"You don't want to call people like me - period," says Pro-Consumer TSR Prosecutor Todd Winninger. "I'll send you a demand letter for $500, which you'll ignore, then I'll take you to court for treble damages starting at $3200. Your lawyer will cost four times that, and I'll win. And I'm just a consumer. It's amazing how phone marketers still call when I've filed in almost every court in South Florida. That's insane. To include me on any calling list."
We don't get to talk to the "enemy" very often.But consumer call prohibition prosecutor Todd Winninger is happy to chat. He feels strongly we're both on the same side, as we both want folks to respect the telemarketing laws. "I just want to be left alone," he says. "And I want phone marketers to honor my wishes."
Well known by many South Florida Judges, Todd claims he doesn't do anything to entrap or fool telemarketers. Just waits - until they call. He's very nice about it. "I need to know everything about your product because my wife won't let me buy your services otherwise," he tells callers. Milking them for information to help hang them with later on.
He even prefers live callers...
"Because real life solicitors make mistakes - and tell me what company they really represent, or give me enough other information to bring them to court. You can't do that with robocalls" he says. "I only swat the flies that come through my window - I don't go looking for a fight." But apparently enough insurance salespeople, carpet cleaning specialists, financing companies and phone marketers calling on behalf of names like Capitol One and Wells Fargo give him plenty of ammo. Mostly under the Do Not Call Laws.
"All I've done is place my number on the Do Not Call List, and nobody seems to care...They call me anyway. Like clock-work." Sure enough, we've seen an uptick in landline solicitations, as most of the attention is on cell phones and TCPA class actions these days. The change has afforded Todd a few extra bucks, and he loves it. "I've probably gotten $45,000 in the last few years doing this. I always learn something; I have a passion for it - and my wife loves the extra cash," he says.
"I get calls from the class action guys looking for the big bucks after I win," he says. That's where they hang out, as complaints are published each week by the FTC and CFPB. I'm doing research now on going after that group. But the money is pretty easy with my current method."
"I enjoy taking telemarketers to court in a kind of demented way...
You've got to be a bit unbalanced to get satisfaction out of this - But if folks would just follow the phone laws, I wouldn't have to. Ultimately, the money is not my main motivation anyway."
We'll talk more with Todd next week on the nuances of making your life miserable under the plain old fashioned Do Not Call Laws. Nothing fancy. No baiting, filling out web forms to entrap or lying. (Well maybe a white lie or two.)
In the meantime - don't slack off on your Do Not Call List Scrubbing. It's the beginning of Compliance with the Telephone Sales Rule. And take a look at specifically not calling folks like Todd with how to eliminate former Do Not Call and TCPA Litigants from your calling lists - Bob