Florida Cities Use Robocalls To Fight Illegal Signs

How does one stop people from ugly-ing up the streets with those signs that are illegally posted on the sides of roads or on lamp posts and telephone poles? Two Florida cities think they might have found the solution — hire a robocalling firm to bombard the companies that use these signs to advertise.

In an attempt to make these so-called “snipe” or “bandit” signs from popping up overnight like mushrooms, the cities of Oakland Park and Hollywood have each launched robocalling programs that call the phone numbers listed on the illegal ads.

The cities aren’t just out to annoy the advertisers. The messages left by the robocall informs recipients that the only way to stop the calls is to pay a fine — $75 for the first offense; $150 for the second; $250 for the third.

Oakland Park is just starting the program, but Hollywood has been robocalling advertisers since March and claims to have already seen a 70% reduction in snipe signage.

It costs the city $300 a month to keep the program going, but administrators say it’s worth it compared to the amount of money and manpower that had gone into removing them.

“City employees were going out every week to pick up these signs, squandering city resources that could be better spent on other things,” Hollywood Mayor Peter Bober tells ABC News, “particularly when we have these difficult financial times and we need to stretch dollars as much as we can.”

The mayor says he could also see this tactic being used to combat the companies that spam consumers’ wireless accounts with text message ads.