Letters to the CATSBOX
Latest update: June 11, 2005

Meet "Junker," the official anti-telemarketing cat. Junker manages the C.A.T.S. BOX, the place where we receive your e-mail.

We get some interesting comments around here from our more litter-ary viewers. Junker has used his scoop to pick out the more interesting droppings that you all have sent in.

Junker insisted that we post some of your comments, so we let him have this page, with the understanding that your last name and e-mail address be kept private. We warned Junker that if he gives that information out, he's in the dog house!!!

To e-mail Junker, click here.

We received this e-mail as a result of our "Quote Of The Week" from June 5, 2005. We asked the sender if he (she?) wanted us to post his (her?) e-mail address with their letter, but we were not answered. The letter is posted as received.

Hey Bob:

Not to be critical (too critical anyway) But you are definately TWO FACED.

First you BASH telemarketers then you PRAISE a politician for "Her efforts" in this article:

We wish you luck with your efforts Ms. Foxx. Let us know when you run for President. At least our phones will be left alone.

She's TELEMARKETING no matter which way you look at it. (Even if it's a "live voice" as she puts it, It is STILL TELEMARKETING). Are you trying for brownie points with a politician?????????????


PS: I dare you to PROMINENTLY publish THIS statement on your website!!!

Politically Correct is

Personally Incorrect

We responded to the e-mail....

Your letter will be posted this weekend--in our letters section--as you wish!

As far as Ms. Fox goes--if the candidate wants to PERSONALLY call, I have no problem with that. But when they send mindless pre-records (that often break the law) that is another story.

Would you like a copy of an FCC ruling against our former California Attorney General? He sent thousands of pre-records when he ran for Governor and every last one violated the law. We did a news story on KRON TV (NBC in San Francisco) and two days later he lost the election. I suspect that his illegal behavior cost some votes. I could e-mail FCC ruling to you if you wish.

May I post your e-mail with your comments? They will be posted either way but I do respect your privacy. Come to think of it--It's too bad that most telemarketers won't do the same when it comes to our privacy.

Finally I note that you ended your e-mail with the phrase:

Politically Correct is

Personally Incorrect

I agree with you -- Politically Correct is, in reality, Neither.

Thanks for your comments

Robert Arkow
Californians Against Telephone Solicitation (CATS)

We received this letter in our inbox on February 10, 2005. We will keep the author's name and e-mail confidential.

Mr. Arkow; fascinating website you've got there. I'm here to tell you a story.

I happen to be an ex-telemarketer. I was what one would call a 'phone pro.' I did phone sales for a living, on & off, for seven years; the biggest mistake I ever made in my life.

It is my belief that telemarketing is the most vile, evil business on the planet Earth. I have more respect for pornographers than I do for the phone sales industry. You may have heard other comments from former telemarketers-nobody hates that business as much as we do.

There is a national 'Do Not Call' list out there now; I've heard that lots of telemarketing companies ignore it-that wouldn't suprise me at all.

Here's something else; I saw that letter on your website from a telemarketer, on how 95 percent of the people who worked there were disabled-yeah, right, unless being a drunk is a disability. Most professional telemarketers are alcoholics; they drank themselves out of legitimate jobs, & became telemarketers because of that. Believe me, I know; I've seen it.

It's been a long time since I bugged people for a lving, & I will never, never, work at that horrible job again. My apologies to all of those that I annoyed when I did that.

One final thing; if any parent finds out that their son or daughter has accepted a phone sales job, threaten to disown them; you'll be doing them , & society, a favor.

Mr. ER writes to us.

Hello. After retiring I became even more frustrated with telemarketers and began to keep very clear records of each call. In July 2002 I began to sue those who violate the law. So far I have been 100% successful in my arguments before the court and 100% successful in collecting the judgment. In the last week of October I have 4 cases to present to the court and I have a number of others "in the pipeline" as far as gathering evidence and documentation that they 'knowingly and willingly" violated the law. When they call me telemarketers quickly realize they called the wrong person. I have the passion, the time and the resources to go after them.

Telemarketer says that he enjoys consumer anger on his job.

Hey Bob,

I just wanted to say that it's too bad you hate telemarketers that much, but for me, being a telemarketer, it's people like you we love the most. I mean come on, the most exciting calls we make are the people we piss off. So, I just wanted to say thanks for making my job more interesting!

Gerald D.

C.A.T.S. comment: It is bad attitudes like yours that give the industry such a bad name. Some consumers turn their anger into dollars.

We at C.A.T.S. have one request: Telemarketers should obey the law. Of course we suspect that you disagree with that, especially when it comes to providing a copy of your company's written "Do-Not-Call" policy upon demand.

By the way, when we responded to 'Gerald's' e-mail, it came back as a phony address. Seems that TM's don't want to identify themselves either.

A telemarketer responds...

(C.A.T.S. Note: When we post a Quote Of The Week, we usually call the person after hours and leave a message on their voicemail that they are the "Quote Of The Week." This is the response to our quote on January 2, 2000. To see the quote click here.)

Subject: quote
Date: Mon, 3 Jan 2000 09:28:19 -0500
From: "TPG TeleManagement" <defalco@telepg.com>
To: <catsbox@jps.net>

While your anonymous voicemail did drive me to your web site, I find it cowardice to leave a message without identifying yourself. It doesn't matter whether or not you agree with the quote from Mr. Repholz. I still thought we have freedom of speech in this country. You probably have never created a statement worthy of quoting, except on a web page that you design and finance. I simply find it disappointing that the human species still possesses such ignorance. I am hopeful that no member of your organization is responsible for a complex function in life, such as handling heavy machinery, developing legislature or running a business. My guess is that you definitely do not function is the business sector or in producing elements of our GNP. You're probably middle managers with little responsibility or power and this is your way of proving yourself worthy.

Lisa DeFalco
President and CEO
TPG TeleManagement, Inc.

C.A.T.S. comment: Did we hit a nerve, Ms. DeFalco?

He sued the LA Times and WON!

Recently won $1500 from the LA Times. Clueless judge didn't write a decision, NOR make any notes in the file, so I don't know why he ignored an additional $3000 worth of valid violations (is that an oxymoron? ;) ). Thanks for your help! I used Arkow v. B of A as evidence that you can tally up a violation even though the call itself is permissible.

Wayne S.

A telemarketer's sad story

I work in the industry and have been for 7 years due to disabilities that I have which this is the only work that I can do. In the last couple of years due to the Internet and this new consumer law that has been passed your organization and many others have been trying to shutdown the industry. You can not and never will be able to! 95 % of the people that work in the industry are mentally and physically disabled like me and cannot get SS Benefits. I can't get SS benefits due to the fact that I have a high-level college degree. I have 50 plus people that I know that l have degrees like I have and due to their disabilities cannot do any other type of work. People that do this kind of work are not scumbags like you and all of these so-called do-gooders are trying convey. You seem to feel that we spend 100 percent of our life bugging people and we do not. Some of us have a life and families.

A lady where I was working that I called that lived in Seattle was so mad that I called her and got her number that she told my supervisor that I called her a bitch and I did not. She bitched to all of the authorities and the headquarters where out head office was and got me fired, she knew that I did not do this. But her anger was so great that this was the only way to unleash it and get her justice. There are so many other things in life like the problem with high taxes, the schools, the environment and welfare fraud that need to be attended to and people are resorting to this being their only goal in life to get the telemarketers fired. This mean and angry and sick lady in Seattle has destroyed my life and cause me to have my unemployment benefits denied and cause my career to go down the tubes. I am two weeks from being on the street due to her actions. I had to last week check myself into a hospital for depression due to what this has done to my self-esteem and everything. Because of this woman, my career and everything that I worked so hard for is gone. I don't get it. The telemarketers are the little guy.

Consumers are entering tons and tons of contests, filling out tons of warranty cards and buying a record of stuff mail order but yet the telemarketer gets blamed for calling them when it is the fault of the consumer. (Lady in Seattle) You have ruined my life. What happened to you was not my fault. I did not call you a bitch. YOU ARE A DAMN LIAR. You know you are. How can you look at yourself in the mirror every day when your life is good and perfect and you have plenty of money and you know where your next meal is coming from knowing the hell and pain that you have made me go through. How can someone do this to someone and outright lie about it because their life is so fouled up. My life is ruined and I will never able to get it back due to the actions of one woman that could not control her anger.. I sent this to you so people across the Internet can know what happened to me and what is beginning to happen to the industry. Telemarketers lives are being destroyed......

Pamela S.

C.A.T.S. founder Robert Arkow responds:

Dear young lady:

Let's get a few facts straight. You were not sold into slavery (although working as a telemarketer is the next best thing), you accepted your work voluntarily. This "new consumer law" you refer to is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which was brought into effect in 1992. (C.A.T.S. was founded in 1997). The reason it is "new" is because the telemarketing industry for years ignored the law and, for the most part, still does. If not for the efforts of organizations such as Private Citizen Inc., Consumer.net and C.A.T.S., the law would be unknown to most Americans today, which is just what the industry wanted. At the time I appeared on Dateline NBC in November 1995, most people had never heard of this law. But thanks to Dateline NBC and other news media, the public is learning its rights under the law.

You say that 95% of the people who work in the industry are mentally and physically disabled. I was recently invited to tour a call center; not once during that visit did I meet any disabled employees. Perhaps your figures are in error.

I read the trade papers and magazines, and I note that telemarketing companies are having a very difficult time recruiting employees. It seems to me that a person with a college degree would be in great demand. A quick look in the yellow pages under "telephone sales" or "telemarketing" would easily get you a job. The reality is that during this boom economy, many people who have traditionally done (outbound) telemarketing are seeking other jobs due to the awful working conditions in the telemarketing industry.

As for your checking into a hospital for depression, that is usually covered under your state's workman's compensation laws. Clearly your depression was a direct result of work, and as such, it would be a legitimate claim.

Finally, your statement that the telemarketers are the "little guys" is simply not true. The majority of calls in violation of the law come from America's corporate giants. Case in point: Last year, I received a call from a small company selling home window replacements. When I asked the caller for his "Do Not Call Policy," he had no clue as to what I was talking about. Realizing that he did not know the law, I invited him to view my web site. He called two days later, offered to fax his new "Do Not Call" policy to me, and asked if I would check it for compliance. Could I have sued him for a quick $1000? Easily! Did I sue him? NO! Why? Simple: Our mission at C.A.T.S. is to educate telemarketers and the public as to the rights and responsibilities of the industry and the consumer. On the same note, when I am called by a Fortune 500 company, it takes a battle and a lawsuit to bring compliance. In most cases they won't even return a phone call from their legal department unless you file a lawsuit!!! So to suggest that telemarketers are the "little guy" is simply not true.

I hope you find another job, preferably with an agency that does inbound telemarketing. Many of the outbound service bureaus are now turning to the inbound side of the business, where I suspect people are happy to talk to them. Who knows, if we end outbound telemarketing, there will be more people available to take calls, so we won't have to listen to recordings that tell us "your call is important to us," and similar dribble.

Being fired from a telemarketing job is not a disaster, it is a blessing. I believe you can (and should) do better than that.

I wish you well,

Robert Arkow
Founder, C.A.T.S.

A few months later she sent us an e-mail asking about the survey vs. sales rules. We responded with the information she wanted. A week later we got this letter from her:

Thank you so mch sir for taking the time for such a datailed explanation of the Telepone Survey versus the "Do not Call rule". I apologize for just sending this thank you to you now. My service on my WEB TV had been shut off due to non payment. Now that I am working again I was able to now finally pay these people through till September of 1999. You sound like that you are a very kind and considerate man that really stands up for what you believe in in a cause and I commend you for what you are trying to do for trying to stamp out the intrusive telemarketing industry. What happened to me in getting fired left me with a bad taste in my mouth overall about the telemarketing industry as a whole. I have had several friends since I last e-mailed you that have also got fired from phone jobs. They do not give a damn about people. To them you are just a number to be discarded and thrown away. Telephone rooms are dysfunctional places to work. My good friend was not doing anything but trying to get mortgage leads. He just wanted to work 20 hrs a week because he does not need the money and telemarketing is so tedious that the average person cannot work more than that. They said that he had to work more than 20 hrs a week or be fired. He tried to explain to them that he did not need the money and they let him go. That is the kind of dysfunctional places that they have here in Portland. Due to what has happened to him and myself, I do not ever want to work in telemarketing ever again. I hope that you succeed in your cause to try and shut itdown. The calls are intrusive and people should not have to take them. If phone rooms don't treat people better than that-they should not be in business at all if they are going to treat people like crap. I thought that you might like to know that I won my unemployment case. I have you to thank for it because you gave me the courage to stand up for what I believe in. The judge at the unemployment office beleived me that I did not call that lady a obscene name. I got $625 in back benefits plus benefits for the next few weeks until this job starts in June.

Thank you so much Mr Arkow for seeing the good in me and believing in me. I would have never got out of telemarketing if you did not write all those good things about me. Thank you very much Keep up your fight and the good work.

Pamela S.

(We wonder if she went to one of those meetings where you stand up before a group and say: "My name is Pamela, and I am a telemarketer!)

Some viewers comment and thank C.A.T.S.

Thanks so much for the great job and providing the public with this information. At last something that might work and give me some peace again. Every night when I come home from work there are at least 5 "hang up" calls on my answering machine. I even had caller ID installed last month to try to find out who these callers are. No luck. They are always busy when I try to call back, or I just get a "blocked #".

Thanks again. I will try your remedy.

MS. CY - Ventura, CA

I don't have a quote for you, just a huge THANK YOU for giving me what I need to stop the constant flow of telemarketers that hound our phone day and night.

Mr. Bruce A.

Another telemarketer speaks....

I worked for Apac in Cedar Rapids IA in 5 years ago. They attempted to force me to scam and threatened my job if I didn't. I didn't and found another job. There are reputable telemarketing firms out there. Apac and Idleman ruined it for many.

Junker, being the curious cat that he is, asked for details.....

The idea was pretty simple. Our client was Citibank and we were selling a Hospital Insurance Program (aka citi bank H.I.P.) I was one of two insurance agents selling the program. Our Center Manager and supervisor would order a monitoring station pulled up next to us dedicated to our calls. Citibank wanted to make sure their product wasn't misled so a verbatim scripting was ordered as part of the contract. Our C.M. and sup told us with the monitoring station no one could listen to us and we were told to "Do what it takes". This includes being very gray as to what is going on as the Sup. demonstrated for us. with such closes as "All were asking is that you review the policy for thirty days and go from there. If it isnt exactly what you need simply call the 800# on the certifcate and let us know. Ok?." Then we were to turn on the tape recorder and speed read the fine print.

In addition to this my roommate at the time was also an agent. We were licensed in accidental health and life and property and caualty. We did not have commercial licenses in Iowa (e.g. no other state either) One particular state accidentally issued Chris a commercial license. Apac Management told him to use this and sell in that state against his better judgement (if cuaght he could suffer fines and I believe jail time-not to mention public humiliation as the insurance industry publishes the names and offenses of all wrong doers.) He did this for about a day and then refused. A week later he was fired for something quite inconsequential.

Hope this helps you out. There are many people I have contact with that have similar and even more bizarre experiences. This type of thing is par to course for that company and yes... I watch the stocks too...and LAUGH!!!

The comment about the stocks is about the fact that APAC Teleservices has fallen from over $50/share to under $5/share.

She thinks it's the C.A.T.S. meow......

Your site is the best humor I have seen in a long time! It is nice to know that a nice guy like you is trying to protect consumer's from these "hounds" from hell!! It is a shame that people can't even pick up their phone in the eve (after a long day) for fear it might be the "telemarketer from hell." Thank god for caller id!!


Mrs. "S"

 Thanks for the kudos, Mrs. "S"!

Here is a letter a little off topic, but this guy is fighting back too....

I like to tape a brick to their postage paid reply envelopes with "do not solicit" on the envelope. Believe it or not, they take you off their list when you do that.

Mr. "Tom"

For those of you who don't have bricks, I guess you're stucco! (Sorry... Junker made me write that.)

Taped us on TV....

I'm slow but I'm thorough. I heard that KRON (San Francisco's channel 4) was going to feature you back in November so I taped the show and have finally gotten around to playing it. Found it only so/so for usefulness. I knew most of the information except for your group CATS. Unfortunately they mentioned that you had a web site but never gave the address for it! You might want to ask future interviewers to be sure to do that.

It took some searching but here I am! Your site has the actual information I have been searching for. Bravo!

I don't know if you can do it but I would like to see a list of habitual offenders somewhere, and perhaps names/addresses for taking them to court. One of the things I have found is that the group I am "dealing" with won't give out information (including where to send a summons, where they are located, etc.) The company is Trends West a timeshare sales group. I know they have an office in Walnut Creek but that is not where the calls originate for. Who do you have to serve to go to small claims court?

I have a log going back some time on them, averaging 2 calls a month. You ask them to stop and they do... for about a month!

Thanks for one of the more useful web sites!

Clint C.

Actually, all telemarketers are timeshare sales groups... it's your time they're sharing!

You don't have to go to the main office to sue a company in California. You can serve them by serving a manager, supervisor, or "person in charge" at a place of business that is operated by the defendant.

Here in Los Angeles County, you can have the Sheriff serve the subpoena ($20-expensive), or the court can serve them by certified mail ($6-cheaper); or best yet, have a friend (over 21) serve them at the place of business (free - if he's a true friend).

If you really want to have fun, have your friend serve them while you have a video camera running (pretty soon you'll be running too) or better yet, someone from the local TV station with a camera. Serve the defendant and ask for their "Do Not Call" policy, while the camera is rolling. It makes great copy - and studio cameras are insured for breakage!

Likes the script.....

Thanks for the script and the tips to avoid the future calls. They are so annoying and disturbing to the peace and enjoyment that I would like. Each phone call you think that it is old aunt Bessie with a heart attack or something.

I used to tell stock broker calls that I would buy their 200 pork bellies or whatever, but also that I was filing for bankruptcy/divorce next week. That got rid of a lot of them.


You may be onto something, BZ. I used to ask the newspaper telemarketers for the Braille edition.

Junker the cat is waiting for your comments too. To e-mail him, click here.