Too Bad

The FCC is working up a rule that would allow phone companies to automatically block robocalls.

Businesses demur.

The proposal is part of an effort to cut down on unwanted and illegal robocalls, but some businesses fear it could result in carriers also blocking automated calls from legitimate firms. Banks, collection agencies, and merchants say automated calls are crucial, even though some consumers find them annoying.


It’s important that the commission take a hard look at some of the proposals to make sure that they are appropriately targeted to address the problem, illegal automated calls[.]

Sorry, guys.  It’s not only illegal automated calls the want blocking.  So do annoying calls—and it’s the customer, the recipient, who makes that determination, not the business caller.  Businesses don’t get to barge into someone’s home without permission—which is what an unwanted, annoying call is, just as much as physically coming through the door.

Then there’s this gem:

The current call-blocking proposal could mean financial-services companies such as mortgage or educational lenders are unable to reach customers for informational purposes, which could keep them from complying with separate consumer-protection rules requiring such companies to contact customers under certain circumstances[.]

This adds cynical disingenuosity to the companies’ arrogance.  Blocking robocalls doesn’t even begin to render businesses unable to reach customers for informational purposes.  Business employees are fully capable of making telephone calls themselves, rather than relying on their bots—but that would require the business to have an actual human on one end of the call actually having to interact, live, with the customer.  This might be inconvenient to the business employee, but that’s singularly unimportant.  Even the cost increment from using a live person on a real phone call is the customer’s call to make, not the employee’s.

Business employees are fully capable of sending emails—even though customers are fully capable of recognizing spam and having those automatically filtered.  If an employee doesn’t want his email filtered, he’ll make it look like serious business correspondence rather than gussying it up with advertising and other froo-froo.  Software makes mass emails—even serious business emails—fast and simple and leaves the process cheap.

Business employees are fully capable of writing letters—they have their customers’ snail mail addresses on file as a matter of course.  If an employee doesn’t want his letter to go straight into the trash or recycling unopened, he’ll make his letter look like a serious business letter: he’ll have his name and return address (both, mind you) in the upper left corner of the envelope, and he won’t gussy up that envelope with advertising or other froo-froo.

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