No, I do not desire your fine service or product

After we’d had our number three or four days, I got my first telemarketing call.

The telemarketer attempted to address me by name and got it wrong, but close enough for me to know it was really intended for me.

After her spiel, I said, “I’m just astonished you even have this number, since we’ve only had it a few days and haven’t given it out to anyone. Thanks, bye.” And I hung up.

The next day and two more calls later, I realized: my Do Not Call registry didn’t transfer from one number to the next.

Five minutes online was long enough to fix that particular oversight. But here I am now, wondering: how do they know at the DNC registry that I’ve moved and opened up that other number? How did my personal information disseminate so quickly?

More to the point, how did my personal information get to someone telemarketing fine services and products (in this case, she wanted to sell me sixty magazines or tell me I’d won a free week at a timeshare or maybe magazines about sixty timeshares — I couldn’t care less) in only three days, but it then takes thirty-one days to remove my name from their lists? 

Their computer-generated lists?

This isn’t like junk mail, where it’s printed six weeks in advance and sitting in a warehouse. These phone calls weren’t placed in late May. 

All very strange. And to whichever company sold them my number: may the fruit vanish from your fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt.


  1. blueraindrop

    im betting on the phone company. who else has your new number, and profits from telemarketers making phone calls using their phone lines?

  2. Jason Block

    That was really mean….Why would you want them to lose fruit? 🙂

  3. ivyreisner

    I can actually answer that, though I think you’ll start hating me. I used to generate those lists for American Express. A company would buy a list of people who had recent charges in a similar industry, sometimes with a dollar range specified. So Angel-o-rama might buy a list of customers who’d charged purchases at Angels-R-Us and Angel Central Shops.

    We would cull against the most recent DNR file we had on record. I don’t recall how often the new file was shipped out, but I’m tempted to think it was weekly. So you’d hit the lists that were generated prior to the arrival of the registry file that has your number.

    After we shipped the list to the customers there is no second culling. The advertiser is welcome to use the entire list for the marketing campaign.

    It doesn’t really take 30 days, but they pad the number just to be on the safe side.

  4. philangelus

    It’s that little joy in life, Jason, like the joy I get on hearing the phone ring and thinking, “Someone cares that I’m alive” only to discover that no, they only care that my money is good. 😉

    (There’s also the fact that they create just a little panic in me too, due to that pesky phone-phobia thing where I’m always terrified of the phone. I deal with it, but it’s there.)

    I won’t hate you, Ivy, but the whole process sounds so creepy. It sounds like the only way around this is not to have a credit card at all.

    It’s so fast, though, that you’re right, blueraindrop, it almost has to be the phone company. Right now we haven’t even updated our phone number with the credit card guys, so it can’t have been them.

  5. CricketB

    Timely post — I just blogged about our answering machine problems.

    The post-office also sells lists. We’re paranoid about missing things, so I renewed our mail-forwarding several times. (The previous owner of this house was still getting important stuff for over a year. We sent it to the lawyer who represented her for the sale, figuring we could trust them to do the right thing, whatever it was.)

    Every time we renewed it, we got decorating magazines.

  6. ivyreisner

    Cricket, I can do you one better. I buy knitting kits for baby things to make for charity. As a result I get a ridiculous amount of baby-related junk mail and there is absolutely no convincing these people that I don’t, in fact, have any children.

    I got a notification from the city saying I needed to enroll the child in school.

  7. philangelus

    I think you should enroll a ball of yarn. See the looks you’ll get. (Actually, it’s New York. You’d probably get someone who enrolled the ball of yarn and then took you to court for not bringing it to school every day.)

    So far, all we’ve gotten are tons of coupons for Lowe’s. Many, many coupons for Lowe’s.

    The Post Offal wouldn’t have had our phone number, though, because we didn’t have it ourselves until the Saturday after we moved in.

  8. Jenni

    That’s hilarious, Ivy! What’s next, the truancy officer?

    My husband and I got around this by cancelling our land line and only going with our cell phone (which we listed on the DNC list, but I have heard a rumor that companies aren’t supposed to be allowed to telemarket to cell phone numbers).

    I know it’s not plausible for everyone to do but it certainly cut down on our phone calls.

  9. blueraindrop

    my credit card company somehow skips the list. i get a lot of calls coming “on behalf of” that particular card to try to sell me unrelated things. normally the same set of unrelated things, but once in a while adding one.

    fortunately, its a cell phone. first instance for each new dork, they get added as another number for my contact labeled “junk”. who has their ring tone set as a personalized ring tone just for them…. namely, the one labeled silent. no ringing phone… i just see when i pick up my phone next that i had a missed call from my dear pal junk.

    i suppose making the card they are calling stop using as a excuse would be more effective… but then, doing anything with them is a royal pain… and i dont even want to talk about the run around when they blocked my 5 buck purchase in alaska because it was a foreign country and thus suspicious. silent ringtone is the much less stressful route.

  10. Jenni

    Alaska…a foreign country…

    That goes right up there with a story I once heard where a company refused a $14,000 order from a business in New Mexico because it was “outside the US”. (both the operator taking the order and her supervisor agreed that there’s no such state as New Mexico)

  11. kherbert

    Literally days after I purchased my house, I was getting both phone calls and mail about my High School reunion. It was spooky, especially since I never want to see them ever again.

  12. ivyreisner

    Bally’s thinks Manhattan is a foreign country. My contract says I can use any of their gyms in the US. I tried to use one near the office and they said it wasn’t covered. Clearly I need a passport to go to work every day.

  13. philangelus

    I believe Blueraindrop lives in Canada, so Alaska may well be a foreign country.