Guess What? Your Roommate Called Us About A Potentially Embarrassing Product!

Dawn tells Consumerist that she had a potentially embarrassing experience recently involving a phone call, a celebrity-endorsed beauty product, and a shared phone line. She called to ask some questions about Joan Rivers’ Great Hair Day, a special hair powder marketed to women with thinning hair. Much to her horror, even though she didn’t provide the company with her phone number, they called back within minutes to talk about the product, without even checking to see whether it was Dawn who answered the phone. Nice.

I’m a 30s something woman whose hair is sadly thinning. I heard good things
about Joan Rivers’ Great Hair Day. I called the number on her website to ask
about a promotion.

I did not give my last name. I did not give my phone number. I just asked
about the promotion. It turns out the promotion I’d heard about was false, and
it was too expensive. So I said thank you and hung up.

Ten minutes later, my phone rang. Someone said “Hi, someone in your house
called about Great Hair Day! And I just wanted to tell you about… “

How did you get this number? I asked. I didn’t give it to you. Well, it
came up, she said. Whatever the hell that means. She told me to call the
customer service line, which I did. After 10 minutes on hold, I hung up.

So it’s a good thing I answered the phone. I don’t need my roommates to
know. It’s no one’s frigging business. And how is it legal for a company to call
you when you don’t give them your phone number? Don’t you have to give your
permission to be called? Shouldn’t they know better?

Now the phone number is in their database. I’ve asked to be removed, but
I’m guessing that’s not going to happen. Great. Thanks Joan!

Yes, they should know better. Making a call to the company counts as an “inquiry,” and entitles the company to contact you for three months if you are listed on the Do Not Call list. I can’t determine whether getting your number from caller ID is permitted or not, but even if it’s legal, it’s still obnoxious.

By the way, Great Hair Day is a product from infomercial powerhouse Tristar Products, the same people who bring you fine products such as the Ab Coaster, Dog Pedic, and coins with little stickers of President Obama on them.

Comments

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  1. jedsa says:

    Person X calls a company to ask a question about a promotion. They call back within ten minutes to tell you about something, presumably a promotion.

    What exactly is the issue here? No laws were violated-as the Consumerist post notes, this counts as a inquiry allowing for phone calls even to those on the Do Not Call List. It’s 2010. If you aren’t familiar with the concept of CallerID by now, you have bigger problems than a single phone call. Perhaps most saliently, a call back, within 10 minutes of your call, seems more of a return phone call than some sort of horrible telemarketing scheme. Unless there’s details I’m missing, the post makes it sound like the company wanted to share something related to the original call. The call ten minutes before. This isn’t being put on a marketing list and called once every week or getting a random call 2 months later.

    • Leksi Wit says:

      If you have AT&T, a *free* way to block your number from showing up on CallerID is to press *67 then you’ll hear a slight dial tone change (lasts 1 second), then dial your number. There’s more detailed info on it below. You don’t have to do anything to deactivate it, btw. It’s on a per-call basis.

      http://www.corp.att.com/smbcc/aio/aio_callscreen.html

      Note: Some phones do not accept calls with blocked caller IDs… rare but it may happen. Such as people who have Privacy Manager, which requires leaving your name before the phone rings if your CallerID is blocked or the call is from an 800/808 number.

      • Christopher Wilson says:

        Callerid blocking doesn’t work on toll free numbers.

        • kc2idf says:

          See my post in response to Mike below for more on this. I did a quick experiment using my business line to confirm this.

          • zentec says:

            ANI can not be disabled by blocking caller-id. Period. And that’s what this company is using to get the number.

            I don’t know what kind of test you performed, but by virtue that you blocked the number with caller-id block tells me that the information didn’t come from ANI. They are two very different beasts.

            • kc2idf says:

              Then you didn’t read my post.

              To recap, using my own business line:

              Call local number: CID works.
              Call local number with *67: CID displays private.
              Call toll-free number: CID works.
              Call toll-free number with *67: CID works.

              The ANI on my toll-free number is implemented by passing the info to my equipment along the CID channel, but it has the same privilege level as ANI, so CID blocks fail.

              • zentec says:

                You seem to not get the point that ANI != CID. Testing it as CID is flawed.

                If your telcom provider saves you the expense of having to buy more expensive equipment by carrying ANI information over as CID so your telcom equipment can read it, great! But the call center isn’t reading CID, it is reading ANI probably off some form of PRI circuit. Testing whether or not *67 works betrays your lack if understanding of the service.

                I realize that I’m horribly ill-equipped to argue my point with a licensed ham radio operator, as most of them I know are masters at all things RF and telcom related. But really, I did this for a living for 25 years. Do your test looking at the receiving end of a PRI circuit and let me know how your *67 looks.

  2. NarcolepticGirl says:

    While I don’t agree they should have used your incoming call to make an outgoing call back to your phone –

    I still can’t help but kind of find this funny. OP must have a tough life if something like this is horribly embarrassing for her.

    Also, I doubt anyone would know that “Great Hair Day” is a product for thinning hair. And I’m pretty sure 99% of people would hang up after that first line.

    Also interesting that a group of young people still have a landline.

    • pop top says:

      “I still can’t help but kind of find this funny. OP must have a tough life if something like this is horribly embarrassing for her.”

      Don’t be so judgmental. If our society didn’t place a HUGE importance on a perfectly full head of hair, do you think that the companies that make hair restoration treatments or do hair implanting surgeries would make as much money as they did? People wouldn’t get embarrassed about small things like that if people didn’t make fun of them about it.

      • NarcolepticGirl says:

        I apologize, I just have never seen this “HUGE importance” on full hair.
        Nor have I heard/read anyone make fun of someone with thin hair.

        But I don’t hang around a lot of females that talk about hair and make-up nor do I read Cosmo, so this may be why.

        • pop top says:

          I’m not sure if you’re trying to make a dig at me, but I don’t read Cosmo and I don’t sit around and discuss that kind of stuff with my girlfriends (only women would be so terrible and shallow as to gossip about people or talk about hair and makeup, amirite?!). It’s a pretty common thing that people worry about. Like I said, if people didn’t worry about it, then Rogaine wouldn’t make millions of dollars a year.

        • b.k. says:

          I have had people just blurt out how bald I look. It only bothers me in the sense that I’ll be missing out on all those lucrative Pantene commercial contracts, but still. People are idiots.

      • NarcolepticGirl says:

        I also wonder if she’s afraid to buy shampoo for “thin” hair and put it in the bathroom where her roommates may see it. Or soap for “dry skin” or face wash for “oily skin”.

        Just saying – no one would probably give a shit – it’s just strange to me that she would find it so embarrassing.

        And – I am similiar to OP as well.

        I’m socially retarded, so I have my share of people telling me that I’m lame for not wanting to do/say certain things that seem “normal” to others.

        • pop top says:

          Look, just make fun of people with thinning hair like you’re supposed to and everything will be fine. ;)

  3. pop top says:

    I’m not really seeing a problem here either. They weren’t breaking any laws and they were calling someone that had actively expressed interest in their product. Also, while her condition may embarrass her, it’s not as thought they were calling back about something as serious and private as an HIV test or a pregnancy test result without first confirming who they were talking to.

  4. SiD says:

    simple, next time dial *67+phone number. It blocks the number you’re calling from.

    • Griking says:

      In a few weeks we’re going to start seeing posts here about how the phone company added charges to people’s bills for phone number blocking services without their knowing of the fees for using the service.

    • smo0 says:

      +1

      I use it all of the time.

    • Tim in Wyoming says:

      Except for toll-free numbers. The number is still provided on toll-free numbers for billing purposes.

      • apple420 says:

        But nowhere in this article does it say she blocked the caller id. If she mentioned that she blocked the caller id and they still called back then I think that would be different. In fact it doesn’t even say if it is a 1-800 number or not, though I suppose I could look it up.

    • shepd says:

      Not if you are calling 911, or any of the other x11s. Also it doesn’t block it for 800 numbers, 900 numbers (shows on the bills, even, for those), ISDN lines, or anything else that uses a digital system with a bearer line. *67 only blocks caller ID, not ANI. ANI gives all the caller ID information and a lot more (such as if the phone is a payphone or not, if the call is from a prison, etc–this way 800 numbers can block those).

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_number_identification

      This is why I always laughed at the idea that calling America’s Most Wanted was actually anonymous. My ass it is. It’s an 800 number!

      I’m willing to bet this person called an 800 number for this information.

      • shepd says:

        Oh, I should mention, if you *67, the ANI information is still recorded by the phone company for use if the police need to do a trace, even if you aren’t phoning one of those numbers. Not that that should matter to anyone, but it *is* something to think about.

      • Leksi Wit says:

        Wow, did not know *67 doesn’t work for 800-type numbers! I guess her best bet would have been to research this product online to see if the promo’s legit. But a powder that helps thinning hair sounds so suspect to begin with that it seems like the OPs judgment was clouded by her unfortunate situation. Poor gal!

        • kc2idf says:

          See my post on this below in reply to Mike. I did an experiment to confirm that it doesn’t work, using the line I use for my small business (which has an 866 number).

          I can’t confirm if the name came through or not — I don’t have CNID equipment on the line, just CID.

      • Shadowman615 says:

        What do they call that service like in the movies where it can pinpoint your exact location in a few minutes? Just as long as you don’t hang up a few seconds before it finishes.

        I want one of those.

        • shepd says:

          LOL, that doesn’t exist anymore. But that type of call tracing was done by tracing down the actual physical path of the phone wire from one end to the other and was done back in the days that a long distance call took a few minutes of operators talking to each other to connect.

  5. Mike says:

    I have to echo *67 is the way to go. I actually have a cheap, prepaid tracfone I use for such things when I worry that I may get annoying calls. You could also get a Skype number or Google voice number.

    • kc2idf says:

      This will not help.

      *67 disables caller ID. However, if you call a toll-free number* or a premium number**, then they do not need to use caller ID to get your number; instead, they use ANI. *67 has no effect on ANI.

      The logic, with respect to toll-free numbers, is that the called party has a right to know whose call they are paying for. I’m not sure what the logic is in respect to premiums.

      I have a toll-free number for my business.

      (* area codes 800, 822, 833, 844, 855, 866, 877, 888 and exchange 890 and 777 in some areas)
      (** area code 900 and exchange 976 in some areas)

      • kc2idf says:

        I just did an experiment to confirm this.

        I called the local number to my business line, without *67; call ID worked normally.
        I called the local number to the buseiness line with *67; call ID showed “private”.
        I called the toll-free number to my business line without *67; call ID worked normally.
        I called the toll-free number to my business line with *67 and still got the phone number.

        As such, I think we can call it confirmed that *67 doesn’t work against toll-free numbers.

        • Mike says:

          Good point. That is why I suggest getting a cheap prepaid phone or perhaps a SKype phone number to call from, so that even if they get your number, at least they are not calling your primary number.

  6. ScarletsWalk says:

    I think this is a big deal. A lot of companies don’t have caller ID. Why would one assume it did? Because she didn’t think of it, somehow that makes this ok? Even if one does assume, one can’t block all calls and people aren’t perfect and just dial sometimes.

    I don’t trust that they won’t keep calling her.

    I don’t care if they might not have technically done anything illegal; it’s sketchy and rude.

  7. SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

    what did you do to that cat?

    • LaziestManOnMars says:

      I know! Fish get something called “pop-eye” that looks like that, and you have to medicate the tank. It looks like there’s something wrong with the cat. What’s next, an article about raisin bran with a picture of bunnies suffering with fistulas?

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      Kitty is obviously gearing up for a big old ear-scratching. His face is just caught in a frozen nanosecond of the ramp up of all the excitement.

  8. dspiewak says:

    *67 won’t help if you call an 800 (877, 866, etc) number – they get your number from ANI. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_number_identification for more info. Call centers typically don’t tell you they know your number so you don’t get freaked out, but ANY time you call a toll free number, they have it.

  9. EBE says:

    Yawn

  10. LaziestManOnMars says:

    Embarrassing product? From the headline, I thought she had ordered a 55 gallon drum of that vulva-dye – you know, the one endorsed by William Conrad.

    Also, asking for advice/complaining about infomercial products on Consumerist is like going to your doctor and asking which is healthier, crack or powdered cocaine.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      LOL,,I thought the end product was going to be shampoo for thinning pubic hair. Why get embarrassed over stuff like this? This girl may be in high school.

  11. SeattleSeven says:

    Who has a landline phone? Cellular telephones were invented in 1973, they have solved this problem.

    On an unrelated note, the soda jerk at my local pharmacy never mixes the seltzer and coca-cola syrup in the proper ratio. I wish there was some way I could buy the product which was blended in a consistent manner each time. Does anyone have any ideas?

    • LaziestManOnMars says:

      They got this new kid down at 5 and Dime, and he cannot mix a phosphate to save his life.

  12. Bryan Price says:

    If it’s an 800 (888, 877, toll free) number, they’ll get your phone number even if you have caller-id turned off. It’s a separate system, and it’s what you get for letting them pay for the call.

  13. BethesdaMole says:

    If I make an inquiry and specifically do not give the company my contact information, I do not wish to be contacted. If the company then digs up my info and contacts me, I consider it obnoxious at best. Would it be okay if a divorce attorney or proctologist or help-line did that?

    I think good policy is to use *67 and tell them to place your number on its own do-not-call list which they have to honor by law (IAMAL) for these cases.

    “If you make a specific request to that company not to call you, however, then the company may not call you, even if you have an established business relationship with that company. You should keep a record of the date you make the request.” from http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt107.shtm

  14. Wolfbird says:

    Ya know, its entirely possible the roommates already know about the hair thinning. Comb-overs and constant hat wearing aren’t as subtle as you might think.

    /s

  15. EarthAngel says:

    I am not a cat person but I

  16. baristabrawl says:

    Where do I start with this one? You’re a 30′s something woman living with “roommates.” Chances are they know you’re bald.

    Who trusts Joan Rivers for alopecia advice?

    If you are as old as you say you are, you should know about caller ID. It should not shock you when someone uses it for it’s intended purpose.

    I think that you should stop worrying about stupid things and maybe your hair would stop falling out.

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      “I think that you should stop worrying about stupid things and maybe your hair would stop falling out.”

      it’s true. Once year when I was totally stressed out over a million things – my hair started falling out. Doctor said it was probably because of stress and that it would stop once I leveled out.
      It did stop.

      But the OP does sound like the type to worry over little things and this might be a reason to her hair thinning and falling out. Also could be genetic, too.

  17. Staceyotk says:

    30 something with roommates?

    • JonBonWonton says:

      Yep, it does happen.

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      Yes. most of my single friends living in Boston live with roommates. They’re all 28-35.
      Too expensive to live on your own unless you’re making quite a bit.

      • NarcolepticGirl says:

        In fact, until recently, I lived with roommates in Boston. I just turned 30 and now live with my boyfriend.
        There’s no way i could’ve lived in the city and afford $1500+ a month on an apartment by myself.

    • Laura Northrup says:

      I’m 29 and have a roommate. I can afford to live on my own, but I like saving money and I like my roommate.

    • GameHen says:

      The bigger question is, if you’re 30-something with roommates and you’re clearly not close enough to share slightly personal details about yourself (like say “you never see me without a hat because I have very little hair”), why would you be sharing a house phone? Wouldn’t you just all have your own cell phones and then not have to worry about splitting up the bill or having your roommates see which phone numbers you are calling most often?

      • lordargent says:

        A better question is, why would she share those details with the internet?

        Hmm Dawn (if that’s even your real name) :D

    • JMILLER says:

      I see nothing wrong with that. Maybe she is using the term roommate as a euphamism for her lesbian lover. Regardless, it really is none of your business how she chooses to live. The only issue here is, did the hair company do wrong. They did not. When you choose to share a phone line, that is some of the chance you take. Kind of like, if your roomie or child decided to rack up a bunch of 900 toll calls to a common phone line. You would be legally responsible if it is in your name.

    • Bativac says:

      I’m 31 and I have a roommate. We’re married… Does that count?

    • Thyme for an edit button says:

      This is normal.

  18. Big Mama Pain says:

    “Oh, the vapors”

    If she’s trying to bone up on her cranky old lady act, she’s got a hell of a head start.

  19. biggeek says:

    My co-workers pranked me once by having a representative from Hair Club For Men call me at my office and ask me “Are you suffering from male pattern baldness?”

    I told the rep that I shave my head and I’m not “suffering” because of it.

  20. fantomesq says:

    Let me understand, you consider this embarrassing so you don’t want your roommate to know but don’t have any problem telling the entire world?!? If it was an 800 number, the company is entitled to the number because they are picking up the tab for the call. As Ben mentioned, the call back is followup on a inquiry – completely legal.

  21. Dr.Wang says:

    This is why I have 2 cell numbers. One for junk calls, the other for close family and friends. On the junk line, the ringer is permanently shut off, and voice mail is disabled. So they can call and call and call and all it does is ring in their ears. I check the missed call log once a day and google any unknown numbers or may return calls from my bank or the pharmacy, otherwise it’s where all the junk callers go. And the junk line is pre-paid so it only costs me about $20 a year. If I have to call someplace that might telemarket me back, this is the line where that outgoing call is made too.

  22. Dr.Wang says:

    This is why I have 2 cell numbers. One for junk calls, the other for close family and friends. On the junk line, the ringer is permanently shut off, and voice mail is disabled. So they can call and call and call and all it does is ring in their ears. I check the missed call log once a day and google any unknown numbers or may return calls from my bank or the pharmacy, otherwise it’s where all the junk callers go. And the junk line is pre-paid so it only costs me about $20 a year. If I have to call someplace that might telemarket me back, this is the line where that outgoing call is made too.

  23. Charmander says:

    Well, I get emails all the time about penis-enhancing pills, and I don’t even have a penis.

  24. Dr.Wang says:

    This is why I have 2 cell numbers. One for junk calls, the other for close family and friends. On the junk line, the ringer is permanently shut off, and voice mail is disabled. So they can call and call and call and all it does is ring in their ears. I check the missed call log once a day and google any unknown numbers or may return calls from my bank or the pharmacy, otherwise it’s where all the junk callers go. And the junk line is pre-paid so it only costs me about $20 a year. If I have to call someplace that might telemarket me back, this is the line where that outgoing call is made too.

  25. Dr.Wang says:

    This is why I have 2 cell numbers. One for junk calls, the other for close family and friends. On the junk line, the ringer is permanently shut off, and voice mail is disabled. So they can call and call and call and all it does is ring in their ears. I check the missed call log once a day and google any unknown numbers or may return calls from my bank or the pharmacy, otherwise it’s where all the junk callers go. And the junk line is pre-paid so it only costs me about $20 a year. If I have to call someplace that might telemarket me back, this is the line where that outgoing call is made too.

  26. Dr.Wang says:

    This is why I have 2 cell numbers. One for junk calls, the other for close family and friends. On the junk line, the ringer is permanently shut off, and voice mail is disabled. So they can call and call and call and all it does is ring in their ears. I check the missed call log once a day and google any unknown numbers or may return calls from my bank or the pharmacy, otherwise it’s where all the junk callers go. And the junk line is pre-paid so it only costs me about $20 a year. If I have to call someplace that might telemarket me back, this is the line where that outgoing call is made too.