Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Practical Effects of a "Good" Regulation

I received a phone call this week from a printer who have done work for my firm. He wanted to know about my expected printing for this fall and winter. He normally does several thousand dollars worth of flyers, handout, and mailers each year for my firm's seminars at the local high schools regarding the college financial aid process. The schools appreciate us coming; we give lots of info and helpful tips and most importantly we take the scare out of parents who have built tuition into a gigantic bete noir of their lives.

This year we will not be doing any of that. Our motivation to do it was that we would get our company name out, meet with parents individually, and generate some business directly and also generate alot of goodwill in the community.

This will all come to a stop because of the Federal and State Do-Not-Call Regulations.

To get enough people to the seminar we need to take several approaches. We advertise in the paper, place posters around the school, and send direct mail. That generates a 1% response rate. Not worth my time. To get a 10% response, we would hire telemarketers to call the school's parents and politely tell them about the seminars. This last item was essential. We've gotten many thanks and very little complaints.

Since complying with the Do-Not-Call regulations has made this too costly and takes up too much of our time, we decided to end the seminars.

What are the effects of this?
Four telemarketers will not be hired (they did this for the family Christmas money)
the printer revenue will be down by a few thousand dollars (by the looks of it, this will impact his bottom line hard)
the newspaper doesn't get my ad revenue
the parents don't get the education they need

The Do-Not-Call Regulations stopped all this economic activity generated by my small firm and I'm not sure why. Is a ringing phone a problem that deserves the full force and attention of the Federal Government. I love being in a society whose biggest problem is telemarketers, but is it really a problem? Not for my family. We don't have caller i.d. (What, $2/month) and if we get a telemarketer we politely say "no thanks" and go on with our lives. It just doesn't bother us.

My favorite quote from my book is from John Stuart Mill: "Every departure from (laissez-faire), unless required by some great good, is a certain evil."

Stay you.