No, The Right To Call And Sell You Stuff Is Not Transferable

Russell wants to know: if a company cold-calls you to sell you things when you’re part of the federal Do Not Call registry, and insists that the call is totally legal because they’ve “partnered with” a company that you do business with, does that make it okay? No. No, it does not.

He writes:

I received a cold call on my cell phone from someone representing [a home security company]. I’m under the impression that telemarketing to a cell phone is illegal, even more so because my number is on the National Do Not Call Registry. When I mentioned this to the caller, he claimed that it didn’t apply because they’re partnered with someone whom I have a business relationship with. This sounds like flagrant bullshit to me, but I wanted to get advice from a more knowledgeable group. He conveniently neglected to name the company that sold my information, so I unfortunately don’t have anyone else to shame in this letter. As for the original issue, am I right?

Yes, although it could depend on the definition of “partnered” and your relationship to the company that shared your number. Which company is key, and when you last had any dealings with the business. According to the FCC:

A telephone solicitation is a telephone call that acts as an advertisement. The term does not include calls or messages placed with your express prior permission, by or on behalf of a tax-exempt non-profit organization, or from a person or organization with which you have an established business relationship (EBR). An EBR exists if you have made an inquiry, application, purchase, or transaction regarding products or services offered by the person or entity involved. Generally, you may put an end to that relationship by telling the person or entity not to place any more solicitation calls to your home. Additionally, the EBR is only in effect for 18 months after your last business transaction or three months after your last inquiry or application. After these time periods, calls placed to your home phone number or numbers by that person or entity are considered telephone solicitations subject to the do-not-call rules.

So file a complaint, and tell the company to set their call lists on fire before they try to call you again.

National Do-Not-Call Registry [FCC]


Edit Your Comment

  1. PTB315 says:

    So are we ever going to get a B2B do not call list? I don’t want 3 calls a day asking to “speak to the person who handles the electric bill” while I’m working. We take at least 5 spam calls a day and we have to answer every one because we don’t have an automated system, nor caller ID. They really just need to make telemarketing illegal across the board, at the VERY least the robocalls with recorded messages.

    • Brunette Bookworm says:

      Ugh, I hate those. Thank goodness we have a somewhat automated system here so more of those are screened out before they get to my phone. The worst calls are those copier/printer toner scam people.

      • c!tizen says:

        Yeah, those automated systems are great. Can I ask you a question though…

        are you the person responsible for the maintenance of that phone system? Could you use an extra $120.00 a year? If you answered yes to any of the previous questions I have a great deal for you! For a limited time only I can know up to $10.00 a month, that’s right $120.00 a year off of your auto-blocking service…

        Sorry, couldn’t resist.

      • ariven says:

        I like the toner calls.. I have trained our receptionist that no matter who they ask for, toner/etc style calls get routed to me and at no time do they say the word yes to them before transferring the call.

        Once I get them, as soon as they start their spiel, I explain that the IT manager has a policy that we are not able to talk about pricing or anything regarding toner purchases without a physical catalog in hand, and to please send us one.

        Every time they try to talk pricing I interrupt with the same thing.

        I have been doing this for 10 years now, and have gotten a sum total of 3 catalogs. ;) and only once have I had a company call twice.

        • HogwartsProfessor says:

          Hee hee, one time I told the toner lady “We don’t use a copier, we use carbon paper.” She said “Uhhhh…okay?” Then I said “Byeee!” and hung up on her.

    • PTB315 says:

      Sidenote: One time a telemarketer called, and asked to speak to “the boss”. He did it in a very casual manner, and I completely fell for it, assuming it was someone who knew my boss (who is also my dad). I was impressed by that tactic, it didn’t get him very far once the boss figured out what the call was about.

      He used to keep an airhorn at the house before the do-not-call registry, and blast it into the phone on telemarketers. Kind of a dick move, but it did cut the calls down.

      • Balaenoptera says:

        I want to take myself off the registry for a bit, just to try that

      • Munchie says:

        Well a little help then. Firs the disclaimer, people have been sued for the air horn bit because of hearing damage over the phone, they have your address. No since I have said that if you talk real quit so they turn up the volume on their headsets before you blast them its much more effective.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      We’ve got the same problem where I work. We recently laid off our office manager, so we now rotate who gets stuck answering the phone. The number of telemarketing calls is ridiculous; we probably get a call every 10 minutes.

  2. Noah says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t answer calls I don’t recognize. If it’s important they’ll leave a message. It’s kinda like when JWs come around the neighborhood and knock on my door. I just pretend I’m not home.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Calling them “JWs” only helps to make them sound cool. Don’t.

      • PTB315 says:

        Or makes me double take when for some reason I read JWs as JEWS. I’m way too overtired today.

    • Nuc says:

      A business can’t do that though.

    • IphtashuFitz says:

      It’s definitely not you. Caller ID is incredibly handy. Any call that shows up as “unknown”, “out of area”, “unavailable”, etc. or from a phone number I don’t know goes straight to voicemail. If it’s something important they’ll leave a reasonable message and I’ll call them back.

    • kylere1 says:

      I just answer the door, tell them I hope they can evolve beyond the need for a crutch of religion, and close the door. When you act like a weenie and do not answer you merely empower them.

      • Draygonia says:

        Totally reminds me of Weenie Hut Junior… or Super Weenie Hut Junior! lol…

        But yes, I usually am not there or I tell them to go away.

    • Daverson says:

      On the few occasions when door-to-door JerkWads ignore the “No Soliciting” sign on the door, I let my dog answer the doorbell.

    • Velifer says:

      I invite them in. Then I tell them that we’re nudists, I hope they don’t mind…
      /Off with my pance!

    • FarkonGnome says:

      The JWs avoid my house entirely… The last time they came around my neighborhood, I got a call from one of my neighbors down the street and warned me about them. They rang my doorbell and the look of horror on their faces when I answered is something I wish I had a picture of…

      Me standing in the door with a butcher’s apron on, complete with blood stains all over it (some fresh) with a meat cleaver in one hand again with blood on it. I asked them if they were here to help with my satanic ritual, while in the background my 5 year old son is yelling “we need more blood or this won’t work!!”

      Needless to say they backed off my porch without saying much and they’ve yet to return.

      • cash_da_pibble says:

        We still have some Halloween decorations up (specifically, a full-sized hanging grim reaper on our porch) and were listening to Slayer the last time a JW group showed up. I was actually expecting someone, so I answered the door.

        The man was so full of apologies ( “So sorry to bother you at this time, I know you’re probably not interested…”) but quickly cut the bullshit- “What do you think God Thinks of Our World and why doesn’t he step in and help?”
        And I simply said “God has a Plan for each and every one of us, and it isn’t our place to question him.”

        He handed me a Watchtower, apologized one more time, and left.

        Haven’t had any since.

      • HogwartsProfessor says:


      • levelone says:

        That is brilliant. An actual LMAO moment as I was reading. The best part is your son yelling for more blood. Bravo, bravo.

    • CTrees says:

      When the JWs come to my door (or, as has happened, try to talk to me at the train station), I start hitting on them. Start out subtly flirting, then ramp it up until I’m into my cheesiest pickup lines. Regardless of gender or age of the proselytizer.

      Always fun.

      • EllenRose says:

        I proselytize for the First Arachnid Church, telling them the good news about the Great Spider. I can debate for hours that way. I even have tracts printed up.

  3. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    Which security company was this? I vaguely remember receiving a call from one out in Utah a few months back and they did the same thing – file a complaint, ASAP.

  4. TheSpatulaOfLove says:

    Once I identify they are a telemarketer, I take one of two steps:

    First, I determine who they are, then hunt their ‘business development manager’ down. Da Googles is your friend here. I will then place a call to this person inquiring who their client is, why I’m being called, etc. It’s usually a brutal grilling that yields removal from their list nearly immediately. Almost like an EECB, but with a personal touch. Those guys don’t appreciate unhappy calls.

    If I can’t get enough information to pull the stunt above, then I resort to being absolutely filthy. My responses to their inquiries begin with questions about what kind of underwear they’re wearing and go straight to hell from there. Male, Female – doesn’t matter – but the men seem to be a little more uncomfortable with my prying questions, as I have a deep, booming voice.

  5. frank64 says:

    I am on the DNC and have gotten multiple calls from the same place. I reported to the FTC website, does anyone know what actually happens to the companies? I think not much, because they keep on calling. Mine is from a mortgage modification co, and I don’t even have a mortgage.

    • DJ Charlie says:

      Well, in the case of it being a legitimate company, they get a letter from the FCC saying “Please don’t call this person. If you call them again, we’ll be forced to write you another letter asking you to stop.”

      If it’s a fly-by-night toner/home siding/mortgage company, it gets filed in the round filing cabinet.

      I’m up to 8 calls a day on the station’s phone line, with no help at all from the DNC.

  6. Tim says:

    Is the security company ADT? I’ve gotten two calls in the last week saying that ADT “will be in my neighborhood,” so they wanted to stop by and install a system.

  7. Starrion says:

    There is a Home Security Center that is cold calling people. I think they are acting as a referal agent for a recognized brand.

    The brand name company doesn’t know these cold calls are going on.

    If they call, see if you can get any more data on who they really are. It would be good to drop the FTC on them.

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

      Oh they probably know the cold calls are happening, and feign ignorance / express plausible deniability when confronted with the tactic being used on their behalf.

      • Starrion says:

        Apparently, referrals are paid based on getting the customer to the phone center. The tactics they use to do that are not closely monitored.

        I would like to bring this to upper management but cannot until the referral agent is identified.

  8. legolex says:

    Can businesses not opt out? I put my work phone number on the DNC at least twice and I still get calls from the dreaded Yellow Pages. Since I can’t trust “Unknown Numbers” anymore, I don’t answer them at all. If it’s a client, they’ll leave a VM.

    • Conformist138 says:

      DNC only works for residential/consumer lines. It annoys my self-employed and small business-running friends to no end that they have to deal with obnoxious spam calls. The worst are for, yes, phone books, but also for web development and promotion. You know, the calls that promise you will be “#1 on Google!” for a steep fee. My best friend just laughs, she manages the family business and deals with Google directly to improve search results. Why pay a third party for something specifically designed for you to easily do yourself?

  9. jennleighh says:

    15 calls per day from HSBC; I answered once to demand to be taken off of the call list, and a gentleman with a very heavily accented voice told me that since I once had a credit card through them, they could call all they wanted to tell me about specialized products. I demanded to be taken off, and he claimed it would take 30 business days.

    Most of the time, I just let it go to VM, and then it hangs up, but it’s so frequent that it’s blocking legit calls from even getting through. I’ve called and called and called, too.

    They call my cell phone, I’m driving to Utah and going all medieval in person. And I live in Florida, but it would be totally worth it.

    • levelone says:

      No company should be allowed to call you 15 times a day. You shouldn’t have to be the one to fix their problem, since you’re the victim of their awful behavior, but have you tried contacting them in writing (snail mail or email)? Or calling one of the branches? I’ve also read that your state’s Attorney General may be of help in these situations if you can’t get anyone in the company to listen. Good luck.

  10. newfenoix says:

    To answer a question that was asked, yes, business numbers can be placed on the list. I had a little trick that I used for these idiots that kept calling: I would listen to their beginning BS and after they finished I would ask to be transferred to their legal office. They of course asked why and I would explain that this number is on the do not call list and I need to speak to them before I call our attorney. 99.9999% I got an apology and a promise that the number would not be called again.

  11. Silverhawk says:

    I don’t know why it took me so long to discover it, but I stumbled on a feature of our home phone system by accident one day. It allows you to block specific phone numbers. You hear one ring, then the display says “call blocked”. The other end gets a ‘this number has been disconnected’ recording/tone.

    It has cut down on the number of repeat calls.

    Oh, and at least Verizon Wireless allows you to block up to 5 numbers per line for 6 months, so if you get them on your VZW cell phone, you can block them there too.

    • Silverhawk says:

      I should clarify, it’s just a basic Panasonic multi-handset cordless setup…like the ones sold at Costco, so I’d imagine many handsets/systems would have this feature.

  12. flbas says:

    If they call, and once we establish that I am the sucker that is supposed to buy the goods and/or services, there are a couple of options:

    1) lead them on. let them talk, have them explain and reexplain and elaborate and get down with the details. make up scenarios to see if the product will fit the need. if it is slow at home, and i am bored, i can get a good 30+ (frustrating for him) minutes. at the end, respond with something like the price being too high or something else – anything else. for some reason, i am not getting too many repeat phone calls with this strategy.

    2) I might consider telling them of how poor i am, and start to sell my service to the telemarketer. i figure turn-about is fair play. so, i will invent a product and pitch it to him. if nothing else, it is good practice for “impromptu” sales or “the elevator pitch” practice. not as effective – they might call back . . .

    3) just hang up on them. put the phone down for a minute, wash hands, pick up the phone, and just hang it up. not effective – they will probably call back.

  13. jefeloco says:

    I keep seeing the FCC referring to an Enhanced Battle Rifle.

  14. Magspie says:

    I wish they would take out the nonprofit exemption. We get so many calls asking for money from nonprofits. I always feel bad hanging up on them too. I sort of talk over them and squeak, “sorry, no thanks,” and then just hang up.

    • Not Given says:

      I just wrote a cease and desist letter to the state FOP telling them to put me on their do not call list and to have no further communication with me other than sending me by USPS confirmation of my placement on that list and a copy of their do not call policy.
      We’ll see.

    • jayman419 says:

      Don’t feel guilty. Just tell them that there are too many scams these days, so even though you have in the past, you no longer give or commit to give over the phone, but you’re actively charitable and you’d be happy to look at the financial disclosures on their website and consider whether you can help. >2 minutes

      If they persist explain that a lot of charities actually sub-contract solicitation calls and you want to help people (animals, wetlands, Indians, old cars, ect) but not telemarketers. >1 minute

      “We’re people too.” = “I need you to cite your sources.”

      Or if they’re a major charity, say you prefer to support smaller, more targeted ones. If they’re a small, targeted group say you prefer to donate to the bigger, blanket charities.

  15. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I do love that phone-nomming kitteh picture.

  16. Dr.Wang says:

    Cellular phone makers should add this feature to all phones. To block or allow calls to ring thru based on your phone book. The use of wild cards in the phone book, so all calls from, or not from a particular area code and/or exchange can ring, or not ring. Or calls from anonymous will not ring. Or calls from anonymous will also not go to voice mail. All this could be built into the phone. Also the ability to control who gets voice mail by allowing the phone itself to answer bad calls for 1-2 seconds, playing a recording of you saying HELLO? then hanging up, all totally automated and totally silent.

    • Not Given says:

      Google voice seems to help. I’ve gotten several calls that never came through because of call screening and now they are blocked and get the disconnected message.