Do-not-call list may not be effective, says consumer watchdog

Toronto resident Helen McLarney knows when a pesky telemarketer is on the other end of her telephone.

“I pick up the phone, say hello and if they don’t answer I hang up,” McLarney said.

The long silence on the other end gives McLarney just enough time to hang up before having to listen to a sales pitch.

“It’s a nuisance getting calls late in the evening,” McLarney said. “Especially for families trying to have a quiet dinner together.”

As of Sept. 30, 2008, Canadians can now register their phone number on a National Do Not Call List (DNCL).

According to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the DNCL will allow Canadians to reduce the number of unwanted telemarketing calls.

Bruce Cran is president of the Consumers’ Association of Canada (CAC). “Canadian’s didn’t want to be disturbed by phone calls,” he said.

However, Cran believes that the DNCL call list will not stop the abundance of calls that Canadian’s are receiving. “It will not be effective,” he said.

According to the CRTC website, no organization is exempt from the DNCL. Unsolicited calls for political parties, registered charities, the selling of newspaper subscriptions and calls to conduct public opinion surveys are still allowed.

“It’s (the DNCL) been watered down by parliament,” Cran said.

According to Cran, most of the thousands of complaints the CAC has received include calls from charities, politicians, public opinion surveys and people selling newspaper subscriptions.

With all of these organizations not included on the DNCL, Cran wonders who is going to stop calling.

“All of the people that call are exempt,” Cran said. “Who’s left?”

With the flurry of calls and people registering their phone numbers with the DNCL, the CRTC website is currently experiencing a backlog and high volumes of traffic.

According to the CRTC once a caller registers a number, it is added to the DNCL within 24 hours. Telemarketers then have 31 days to remove that number from their lists.