July 24, 2008

Enforcement Of Registry a Relief

Back in 2003, when the Federal Trade Commission established the National Do Not Call Registry, many wondered just what, exactly, it would take to stop persistent telemarketers from dialing.

Try $16 million in fines and counting.

The latest purveyors of interrupted dinners, interrupted naps, interrupted lives, are two companies that shill satellite TV services. The FTC has fined Phoenix-based Planet Earth Satellite Inc. and its president for calling consumers on the off-limits list, along with Utah-based Star Satellite LLC for failing to connect consumers to a live person within two seconds after they answer the phone.

The first kind just gets you mad. The second, referred to in telemarketing lingo as an abandoned automated call, gets you concerned about stalkers.

Thanks to the FTC's stipulated order -- and $95,000 in fines -- it's unlikely either company will be stalking Do Not Call registrants or autodialing more customers than they have customer reps to handle. The original fines, $7 million to Planet Earth and $4.37 million to Star Satellite, were dropped to $20,000 and $75,000 when the companies claimed they couldn't pay. If the feds find out they've lied, the fines will be dialed back up to the original amounts.

And five years after the Do Not Call Registry was established, it's good to know enforcement wasn't put on hold.

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