Posted tagged ‘ftc’

Complaining to the FTC

May 6, 2009


Filed a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission with the information on the two companies I connected to the robocalls. Whatever the outcome might be, it certainly feels satisfying.

I’m also encouraged by this notice: “Your complaint has been entered into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database available to thousands of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies worldwide.”
Here’s the link to do this yourself.


A new theory: They ARE working for themselves!

April 23, 2009

everybody_marketingHad an interesting email exchange with internet thinker, Clay Shirky. He suggested that Porsche might NOT have been lying when she told me she was working for herself. Clay says this is part of the trend in industry to outsource tasks to a crowd (“crowdsource“).

Here’s what Clay said:

“That’s where most of the ‘work from home’ links lead to…since no one who signs up to work from home cares about what they’ll be working on, there’s no real way to figure out which of the franchise telework operations are handling the warranty calls by searching.”

This is part of the thesis behind Clay’s influential book, Here Comes Everybody, which continues to help explain the big societal shifts we’re seeing.  Clay:

It used to be that when we saw coordinated activity, we assumed a formal organization was behind it.
Now, because coordination can come from tools instead of managers, you can get organization without organizations.

If Clay’s right, how can the FTC possibly enforce the Consumer Protection Act or even the Do Not Call list when there’s no central organization to charge?

The plot continues to thicken.

PS Thanks to Absurd Delight for the compliments. That blog also has links to some funny YouTube videos of people responding to these callers in what AD calls a “less journalistic” manner than me.

Tracking down the company

April 22, 2009

Hello Buzzfeed readers! Please post stories of your experiences with these calls in the comments here and I’ll make a post out of them.

That Buzzfeed post pointed to a Reddit user (via BoingBoing Gadgets), who dug up info on what that user says is the company behind the calls. The name they came up with? National Auto Warranty Services, Inc aka US Fidelis, Inc.

I spoke with a guy from the Federal Trade Commission today and I asked him about the company. He said he can’t comment on whether a company is under investigation or not, but he was familiar with Fidelis. He also confirmed that any company calling a cell phone is violating the Consumer Protection Act and it’s the FTC’s job to go over such companies.

Stay tuned for more updates.


It is NOT clear if that company is the one implicated. I just spoke to their press person and she told me that they stopped doing what they call “predictive” dialing a year ago. She also said it’s possible that a rival company is improperly using Fidelis’ name.

It’s important to note that the Reddit claim about the company involved has no evidence to back it up and until that happens we shouldn’t point fingers.