August 19, 2008

Telemarketing Petition Backfires

A petition for a rule change backfired on the U.S. telemarketing industry, the Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday.

In 2004, the industry asked the FTC to allow prerecorded calls in cases where the business had already established a relationship with the customer.

That request garnered 14,00 responses "overwhelmingly opposed" to the idea, the FTC said in a statement.

Answering to those responses, the FTC said Tuesday there would be a rule change. But it was not the one the industry had requested.

The new rule bars all prerecorded telemarketing sales calls unless the telemarketer first has agreed in writing to accept such calls from the seller, the FTC said.

Prerecorded health and service related informational calls, such as a call telling a customer of a flight delay, are exempted from the new rule, as are solicitations on behalf of non-profit companies, the FTC said.

Solicitation calls are required to include a quick "opt-out mechanism" the FTC said.

The change requiring permission from consumers to receive prerecorded sales calls will take effect Sept. 1, 2009, the FTC said.

The "opt-out mechanism rule" will take effect Dec.1, 2008.