No, Your Phone Didn’t Ring. So Why Voice Mail From a Telemarketer?

The New York Times

Frank Kemp was working on his computer when his cellphone let out the sound of Mario — from Super Mario Bros. — collecting a coin. That signaled he had a new voice mail message, yet his phone had never rung.

“At first, I thought I was crazy,” said Mr. Kemp, a video editor in Dover, Del. “When I checked my voice mail, it made me really angry. It was literally a telemarketing voice mail to try to sell telemarketing systems.”

Mr. Kemp had just experienced a technology gaining traction called ringless voice mail, the latest attempt by telemarketers and debt collectors to reach the masses. The calls are quietly deposited through a back door, directly into a voice mail box — to the surprise and (presumably) irritation of the recipient, who cannot do anything to block them.

Regulators are considering whether to ban these messages. They have been hearing from ringless voice mail providers and pro-business groups, which argue that these messages should not qualify as calls and, therefore, should be exempt from consumer protection laws that ban similar types of telephone marketing.

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