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July 8th, 2009 Katie Litvin | News Stories
 

Call Hating

Bothered by Robocalls from “Ed Ecology”? You’re Not Alone.

     
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Nothing ruins dinner more than a whiny, prerecorded telemarketer call.

But when the robocaller is dispensing “no-duh” environmental tips of the day like, “Use a ceiling fan instead of air conditioning to save energy” or “Take TriMet instead of driving,” the aggravation can reach new heights.

“The messages are nonsensical. They don’t tell you who’s behind it all,” says Portland resident Patrick Magee, who started getting those unsolicited calls three months ago with no associated name or company, other than the caller ID reading “Ed Ecology.”

Every 10 days, Ed Ecology leaves him another message, always ending with the line, “This has been a public service announcement.”

Magee has written about the subject on his blog, plmagee.com, and collected 37 comments, including one from “Lucy’s dad,” who wrote: “…the audio quality of some of these calls does not seem to come from ‘state of the art’ equipment. It sounds like a kid with a cheap tape recorder on the other end of the connection.”

The Oregon attorney general’s office has received 15 complaints about Ed Ecology this year, and another three about the company, Lucre Inc., that owns the phones leased to Ed Ecology. All of the complaints concern automated dialing by a telemarketer or calling people on the national “Do Not Call” registry.

“If you do get one of the calls, call [the Consumer Hotline] or use the consumer complaint form to report that someone violated the Do Not Call List,” said a representative from the attorney general’s consumer hotline at 1-877-877-9392. “We can do something if we find the person, send the business a warning letter, but we don’t know who this is.”

Michigan-based Lucre owns a large number of phone lines that businesses can lease in bulk. Lucre officials say you just have to call Lucre at 616-361-0128 and mention Ed Ecology’s name to be assured that your number will be removed from the calling list.

But the question remains: Why does Ed Ecology call week after week with inane tips?

Since the calls don’t include an organization’s name, contact information or mention of a product, it doesn’t seem like the calls could be making any money.

Conspiracy theorists might guess Ed Ecology’s intentions are somehow political. But Lucre officials won’t reveal who is behind the pseudonym Ed Ecology, at least not without a subpoena, they said.

And don’t blame TriMet, either.

The transit agency says it had nothing to do with these calls and did not authorize use of its name for them.

“We are as annoyed as our customers,” TriMet spokeswoman Bekki Witt wrote in an email, “that this robocalling tactic is being used.”

 
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