(DO NOT) Call Me Anytime

My apologies to Debbie Harry, but some headlines write themselves!

Canada’s National Do Not Call Registry went into effect September 30th. But registering only with the government’s registry doesn’t mean you can get through dinner without the annoyance of telemarketers calling just yet. Unfortunately, the legislation that made the registry a reality was considerably diluted before passing, thanks to the efforts of businesses, political parties, non-profits, and other groups eager to keep on ringing those phones.

But, you do have a couple of other options if you want to reduce the intrusions on your privacy. First of all, register your home address and phone number with the Canadian Marketing Association’s do not contact list. You can use this service to prevent CMA members from mailing, faxing, or calling you. It won’t however get rid of unaddressed flyers and advertising mail. You need to put a “No Junk Mail” sign on your mailbox to prevent that from happening. If you do so… and are still getting un-addressed solicitations, visit the Red Dot Campaign website for a letter you can download and send to Canada Post to restate your desire to eliminate unwanted and unnecessary mail. Your letter carrier should honor this request, although getting rid of those bundles of flyers thrown onto your porch from the sidewalk remains at this time, nearly impossible.

There’s also a third (and very effective) way to eliminate these bothersome missives. Canadian law professor Dr. Michael Geist has created ioptout.ca — a website that takes care of the task of contacting organizations not bound by the do not call rules and specifically asking them to remove you from their lists. It lets you opt out on a global basis, or selectively, on the off chance you are dying to hear about the latest offer from a particular organization.

Registering with all three (Gov’t, CMA, and ioptout.ca) do not call lists took me about ten minutes. Getting removed from the lists can take up to two months, so some patience is required before the calls stop coming.

Registering with any or all three of these services will not prevent you from receiving un-addressed materials from the House of Commons, electoral information from all three levels of government, or community newspapers.

One of the great advantages of our age is that we can find the information or products we seek with a simple web search. Google has become sophisticated enough to serve up ads relevant to our interests based upon the websites we visit. The argument that advertisers need to reach out to us is increasingly invalid. Successful advertising in the 21st century has more to do with delivering a compelling argument to choose a particular brand, to those customers who’ve already demonstrated an interest in something, rather than spamming the universe in the hope that a few folks might be convinced to check out your service or product. Propping up a dying way of doing business at the expense of an individual’s privacy and precious free time is, to my mind, a disservice to everyone. Further, I believe the argument that pollsters need to hear our thoughts for politicians to govern effectively is specious. If interviewing a few hundred people is supposedly indicative of the public mood 99% of the time, nineteen times out of twenty (whatever that gobbledy-gook means!), then surely a simple read of the letters to the editor of any newspaper, or the comments section of online news sites is just as indicative of public perception, and doesn’t require bothering people with (often) manipulative questions when they are at home with their families.

Good luck getting rid of the unsolicited intrusions… and in making your telephone and mailbox tools that help you, rather than appliances that herald annoyance and interruption. Oh, and if you’re in the market for some writing or video editing services, please take a look at my website and feel free to call or email. You’re the type of person I do want to hear from!