back to article Do Not Call Register operator breaches Register

The company to which Australia outsources operations of its Do Not Call Register has been fined for making telemarketing calls to numbers listed on the Register (not The Register, which we italicise). Australia implemented a Do Not Call Register in 2007, after consumer anger about telemarketing moved the federal government to …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is that what a Chinese wall is.

    Now I know.

    I think an internal re-org would do them good.

  2. Big-nosed Pengie
    FAIL

    Outsourcing

    Because it always works.

  3. MrT

    For a minute there...

    ... with that headline I thought you'd just bankrolled LOHAN, more giant lasers, LOHAN's big sister fitted with giant lasers, and any other bonkers SPB ideas...

  4. Chad H.

    The company to which Australia outsources operations of its Do Not Call Register has been fined for making telemarketing calls to numbers listed on the Register (not The Register, which we italicise).

    Which begs the question, what is the current penalty for calling The Register ?

    1. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge
      Boffin

      Penalty...

      Any penalty would depend on whether or not The Register was registered with the Register and whether The Register registered a complaint with the Registrar of the Register that their registration of The Register with the Register has failed to register with the Register's Registrar.

      HTH

    2. Gannon (J.) Dick

      El Reg

      I guess that depends on what you call them. I imagine they've been called a lot of things though, so try and keep it clever. Obviously they are not here to entertain their readers. Oops. Let me know on the fine.

    3. Silverburn
      Pirate

      Which begs the question, what is the current penalty for calling The Register ?

      It's the death penalty, of course. Surprised you needed to ask.

    4. Number6

      Perhaps the Moderatrix has reasonable contract rates?

  5. Arachnoid

    Maybe it was a wrong number.............or two ......or three

  6. Robert Heffernan
    Facepalm

    30 Days?

    In this modern era of the internet and always on services, there is no reason that the 30 day wait should even exist.

    The automated dialing systems used in call centers should check the number to be dialled against the live DNCR, that way the moment someone adds their number to the register, the calls stop.

    There is no technical reason they can't do it except for maybe the DNCR and the call centers don't want to pay an ongoing data fee for all that checking in which case they could download the current copy of the DNCR to their system which then checks every so many hours for changes then applies them to the local system.

    1. Martin Milan

      Re: 30 Days?

      I suspect the reason for this is to avoid having to implement one central webservice, which in light of the number of requests it would receive would either need to be ran on beefy iron, or would become one central point of failure.

      The current approach allows the register to simply give the data to the call centre chaps every 30 days, and the call centres can then use their own systems to check it.

      1. Goat Jam

        Re: 30 Days?

        "in light of the number of requests it would receive would either need to be ran on beefy iron, or would become one central point of failure"

        It is trivially easy to distribute data and network loads around so that is not an issue.

        The problem is that nobody wants to pay for it. If they are anything like most companies and govt in Australia they maintain the entire thing on an Excel spreadsheet.

  7. tkioz
    FAIL

    Frankly I've never been very impressed with the DNC register, and this story doesn't make me feel any better. I've been listed on it for years and I still get obnoxious calls, either scams, or from groups that have an "exemption" (Religious, Charity, Political).

    Frankly if I don't have a preexisting relationship with an organization and I'm on the DNC they should not be allowed to call me full bloody stop, I don't care if you want to save the whales, ban the boats, or whatever other bollocks you're peddling, stop bothering me!

    1. Magani
      Thumb Up

      Hear, hear!

      I will choose which pollie, charity, etc I support, and a phone call, especially at an inconvenient time, isn't going to change my mind.

      I now also have a 'Do Not Knock' sign by the front door bell. It has actually worked as I watched a clip-board-enabled yoof walk up the path, read it and walk away. I was astounded, as I hadn't realised some of them could actually read and comprehend without moving their lips.

      1. Number6

        Re: Hear, hear!

        Actually, a phone call at an inconvenient time is capable of changing my mind, but not in the direction the caller (or his paymaster) might have wished·

    2. S4qFBxkFFg
      Thumb Up

      I recommend the tactic I use when the "ExcusemesirIamcallingfromMicrosoftthereisaseriousproblemwithyourWindowsoperatingsystem." people annoy me, just:

      1. Say something like "Hang on, I need to find my bank details - I'll be back in a couple of minutes...".

      2. Put the phone down, off the hook.

      3. Do something else.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Don't forget Step 1.5

        Mute the microphone!

        1. Mephistro Silver badge
          Megaphone

          Re: Don't forget Step 1.5 (@ Richard 12)

          "Mute the microphone!"

          That would be too humanitarian. I'd rather let them on hold while hearing a selection of heavy metal melodies created in a crappy MIDI format, and then compressed using some awful sound codec. The only downside is that I could find myself facing charges at the Geneva International Court.

      2. Steven Roper
        Thumb Up

        Re: Putting the phone down and leaving them waiting

        This is the right idea, but the problem is these people are running on a timer and if you haven't come back after 30 seconds, they'll hang up and move on to the next one. While many people doing this to them does add up, I have a more fun, time-wasting and effective method.

        I take calls on my computer hands-free so I can keep working while someone is on the phone. Now these telemarketers speak from a script, which means that they say predictable things at predictable intervals. Based on this principle, I've created an MP3 file which runs something like this:

        "Oh I see...[5 second delay]...Uh huh...[2 seconds]...Really?...[4 seconds]...I sorry, I missed that, say again?...[6 seconds]...Sounds interesting..." etc. etc.

        As soon as I cop a telemarketer, charity/political caller, or whatever, I simply switch the phone input to this MP3 and cut the output sound off so I can't hear it, and return to whatever I was doing. My phone software has an icon in the systray that indicates when the person hangs up, and also records the length of time of the call.

        It's quite entertaining seeing how long my MP3 can keep the caller on the line before they realise they are talking to a recorded message. Most seem to figure it out and hang up after two or three minutes, but I've seen at least one run over 15 minutes before he caught on!

        The fun is in tweaking the MP3 so my responses are statistically more likely to time with the pauses in the telemarketer's pitch, thus keeping them convinced they're talking to a real person for that much longer. This is a much more satisfactory wastage of their time than simply putting the phone down, since I've had very few hang up in less than the 30 seconds they give you waiting for you to come back.

        One thing to keep in mind if you try this, though - make sure your sound file DOES NOT have you saying "yes" or "I agree" or anything like that, or it just might be taken as an agreement to whatever they're pushing and lumber you with something you don't want!

    3. John Angelico

      Been on it for years?

      Are you aware that one needs to renew one's DNC Register entry every couple of years?

      So if you notice the level of spam calls rising (noting that certain types are forever exempt, like the big charities), then your number is up, and it has probably been purged.

      And if you are on the DNFax/Call Business Register, you face the same problem, plus all the numbers in your PBX rotary set need to be listed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Devil

        Re: Been on it for years?

        I'd like to be a total prick and only let them have the numbers to call upon written application to the consumer and a non reply / acknowledgement to be determined as a NO.

        Satan says - "Let them burn for eternity."

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The exemptions are the killer

    Whilst the DNCR is a good idea, it's the exemptions that make it almost worthless. Off the top of my head: Political, Charity and Market Research are all exempt. These three groups comprise over 90% of all unwanted (dinner interrupting) phone calls that I have ever received. The other calls were from Telstra.

    Telstra used the "existing relationship" exemption, in that if you have *any* Telstra product they have the right to cold-sell you every other product of the company. I finally got Telstra to stop calling after I got rid of every single toehold they had and then sent them a cease and desist letter.

    It's so worthless that I have not bothered to renew my registration as the occasional cold-call marketeer actually makes a refreshing change.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The same thing happens in the U.S.

    If you sign up on a "Do not call/Fax" list, they sell your phone/Fax number to a new company who has never SPAMMED you before so they get to SPAM you at least once before your sign up again to not be SPAMMED and then they sell the numbers to another company. This goes on endlessly and much of the SPAMMING comes from outside the U.S. into the U.S., so authorities are basically helpless to shut these vile criminals down.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: The same thing happens in the U.S.

      If you're using the state/federal lists and you have proof this is happening than the FCC would surely like to hear from you.

      The difference is that in the USA you have the TCPA, which allows you to sue in small claims for $500 PER CALL and the FCC can lump another $11,500 per call on top if they feel inclined (and they do, regularly - compare and contrast with the UK's enforcement bodies who exist primarily as an illusion to keep Brussels happy).

      Whils some (idiot) USA judges have refused to go along with the TCPA, in virtually every instance it's been kicked upstairs the judges were roundly spanked by higher courts.

      IMO The single biggest mistake in EU/AU legislation is not providing a right of private action and a statutory damages clause. Without that, going through small claims can be a hit-and-miss affair, so most people don't bother and marketers feel they can get away with anything.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: The same thing happens in the U.S.

      OBTW: regarding the comment about "outside the usa" - the FCC has regularly enforced large fines against foreign operators. Once case I recall from a few years back had them going through UK courts to recover a $100 million judgement from a UK-based fax spammer.

      This is VASTLY unlike the UK authorities who refuse to follow the trail once it leaves the UK, even if it subsequently reenters the country. Nor will they enforce against the people paying the advertisers, whereas the USA's TCPA renders the spammer and the hirer jointly and severally liable.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    rubbish contract?

    Shouldn't there be a part in most contracts that says something like "if you specifically do exactly what this contract is intended to prevent, it is grounds for termination"?

    Forget the fine, find another out sourcing provider who might do a better job, thats what free markets are supposed to encourage (if you believe the BS we're fed).

  11. Winkypop Silver badge
    Alert

    DNC register only goes so far

    It is never going to stop the scammers and their "Your computer needs fixing" bullshit.

    1. Magani
      Unhappy

      Re: DNC register only goes so far

      Interesting though, that since the multi-national raid on this bunch of frauds late last year, we haven't had a "I am calling from Windows Help Desk" call in a couple of months.

      Pity, as I miss my half an hour of baiting them every fortnight or so.

  12. Kevin Johnston Silver badge

    Tele-whatsits

    I used to have great fun baiting these callers (much to the annoyance of my wife who always just put the phone down) but now the baton has been passed to my son. He spent a few months earning pocket money doing tele-sales* and now critiques their script for them....

    *Yes I know, but who hasn't done a short-term job they would rather not talk about

  13. silent_count

    Does. Not. Work

    Ain't it funny how the same politicians who espouse the virtues of the "do not call" register conveniently make themselves exempt from having to follow it.

    I don't have a fixed-line phone. I have a mobile phone with a white list. If you are not on the list, I will never know you called (but you will get to talk to the voicemail I never check, so you get to pay for cold-calling my phone) or you can text me and I'll never know you did and certainly never see the text. I appreciate that this solution isn't for everyone - what if $LOVED_ONE calls from a payphone in an emergency - but I have more faith in my solution than any "do not call", "do not track"... "please don't hurt me, bad people" lists.

    I'm sure it's been done but, if not, there should be an app which checks incoming SMS messages and allows through ones which contain $USER_DEFINED_STRING or those from people on your contact list and silently dumps the rest. That'd fix the "loved one calling in an emergency" problem.

  14. weevil

    Christ I had to read that twice to make sense of it, what a clusterfuck, so many Registers!

  15. Velv Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Perhaps its about time we hit the reset button, and turned the whole thing on its head - EVERY number should be on the list until the subscriber chooses to permit marketing and market research calls.

    I know the marketers won't like it, but I suspect the general public would love it.

  16. John Tserkezis
    Happy

    The DNC register is a farce, always was and always will be.

    That said, recieved a call today from someone with a strong indian accent selling cheap internet deals.

    I started baiting, till I realised "he" wasn't listening - it was a pre-recorded call with built-in pauses.

    It went on to say that he had seen my package on the Internet, and that his package was much more impressive.

    They weren't selling anything - Probably a 'crank call'. I think. I was laughing to hard to care.

    1. Number6

      Re: The DNC register is a farce, always was and always will be.

      As far as I'm aware, there are no images of my package on the internet.

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