CUMMING — A south Forsyth resident was awarded $5,000 on Monday after a judge ruled that a local business had made many marketing calls to the man’s home although he’s on the federal Do Not Call List.
Timothy Snow, who represented himself in Forsyth County Magistrate Court, maintained that south Forsyth-based Pinnacle Home Improvement LLC called his home repeatedly between October and early February.
Marshall Karschun, an attorney representing Pinnacle, first argued that Snow had no proof he was on the no-call list. He asked the judge to dismiss the case.
Judge Roger Bauer agreed that a document Snow had presented was not sufficient evidence, but accepted his sworn testimony that he had signed on to the list prior to the call dates.
During the hearing, which took about three and a half hours, Snow presented audio recordings of two of the calls, as well as several photos of the caller ID screen on his home telephone, which identified Pinnacle’s number.
James Marino, one of Pinnacle’s managing partners, testified that telemarketing is one of the tools the company employs. But he contended Pinnacle follows all Federal Communications Commission rules for the practice by purchasing lists of phone numbers from Cole Directory, a nationally known distributor of marketing phone lists.
Marino testified that all lists bought from Cole are “scrubbed,” meaning they have been compared to the federal Do Not Call List. He said Cole is also supposed to update the list every week.
In addition, Marino said all Pinnacle telemarketers are trained to tag any number in which the person answering says they’re on the no-call list or do not want to receive future calls from the company.
Snow countered that he told Pinnacle representatives on three separate occasions that he was on the no-call list. Both of his audio recordings backed that up.
While he didn’t know for certain, Marino suggested that one of the call center employees may have improperly tagged Snow’s phone number, which put it back into the system.
Snow was seeking $15,000 in punitive damages and legal fees from the company, but ultimately Bauer awarded $5,000 to Snow for the two calls he believed were made after Snow had told representatives he was on the no-call list.
“The defendant, to his credit, has set up systems that should have removed the plaintiff even if it somehow fell through the cracks and got onto his list,” Bauer said. “His policy to take the person off once he’s been called, I think that’s an excellent policy on the defendant’s part … but here it failed.
“How are we going to enforce this law if we don’t have some teeth to it?”
Both Snow and Marino said they believed Bauer’s decision was fair for the most part.
“I think the penalty was a little bit severe, but it is what it is and we’ll continue to do business and get things worked out,” Marino said. “Hopefully, this won’t ever happen again … we do [use] best practices, but sometimes the system fails.”
Snow was “ecstatic about the verdict.”
“It’s more than I expected,” he said. “… And now maybe some other people will say we don’t have to put up with this stuff.”