Misdirected health-care calls flood business


The angry voice coming from a Wednesday morning robocall caught Amy Canady’s attention.

“This man’s voice so horrified me, I thought, I have to hear what this guy has to say — he’s just so mad,” said Canady, 50, a bank-compliance officer who lives in Seattle’s Maple Leaf neighborhood.

The voice asked Americans to do everything in their power to help end Obama­care and to dial 1 to add to a petition to keep the Affordable Care Act from being funded.

Canady, a Democrat, preferred to call the number mentioned at the end of the message to add herself to a do-not-call list.

But when she called the number she’d written down, the co-owner of a small video-production company based in Seattle’s Leschi neighborhood, John Givens, 69, picked up.

He told her he couldn’t put her on a do-not-call list because he’s the executive producer of Small World Productions, the creator of nationally broadcast travel shows such as “Travels in Europe with Rick Steves,” and had nothing to do with the conservative Super PAC associated with the robocall, America’s Next Generation.

Givens and his wife, Ann Conroy, 64, have been picking up dozens of phone calls from all over the country and saying the same thing for more than three weeks.

Since Conroy took the first call, she’s spoken to many who weren’t nearly as calm and open to listening as Canady was with Givens.

“I saved one message yesterday, but they kind of shake me up, so I deleted it,” said Conroy.

She called their phone company to see if it could do anything to make the calls stop, but its customer-service department said it couldn’t.

Canady wanted to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission but was reminded by both its website and phone number that no complaints could be processed during the government shutdown.

Contacting America’s Next Generation itself requires a little digging. Its website doesn’t list a phone number or way to message the group with anything but a request for a bumper sticker or to join its email newsletter.

The “about” section of its Facebook page does list a general email address. The Seattle Times used that and phone numbers on federal records to contact the organization. Lance Davis, treasurer of America’s Next Generation, called back Wednesday afternoon to say the automated message didn’t list the wrong phone number.

He said callers must have been writing or dialing incorrectly. The Small World Productions number has the same number but a different area code.

The correct number is 1-855-325-7111.

The ordeal at least granted Givens a few opportunities to tell callers about his actual political beliefs and problems with Obamacare — ones quite different from those listed in the robocall.

“My biggest problem with Obamacare is it doesn’t go far enough,” said Givens. “I would be in favor of a single-payer system myself.”


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