  13. @trai_dep: “I’m in CA. Anyone else run across this?”

    Yes, in IL. I work from home some days, and let the machine pick up landline calls (nobody I like calls my landline anyway). What I do is write down any identifying information in the robot call at all (I don’t have caller ID) and send it to the state attorney general using their DNC violation report form. Typically the calls from that particular company stop within a week and in one case the state AG CC’d me on a letter to a company that DIDN’T stop informing them they’d owe me a settlement if they didn’t cut it out now. They cut it out.

    My least favorite is, “We’re calling about your credit card — don’t worry! There’s not a problem! But please call 1-888-some number now so that we can screw you over in some obscure fashion!”

  14. Trai_Dep says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: Yeah, I got that “credit card emergency” one as well. Which makes me think it’s a national scam, if the same mssgs are in IL & CA.

    I don’t have caller ID since the idea of paying for that revolts me. I guess I’ll have to wade thru the message and demand their contact info. Or, could I call the operator and explain the situation, and demand they give me the last number called so I can call the state attorney general?

    I’m a cynical, cold-hearted bast*rd, but I’m sure there are many rubes out there getting scammed.

    Anyone else run into this? Maybe with enough “me too”s, Consumerist could get their crackerjack investigative team on it. I sent a Tips email to them, but all I got was the form letter saying, “Thanks!”

    (I miss Ben manning the email box, although I understand)

  15. @trai_dep: “I don’t have caller ID since the idea of paying for that revolts me. I guess I’ll have to wade thru the message and demand their contact info.”

    I refuse to pay for phone add-ons, too!

    I just use an old-school answering machine and since my office is in the same room with it, it’s easy to write down the number as I listen to the message being left (since it invariably distracts me from work anyway). If I’m not home when it’s left, I generally play the messages while I clean the room or something, so again there’s not a lot of “wading” but I can just snag a pencil and scrawl it down when i get to something useful.

    Sometimes if you google the number, company name, or even the message, you can get a lot of info on the company. And lots of other people complaining!

    Will the operator tell you the last number called? Even if you have caller ID, I recall from my reporter days, they were super-weird about not releasing that information to you.

  16. Trai_Dep says:

    In California, these sleazebags don’t leave voicemail. I guess too many people complained. You actually have to pick up the call, listen to the recording in its entirety then press a number (nonstandard: “0” doesn’t work) to speak to a live person. Because of this sneakiness, it makes me thing they’re MAJORLY evil people. Otherwise, why so shady?

  17. @trai_dep: The robot ones, or at least some of them, don’t seem to be able to tell the difference between a live person and an answering machine. Some of them start talking before the machine beeps. I’ve never had voicemail on a landline so I don’t know how that goes.

    Although accidentally setting my machine not to pick up until 7 rings means most of the autodialers give up. :)

  18. ksnicholas says:

    DirecTV broke the law when they called you.

    Companies that engage in telemarketing are required to maintain their own do not call list in addition to checking National Do-Not-Call Registry. The National Do-Not-Call Registry allows companies that have had a business relationship with you in the last 6 months to call you if you are on the list. However, if you request to be put on the do not call list of a company that you are a customer of, and it sounds like you did, they must add you to their list and they must keep you on it for 10 years. They are not allowed to contact you by phone at all, and this includes autodialed and prerecorded voice messages.

    They should also have identified the company in the caller id.

    You can complain to the FCC. They usually don’t do anything unless enough people complain that they can impose a big fine, but it is worth a try. You can contact them at:

    Federal Communications Commission
    Enforcement Bureau
    Consumer Complaints
    Mail Stop 1600A2
    Washington, DC 20554
    888.225.5322
    http://www.fcc.gov

  19. Flynn says:

    What’s worse is that the 800 number (877-778-2578) that shows up on the caller id is an automated service that does NOTHING BUT remove you from their do not call list.

    Their method of telling you that is a bit slimy. After reading this post last week, I assumed that I was going to be able to CONFIRM my settings. However, if you enter your phone number on that automated line, you can do nothing but remove your number from their list.

    I called their customer service line and read the riot act to an agent, and implored them that if they didn’t want to field calls from angry customers to give feedback to their marketing department about these slimy practices.

  20. delfuego says:

    Just to make clear what KSNicholas said above, this STILL definitely qualifies as a direct violation of the federal do-not-call regulations. Just because you’re a customer of a company doesn’t give them the absolute right to ignore your stated wishes to receive no marketing phonecalls; the FTC clearly states that if an individual who has a business relationship with a company asks to be put onto the company’s own do-not-call list, and the company ignores that wish, that company is liable for an $11,000 fine per phone call. See #9 on the following FTC FAQ list for businesses:

    [www.ftc.gov]

    I got that same phone call last night at 6:30, and will certainly be following up with the FTC. You’d think that DirecTV, after having been fined $5.35 million for do-not-call violations, would have hired a lawyer to read the law for them and teach them what it says…

  21. delfuego says:

    Interesting followup; as I said above, I received this phonecall from DirecTV on Saturday, and Sunday (yesterday) afternoon, I penned off a quick email to the CEO of DirecTV, using the email address I found here in a prior post. At 6:30 PM, my phone rang, and it was an agent who identified himself as being in the CEO’s office, and who had my email in front of him — he said that they had no knowledge that marketing was making these calls, and agreed with my assessment that this was an enormous liability for DirecTV. (He also was stunned that marketing had gone so far as to set up an entire automated system that both makes the calls and allows customers to call back in to take themselves off the do-not-call list.) He seemed legitimately aghast, and promised me followup as soon as he was able to get it.

    So perhaps this is an example of one arm of DirecTV doing things without the knowledge of the executives… in any event, it was interesting to get literally a five-hour turnaround, on a Sunday, to my email to the CEO asking them to explain this.

  22. @trai_dep: I got those a long while back but they actually left messages on the answering machince.

    @Eyebrows McGee: I got the credit card one too only the message didn’t bother saying it wasn’t an emergency. When I dialed ‘0’ for a representative and asked what account they were talking about (I don’t own any credit cards) the lady hung up on me.

    in any event, it was interesting to get literally a five-hour turnaround, on a Sunday, to my email to the CEO asking them to explain this.
    @delfuego: Yeah, that’s pretty amazing.

  23. Flynn says:

    The more I think about that automated system, the more irritated I get.

    - You get an automated phone call that basically dares you to hit a key so they can remove you from their list
    – The number shows up as a generic 800 number on the caller ID, not DirecTV
    – If you happen not to be there (they don’t leave a message), when you call the automated number, here’s what you hear:
    “You have reached the DirecTV Do Not Call preference line. Please enter the phone number from your DirectTV account to confirm that you want to be removed from the DirecTV do not call list.”

    And if you’re used to speeding through menus like I am, you’d immediately think this is for your preferences, not simply for removal from the do not call list (and I’m reminded of The Simpsons here…”Don’t Do what Donny Don’t Does. They could make this more clear”). So, if you happen to start keying in your number to check your “preferences,” you’re greeted with “Thank you, you are now removed from our do not call list.” They do give you the main DirecTV number, but there is NO way to re-add yourself to the list on that number.

    Slimy, slimy, SLIMY.

  24. Flynn says:

    @delfuego: Keep us informed as to what follow up you get. I shot off an e-mail to him just now as well.

  25. Piranhahaha says:

    The phone rang tonight just as How I Met Your Mother, which I oddly enough was recording via DirecTV, had its season 3 debut — 8:01pm or so.

    I googled “directv do not call list” and this site popped up.

    Thanks for the reassurance that this isn’t a ploy and that the 800 number isn’t some thingie where your call gets redirected to Whateviastan at a gazillion bucks per minute?

    I suspect a scam.

    I get and read their emails all the time — how come DirecTV can’t inform us about these special offers the tried and true way?

    Has anybody actually confirmed tha this number actually belongs to DirecTV?

    It was received from “Diane at DirecTV”: 800/778-2578.

  26. Flynn says:

    If it doesn’t belong to them, they’ve got a SERIOUS security breach, as DirecTV customers are being targeted.