Editorial: Hold, Please

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It's rough when even the phone companies start knocking telemarketers. Stuffed into this month's bills from Verizon are inserts for its new Call Intercept service. "Before the phone even rings, this service intercepts calls that would normally appear as 'Unavailable,' 'Anonymous,' 'Private' or 'Out of Area' on a Caller ID box. It asks the caller to record their name, then plays it back so you can decide whether to take the call," the copy reads. "At the touch of a button, you can also send a message telling them to remove your name from their list, so you won't be bothered again."

I'm not sure Call Intercept is worth another $4 a month on top of the $7.99 that I am already paying for Caller ID, but some annoyed consumers may think it is. Like consumer activist Diana Mey, who is even more fed up with Sears (see her letter, The Not-So-Soft Side of Sears, on this page). In 1998, Sears sued her for taping its telemarketing calls, but the suit was dropped because of the media attention that ensued. Now Sears' telemarketers have called her again -- and she wants it stopped. Mey has told the Direct Marketing Association about it and says an investigation is under way. "What I would really like is to see Sears do the right thing and admit that their telemarketing policies and practices are horribly flawed," said Mey, adding that she would consider suing the retailer as a last resort -- "but at the same time I would not hesitate to do so." It sounds like the battle isn't over.

DMA Did the Right Thing

It takes guts to cancel a conference just a month before it is scheduled to begin, but that was the only option DMA officials had with the fall net.marketing show. Quite simply, the show would have been a disaster --because of a lack of attendees and exhibitors alike -- and to go back to one show a year makes sense. To have it May 5-7 in Las Vegas should put it far enough ahead of next spring's other big events, namely the catalog show (June 10-13 in Chicago) and DMD New York (June 17-19).


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