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Stupid Activist Watch: Moronic Convergence

By Ken Magill

08/17/2010

For arguably the dumbest concept ever put forth by a so-called consumer protectionist—and “dumb” in regards to consumer protectionists’ ideas is one stratospherically high bar to attempt topping—consider a post on Consumerist.com recently headlined: “Get Off Junk Mail Lists With Blitz Calling.”

“This is an awesome new tactic for getting off junk mail lists,” began the post. “I just learned it from Phillip, a Consumerist reader I met at the Consumers Union Activist Summit, who is eating a sandwich next to me. He calls it ‘Blitz Calling’ and he's used it to successfully get off seven different junk mail lists that initially tried to ignore him.”

Those junk mail lists can be so rude, can’t they? When junk mail lists ignore me, I just do really obnoxious things like fart and empty my left nostril onto the floor, then they have to pay attention.

And after opening up with an illiteracy, the author presented readers with Phillip’s “awesome” idea: awesome in this case apparently being Consumerist.com shorthand for “so childish and moronic, Patrick the idiot starfish on the cartoon Spongebob Squarepants would think it was below him.”

Ready for Phillip’s awesome idea? Here we go:

“Most junk mail, to comply with regulation, will have a phone number for the company sending it out on it. Phillip calls the number and politely and cheerily ask (author’s typo) them where they bought his address from and can they please remove him from their mailing list. Most of the time they say they can't give out that information and hang up,” the post continued.

“So he calls back. Every hour. On the hour. For an entire day.”

“Each time he reaches them he acts like it is his first time calling, and is just as chipper each time.”

“By the second day of this, everyone crumbles. They either take him off their list or give him the name of the company they bought it from. He then moves on to the seller of the information and he repeats the process until his data is wiped clean all the way back to the originator.”

“Phillip admits he's a bit of a privacy nut, but he just really hates getting junk mail. He also says it wouldn't work on a large company, like say, Best Buy. Blitz calling works because the number that's on the junk mail disclosure goes to one guy, not a call center (junk mail distributors aren't really big on customer service).”

Wow.

It must be quite a rush when barnyard morons meet their soul mates.

First, when you’re doing something once an hour, unless it’s on the scale of firing nuclear missiles, it’s not “blitzing.” Let’s call Phillip’s tactic what it is: “Nudge Calling,” because that’s what Phillip obviously is, a nudge.

As for author’s contention that direct mail contains a phone number to comply with some unnamed regulation, I offer the following: “Um, son, it’s called ‘direct-response’ advertising. The people who send it want a response. That’s why they include a phone number.”

And as for the claim that Phillip’s cockamamie idea won’t work on a big company but when it does, it works “because the number that's on the junk mail disclosure goes to one guy, not a call center (junk mail distributors aren't really big on customer service),” whose mailings can he possibly be referring to? The local dry cleaner? Car dealership?

But let’s assume for a moment that Phillip can somehow magically determine when the number on a piece of direct mail reaches one person. Is it wise to repeatedly harass—no matter how “chipper” Phillip is, it’s harassment—some pour schlub who probably hates his job, likely has no decision-making authority, and definitely has your home address and phone number?

No, and not only is it unwise, it’s just plain mean.

To be fair, Consumerist.com is usually an entertaining and informative read and often does report stories in which consumers have been wronged by corporate idiocy, but apparently idiocy is catchy and has infected one of its writers.

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