• Germany edition
 
Woman fined for blowing whistle into phone
Photo: DPA

Woman fined for blowing whistle into phone

Published: 22 May 2012 15:55 GMT+02:00
Updated: 22 May 2012 15:55 GMT+02:00

The unnamed woman from Pirmasens in the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate told a judge in a local court that she was so annoyed by the unending stream of calls from marketing companies last August that she snapped and blew a whistle into the receiver.

She was hoping just to deter the company from calling her again, but ended up giving herself a criminal record - and the female call-centre employee long-term hearing problems and tinnitus due to the effort she put into the high-pitched blast.

Finding her guilty of bodily harm, the judge fined the 61-year-old €800.

She initially appealed the fine but decided to pay it shortly before a hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

DPA/The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

16:25 May 22, 2012 by lucksi
Soo, did that stop the calls? If so, totally worth it.

Also, I doubt that the 800 Euro is more than 90 days of her income, so she doesn't have a criminal record due to that fine.
16:30 May 22, 2012 by AirForceGuy
Although I cannot condone this behavior, I can definately relate to it!
17:15 May 22, 2012 by twisted
Germany needs a "DO NOT CALL" program to avoid this type of situation. I can understand the woman's frustration, being constantly harassed by these unwanted calls, but like the AirForceGuy, I can't condone what she did. On the other hand, what can one do?
17:23 May 22, 2012 by kan-san
maybe she should sue the company for undue stress and loss of peace due to all the unsolicited calls? Germany is big respect for a persons peace and quiet right?!?
18:59 May 22, 2012 by JenDigs
Maybe someone else out there knows if there is such a thing as a "Do Not Call" program in Germany? (If so, please advise how one gets on the list!)

I found one method which causes no harm to anyone has has definitely cut down on the # of unsolicited calls I receive- I speak only English and tell them I do not speak German... They usually then ask if my husband speaks German, I say no and they thank me and hang-up... I'd have to say, since I started doing this, I've seen a reduction from 1-2 calls per day to 1-2 per week...
21:09 May 22, 2012 by starsh3ro
i always redirect calls like this to an expensive service number
01:14 May 23, 2012 by DarkScribe
The whole issue is a scam on the part of the caller.

It is impossible for a phone headset to damage hearing. They can reproduce a frequency, but not in sufficient volume to damage hearing. If you fired a pistol next to a telephone microphone while someone was listening at the other end, they would just hear a deep thump, but not at a volume sufficient to even make them jump. Telephones have very little power with regard to output levels. (You need a powerful amplifier to make loud sounds.) They also have a shunt across the line to prevent spikes from things like lightning strikes.

The Judge/Magistrate had no idea about the technology involved.
01:14 May 23, 2012 by gorongoza
The 61-year old lady should counter-sue for stress caused by the persistent caller.

The judge should fine the caller 1.600 EUR for the stress inflicted on the lady - her action (blowing a whistle into the phone) speaks of somebody under stress.

Personally I am contemplating sueing such callers for harassment and disturbing my peace - their calls are not solicited at all. In their view we live for them and we should always pay attention to them as though we owe them something.
02:11 May 23, 2012 by rfwilson
@DarkScribe

You are absolutely correct. Telephone systems and telephone handsets actively limit the loudness of the sound they reproduce. This safety feature has been in place ever since telephony began a century ago. It is not possible for telephone to damage one's hearing as a result of excess loudness. The judge in this case is ignorant!
04:24 May 23, 2012 by bob searcy
in the usa we have no call lists available. even then scumbags and frauds out of india manage to call several times a day . i would twist one of their heads off if given the chance. forget tinnitus..

the judge is wrong about the possibility of hearing damage and shows no empathy with the woman being driven mad by unwanted calls. if he didnt live in such a privileged and insulated world he would understand the helplessness and frustration these calls can cause. this ruling should be overturned and the lady awarded BIG money for mental anguish..
10:19 May 23, 2012 by wood artist
In the US this procedure was actually recommended long ago, although it was aimed at prank callers, or perhaps obscene calls. However, I can certainly see it being used on sales calls too. I have no idea how capable a typical telephone handset or headset is, but I suppose hearing damage is possible. I'd leave that up to others.

As others noted, in the US there is a no-call list, and, interestingly, an actual court case. A man went to court complaining about the calls. His basis was that he had a handy with a limited minutes plan. Since incoming calls counted, the caller was using the time he paid for. There was already a case where a company had sued for unwanted faxes, claiming it wasted their paper and toner and therefore it constituted theft since the source had been warned...in writing.

Using that as a precedent, the court ruled that if the caller violated the no-call list, and used the man's time, they were stealing from him. The company was found guilty. Not sure that would work in Germany, nor on a land-line that doesn't have limited minutes...but...it's an idea.

wa
10:42 May 23, 2012 by Johnne
Yeaaah right..typical of the german justice system. The victim is always the offender/guilty one while the offender turns the victim because he/she filed for complaint first.
13:46 May 23, 2012 by gkh50
@rfwilson

Sadly its not the judge (which I have not much respect for German judges who can, if possible, become one at 28yrs old) but the stupid defense lawyer . From my experience, German lawyers are more like secretaries and if you do not instruct them exactly what to do. Then you lose.

German justice system is well, upside down.
16:24 May 24, 2012 by raandy
Although I have not seen a study to verify this I would agree that noise through a telephone would be highly unlikely to cause hearing loss.

A telephone can be and often is a rude instrument, ringing when eating, sleeping watching your favorite game ,playing a game with family, helping your child with ome work ect. To get up and answer a ringing phone to hear some telemarketer on the other end is cause for whistle blowing or if possible to pull the person through the phone to give them your unbiased opinion of the call.
21:19 May 24, 2012 by BlueWolf
When I lived in the UK, I got a cold-call form someone selling conservatories. I kept them on the phone for 10 minutes and asked them to come around the next day, to which they were most excited.

As I stood there looking out of my second floor window of my apartment, I wondered why they hadn't visited me yet.

Never heard from them again.
08:02 May 25, 2012 by bullsballs
telling them to come out has stopped many callers in my area. the best was the vice prez training a new sales person for a basement de-watering system. I have a 'Michigan basement' which is stone walls and dirt floor, there was no way they could de-water my basement, and I told the vice-prez I would invite them back every time they called again, the calls quit real quick!
10:44 May 25, 2012 by Sugarmommydate,com
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
16:12 May 25, 2012 by couchtripper
I've got a lot more respect for people begging on the street than these rancid excuses for human-beings who work in telemarketing. They're scum. They steal our time in order to make a profit for themselves. I hope more of them are forced to stop working.
15:29 May 30, 2012 by lawra
any of you guys have worked in a call center, have you? If you don't like telemarketers, you can always HUNG UP, really, it's not so hard
18:33 May 30, 2012 by Spike3
The marketing person intruded upon her home and was unwanted there. Similarly, I'm sure the goofy "justice" system would have fined her if the marketing person jumped over her fence, armed with sales brochures, and got bit by her dog.

You try to be polite, but the dedicated marketing swine take anything other than being hung up on as a sign you still might be talked into a sale.

I worked in sales for a week and quit because it made me feel like a parasite.
19:21 July 10, 2012 by GeekHillbilly
Here in Southeastern Kentucky,I have sued and won several cases against telemarketers whose calls I do not want.

One of my computers now answers the phones and if the number does not match with an allowed caller database I've compiled,they are automatically billed $150 for each minute they tie up my phone line.Perfectly legal.I do computer repairs & some consulting and my time is valuable.Invoices are sent out to the address that a reverse phone number lookup reveals.

It has reduced the number of unwanted calls from over 50 a day to less than 5 a week
13:53 July 12, 2012 by PeteCress
RE/ "Do Not Call" lists

In the USA, DNC lists are becoming increasingly moot as solicitors move offshore and/or hide behind multiple VOIP relays.

I have a collection of lame letters from the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office to the effect that "Sorry, we cannot do anything about your DNC complaing because we cannot trace the call bco VOIP....".
Today's headlines
Fourth time lucky for free Berlin WiFi?
Coming soon? Photo: DPA

Fourth time lucky for free Berlin WiFi?

Berlin's bid to set up a free city-wide wireless network has so far come to nothing. But city bosses are now trying for a fourth time - and hope to have the project running next year. READ  

Opinion
Do German unions have too much power?
Lufthansa passengers rush to change their flights at Frankfurt Airport on Monday. Photo: DPA

Do German unions have too much power?

Germany's pilots and train drivers are taking it in turns to bring the country to a standstill with strikes that have cost the economy tens of millions of euros in the last two weeks. Are unions abusing their power or standing up for their rights? READ  

Older workers can have extra days off, court says
Photo: Workers in a German shoe factory. Photo: DPA

Older workers can have extra days off, court says

Older workers in Germany are allowed more time off than younger ones, a court ruled on Tuesday, saying the difference was not discriminatory. READ  

Expat's family battles for answers four years on
Matthew Fitzpatrick died in 2010 in Mannheim. Photo: Fitzpatrick family

Expat's family battles for answers four years on

In 2010 an Irish computer engineer was found dead in his apartment in Baden-Württemberg. Four years on, his family are still pressing the German justice system for answers. They feel badly let down by police who they say have refused to examine evidence of foul play. READ  

Court: Germany can keep arms deals secret
The judges of the Supreme Court announce their decision about weapons exports on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Court: Germany can keep arms deals secret

The government can keep arms deals secret and only tell the public about them after contracts have been signed, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday. READ  

Tourist finds €7,500 instead of cheesecake

Tourist finds €7,500 instead of cheesecake

Just how honest would you have to be to return €7,500 that you found in a box supposed to contain your favourite cheesecake? READ  

Tanker fills up gas station with wrong fuel
Photo: DPA

Tanker fills up gas station with wrong fuel

Around 160 car owners are stuck after a gas station's storage tanks were filled with the wrong fuel, causing an estimated €100,000 in damage. READ  

Lufthansa strike hits 1,500 flights
Photo: DPA

Lufthansa strike hits 1,500 flights

UPDATE: In the second day of their strike, Lufthansa pilots have, as promised, extended their industrial action to include long-haul international flights until the end of Tuesday. READ  

Merkel tells allies to pay Ukraine's gas debts
Chancellor Angela Merkel in Bratislava, Slovakia, on Monday. Photo: DPA

Merkel tells allies to pay Ukraine's gas debts

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday called on Ukraine's allies to help the war-scarred nation pay off its gas debts to Russia, amid concern over gas supplies this winter. READ  

Steinmeier wants epidemic task force
Frank-Walter Steinmeier speaks at the World Health Summit in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Steinmeier wants epidemic task force

At the World Health Summit in Berlin, the Ebola crisis took centre stage at talks meant to create plans for how to handle future outbreaks. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: Mariana Schroeder
Munich
Special Report: Hope and chaos at Munich's refugee shelters
Photo: DPA
Berlin
Robbers blow up Berlin bank
Photo: DPA
Culture
Can you top our history quiz leaderboard?
Photo: Facebook
Society
German motorcycle gang joins Isis fight
Photo: DPA
Politics
UKIP ‘seeks EU pact’ with German satirical party
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: World's biggest erotic fair opens in Berlin
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Sponsored Article
International School on the Rhine: a legacy
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The ten richest people in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,471
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd