Dish Telemarketer Fined $75,000 For Hanging Up On Customers

The FTC fined a Dish Network telemarketing firm $75,000 for hanging up on customers, reports the Deseret News. The company used teleautobots to dial peoples’ homes, which were then supposed to connect to a live telemarketer when someone picked up. However, the system would sometimes get more live customers than there were telemarketers, leaving some customers with a silent line. Federal regulations stipulate that if you use teleautobots, you have to connect the customer to a person within two seconds. The FTC made this law because people, in particular women and old people, were worried they were being stalked when they answered the phone and no one was there.

Provo marketing firm fined for hanging up on customers [Deseret News] (Thanks to Brandon!) (Photo: Getty)

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  1. Darrone says:

    I smell a Transformers 3 script in here somewhere.

  2. Smooooth says:

    @Darrone: I agree. And I think the term “teleautobots” shouldn’t be used. It should be “teledecepticons.”

  3. Damn, and hear I thought I WAS being stalked. I have no luck.

  4. mmstk101 says:

    I wish I was a teledecepticon. That would be awesome.

  5. SkokieGuy says:

    Telephony?

  6. It could be worse, you know. Instead of silence, it could have been some 80s bullshit.

  7. snoop-blog says:

    So what about the recordings asking you to stay on the line? 2 seconds for those also?

  8. JeffMc says:

    Anyone know who to report these to? I get calls all the time with more than 2 seconds of blank air. I’d love to report every telemarketter that calls.

  9. dweebster says:

    Nothing more frustrating than finally getting that long-awaited call from a telemarketer, only to be greeted by dead air. Oh, the inhumanity!!

  10. RevRagnarok says:

    How about the asshat with a recording that is calling my cell phone telling me my wife’s car warranty is about to end? Hint: it’s a 1 yr old Kia (10 yr/100K) and she’s a stay-at-home mom. She says she answered it once and eventually got a human and told them to stop calling; they don’t.

  11. MercuryPDX says:

    @Hubert Cumberdale: Hmmmmm… Muzak version of Van Halen’s Panama or “Thank you for answering your phone. We appreciate your patience while we connect you to a live operator. Your estimated hold time is twenty-seven minutes…..”

  12. MercuryPDX says:

    @RevRagnarok: I get those at work. I press 1 to learn more, hit mute, and turn on the speakerphone.

    They finally stopped calling. :)

  13. Legal_Eagle_In_Training says:

    @mmstk101: I think I’d be a teledecepticon that transformed from a bluetooth headset.

  14. Solidgun says:

    This explains so many silent calls that I was getting…..I once waited 5 minutes just to see if it would connect….but then I lost interest.

  15. EyeHeartPie says:

    @RevRagnarok: I get these too. But it always says this is my second and final notice that my car warranty is about to expire. And I feel happy that they will stop calling. But then they call again. With the same message.

  16. se7a7n7 says:

    I get calls from the telegobots all the time at my work phone.

    This is your final warning, your card warranty is about to expire… I don’t own a car

    or

    I’m bla bla bla telling you about dish network and something about a cruise… CLICK

  17. maevealleine says:

    Yet another reason to CHOOSE CABLE over satellite.

  18. mac-phisto says:

    @RevRagnarok: yeah, those are f-ing aggravating. & lately we’ve been getting “i see here that you have about $6000 in debt at 29.9% interest rate. i can save you money, blah, blah, press 1″. i press 1 & i get about 3 words into “please take me off your list; this is a business” before i hear click. rinse, repeat about every 2-3 hours.

    it really pisses me off b/c we have 8 lines w/ consecutive numbers, so we end up getting spammed by bots one after another after another after another…

    where’s their fine, FTC?

  19. joebobfunguy says:

    What about the calls from blockbuster about late movies?

  20. vdragonmpc says:

    I had fun with the “Warranty is about to expire” caller. I was completely interested. I asked them how much and what was the monthly fee going to be to keep it so my car would be covered…

    Then I asked which car. The girl replied: “Your car”. I asked again and asked which one as there is more choices than ‘my car”

    She got flustered and I pressed on that repairs are expensive and I would live a warranty on my 17 year old Toyota. Please hook me right up with that! heh heh

    She disconnected and I havent honestly had anymore messages.

    V

  21. nicotine says:

    You have to wonder if it’s error of some sort (someone punched the wrong number into the predictive dialer, or had cut-rate programmers write their predictive dialer software), or if they deliberately overrode the dialer’s settings with malice aforethought. It’s tough to say, as things like phone load and traffic engineering are heavily researched — meaning that they are understood, but still very very complex to understand correctly. (Thank you Mr. Erlang).

  22. dulcinea47 says:

    My exbf and I used to get these ALL the time, and he thought I was cheating on him and that it was my *other* bf calling. Nevermind that it wouldn’t make sense that the (nonexistent) other boyfriend would hang up on me too.

  23. GrandizerGo says:

    I get 2 – 3 calls a day from an I C company that is supposedly doing work for B of A, they never leave a message, they never answer the phone when you call back.

  24. nsv says:

    @RevRagnarok: I get those too. How much time do you think I have left on the warranty on my 13 year old Jeep?

  25. glennski says:

    My girlfriend’s brother evidently has some debt, and since they have the same last name we’ve been getting repeated calls from an ontario number about the payments. What can I do legally to get them to stop calling?

  26. Jubilance22 says:

    @RevRagnarok: I get those all the time, even at work (and how they got my work number I have no idea) and it is the most annoying thing ever.

  27. Benny Gesserit says:

    @vdragonmpc: There’s a dirtbag company here called “Primus” that offers long distance and is constantly trying to lure people away from the telcos. (Hint: Primus is worse than the telcos. Isn’t that a picture.) Their current trick is to make you’re talking to your telco.

    Their first line is “I’m calling from the phone company to discuss your long distance charges.”

    Me: Calling from where?
    Asshat: The phone company
    Me: And the name of that company is?
    Asshat: (pregnant pause) Primus Communications
    Me: Good Bye.

    A waste of space – every last one of them.

  28. I just had one of those recorded car warranty recording call me.

  29. britne says:

    Wow, your headlines can be read multiple ways.

    “Telemarketer Fined $75,000 For Hanging Up On Customers”

    I worked as a telemarketer once, and I hung up on people plenty of times. Glad I never got one of those fines.

    *sigh*

  30. P41 says:

    -Step 1, put your number on the FTC do-not-call list.
    -Step 2, when they call, find out where they’re calling from and preferably the name of the person and the company’s phone number. Also note the date and time.
    -Step 3, tell them you would like “to be placed on their do-not-call list”. (For bonus points read up on internet to see if you can still ask for a copy of their do-not-call policies and if you can sue them in small claims court for violating them.) “I’m too busy” or “Wrong number” or even I think “Don’t call again” don’t qualify.
    -Step 4, file complaint with FTC for violating do-not-call list in step 1.
    -Step 5, if necessary, send certified letter telling them to stop calling you. If debt collector, be sure to reference FDCPA. (If you’re the debtor, pay your stupid debt or at least set up a payment schedule.)
    -Step 6, if necessary, file criminal and/or civil complaints over harassment.

  31. ORPat says:

    I had the “car” people call me several times. I asked about getting the extended on my 1960 T-bird. The guy was not happy. Today they wanted insurance information before they would even start.

  32. The telewhores got nailed.

    The telewhores got nailed.

    The telewhores got nailed.

    No sexual meaning in my statement

    The telewhores got nailed.

  33. @ORPat:

    Yep, sure. I would love an extended warranty on my 48 years out of production car.

  34. RedSonSuperDave says:

    I wonder why the Hell we can’t just make the use of ALL robocalls illegal. The CEO of the largest robocalling organization in America lives roughly six blocks from me, because my state (Florida) is one of the few in the Union that his scummy sales tactics are actually LEGAL in.

  35. snoop-blog says:

    Back in the day, I would defend telemarketers because it was a job and would rather deal with them while they are doing there job than see them in the unemployment line, but hell most of those jobs moved overseas anyway.

  36. Marshfield says:

    @vdragonmpc:

    I got one of the ‘warranty is about to expire’ calls this week. Of course they weren’t quite sure what car to call about.

    I did NOT get a live person in 2 seconds.

    who do you call/contact and how do you document the call to get these callers hauled up on charges?

  37. timmus says:

    $75,000? That’s it? That’s a salary and compensation package for just one mid-level manager for a year.

  38. cosby says:

    @snoop-blog:

    Yea I wonder the same thing. I’ve gotten a bunch of telemarker calls in the past asking me to hold for someone. That drives me nuts.

  39. timmus says:

    I get 2 – 3 calls a day from an I C company that is supposedly doing work for B of A, they never leave a message, they never answer the phone when you call back.

    The name of the company is IC Systems in St. Paul. Just search the web — they’ve got a long track record of illegal telemarketing behavior.

  40. PeggyK says:

    @P41:

    Step 2 (“when they call, find out where they’re calling from”) and Step 3 “(tell them you would like “to be placed on their do-not-call list”) only work if there is an actual human on the other end of the line. I’m on the do-not-call list, and still get a telemarketing call once a week or so. These are almost invariably recorded messages, and I don’t feel like I should have to sit through the message just in case a real human turns up on the line.

  41. Orv says:

    @P41: Unfortunately, a lot of the telemarketing calls I get are recorded messages with no human involved. Yes, I know that’s illegal, too, but since they block caller ID I have no way of knowing who to lodge a complaint against.

  42. @PeggyK:

    The worse pre-recorded telewhore companies are the ones that only record a completed call when the receipient has heard the entire message. An incomplete message is recorded as a hang-up, thus justifying another telephone call.

    I have been known to drop the telephone into the dog bed next to the telephone stand. Here, talk to Ralphie for a couple minutes.

    When I hear the telephone beeping I will hang up the telephone. Ta Da, completed telephone call.

  43. scoosdad says:

    My phone company is Vonage and we can get our voicemail messages emailed to us as .wav files. I got a pre-recorded sales message emailed to me just the other day that hesitated a long time before the message kicked in. I just checked it and it was 3.5 seconds before the voice started.

    It’s my local Ford dealership {Harr Ford, central MA} trying to drum up business by saying that “there may be a potential service issue with my valve stems” and they make it almost sound like some kind of mandatory safety recall. Not to mention it’s been over 18 months since I’ve done any kind of business with these guys.

    Extra points at the FTC for having the offending message saved electronically and time-stamped, I wonder?

  44. tenio says:

    this is from the PDF :

    “All of an ad’s PRINT SIZE should be read-able-no smaller than 10-point type.”

    i am not completely sure what “print size” means, but the handwriting is pretty small, but 10 point font is pretty small too

  45. tenio says:

    oh sorry bout that, idk how to delete comments, was meant for the topic about hagen-dazs drinks :/

  46. iamlost26 says:

    @Smooooth: I just wanted to let you know that was the greatest comment I’ve ever seen.

  47. trujunglist says:

    I’ve been getting random calls from some place, presumably a collections agency, that uses an autodialer. The system frequently hangs up instead of proceeding to the automated recording asking a bunch of questions that actually don’t even matter. Here’s how that goes:
    “This is a telephone call for ___ _____. If ___ ____ is at this phone #, please press 1 now, if not, press 2.”
    2
    “If ___ ____ is available, please press 1. If not, press 2.”
    WTF? I said not at this #. 2
    “Cathleen is requesting a callback from ___ ____ as soon as possible. Please call ___ ____ etc etc”
    Umm… what is the point of asking me those questions if they’re completely ignored?
    Also, I have called them back, several times, asking that they do not call me anymore. They look up my number in the system and claim it isn’t there. The last time I called them, they had called twice in one day, which is completely unacceptable even if I was a debtor. I called them back and went through the story again and was eventually connected to a supervisor who said that he “removed my number from all lists, including the autodialer.” I was like… WTF man, I asked you to NEVER CALL ME AGAIN and yet you have it in your autodialer?? No explanation, he even went as far as to get rude with me for his fucked up system.
    Long story short, I’d like to see them fined a similar amount, so I’m going to be writing many complaints.

  48. P41 says:

    PeggyK & Orv:

    come on, you’re telling me there’s absolutely NOTHING to identify the company that’s calling you? Well that’s illegal right there. File a criminal complaint for harassment. Even if there’s no human, there’d be no point to the call if you didn’t know who to buy from/pay. I had a company call (just a chance surname match, not even for me) and just with the company name I was able to track them down. I didn’t send a certified letter (didn’t want to give them a return address for them to pursue the wrong person even further) but the FTC complaint did the job rather quickly.

    But the FTC complaint form doesn’t even require that you know the name of the company that called you. Or their phone number. Just the number they called and when.

    So in Timmus’s case, file an FTC complaint, plus sue them in small claims court (read up on what to sue them for). After you get a judgment, things start getting serious for them when you send the sheriff to seize assets. Things generally go downhill for these businesses once someone gets the law to show up with guns.

    As for not having anyone to say “do not call list” to, if you’re going to go the sue-them-in-small-claims-court route, say it anyway even if you’re just talking to a machine. What are they going to do, say, Your Honor, we didn’t hear them say “do not call list” because of the others laws we broke!

  49. theczardictates says:

    Am I the only one thinking “non-story”? How can thousands of us be getting calls from a scummy bunch of liars (yes, I’m looking at you, Auto Warranty/Credit Card Refinace Guy calling my cellphone) calling all over the country with a complete disregard for DNC and other regs… and they’ve been doing this for months… and the FTC does nothing? Meanwhile this a business that is selling a legitimate product and mostly following the rules but screwed up on the call-to-telemarketer ratio (yeah, they broke the rules, not defending them on that). Maybe it’s easier to prosecute basically legitimate businesses that fell down on a procedural regulation than to go after scumbags who have a complete disregard for the law?

  50. Had one call me during dinner tonight. The kind that you must leave your name and number and they will call you back tommorrow during normal business hours.

    I gave them the name and telephone number of the local DA.

  51. evilhapposai says:

    First off not all auto-dialers are used for evil but because of these stories there are many that hang up on useful calls. One example is the auto-body industry uses them for customer that want feedback on how well the repairs went as do insurances to critique a claim process. These are used to improve the processes or to find out when some lazy jerk-wad manager is scamming/poorly repairing cars at some remote franchise and not reporting the mess-ups.

  52. Gort23 says:

    @evilhapposai: If the autodialer is not being used by an organization like the police to warn of an imminent safety threat, then it *is* being used for evil.

    For all other purposes, there is a system called “the postal service” that works perfectly fine.

  53. Forkboy3 says:

    Anyone else get the robodialers that are set to make it sound like someone accidentally dialed the wrong number instead of just giving dead air? I get these all the time. I’ll pick up the phone and will get a recording of someone saying “Sorry I dialed the wrong number”, then it hangs up.

    And….yeah…..why $75,000? That’s nothing. Should be $75 million?

  54. scerwup says:

    @RevRagnarok: Lord we get those calls too, about a truck that we sold almost a year ago. And every single one says, if you do not respond to this call, we will assume you are not interested and stop calling you, this will be the last time this INCREDIBLE opportunity is made available to you… Sigh, I hate telemarketers

  55. @evilhapposai:

    No, auto-dialers are always evil. The worse ones are the surveys.

  56. @Forkboy3:

    I just love the one’s that know they are going to get your answering machine and then pretend they got somebody totally different.

    “Hey Shirley, I got a hot stock tip for you, but don’t tell anybody…. GM is going to buy Toyota…. buy all the Toyota stock before everybody else starts buying”

    My name ain’t Shirley. And I sure as hades ain’t going to buy a stock, insurance policy, Bank CD or whatever else just because somebody “confused” my telephone number.