Robocalls on FTC hit list


How many people are going to write in to a telemarketer and ask, please, include me on your list of households that receive robocalls? If you happen to be a fan of prerecorded marketing messages that enter your home through your ringing telephone, that’s what you will have to do to continue receiving them as of 9/1/09.

“American consumers have made it crystal clear that few things annoy them more than the billions of commercial telemarketing robocalls they receive every year,” said Jon Leibowitz, Chairman of the FTC. “Starting September 1, this bombardment of prerecorded pitches, senseless solicitations, and malicious marketing will be illegal. If consumers think they’re being harassed by robocallers, they need to let us know, and we will go after them.”

Here is the FTC’s stark explanation of the new rule: “Beginning September 1, 2009, prerecorded commercial telemarketing calls to consumers – commonly known as robocalls – will be prohibited, unless the telemarketer has obtained permission in writing from consumers who want to receive such calls. After September 1, sellers and telemarketers who transmit prerecorded messages to consumers who have not agreed in writing to accept such messages will face penalties of up to $16,000 per call.”

Informational robocalls – things like announcements of a delayed flight, an appliance delivery or a school closure, are still perfectly legal. Also exempt from the rule: “politicians, banks, telephone carriers, and most charitable organizations,” as are certain healthcare messages.

Businesses with which a citizen has a prior relationship are also prohibited from recalling without permission.

RBR/TVBR observation: For those companies out there relying on robocalls to get your message out, you will need an alternative marketing strategy. May we suggest radio and television?