AT&T Calls 9 Times In 12 Days Trying To Sell DSL

Would you buy DSL service from a company that either doesn’t care about Do Not Call lists or doesn’t know how they work? A man in Missouri was harassed to the point where he considered calling the police, because no matter what he did, AT&T wouldn’t stop calling. Every time he tried contacting AT&T to get it to stop, he ended up in automated phone systems with recorded messages, busy signals, and disconnections—but never a live person. Only after he wrote to a local consumer advocacy columnist did AT&T pay attention and turn off the telemarketing fire hose. AT&T didn’t, however, explain why they were targeting this person, or whether anyone else is facing the same barrage of calls.

Remember to sign up with the National Do Not Call Registry if you haven’t already. They’ll block up to three phone numbers for you, including cellular numbers. But don’t expect the Do Not Call registry to catch all telephone spam:

Because of limitations in the jurisdiction of the FTC and FCC, calls from or on behalf of political organizations, charities, and telephone surveyors would still be permitted, as would calls from companies with which you have an existing business relationship, or those to whom you’ve provided express agreement in writing to receive their calls.

You should also be aware that there are two easy ways for companies to get around the registry:

  • If you buy something from a company, they can contact you for 18 months after the transaction unless you explicitly tell them not to—and if you tell them not to, they have to comply or face a fine of up to $11,000.
  • If you simply make an inquiry or submit an application to a company, they can contact you for 3 months after the initial contact (again, unless you explicitly tell them not to).

So what happens if you’ve told a company not to call and they do anyway? If you’ve been on the Do Not Call registry for at least 31 days, visit their website to file a complaint. If you’re not in the registry but you asked the company not to call you and they did anyway, check out the FTC Complaint Assistant, which will ask you a series of questions and eventually help you submit a telemarketing-related complaint.

“When AT&T won’t stop calling” [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. campredeye says:

    Dante: What’s that ringing? Do I have a tumor?

    <3 Grandma’s Boy

  2. Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

    The problem with the DNC list is that you need to keep the telemarketer on the line long enough for them to give you the name of the company that’s actually calling you. Most of the time this is outsourced work, and the person calling doesn’t actually work for the company they’re calling you on behalf of. The “Card Services” scam is a good example. As soon as you ask anything about who they are or where they’re located, they hang up. I haven’t come up with a way to file a complaint on these scammers.

  3. Speaking of which…anybody know how I can get AT&T to stop IM my phone with wireless offers?

  4. We’ve been calling them for months to try and get them to stop sending offers in the mail…yeah. I need to get a bird so I have a birdcage to line all this useless paper with!

  5. MissPeacock says:

    @negative-ground: My mom is getting those, too. She didn’t even know what a text message was until she got one of them the other day. I told her she should be able to call AT&T and ask them to stop, but if anyone else has a better solution, let us know.

  6. RunawayJim says:

    Is there any way to get on a Do Not Call list for charities, surveys, etc? I can’t stand the a-holes at the FOP that call me every 2 months. I can deal with my college, but not the FOP. I pay their salaries with my tax dollars, I don’t need to be giving them any more money than that.

  7. AnxiousDemographic says:

    Even after putting them on the DNC list, my elderly parents were still getting some telemarketer calls. I think these were from exceptions and possible from fraudsters.

    My solution: I got them a home phone that announces the caller ID info when it rings. This doesn’t decrease the calls they get, but it does reduce their frustration in needing to stop what they’re doing to check the caller ID or answer the phone.

    Downside: Family gatherings now lack dad’s tall tales of how long he keeps the telemarketers on the phone by pretending to be an old(er) befuddled guy.

  8. vildechaia says:

    When these pesky people/organizations call, how much fun would it be to say that “This is Agent ______ speaking. This is a crime scene. How can I help you?” Might work. And, after that, they might take you off their list.

  9. TheHans says:

    Missouri also has a state Do Not Call list:
    I’m on both lists, and it significantly cuts down on the calls.
    Our AG’s good about going after noncompliant businesses – and I know from experience that AT&T will back down once you invoke the power of the AG’s office.

  10. @negative-ground, @MissPeacock: I used to get those. There’s usually a message at the end to the point of “If you don’t want to receive these offers anymore, replay with “stop””. However, using this method, it took something like 3-6 months before the text messages stopped coming to me. Trust me, I wish I had a better success story than that.

  11. stacye says:

    @RunawayJim: I would like to know this, too. I’ve told them to stop calling many times.

    My mother in law lives with me, and sometimes she will answer the phone. She told me they said they were “the Police” and needed to speak with me.

  12. TheHans says:

    Aaaand…..he’s already on it. Way to RTFM, Hans.

  13. timmus says:

    Those FTC/FCC complaints are a joke. I’ve gone through them a few times and haven’t even gotten so much as acknowledgement, though one time I did get a badly copied form letter. With companies learning that there is little to no enforcement, there might as well be no Do Not Call list at all.

  14. mike says:

    Wow…9 calls? I’m saying ‘shenagians’ because we all know AT&T would call more than 9 times in 12 days. ;-)

    In all seriousness, why would AT&T call more than once? I wonder if other people have used his number as a fake number?

  15. mike says:

    @timmus: Can’t you sue the company yourself and collect damages?

  16. You-Me-Us says:

    Chase has been calling me at home 2-3 times daily for months wanting to sell me things I’ve already told them I don’t want. And I have asked to be put on their do not call list. So last week I spent 45 minutes on hold with BellSouth. It was the last time I’ll ever do that. I told them to turn the damn thing off and close out my account. Add me to the growing list of people with no land line. And I’ll never give Chase the number!

  17. stacye says:

    OK, WTF is the DNC list for, anyway. Let’s make a list, and then exempt every telemarketing field.

    From TFA:

    And they’re not the only ones. In addition to phone companies, the Legislature exempted banks, insurance, finance, credit card, mortgage and real estate companies.

    Also, pollsters, educational institutions, charities, stockbrokers, lawn care companies – and anyone calling from a business in a home or calling based on a referral.

    Finally, legislators exempted themselves along with all other politicians.

  18. MissPeacock says:

    @thnkwhatyouthnk: Thanks. I’ll check her phone out next time I’m over there and see about that option.

  19. RabbitDinner says:

    @You-Me-Us: You have to mess with them. Seriously. I have no problem with people trying to make a living, but if it gets to the point where I’m being called multiple times per day, or even week by the same people, it warrants messing with them.

    “Hold on a second, let me finish making this molotov cocktail.”

    or, in the middle of a sales pitch, let out a blood curdling scream. or ask if they’re from the escort service as soon as you answer. The possibilities are endless

  20. annelise13 says:

    AT&T has been calling me off and on for months trying to sell me their new cable (I already have phone and DSL). I ask to be taken off the list, eventually the calls stop, and then a couple months later they start again.

    I pressed the last one that called (expressing that I was angry at a system I knew they as phone monkeys had no control over) and was told it would take up to 30 days to fall off the list. Maybe I finally said a magic word in that conversation, though, because as I said that was the last call I got and it’s been two weeks. *fingers crossed*

  21. jpx says:

    This is an issue at my workplace, a local pool builder. Being a business, the Do Not Call Registry isnt really an option since we need calls, heh. What would anyone recommend we do?

    I believe Consumerist has the email for AT&T’s CEO, but you never know when those change… :(

  22. Crabby Cakes says:

    HSBC called me 11-14 times A DAY for 8 days to try to sell me some credit protection package for my credit card. When I was finally home to take one of the calls, I let them know EXACTLY how displeased I was, since I had told them the last time they did this, (about a year ago,) that I did not want to be contacted for sales calls. His answer? “Well, ma’am, this is an emergency! In times like these, you need to protect your credit! We’re just trying to save you money!” The calls have stopped so far, but for how long?

  23. Flynn says:

    @thnkwhatyouthnk: BTW, I got the same text message, thought better of responding (as with spam, if you actually reply with “remove,” often times all you’re doing is confirming it’s a valid number/e-mail address, and then it just keeps coming). I didn’t respond, and I never got another text.

    So, it’s anecdotal and one case, but I think responding might actually turn on the firehose as opposed to turning it off.

  24. LoriLynn says:

    @Runaway Jim–Let us know if you find a solution to the FOP thing. One guy (the same guy) calls my 70 year old mom almost every day and she’s told him not to and I’ve gotten on and not so nicely told him to stop calling. Yet he calls more than once a day most days.

  25. Triborough says:

    The political calls are the worst, especially if they are recorded. You hang up and it keeps going.

    Surveys, especially political ones, are the most fun since you can tell them you are a Hispanic Jewish Eskimo who votes Communist.

  26. @linus:

    Assuming you have a business relationship with the provider……

    Because, according to the “owner” of one these telewhore companies each call is rated as to whether the call was successful.

    Saying “I am busy” and hanging up the telephone will actually generate a repeat call because the initial call will be recorded as an incomplete action.

    In other words you MUST say “go fark yourself and never call this number again” (or something along those lines) to be effective. IF you give them an out, they will take it, thus “I am not interested” does not mean your spouse shares your same opinion and can justify a call back.

    Then there is the issue of vendors and resellers. Hells bells if I can getting the terms right, but there are different classes of businesses trying to sell the service. Some are “authorized” vendors dedicated to selling only that particular product, there are authorized call centers that are marketing partners with the provider and then there are resellers and a whole subgroup of resellers.

    When At&T changes their tariffs or rates, their list of established customers “wanting” this service are contacted. Even if rates don’t change, the tariff is republished every year, thus justifying the calls.

    According to my “owner” source, you could potentially be contacted by 4000 different companies (due to the number of resellers).


    Don’t want the calls? Contact the provider and ask to placed on their marketing blocked call list. It is a special list, you must ask, and will keep your number from ever being distributed to the telewhores to begin with.

    My “owner” source claimed he was the owner of a telewhore company that is an AT&T marketing partner or some other BS. The guy seem genuine and informative and if he wasn’t the owner he did a darn good job of representing himself as the owner and handling my complaint. I followed his advice, contacted AT&T and got all the right blocks on my telephone numbers and ALL of the AT&T related telewhore calls stopped.

  27. HogwartsAlum says:


    Molotov cocktail. That made me LOL! :D

    I have AT&T phone and DSL but they never call me. What they charge for DSL is highway robbery, but it’s so reliable I’m afraid to try anything else.

    The DNC works pretty well, except for those damn automated political calls, and surveys.

  28. Cogito Ergo Bibo says:

    @Flynn: I did exactly what thnkwhatyouthnk did, responded to the ATT text with “stop” and they stopped in a day. Of course, I also locked/saved the messages I received and the message showing that I’d responded “stop.” That way, I have proof of the messages received and sent. Check out your phone features to learn how to save texts. If the messages hadn’t stopped, I was certainly positioned to escalate things.

  29. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    For ATT wireless users. To stop receiving SMS spam from ATT, just reply to the message with: STOP.

  30. I had this problem with MCI when I first moved into my college apartment. They would call every day at 9AM and 3PM. The annoying part was that I would just get dead air. I would call the number on my caller ID and tell them not to call me ever ever again. They kept saying it would take 10 or so days to remove me from their list. I would generally be OK with that, except they were calling twice a day, including when I was @&*@&*( sleeping.

    After a few days of this I finally told them if they called again I would call the police and file a complaint for harrasment, as well as report it to the state AG. Sure as a swiss watch, they called again a few hours later. As soon as I hung up from the dead air, I called 911 (as directed by the person who picked up when I called a precinct). A few minutes later a nice officer was in my apartment hapilly taking my report.

    I filed a complaint with the AG, referencing the police report number. A week later I received a letter from MCI apologizing profusely and promising not to ever call that number again. A week after that I got a letter from the AG saying they had written to MCI, as well as a copy of the MCI letter I had previously received.

    I never did get any more calls from MCI or any of their sucessors ever again.

  31. RabbitDinner says:

    @Crim Law Geek: You called 911? It was an emergency?

  32. @Crim Law Geek:

    911 ? ? ?

    A little overkill huh?

  33. @RabbitDinner:
    *sigh* Like I said, I called a police precinct (because it wasn’t an emergency) and they told me to call 911. In Pittsburgh (and many other cities), 911 is the only way to get a police car sent out for anything.

  34. RabbitDinner says:

    @Crim Law Geek: Really? I’ve gotten reprimanded for calling police to the scene of an injury-free accident to file a report. Whatever, I’m not trolling, and it’s really inconsequential

  35. timmus says:

    I think the easiest way to kill off telemarketers is ask them to “hold on” while you get your checkbook, then forget the phone. This ties up manpower and hurts the company in the pocketbook. If we could get some sort of meme going to encourage people to do that, a lot of telemarketing firms would be out of business, or MIGHT clean up their act.

  36. @RabbitDinner:
    Well, later that year I was involved in an accident that ended up totalling my car (although left it driveable). When I called the Police (I was a block away from a precint) the 911 operator told me that since PA is a no-fault state, police will only show up to car crashes where there are injuries, undrivable cars, or suspected drunkeness.

    I kind of wish there had been a cop there. I was an active EMT at the time, but I was so frazzeld I couldn’t tell if the other driver had been drinking (in hindsight, I think he had been), and it would have been nice to have an officer there.

  37. seamer says:

    The main post is coming close to what we’re getting for the U-Verse service. Almost daily phonecalls, letters AND postcards in the mail, and just yesterday we had door-to-door salesmen coming around with…yep, u-verse.

    Wouldn’t say the same frequency as the article, but sometimes I wonder what happens when I’m not at home.

  38. RabbitDinner says:

    @Crim Law Geek: I live in a no fault state, but the police will come, if you’re willing to wait an hour. Generally not worth it if you are uninjured or can drive, but I’ve waited, just because frankly, I don’t trust people. I’m actually reminded of a time someone tried to scam me by claiming the way I had pulled over broke off a mirror/swiped the car. They said, no need to involve the cops, just give me your info. Told them if they wanted my insurance info, they could get it from the officer after he filled out an accident report. After a rude response, yet admittedly looking defeated, I added a little icing by pointing out that it looked like she wore telescopic lenses and I worked in a law office. Drove away, never heard from this stranger again.

  39. RabbitDinner says:

    There’s no solution, per se. The DNC list is a joke. The only solution is to get caller ID, or not let it bother you. And if it bothers you, have a little fun at their expense. Be creative, gross, use soundboards. Give in to your sadistic impulses and enjoy yourself.

  40. @RabbitDinner:

    By all means have fun at their expense.

    I told one that I thought my mother was dead, but I will check to make sure… “Hey Mom, telewhore on the phone are you dead?”….. Yep, she says she is dead.

  41. Limekiller says:

    I made the mistake of giving a guy at a trade show my home phone number after looking at his home improvement product. They were brutal with calls to the point that I relented and scheduled an appointment with them just to get them to stop calling. Unfortunately, that only emboldened them and in a stupid lapse, they snagged my mobile number and started using that too.

    The national DNC list has a provision where if you ask to be removed, even if you have had a prior business relationship, they have to comply. So I changed my home and cell messages to say “I’m not available to answer the phone now. Calls from Company X aren’t welcome and in compliance with the national do not call list should remove this number from their call list. All other callers, please leave a message.” I also added them to my cell phonebook and assigned a silent ringtone so I never heard their calls while out. Took about 3 days for the calls to stop. Gave them some bad publicity to my other callers too.

  42. @RabbitDinner:
    Well, unless you live in Pittsburgh, your city is probably not bankrupt. I’m betting the policy of not sending cops over to traffic accidents is to save money.

  43. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @vildechaia: There is some audio of somebody doing just that floating around somewhere (probably YouTube) but impersonating an officer of the law is illegal.
    If I were going to go the time wasting route I’d try to sell them something right back.

  44. RabbitDinner says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: What about impersonating an agent of a nonexistent agency? “Hi this is Ethan Hunt from the Impossible Missions Force”

  45. They stop by our house around once a week and at least once a month -even after the guy straight up told us they couldn’t beat the price and service we were getting now.

  46. Imakeholesinu says:

    AT&T is actually trying to get people off of DSL in Saint Louis and heavily pushing their U-Verse service. I saw my dryloop DSL shoot from 23.99 to 29.00 just for 1.5MB. They said they don’t offer 3MB in my area which is total BS because my neighbors have it.

    U-Verse offered 6/1.5 for $35 a month so I had to bite.

  47. SacraBos says:

    @Corporate-Shill: Anymore, anytime you call the police to report anything, they will generally have you call 911 to initially file a report. Yeah, it goes against my grain, too, since 911 used to be about emergencies (presumably where life/property was endangered), but now it’s for pretty much anything.

  48. amuro98 says:

    Although my home number is on the national DNC, I’m also a customer of AT&T for long distance. So, when AT&T rolled out U-verse in my area, they gave me a call. That’s fine, but I wasn’t interested. Then they called again. And again. And again. And…well, you get the picture.

    Last time they called, I told them “I’ve already told you guys ‘NO!’ 10 times, and the answer is still NO. Now go away.”

    I’ve no problems with them calling existing customers about a new service, but geeze, take a hint would you? “NO” means “NO”.

  49. @SacraBos:

    That sux.

    There are 311 (or 711) lines being set up in some cities for secondary lines, like needing the dog catcher or reporting graffiti, minor parking lot fender benders etc.

  50. newfenoix says:

    @RunawayJim: The FOP does not solicit by phone. IT IS A SCAM. Call the police the next time they call.

  51. HogwartsAlum says:

    @Crim Law Geek:

    My city is doing this now, also. I find it incredibly hard to call 911 unless someone is dying. And now we are hearing about how the 911 system is getting frivolous crap, like “Sonic put mayo on my burger when I asked for mustard!”

  52. RabbitDinner says:

    @HogwartsAlum: It should be made a law, if someone calls 911 for the weather or something absurd like the Sonic example, you should be institutionalized, because, obviously you have some sort of mental deficiency, and in your own myopic worldview those qualify as emergencies.

  53. @RabbitDinner:
    In the Ninth Circuit, there was recently a case of a guy crossing the border who flashed a badge and said he was a member of the “Homeland Security Special Response Team” (or something like that), an agency that did not exist. He was busted for impersonating a federal officer (forgot what the exact charge was). The court’s thinking was something along the line of “most people don’t know the names of most law enforcement agencies, so they could think you are a federal agent even if you mention an agency that doesn’t exist”.

    INAL (yet), YMMV, I am not responsible if you end up in PMITA, etc, etc

  54. HogwartsAlum says:


    I agree with you, but what to do if the police TELL you to call it when you call them?

    Something is very wrong here.

  55. mrearly2 says:

    Or, you could wait until the caller says why he/she is calling (a great offer or whatever) and tell them you’re not interested. You don’t want it. You don’t need it. Thank you. And then hang up. There’s no need for rudeness. This way, everyone is civil and the caller did his/her job and you have successfully fended off another telemarketer.
    I don’t even have to answer the phone–with caller ID, I usually know who is calling.

  56. anime_runs_my_life says:

    Quite honestly? I’m not at all surprised. AT&T is really the only service of choice in my area. For about 3 weeks, we’d get calls up to 4 times a day for us to sign up with U-Verse. The only problem is that we weren’t interested because we didn’t have the $200 or more to cancel our contract with DirecTV. Hubby and I told the reps that every time. It got to the point that we finally had to use the call blocking feature on our phone just to get them to stop.

    However, they’d be back within the next day or so on another number. I finally had to call the customer service number and demand not a supervisor but the call center manager to get the calls to stop.

    If the customer says no, then they mean no!

  57. RandaPanda says:

    I used to work for a 3rd party company that would make calls “on behalf of AT&T”.

    Their whole out look on things as far as the DNC list is that it may as well not exist. We were trained to read a disclosure about the DNC registry, act like we were removing their number from our dialer list, and in all actuality, do nothing.

    Also, another thing that we were trained to do was that if someone said “Take me off your list” and you DID NOT read the disclosure, we were not allowed to take their number off the calling list, and would be wrote up if we did not read the disclosure and still removed their number.

    And in the disclosure we had to read, it stated something like, it would remove their number from OUR calling list immediately, however it could take anywhere from 30-60 days for their request to be removed from all calling lists company wide. It was crap in my opinion.

    Could explain why I was only at that company for a month.