Posted tagged ‘telemarketing’

Complaining to the FCC

May 6, 2009

fcc_complaint_redact

I filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission. I understand they enforce complaints made regarding unsolicited phone calls that violate the TCPA. I was encouraged by their questions (e.g. was this call pre-recorded, to a cell phone, expressing urgency, etc.). We’ll see what happens.

Here’s the link to do this yourself.

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Tracking another company

May 5, 2009

I found another company behind one of the auto-warranty calls! I realize it’s not hard to do now, so I suggest anyone who gets these calls to do the same. That way you can file a complaint against the company. Here’s the info:

fidelity_mag

Fidelity National Warranty
804 Meadowbrook Dr., Suite 100-B
Olathe, KS 6602
1-877-847-7799

Here’s what happened:

I get the call. I press 1. I speak to a rep. I tell them a car model and year (VW Passat, 2000).
I get transferred to a representative named Jimmy.
Jimmy asks me the same questions, tells me he can get me a warranty.
I tell him my battery might die, so I need his number to call back.
Jimmy tells me he can call me.
I tell Jimmy I don’t know the number of my landline, so Jimmy gives me his number: 1-877-847-7799 x128
I ask Jimmy the company, he tells me it’s Fidelity National Warranty.
I look it up. Bingo, it’s a company based in Oathe, Kansas.

Here’s info I gleaned from the Kansas business directory

Entity name: FIDELITY NATIONAL WARRANTY, INC.
Entity ID: 4268728
Previous Names: PATRIOT WARRANTY COMPANY, INC.
Current Status: ACTIVE AND IN GOOD STANDING
Current Mailing Address: 804 MEADOWBROOK DR SUITE 100-B , OLATHE, KS 66062
Date of Formation in Kansas: 12/22/2008
State of Organization: KS
Resident Agent: MICHAEL J. FISCHER
Registered Office: 11000 KING , OVERLAND PARK, KS 66210

So it’s a company registered in Kansas that formed in December 2008. I wonder if they were something else before then. A search for Patriot Warranty (the previous name listed) comes up with the same entity on the Kansas directory.

What this means:
As theorized by a commenter, there seems to be some kind of third party service responsible for the illegal auto-dialing that connects to various companies that want to sell auto insurance. One time it connected me to Automotive Warranty Protection Services, aka National Dealers Warranty Inc., (based in Missouri, currently being sued by Verizon – although not the company that settled). This time it connected me to Fidelity National Warranty (not to be confused with US Fidelis, aka National Auto Warranty Services, which WAS one of the companies that just settled with Verizon).

I agree with that commenter that the company in The Netherlands that was named in the Verizon suit is probably behind this third-party company. A search for that company – Tele Europe, B.V. – comes up with a couple of different phone numbers. I tried one and it gets to a different company, but apparently that company is in the same building as Tele Europe. I just spoke to the guy who answers that phone and he gave me the building’s reception number. I tried calling, but it’s after business hours in the Netherlands, so I’ll have to wait until tomorrow.

In the meantime, I will ask the Verizon rep who was on the Brian Lehrer Show if he’ll give me a contact for Tele Europe. Then we might get closer to the source of these illegal calls.

If anyone has any other suggestions, please keep them coming.

If you’re interested, here is some other information I got from the call:

(more…)

Tracking the call: Advice for you.

April 30, 2009

Yesterday National Auto Warranty Services, one of the companies that sells warranties through telemarketing (also known as US Fidelis), settled a lawsuit with Verizon for $50,000 and a promise to stop calling Verizon customers. Some news outlets are suggesting this will put an end to the calls. It will not. As I showed on this blog, companies other than NAWS/Fidelis are behind the calls.

Because of that story, I was on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show, talking about my story, along with a rep from Verizon.
I thought that by telling my story, other people would be able to track down the calls and file a complaint once they could prove which company it was. But I realize it’s not easy to get the information you need to file a complaint, so I figured I’d post this advice.

When you get the call,

1) Press 1 to speak to a representative.
2) This representative is unlikely to give any info about the company, so just tell them you are interested in the warranty. If they ask for a make and a model of a vehicle, give them one.
3) You will be transferred to a person who can give information about the company, so do whatever you can to get his phone number. I told them I had to call back with the mileage of the car and that my battery was dying. Only then did he give me his number.
4) Google the number. It should lead you to a website for one of the companies.

Now you should have the info you need. If you’re unsure of which company it really is, post it here and I will help (I’ve done lots of research into the various company names).

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.

CALL 2: What’s the model?

April 20, 2009

car_wreckAfter my last experience, I thought maybe they’d take me off the list. But no. 2 days later I get the same lady speaking in the same urgent tones telling me I only have one more chance to renew the warranty on my vehicle.

I press 1 again and get through to a representative. This time it’s a guy and he has an Indian accent:

HIM: Do you want to renew your warranty?
ME: I’d love to.
HIM: What model is your car?
ME: I don’t actually have a car. Does that matter?
HIM: What model is your car?
ME: I don’t actually have a car. But I might buy one.
HIM: What year is the car?
ME: I don’t have it yet.
HIM: What year is your Dodge car?
ME: I don’t actually have a car. But what if I want to extend the warrant on my friend’s car?
HIM: What year, sir?
ME: Can I ask you where you are?
HIM: What year is your Dodge?
ME: I don’t have a Dodge. Can you tell me where you guys are?
HIM: hangs up.

So I didn’t get as far as last time. And this guy didn’t even want to tell me his name (unlike “Porshe” who I spoke to last time – next time I might say I want to speak to Ferarri.)

Based on the comments, and the reaction from anyone who I mention these calls to, this is a pretty widespread scheme. I’m going to try calling the AG’s office and maybe the FTC.

CALL 1: My name is Porsche

April 20, 2009

porsche_pic_smAfter dozens of calls to work, home and cell phone I pressed 1 to speak to a representative. Here’s what happened:

I got through to someone who called herself Porsche from Warranty solutions
She asked me if I’d like to extend my warranty
I said I don’t have a car
She said ok, we can take you off our list
I said, I want to know how I ended up on the list
She said they get the list from major manufacturers,
I said I don’t have a car, have never owned a car, have never attempted to buy a car
She said they get the list from major manufacturers, but sometimes they get numbers in error, hundreds of them
I said I’d like to speak to a supervisor
She said “I am the supervisor”
I questioned that
I said who pays you
She said she does
I said “you work for yourself?”
She said yes
I said who are all those people in the background?
She said other operators in a transfer center in Georgia
I said, do they all work for themselves?
She said yes
I said I’d like to know who pays her and all the other people
She said that’s personal, would I like it if she asked me that?
I said I’m not the one calling to sell something and I wanted to know how they got my number
She said from the major manufacturer list
I reminded her I don’t have a car
She said we try to sell warranties if your warranty is expiring
I said, who is this “we”
She said, me and all the people in the background
I said I really want to know who pays them
She said she had been on the phone for 7 minutes and was going to end the call
I said, please bear with me.
She hung up.