Final Warning, part one

As of April 18, 2008, my telephone number has been listed on the National Do Not Call Registry. Telemarketers -- except for political organizations, charities and telephone surveyors -- are required by law to leave me alone.

Unfortunately, I'm still getting endless "final warnings" telling me the warranty may have expired on my laughably old car. One of these calls was captured by my answering machine, so I can provide a transcript, though the first few words were cut off.

"... factory warranty on your vehicle may have expired and should be reactivated to protect you against the cost of repairs. If you have not responded to this notification, it's not too late. Please don't make the mistake of driving without a warranty. You are still eligible to reactivate warranty coverage. This is the final call before we close the file. Press 2 to be removed from the follow-up list or press 1 to speak with a representative now about your vehicle."

I can't decide which is more asinine: the notion that my 1990 Ford Taurus should be under warranty or the suggestion that I should attempt to remove myself from a "follow-up list" despite the assurance that "this is the final call."

A quick Internet search indicates I'm far from alone in receiving these calls, and attorneys general in some states are issuing warnings to avoid buying expensive service contacts from scoundrels who target random suckers.

I thought it would be fun to contact the Federal Trade Commission and file a complaint, since this company is obviously not supposed to call me and has no intention of removing me from its list. For my patriotism in reporting this willful disregard for Federal law, perhaps I'll receive a medal and/or a check from whatever legal settlement might occur.

"We need the date that the company called you, and the name or phone number of the company that called," a friendly recorded voice told me when I called the FTC. "If you do not have this information, we cannot take your complaint."

Since I don't have caller I.D., and the company did not identify itself, I decided to do the honorable thing and provide the FTC's answering service with false information. My hope is that maybe this will trigger an investigation in which a human being will talk to me.

That's right, in order to prevent certain machines from calling me, I'm calling other machines and asking for more calls.

Paul Lundgren is a newspaper columnist and a very nice man. His e-mail address is paul @ geekprom.com.