Oh, the irony

The telemarketers don’t like unwanted calls.

Syndicated columnist Dave Barry’s Aug. 31 article on telemarketers may have been in jest, but it’s been no laughing matter to the American Teleservices Association, which blames the article for jamming up its toll-free number.

Barry’s article, titled “Ask not what telemarketers can do to you” in the Miami Herald where it was originally published, included the ATA’s toll-free telephone number and invited readers to call and “tell them what you think.” Hundreds of newspapers also published the article, which was distributed by Tribune Media Services.

The article generated thousands of phone calls to the ATA number, said Tim Searcy, ATA executive director. As a result, the association switched the number, which it formerly answered live, to a voice recording. The recording advises callers that the organization is unable to take the call because of “overwhelming positive response to recent media” and asks that they leave a message.

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Though meant as a prank, the Barry column has had harmful consequences for the ATA, Searcy said. An ATA staffer has spent about five hours a day for the past six days monitoring the voice mail and clearing out messages.

Story, via Brooke.

Oh, and here’s the column.