- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 4, 2002

A Northern Virginia man fed up with repeated telemarketing pitches won more than $1,000 last week after he took one frequent caller to court.
Richard "Dick" Dingman of Vienna began keeping records of the calls he received last year after Virginia's telephone-solicitation law went into effect. Under the law, telemarketers are required to take a resident off their call list if the person requests it.
Mr. Dingman asked telemarketers for See-Thru Windows not to contact him anymore last July, but continued to receive calls. In 11 months, Mr. Dingman and his wife, Ann, received nine calls from the company.
They wrote down the first and last names of the callers, the date and time of the calls, and the phone number and the address of the company, which residents must have if they want to file a complaint against a telemarketer.
"Each time, I told them to put me on their no-callback list," said Mr. Dingman, 67.
When the company ignored his request, Mr. Dingman went to Small Claims Court in Fairfax.
As his case worked its way through the system, Mr. Dingman said he got a lot of support.
"The clerks at every stop were delighted," he said. "'Right on. Go get them,' they'd say. 'We're tired of this.'"
The judge had a similar reaction May 17 after ordering See-Thru to pay $1,000 and $30 in costs to Mr. Dingman. The judge told Mr. Dingman he wanted to take a copy of the law home to his wife because they were always getting telemarketing calls.
On June 25, Mr. Dingman received a check from See-Thru Windows, which has offices in Virginia and Maryland.
Charlie Brown, owner of See-Thru Windows, did not respond to repeated calls for comment. A secretary at his Rockville location said he was out of the office and would not return until next week.
Virginia's law is similar to those adopted by 30 states and being considered by the other 20.
Many states compile a list of persons not to be called and enforce the law instead of leaving it to residents disturbed by the telemarketers to file complaints in court.
Louisiana authorities reported $8,000 in fines were collected in the first two months after their law went into effect early this year. More than 244,000 residents were on do-not-call lists, and 200 had complained.
Nationally, the Federal Trade Commission is preparing do-not-call regulations that would apply to interstate telemarketers. Violators could be penalized $11,000 per violation of the regulations expected to begin early next year, said Mitch Katz, an FTC spokesman.
Telemarketing companies have lobbied against the laws, most of which exempt charities, nonprofit companies, insurance firms, banks and, sometimes, political callers.
Telemarketing reportedly generated $660 billion in sales last year, and it is the second-largest industry in Iowa, North Dakota, Utah and West Virginia.
Back in Virginia, Mr. Dingman is ready to do battle again with those that disrupt his dinner and interrupt his TV shows.
"We're putting together a case against another company," he said.

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