Misjudging the Judge
When you attach your livelihood to a particular industry, you can become a bit myopic about its value to the world. I feel that way about direct marketing quite often. It's difficult to put on my consumer's hat these days, mostly because it doesn't fit the same way it used toI'm too aware of how direct marketing campaigns are created. What's more, I know many people involved with direct marketing, and none of them are sleazy or greedy or insensitive or any of the other negative characteristics the general media has used to describe them.
But even I can admit to having been annoyed by telemarketing phone callsespecially those from organizations that I've asked to stop contacting me. Have I signed up for the National Do-Not-Call Registry? No, for three reasons: One, my home phone number is a cell phone; two, I'm not usually home during prime calling hours; and three, I haven't had a phone bill in my name since 1998. Obviously, I cannot easily relate to the pure anger radiating from people who were outraged by the challenge to the do-not-call list made by Federal District Court Judge Edward W. Nottingham. The judge's order to the Federal Trade Commission to halt the collection of registry names and to refrain from prosecuting any company that continued to call names on the registry was based on his interpretation of the list as unconstitutional.
Whether his assessment is accurate or not, I have a beef with the radio station disc jockeys and consumers hosting personal Web sites who felt it was fair play to publicize the judge's home and office phone numbers; they summoned others to inundate his phone lines with calls to express displeasure over his ruling. At least one person who posted his opinion to a Web message board suggested that the judge should only be called at home, so as not to interrupt his workday. I'm not sure if this individual was being sarcastic, but if he wasn't, at least he seems to understand the role of a judge in presiding over legal challenges. News flash for those who don't: As a judge, Nottingham is not allowed to take his personal preferences into consideration when delivering a ruling. As a sworn officer of the court, his job is to apply case law to the legislation in question. If a judge's ruling can be swayed by public opinion, such as a flood of telephone calls, then he or she is not fit to sit a bench.
You may have heard that Miami Herald columnist Dave Barry published the phone number of the American Teleservices Association (ATA) in his column twice to encourage readers to call the professional group. While the ATA can't be too pleased with having to handle these additional calls, I think it gives them a good opportunity to have a dialogue with these consumers. I'm sure a good many callers will be dialing up simply to vent, but all exchanges give the ATA a chance to really get to know what it is about telemarketing that bothers peopleinformation that it can use to help its members treat those not on the do-not-call list in a way that keeps them from cringing every time the phone rings.