By Harry McCracken | Friday, May 15, 2009 at 10:36 am
I don’t claim to be an expert on religious theory, but I am reasonably confident that there’s a special circle in Hell reserved for the sleazeballs behind those automated cell-phone calls that attempt to trick you into thinking that your car warranty is about to expire as an excuse to sell you a new extended warranty.
I’ve lost track of how many of them I’ve received, but my blood pressure shoots up every time I answer my phone and discover that it’s not only a robocall, but a lying, cheating robocall. (They’re dialing randomly, of course: My car warranty lapsed long ago, and I’ve heard from friends who don’t have drivers’ licenses who get these spamcalls.) To make matters worse, some of the calls are not from warranty peddlers, but rather from identity thieves.
So it’s heartening to hear (via Daring Fireball) that the FTC is finally cracking down on two companies behind the scam. I don’t, however, understand why it took so long for the agency to take action when this has been going on for eons, or why it’s apparently responding to the fact that New York Senator Charles Schumer received a warranty robocall last week. Thirty thousand Americans who hold no elective office had already griped about the calls–I woulda hoped that the FTC would have stepped in by the time, oh, let’s say the five thousandth complaint had been lodged.
If thirty thousand people were moved to file complaints, who knows how many have received the calls? The two companies the FTC is acting against apparently made $10 million in ill-gotten gains, but their biggest crime may have been wasting untold thousands of hours of time of the people who received the calls and had to listen to ’em. Even those who, like me, got really good at hanging up three or four words into the recorded scam.