ASPCA’s Use Of Telemarketer To Raise Money Turns Off Connecticut Donor Tired Of Daily Phone Calls

January 4, 2013
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For more than 10 years Mark and Susan Fineman of Cheshire donated regularly to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.aspca

But after weeks of daily phone calls from Telefund, a fund-raiser for the ASPCA, the couple is debating whether they will continue to make donations to the charity formed in 1866 to protect animals from abuse.

Mark Fineman says he would not mind if charities called him directly for donations, but he is particularly upset when they hire major fund-raisers like Telefund, which then repeatedly calls his home without identifying itself and without leaving a message. The couple are on the Do Not Call list, but charities and politicians are of course exempt.

After receiving scores of unwanted phone calls on behalf of politicians prior to the election, Mark Fineman thought he would get a break.

But then he began receiving daily calls from a number he did not recognize. He let the calls go into voice mail but there were no messages left. His policy is to not answer those type of calls since the probability is high there are from telemarketers After several of the calls, the retired psychology professor from Southern Connecticut State University Googled the telephone number and discovered that it was one of the numbers Telefund uses.

He also found scores of complaints on the Internet against Telefund for similar issues, including hang-ups when the consumer answers the phone.

At that point he contacted CtWatchdog asking whether he could take any action to stop the calls that he had been receiving for weeks.

I asked him to check to see if there are any charities or organizations that has a connection to that might be clients of Telefund.

A quick check on the Telefund website showed that ASPCA is one of its clients.

Telefund’s client list includes many liberal and progressive national organizations.

Its Internet site says it is or has raised money for such groups as the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Democratic National Committee, NAACP, National Organization for Women (NOW), and Obama for America.

Telefund did not respond to a request for comment. It has an F rating from the Better Business Bureau for declining to respond to three complaints the BBB had received.

The BBB did have an answer as to why consumers get so many hang ups from telemarketers: it is referred to as predictive dialing.

“Your phone rings in the middle of dinner. You race to answer it only to find silence or the “click” of the calling party disconnecting the call. This scenario is probably repeated in thousands of homes each evening.

“The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) receives many complaints about “predictive dialing” by telemarketers. Predictive dialing is when a telemarketer’s automatic dialer simultaneously dials more phone numbers than the telemarketer can handle if all of the called parties pick up at the same time. Oftentimes, the first person to answer his or her phone is connected to the telemarketer, while the rest are disconnected.”

The ASPCA did respond and confirmed that it had provided Fineman’s contact information to Telefund.

“We had his wife’s info because she is a donor, and that’s why we shared it with Telefund, who then in turn contacted her on our behalf. Telefund would only ever have called her on our behalf, not on behalf of other organizations,” said ASPCA spokeswoman Alison M. Jimenez.

As the result of the complaint she said the ASPCA has contacted Telefund and asked that the Finemans be removed from all contact lists.

“For the record, we honor all requests from donors regarding solicitation preferences, and all it takes is an email or phone call to let us know how they prefer to be communicated with and we will update records accordingly,” she said.

But she declined to comment on Telefund’s practice of repeated calls without a message being left.

“I’m sorry, I really can’t comment on the particular practices of another company,” she said.

As most of us know the Do Not Call list provides little protection from these unwanted phone calls. But one thing consumers can do is to trace the telephone to the telemarketer and demand that their names be removed from the calling list. If the calls continue you can file a complaint with the FCC at www.fcc.gov/complaints.

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8 Responses to ASPCA’s Use Of Telemarketer To Raise Money Turns Off Connecticut Donor Tired Of Daily Phone Calls

  1. John on January 4, 2013 at 10:31 am

    So wait, where’s the part where you prove it’s the ASPCA? You’re saying this guy is a frequent donor and doesn’t mind calls asking for donations. Then you say his problem is this company calling and hanging up. How do you know it’s related to the ASPCA? It could be anything if they’re not leaving a message. This company works with other nonprofits I’m sure. If the ASPCA is the only org he’s ever donated to, then that’s evidence. But it’s not proof. You could just as easily replace “ASPCA” with another nonprofit or organization this telemarketing company works with.

    • George Gombossy on January 4, 2013 at 10:37 am

      John, thanks for your note. I would urge you to thoroughly read the story again. ASPCA agrees that the calls were made on its behalf.
      this is the relevant portion:
      The ASPCA did respond and confirmed that it had provided Fineman’s contact information to Telefund.
      “We had his wife’s info because she is a donor, and that’s why we shared it with Telefund, who then in turn contacted her on our behalf. Telefund would only ever have called her on our behalf, not on behalf of other organizations,” said ASPCA spokeswoman Alison M. Jimenez.

      • John on January 4, 2013 at 10:44 am

        That statement from the ASPCA spokeswoman is pretty open-ended. She said they provided Fineman’s info and the telemarketers contacted on the ASPCA’s behalf, not that the calls he’s getting where people hang up or don’t leave messages are specifically about donating to the ASPCA. It could just as easily be from another group. You’re basically concluding it’s the ASPCA because the ASPCA is one of the groups this telemarketing company works with and Fineman has donated in the past, so of course his info was provided.

  2. Ed P on January 4, 2013 at 11:06 am

    John must be a nitpicking lawyer. I’ve received calls like that from other organizations and I’d pu t money on the fact it is on behalf of ASPCA. Even if not, they gave the information to the telemarketer and thus, are responsible.

  3. Tony on January 4, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    I not only receive those stupid telemarketing calls continuously I also receive MAIL! What’s worst with Mail is you have to tear/rip all your information from the solitarians before you can discard! Sometimes I will put all the paperwork back into the Reply envelope and send it back with a note to remove our names. As far as the phone calls…I have almost if not all given up on stopping this nonsense. I am amazed at how many companies within CT and outside of CT CALL OUR HOUSE!
    Now when giving to charities we get a money order!! True
    the ascpa sent LABELS I mean a lot too. I had to shred that nonsense. I hate cats so any picture with a cat on it would in no way be sent out by me.

  4. Glenn on January 5, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Good luck calling http://www.fcc.gov/complaints for help. I have tried that, and they are asleep at the wheel, like most government agencies.

    Plus donating money to a place like ASPCA is not the best place, since they seem to use a large percentage of donations for administrative costs, which I think goes in the ceo’s pocket.

    Plus you don’t think those telemarketers are working for nothing, do you? They will get a nice piece of your donation.

    Remember the Humane society shake up? The ceo was making millions a year, while cutting funding to animal shelters, and when he was exposed, they gave him a big bonus, and a retirement package, as a gift for a job poorly done, and swept the whole mess under the carpet.

    I am a dog lover, and I donate directly to the local shelter in my area. At least I know it is being used for what I intended, and I can see with my own eyes, the good work they do.

    Glenn

  5. No Simple Solutions on January 6, 2013 at 8:40 am

    I don’t like to complain to those that can’t do anything about a problem. The FTC is reviewing a plan I submitted to reduce how many calls can be made by robocalls.

  6. Richard Stoer on March 15, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    We’re also being harassed by calls from the ASPCA every half hour – up to ten times a day! I emailed them about this practice and they never responded. We’ve given to them in the past – probably how we got on the list – but will NEVER do so again!
    No telemarketer has ever harassed us this much for this long. There are other charities and other ways to help animals. I’m seriously thinking of suing…

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