Advertisement

Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : Cable Firm Sued Over Sales Calls : Law: Annoyed with Time Warner Cable telemarketers, Bob Arkow is asking for damages and some peace of mind in suit.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A man fed up with telemarketers has filed a civil lawsuit against his cable company, claiming its representatives have called him repeatedly, despite his requests to be left alone.

Bob Arkow, 44, said he is suing Time Warner Cable in Canyon Country because hanging up the phone doesn’t send the right message. “They wind up saying, ‘This sales pitch he didn’t take,’ and they try to give you the next one,” he said.

Arkow said he was called by a telemarketer twice last year, but did not file a lawsuit because the company gave him $500 worth of free service and promised not to call him again.

But he said he received another call July 14 and filed the small claims lawsuit after several discussions with the company, which offered no compensation.

Advertisement

Scott Binder, general manager of Time Warner, declined to discuss the allegations in the lawsuit stating he doesn’t want to invade a customer’s privacy.

But Binder said Time Warner hires reputable telemarketing companies that do business nationwide, and that they only call customers once or twice a year to sell promotional packages for premium channels.

“We feel most of our customers are not offended,” he said. “I haven’t been taking a large number of complaints.”

The lawsuit, filed in Newhall Municipal Court, seeks $2,000 for punitive damages and breach of contract, plus unspecified legal fees so Arkow can obtain a restraining order preventing the company from calling his home or business. The case is set for trial Sept. 22.

Advertisement

Arkow is used to tackling telemarketers head-on. He belongs to Private Citizen Inc., a nationwide group with about 3,000 members.

The group, which has as its phone number (800) CUTJUNK, sends a membership directory to various telemarketing companies, demanding a $500 fee from the company for any member contacted, said President Robert Bulmash.

“The whole idea is to tell telemarketers to knock it off,” Bulmash said.

Arkow also filed a small claims suit earlier this year against the computer network service Prodigy Services when the company failed to heed his request not to call again. The case was settled out-of-court for undisclosed terms.

Advertisement

In addition, Arkow claims to have successfully battled off most of the telemarketing companies trying to pitch their wares to him. He said his secret is playing along with the telemarketer: complimenting the caller’s professionalism, getting his or her name, the name of the company, supervisors’ names and any other information he can.

Then, he talks to a company supervisor, finding out if the business has a federally mandated do-not-call policy that requires the company not to make any subsequent calls to a customer who makes such a request. Arkow said many companies don’t--but the threat of legal action ensures they don’t call again.

Arkow also has taken his case to City Hall by drafting a proposed ordinance making it illegal for telemarketers operating within Santa Clarita to call people without their written permission.

*

Advertisement

Santa Clarita Mayor George Pederson said he has given Arkow’s ordinance to city officials for legal review, although he doesn’t know if the matter will ever come before the City Council.

Pederson said he “supports the idea” of what Arkow is trying to do, but would prefer a less restrictive policy that would prohibit companies from callings residents who ask not to be contacted. This is similar to what already exists at the federal level, he said.

Besides, Pederson said he already has a foolproof system for handling telemarketing calls, at least from one company who calls often.

“I lie to them every time,” he said. “I say, ‘No hablo Ingles.’ ”

Advertisement


Advertisement