Is the National Do Not Call Registry Being Gutted?

31 May ’05

The Do Not Call Registry previously promised by the Liberal government has apparently taken a beating before the Standing Committee on Industry, Natural Resources, Science and Technology – lobbyists on behalf of charities and telemarketers are, it would seem, working hard to dilute the effort before it gets off the ground. The details are in Tyler Hamilton’s recent column.

What is needed here is a little public outrage ….

To my mind, having a separate registry for charities makes sense – many people would distinguish between telemarketing for charitable and for commercial purposes – but the NDP and Tory proposals described by Tyler – to require an opt-out on a charity by charity basis – seem specifically designed, given the practical difficulty of doing just that, to prevent any meaningful consumer choice. That’s tough to fathom.

In addition, the proposal to permit businesses to telemarket to customers with whom they have an existing business relationship seems fine, as long as the only contact permitted is specifically in furtherance of that relationship, and not, for example, for the purpose of selling or promoting any other products and services to that customer. I have no problem being contacted to be informed about, for example, the upcoming expiry of my mortgage or home insurance, but if I put my name on a do not call registry I don’t want a bank with which I have a credit card calling me to pitch me on mortgage or home insurance. I have a recent business relationship with just about every major Canadian retailer and financial institution – and they are precisely the companies I don’t want to hear from anymore. (Honestly, if the CIBC calls me one more time about credit cards I’m going to plotz).

I have to say, it’s difficult to understand how the members of the Standing Committee can be unaware of the average Canadian’s frustration with being contacted by telemarketers – one is inevitably drawn to the conclusion that they aren’t – they’re just paying more attention to the lobbyists.

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