The robocaller who dialed one time too many

Senator Chuck Schumer got a call telling him his car warranty was about to expire. Suddenly, the FTC is dragging a telemarketer into court. If only we all had such power!

By Andrew Leonard
Published May 15, 2009 7:54PM (EDT)

I'm betting I'm not the only person who has been driven to distraction by robocalls claiming either that my car warranty is about to expire or that my credit card interest rates can be lowered. If you press "one" to get to a live representative and then ask to be put on their do-not-call list, you will be hung up upon. If you ask to know the name and location of their company, you will be hung up upon. If you ask to talk to a manager, you will be hung up upon. If you scream bloody murder, you will be hung up upon.

The telemarketing operations behind these scams are so obviously illegitimate that it has been a source of endless stupefaction to me that somebody just doesn't do something about it! Forget about fixing health care and stopping global warming. Just free me from torture of endless robocalls, please!

Well guess what, Josh Marshall flagged a New York Times item reporting that Senator Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., was on the receiving end of one of the car warranty pitches recently and he got so mad he instructed the Federal Trade Commission to get medieval on their robocalling butts.

The FTC's legal complaint, dated May 13 and filed with the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, can be read here. It is a joy to read.

23. Since at least 2007, Defendants, directly or through one or more intermediaries, have initiated outbound telephone calls to persons who previously have stated that they do not wish to receive an outbound telephone call made by or on behalf of the seller whose goods or services are being offered.

Oh, the horror.

After reading the multiple allegations of customer abuse, fraud, and worst of all, "illegal dialing practices," I don't think that a certain Christopher Cowart, the director and/or owner of Transcontinental Car Warranty, is going to come out of this business unscathed. Justice will be served.

But Chuck, if you're listening, your work is not yet done. There's still those credit card interest people. Can you do something about them, too? Because they call me every, single, day and I am about to lose my mind.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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