Saturday, July 14, 2012

More Cities Consider Bandwagon Jumping Onto Robocalling Movement Targeting Roadside 'Bandit Signs' Peddling Foreclosure Rescue Ripoffs, Other Come-Ons

In Broward County, Florida, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports:

  • More Broward cities have found a new way to drive people crazy, but this time it's the scofflaws they're targeting.

    Following Hollywood's example, cities are going after businesses who scatter their advertising in the public right-of-way by starting a robocalling system — which is essentially serial calls.

    Now Tamarac has started the calls and says it sees a marked improvement. Pompano Beach has agreed to start soon, too.

    "We're hoping this will solve the problem by annoying them," said Pompano Beach Vice Mayor George Brummer. "That's the purpose, to upset them enough and to interrupt their business enough by making the phone calls."

    In Hollywood, where signs abound to buy gold and junk cars, fix your AC or rescue you from foreclosure, pre-recorded messages tell those businesses their signs were illegally placed in a public right of way and must be removed. And if they want the calls to stop, they must go to City Hall — where they'll receive a citation — and fill out paperwork confirming that the signs have been removed.

    Pompano Beach decided last week to jump on the robocall bandwagon. As soon as the city purchases the robocalling software, the snipe sign businesses can expect a few calls.
  • In Hollywood, the calls have worked, said city spokeswoman Raelin Storey. The city's removed 117 signs in March, when it first started the robocalling program; 24 were removed in April and 13 in May.

    "Our code enforcement unit reports an estimated decrease in the number of signs of 90 percent," Storey said. "We believe that as the companies that place these signs began getting the calls, they made the decision that putting up illegal snipe signs in Hollywood was not worth the trouble. The calls have had a deterrent effect."

    Cities and departments from all over the country have called about the program, Storey said. Among them are Las Vegas, Nev.; the Delaware Department of Transportation; Salisbury, Maryland; Chattanooga, Tenn.; and Florida cities Oakland Park, Plant City, Lauderhill, Miramar, and Leesburg.

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