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Max Barry wrote the novels Syrup, Jennifer Government, Company, Machine Man, and Lexicon. He also created the game NationStates and once found a sock full of pennies.

Blog

Sat 29
Sep
2007

Super-awesome

What Max Reckons Joe writes in to point out DirecTV’s wonderfully creative interpretation of the Do Not Call register:

DirecTV is defending automated sales calls to Do Not Call List subscribers as “informational,” and “not telemarketing.” The satellite TV provider recently called customers to say: “Because you are on our Do Not Call List, we can’t call you with all of our super-awesome special promotions.”

This sounds eminently reasonable to me. After all, the promotions were super-awesome. If they were only slightly awesome, I can understand why some people might not want to hear about them. But super-awesome promotions—if anything, it’d be wrong not to let people know about those. Faced with that dilemma, DirecTV’s only ethical choice was to have a computer dial people at home who had explicitly asked not to be bothered and play them an automated sales message.

DirecTV response is via their lawyer Rose Foley, who stresses that since the calls were “informational,” they “fall outside the scope of the Telemarketing Sales Rule and related federal and state laws and regulations governing telemarketing sales practices.” I have to say, I am looking forward to hearing Rose explain the precise informational nature of the phrase “super-awesome.” That’s going to be pure entertainment.

If I was running PR here, though, I think I would put Rose back in her cage and reach for the mea culpa. I’d issue a public apology and explain that the real problem is that here at DirecTV, we’re just so gosh darned excited about our specials, we sometimes forget that not everyone feels that way.

Because the only alternative is that DirecTV knew exactly what it was doing, having being previously fined $5.3 million for telemarketing to people on the Do Not Call list, and it weighed the likely punishment versus the potential sales benefit, valued the time and goodwill of people on the receiving end of these calls as zero cost, and decided it was worth breaking the law. Of course, in this far-fetched scenario, the only reasonable response by the FTC would be to correct this economic imbalance by fining the almighty bejeezus out of them. If $5.3 million doesn’t do the trick, it would have to see if ten or twenty million balances that equation. “Sorry, DirecTV,” the FTC would say. “But clearly regular penalties are insufficient. The only penalties left are… super-awesome!”

Comments

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towr (#1914)

Location: Netherlands
Posted: 4343 days ago

Super-awesome special first post!

Linnea1928 (#2654)

Location: Rosemount, MN
Posted: 4343 days ago

All I can do is giggle ans say, "Oh Max!"
You brighten up my day!!

austin (#2462)

Location: rhode island
Quote: "hmmm...bleh..."
Posted: 4343 days ago

Ah. So that's how you spell bejeezus.

Tyler (#3302)

Location: Florida
Quote: "I think who you are in 2nd grade is who you are for life."
Posted: 4343 days ago

I'm trying to figure out how these companies are getting my cell number...

On a different note, I sold your book, Company, today. Sad to say that it was the only copy at my store (Books A Million).

A girl was returning Lullaby; she had already read it and it was a gift. I told her I was a big Palahniuk fan, and she asked me if I had any suggestions. I suggested Company... go me.

Machine Man subscriber Max

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "I'm my number one fan!"
Posted: 4342 days ago

> Ah. So that's how you spell bejeezus.

Yep, that's how I spell it.

Tyler, nice work. A lesser man would have suggested a different Palahniuk book.

larzini (#2836)

Posted: 4342 days ago

Wonderful post. Super-Awesome, even.

Linked here from my blog, <a href="http://thisblogismyblog.blogharbor.com/blog/_archives/2007/10/1/3263500.html" target="_blank">thisblogismyblog</a>. I guarantee at least one more person will read it who otherwise wouldn't have. I am fairly certain I will bring you no more readers than that from my post. Full disclosure.

Rod McBride (#688)

Location: Gardner, KS
Quote: "www.MidwestRockLobster.blogspot.com"
Posted: 4342 days ago

The machine wants you to be happy. If you fail to be happy, you will be used as a reactor shield.
--Old Gaming Proverb

Machine Man subscriber David (#1456)

Location: Sydney, Australia
Quote: "Why are the pretty ones always insane?"
Posted: 4341 days ago

Super-awesome penalties like jailing the VP of Marketing and the company's CEO for a third offense might make them think twice too. Perp-walk them, and broadcast it on... DirecTV!

Michael Ricksand (#2212)

Location: Terra
Quote: "You do not have a right to be stupid."
Posted: 4340 days ago

Heh. So calling people in order to make them, eventually, buy things is not telemarketing? And they've been told before "Don't call us, OK"? There's no way they'll be able to defend that. I'm just wondering how much money they'll lose. And hoping it'll be a lot.

Yenzo (#829)

Location: Secret underwater pyramid base in the Pacific
Quote: "In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe (Carl Sagan)"
Posted: 4336 days ago

Kinda like those guys trying to make you some cool special offer on the street, holding a leaflet in your face all the time. Once I told him right away that I'm not interested and he kept following me down the street telling me about the offer. What exactly did he expect me to do?

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