FCC Fines Sprint For Do Not Call Infractions
May 20, 2014

Sprint Fined $7.5 Million For Failure To Abide By “Do Not Call” List

Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Those people who hate to open their phone bill every month probably felt some karmic justice on Monday when Sprint agreed to pay $7.5 million to resolve a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Enforcement Bureau investigation of the mobile wireless company's failure to respect the "Do Not Call" list. The FCC found that the company failed to honor consumer requests to opt out of phone and text marketing communications.

The FCC on Monday noted that this represents the largest Do Not Call settlement to date. In addition to the $7.5 million fine, Sprint will implement a two-year plan to ensure compliance with FCC requirements, and these are designed to protect consumer privacy and prevent consumers from receiving unwanted telemarketing calls. Sprint will designate a new senior manager to deal with compliance and it will be required to retrain its employees and report further noncompliance to the agency.

"We expect companies to respect the privacy of consumers who have opted out of marketing calls," said Travis LeBlanc, acting chief of the Enforcement Bureau, via a statement. "When a consumer tells a company to stop calling or texting with promotional pitches, that request must be honored. Today's settlement leaves no question that protecting consumer privacy is a top enforcement priority."

This is not the first time Sprint has been under fire for violating the Do Not Call List. In 2011 the nation's third largest carrier was forced to pay a $400,000 fine for telemarketing calls that slipped through the Do Not Call list. Sprint said that the phone and text messaging marketing that has continued since that time was due to unintentional human and technical errors.

While Sprint agreed to the terms of the settlement, the carrier said that the troubles were the result of "issues resulting from technical and inadvertent human errors, which Sprint reported to the FCC."

"This consent decree relates to issues resulting from technical and inadvertent human errors, which Sprint reported to the FCC," a Sprint spokesperson told CNET. "The issues related only to Do Not Call Rules. We have conducted a thorough, top-to-bottom evaluation of our Do Not Call data management systems, and significant capital investments have been made to improve our Do Not Call/SMS Message architecture, oversight and compliance."

The National Do Not Call Registry was set up in 2003 and was intended to give Americans the option to opt out of receiving most telemarketing calls by putting their respective phone numbers on the list. Consumers can register their number on the registry for free, and the number will remain on the list until the consumer removes it or discontinues service. The FCC noted there is no need to "re-register" numbers.

This does not include calls from organizations with which individuals may have an established business relationship, calls for which permission was given, calls which are not commercial or do not include unsolicited advertisements. The list does also include calls by or on behalf of tax-exempt non-profit organizations.

While this is the largest fine to date for violating the Do Not Call list, CNN noted "it's safe to say Sprint's not sweating it -- the company brought in $8.9 billion in sales in the first three months of this year alone."