Website, phones jammed on Day 1 of do-not-call list registration

So many people were trying to sign up their phone numbers Tuesday on the first day of registration for the federal do-not-call list, the website crashed at one point and the phone lines were busy.

So many people were trying to sign up their phone numbers Tuesday on the first day of registration for the federal do-not-call list, the website crashed at one point and the phone lines were busy.

The popularity of the list, whose registration went live Tuesday just after midnight, was not unexpected.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has projected that of Canada's 27 million residential phone lines, which include cellphone numbers, 16 million would be on the do-not-call list within two years.

However, it's possible the CRTC didn't expect so many people to try to register in one day.

By 1:30 p.m. ET, more than 223,000 people had registered using the phone and internet, according to CRTC spokesperson Denis Carmel. Although the website went live at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, it crashed eight or nine hours later.

"It's way beyond anything we'd expected," Carmel said.

"On the telephone side, more than one million people tried to access the system. It's clearly over any estimation we had done."

He asked people to be patient and perhaps try registering on another day if they couldn't get through Tuesday.

Commenters to expressed frustration at not being able to register, but not all of them were surprised at the breakdown.

"It appears the do-not-call registry site was so popular it brought down their server. I am getting … page cannot be displayed errors," wrote Alienc, of Riverview, N.B.

Coping strategies readers suggested a variety of ways to exit annoying phone calls. Some are downright funny, while others seem so successful they might be worth trying, since the do-not-call list does not mean a total end to marketing calls.

  • Acadiewoman wrote: "Whenever I answer the phone and a telemarketer is calling, I usually say with my most profound french accent: 'Sorrry ... I Kan'ts speakke l'englitch.' That usually does the trick.''
  • QuebecAnglo of Lorraine, Que., wrote: "Friends of mine with young children simply hand the phone over to their three years olds who just LOVE to chat with telemarketers."
  • QuebecAnglo added, "I often get the sales person going and then put down the receiver. This is usually good to keep them occupied for about a minute. Then you hang up."

Old-fashioned practicality

  • Dee1965, of St. John's, N.L., had this to say: "I found a simple solution for a mere $24 a year — an unlisted number. In the five years I've been unlisted, I've yet to receive a single telemarketing call. Well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well worth the 24 bucks."
  • NameDoesntmatter, of Vancouver wrote: "Here's a thought: register for a 1-900 number and whenever a business wants your phone number, give them that. Make a little money off the solicitors. :-)"

Bell Canada, which is responsible for operating the list, worked to get the website back up, but offered projection as to when that would be.

By Tuesday night, however, the site was again accepting registrations.

Two polls Monday suggested that between 60 per cent and 72 per cent of Canadians surveyed said they intended to add their phone number to the list.

At least one commenter to questioned why the federal government couldn't build a website that could handle the high traffic.

"Come on people! With a national list everybody wants to be on being promoted on the airways as starting today, did you honestly think their servers would be able to handle the millions of hits it was bound to get today," wrote Dmiddle, of Winnipeg.

"I knew from the get go that this was going to happen, so I have no plans to sign up for at least a couple weeks."

Once it's operational, the do-not-call list may not make as much of a dent as some Canadians are hoping, since much telemarketing is done by companies that are exempt from the ban, meaning they can continue to call someone who has registered on the DNC list.

Cable customers may find themselves fielding the occasional call from a cable company about a cellphone or a bank, which may call to sell insurance or credit cards. If people have donated to a registered charity in the past year, they may receive calls for other upcoming charity events.

The CRTC said on its website that once people have registered, telemarketers have up to 31 days to update their lists and to make sure they do not call you, meaning people could still receive calls within 31 days of registering.

Telemarketers will face fines up to $15,000, however, if they call once the list is operational.

People can register their phone numbers in two ways. They can sign up online at or call the toll-free numbers 1-866-580-3625 or 1-888-362-5889 (for the hearing impaired).

With files from the Canadian Press