Connie Szefczek (Pronounced "Sef-check")
Connie Szefczek is the "Rosa Parks" of the anti- telemarketing movement. After receiving numerous calls from a local paper, she sued and won $2000.00. She later appeared on Dateline NBC, interviewed by staff reporter Len Cannon.
Dateline NBC tells her story best:
Ms. CONNIE SZEFCZEK: A lot of people, I'm sure, don't even know about this law.
CANNON: (Voiceover) Connie Szefczek is one of the few people who have tested the law in court.
Unidentified Telemarketer #3: (From phone) Have you received a copy of the Hillsborough Beacon this week yet?
CANNON: (Voiceover) Szefczek asked the local New Jersey newspaper to stop telemarketing her, and she thought they would. But the calls kept coming, six in a nine-month period.
Ms. SZEFCZEK: Telemarketers are the electronic equivalent of the salesman who sticks his foot in your door. They think just because you have to answer the phone in your own home that they are then free to give you their spiel. I resent that. I very much resent it.
CANNON: (Voiceover) She had more reason than most to be resentful. At the time the newspaper was calling, her husband was terminally ill in the hospital. With each phone call, her heart would stop.
(Photo of the Szefczeks; hospital)
Ms. SZEFCZEK: So, of course, every time the phone rang, you know, I thought it was bad news, because he was on a life-support system.
CANNON: (Voiceover) Finally, Szefczek gave the newspaper an ultimatum.
Unidentified Man #1: (From phone recording) If you'd give me one more chance, I would ask for one more reprieve.
Ms. SZEFCZEK: (From phone recording) I will give you that one more chance, but if it ever happens again, I will see you in court. This is your last chance, so don't blow it.
Man #1: (From phone recording) OK.
Ms. SZEFCZEK: (From phone recording) Goodbye.
CANNON: (Voiceover) But the paper did blow it, and three weeks later, called back again. So this New Jersey grandmother, acting as her own attorney, filed suit under the TCPA.
(Ms. Szefczek in court)
Ms. SZEFCZEK: I think they thought, `Here's this little nobody, you know. We'll just come in here looking important and scare her off.' But I didn't scare off.
(From trial) Now, how do you explain the fact that your--your `Do not call' list failed not one, not twice, but five times after I complained?
Man #1: (From trial) I really can't explain it. It's--as I said, it's inexplicable.
Ms. SZEFCZEK: (From trial) Mm-hmm. OK. No more questions, Your Honor.
Unidentified Judge: OK. I find there was a violation on...
CANNON: (Voiceover) It took her three trips to court and 11 months, but Szefczek finally won.
Judge: ...and accordingly, I am going to fine them $500 for each time, for a total of $2,000.
Ms. SZEFCZEK: David slaying Goliath? No. That didn't occur to me. It was just me and this jerky newspaper. A housewife, and they had a certified civil trial attorney. That in itself was gratifying. I hope I don't sound too much like I'm gloating.
Courtesy of Dateline NBC. © 1995 NBC News
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