I’ve been on the national Do Not Call List, which telemarketers are supposed to consult so they know not to bug me, for over two years now. (Can a libertarian rationalize being on that list? I gave it a shot here and here around the time I signed up.) I still get calls from charities, which are exempted. But there’s one other class of telemarketers who still periodically call me with sales pitches for straightforward commercial offers: Spanish language telemarketers.
Now, pretty much the only people who call me and start off speaking Spanish are my father and my aunt, and I recognize their voices. So when I pick up the phone and hear someone I don’t know ask (undeterred, though sometimes a little perplexed by the fact that I’m answering in English) for “el Señor Julián Sánchez,” I steel myself for a pitch for English lessons or a Spanish-language newspaper, or some other thing geared toward Hispanics. This probably happens about once a month.
Now, there’s a Spanish language Do Not Call registry and complaint mechanism on the Federal Trade Commission website, but I’m pretty sure it’s all one list, and that all telemarketers are supposed to consult it. But despite these reasonable enough efforts at accomodating Spanish speakers, it’s a pretty safe bet that they’re less likely than English speakers to be signed up, and less likely to complain if they get sales calls anyway. My guess is that some of these Spanish language telemarketing companies are just playing the odds and figuring that they can play the odds: Don’t bother checking the list, just call up people with Hispanic last names, and assume they’re just never going to complain. (And I guess they’re right: Despite the fact that I’m posting this, I’ve never bothered to take down the name of the company and register a formal complaint—and I speak reasonably good English.)
Admittedly, telemarketers probably occupy one of the less awful concentric rings of hell. Still, it seems skeezy of these folks to exploit their fellow Hispanics’ institutional detachment to flout the law.