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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

A 61-year-old German woman has been fined €800 for blowing a whistle down the telephone at a call-centre worker and damaging her hearing - after she got fed up with constant cold-calls to her house.

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)

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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....".
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