Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Butler Did It Device Offers Quick, Polite Way to Say No

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Butler Did It Device Offers Quick, Polite Way to Say No

Article excerpt

Kenneth Jursinski was gnashing his teeth, waiting for the news he hoped would close a $50 million deal, when his secretary said he had an urgent call.

He snatched up the phone.

"It was some guy trying to sell me stocks and bonds," Jursinski grumbl ed. "I hung up and said, `Enough!' " Four years and $250,000 later, Jursinski is selling a device he has designed to thwart telemarketers. "I wanted something polite and fast," he said. "I was raised to be polite and not to hang up on people." His invention: The Phone Butler. When an unwanted salesman rings up, a press of the star button on the phone pad brings the butler to life. The recording, in a gentle-but-firm voice with a British accent, says: "Pardon me, this is the Phone Butler, and I have been directed to inform you that this household must respectfully decline your inquiry. Kindly place this number on your do-not-call list. Good day." And with that, the caller is disconnected. Politely, of course. Although this butler won't draw the curtains or bring tea, it might do something more than get rid of unwanted callers. In the $250 billion-a-year telemarketing industry, about 10 percent of all telemarketing firms, are potentially fraudulent, the FBI says. Americans lose an estimated $40 billion a year to fraudulent telemarketers, and most victims are over 55. "They become victims because simply hanging up is rude to them - it's not polite,' said Leslie Richards, president of the Senior Benefit Association, a Phoenix-based advocacy group for senior citizens. "Some of them just can't say no." And theoretically, saying no is all it takes. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 says a demand not to be called must be obeyed for one year. It does not apply to nonprofit organizations or to cases in which the consumer has an established business relationship with the company the telemarketer represents. …

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