Time Warner Offers “Nomorobo” — a System That Blocks Robo- and Telemarketing Calls

Cable company Time Warner has unveiled a new option for customers looking to stop unwanted telemarketing and robocalls.

The technology, called Nomorobo, has been integrated into Time Warner’s site, allowing for a quick, one-click way to “turn it on and enjoy more peace and quiet.”

Technology options like this were mentioned back in June, when the FCC held its mid-year TCPA clarification hearing. Several commissioners described the technology as a consumer-friendly way to escape the perceived constant pressure of intrusive calls.

“With robocalls being the largest category of complaints at the Federal Communications Commission, we want to do everything we can to empower our customers to take control over the calls that come into their home,” said Jeff Lindsay, GVP and General Manager of TWC Home Phone. “Nomorobo, along with several other privacy features we offer, provides our customers peace of mind in knowing that illegal telemarketing and robocalls calls won’t get through.”

The system, as described by Time Warner and Nomorobo, is this: the service allows incoming calls to be routed to up to five different telephone lines. The call rings in the home and simultaneously at Nomorobo’s servers. If the number is on a so-called “blacklist,” the call will end after one ring.

insideARM’s perspective:

This news came in via a press release, one that touted the benefits of Nomorobo, but didn’t necessarily give any thought to some of the negatives.

Collection agency calls are often lumped in with robocallers — and certainly, the TCPA, designed to protect consumers from robo- and telemarketing calls, has long been interpreted to encompass collection agencies, too. But contact from collection agencies differs in a fundamental way from contact with, say, a time-share offer or sales of home security systems: collection agency calls are intended to work with consumers to resolve their obligation to a creditor.

While avoiding calls from collection agencies may appear to bring some relief to consumers who are feeling harassed, it is a short-term fix to a long-term problem. It’s not in the best interest of a consumer. Not speaking or working with a collection agency puts that consumer at risk of being sued in court over her past-due bill. What Time Warner is offering is, on the one hand, yes, convenient; but it can actually harm some consumers down the line.

By Mike Bevel