Nobody likes telemarketers.

Those unwanted calls seem to have an almost preternatural ability to disrupt our lives when we least want to be bothered. Just as we sit down to enjoy a dinner after a long day at work, or are enjoying some quiet time in the evening – the phone rings and shatters that peace, demanding to be picked up. When it’s someone selling duct cleaning on the other end, or seeking to complete a consumer poll about pet food, it’s frustrating that we should have been bothered at all.

Brian Jackson, journalist
Brian Jackson

So in 2008, our government created a solution to this problem – or at least, an attempt to address our grievances about unwanted phone calls. The concept was simple: we’d create a list that allowed anyone to register their number if they did not want to receive any unsolicited commercial calls. Telemarketers would be required to register with, and subscribe to an updated version of this Do Not Call List. If companies broke the rules and called a number on this list, consumers could complain and the companies would be publicly cited or even fined.

But many feel the list isn’t working as it was supposed to. Some say there are so many built-in exemptions that it doesn’t reduce the amount of calls we receive anyway. This week, ITBusiness.ca documented how small businesses that have been cited by the list feel they are being unfairly dealt with by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the enforcers of the list.

Broken Telephone feature story

Part 1: Small firms say Do Not Call List rules ‘unfair and confusing’
Part 2: Do Not Call List ‘costly and ineffective,’ say small businesses

It might lead some to think the list should be scrapped entirely, the bureaucratic tangle of it all cleared away to make room for a fresh start.

Yet in a poll conducted for ITBusiness.ca by Delvinia Data Collection, it appears that most Canadians have registered for the list – and most of those who’ve registered describe the list as at least somewhat effective in stopping unwanted phone calls.

Six out of 10 Canadians have registered for the Do Not Call List, according to the poll results. Of those who’ve registered, 14.7 per cent describe the list as “very effective” saying they receive almost no unwanted calls from telemarketers. Another 53 per cent say the list is “somewhat effective,” that they receive less phone calls than before.

Only 22 per cent said the list is “not effective” and they receive about the same amount of phone calls as before. Almost one in 10 say the list is “somewhat ineffective” or “very ineffective” and they now receive more phone calls than previously.

This AskingCanadians poll of 1155 respondents was conducted for ITBusiness.ca.  The data was collected from April 8th to April 11th.

So it appears that for most Canadians that have registered for the list, it is doing what it intended. Maybe it shouldn’t ripped up after all. Yet the perception amongst many Canadians who haven’t registered for the list doesn’t square up with that story.

Of those who haven’t registered, 9.5 per cent think they will get more calls if they do register. Another 25.4 per cent of Canadians believes they will receive the same amount of phone calls.

One in five of those who haven’t registered say they aren’t bothered by telemarketers currently. One in four Canadians say they don’t know how to register (you can do so on the Do Not Call List Web site), and another one in five were not aware the list existed.

While it is clear the list has its problems, the fact that it’s benefitting most of those who signed up for it suggests that it is worth pursuing as an effective tool. Clearly, the CRTC has some work to do around marketing the list as being worth registering for among some Canadians.

Problems with the enforcement process also must be addressed so telemarketers feel that the rules and investigation methods are transparent, consistent, and fair. Yet small businesses must also make an effort to educate themselves about the requirements established by the CRTC and come into compliance with them.

Let’s hammer out the kinks in the Do Not Call List and make it work for all stakeholders – consumers and telemarketers alike. Then we can all eat our dinners in peace.

AskingCanadians is an online survey community with a panel of more than160,000 members across Canada. Joining the AskingCanadians panel is free to Canadians who are in the age of majority in the provinces they reside, or have the permission of their parents or legal guardian. Qu’en pensez-vous is the sister community in Quebec.  AskingCanadians is owned and operated by Delvinia Data Collection for more information go to http://www.delvinia.com/askingcanadians.

 

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