Telemarketing Software Featured Article

Do Not Call List Doesn't Always Stop the Ringing

September 24, 2008
By Tim Gray - Telemarketing Software Web Editor

It seems the unwanted calls come repeatedly, asking consumers to sign up for this or extend the warranty on that.
In fact, for many the calls come every day, even if your cell phone has been added to the federal Do Not Call List. And you know what? Mobile users are flipping the bill in terms of minutes used.

But the issue is; there is little recourse for residents of many states trying to stop telemarketing calls on cell phones.

In states such as Alabama, the law does not give the Public Service Commission regulatory authority over cellular telephone service.

While Alabama law allows exceptions to the federal Do Not Call law, there are many exceptions that provide openings for cell phone solicitors. Exceptions include the companies that cell-phone subscribers do business with and some associated companies.

The state can also require cell-phone solicitors to provide consumers with contact information and set time limits on calls. Other states set limits as low as 10 to 15 seconds before solicitors must hang up.

The federal government has laws dealing with cell-phone calls that make adopting state regulations more complicated.

For many people these days the cell phone is their only telephone service, and often it is this cell number given to doctors offices and hospitals. In Alabama, that opens them to solicitation calls that some other states might restrict, according to a report in The Decatur Daily.

"Those consumers need to make sure they buy enough minutes each month to take care of calls they would get on a regular phone line," Alabama Assistant Attorney General Olivia Martin told the newspaper.
Martin, section chief for utilities, tells consumers not to answer cell-phone calls if they do not recognize the caller number. She also tells them not to give out their cell numbers too freely.

"It is a consumer protection issue that most states are grappling with," she told the paper

FTC (News - Alert) spokesman Mitch Katz said telemarketers are breaking the law when they repeat calls to consumers who tell them not to call again, the paper reported.

Some calls are pre-recorded and auto-dialed, pitching such things as car warranties, cheap credit cards and lower-interest mortgages without a human contact for the consumer.

Telemarketers that used pre-recorded and auto-dial calls are most active in states with lots of exceptions to Do Not Call restrictions, he said.

"Those are the worst types of calls," Katz said. "We know this is a problem, and we are working on it. We may need approval from Congress to do anything about it."

Katz said his agency began working on limiting auto-dial solicitors on Oct. 3, 2006, but has no solution yet.

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Tim Gray is a Web Editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Tim’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tim Gray