Telemarketing Review Comment. FTC File No.P. 994414
Submitted on: June 16, 2000 to The Office of the Secretary, Federal Trade Commission, Room 159, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580 VIA E-Mail address: email@example.com
Jointly Submitted by: Kenneth A. Jursinski, Pres., Morgan-Francis, Inc., 4400 D'Evereux Drive, Pensacola, Florida 32504 (Tel: 850-477-7878 / e-mail CRVT1962@aol.com) and Thomas W. Adkins, Pres., Tele-Source Industries, Inc., 1340 Conant Street, Maumee, Ohio 43537(Tel: 419-893-1001).
Submitter's background: Messrs. Jursinski and Adkins are the inventor and manufacturer respectively of a nationally distributed, anti-telemarketing device known as "The Phone Butler." Mr. Jursinski has been licensed to practice law in Ohio since 1982 and is currently on inactive status. Mr. Adkins has been involved in the telecommunications industry since prior to its divestiture in 1984; he has been a significant force in many projects and services during his 16+ years in the industry. Messrs. Jursinski and Adkins have and continue to devote their time, experience and knowledge toward resolving the growing issue of telemarketing fraud and abuse plaguing Americans.
Specifically Addresses: Section G. Questions and Comments Regarding the Past and Future of the Telemarketing Industry. Subsection II (Technology), Question 14. Generally Addresses: Section F, Questions and Issues for Comment Pursuant to Regulatory Review of the Rule, subsection I(2)(c), I(3)(c) and (d); subsection III(10)(c), III(12); subsection IV(16), (17), (18), (19), (20), (21); and subsection V(22).
1. Statement: Having manufactured and sold thousands upon thousands of Phone Butler's to Americans across the United States since 1995 and having listened to numerous consumer complaints about telemarketing, we are of the opinion that The Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act, while well-intentioned, has not provided the American public with the relief they so desperately seek with regard to intrusive and fraudulent telephone solicitations. As a result, we are hereby proposing what we believe to be not only the solution to intrusive telemarketing calls but also a method by which each and every American may make his or her own decision as to whether or not to receive telemarketing calls. While one of our products, The Phone Butler, has proven 100% effective against abusive and fraudulent telephone solicitations, it is not the subject of our proposal today. The solution we are proposing incorporates a technology we have invented, the only requirement of which is a mandate of its use by all licensed telemarketing firms in United States, a mandate that would be promulgated by the FTC in accordance with its rule making powers and pursuant to The Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act.
2. Explanation: In balancing the telemarketers First Amendment rights to solicit trade over the telephone with all American's rights to be secure in the privacy of their own home, we believe telemarketers should be able to continue to place their calls, but we also believe that Americans should have the right to either except or deny a these calls as a part of their telephone service. In that regard, we have developed a simple software program ("Program") which could be incorporated into the central station of each telephone carrier in each locale. This program would be specific to all licensed telemarketing agencies and telemarketing services throughout the United States. Participation in the program by license telemarketer services and firms would be a condition precedent to being issued a license to telemarket in the United States. Participation in the program on behalf of all American citizens individually, would be a matter of choice as an option offered with their specific carriers phone service.
4. The Program: The program would work as follows: each citizen having a phone number would be given the option by their phone carrier, to elect whether or not to receive telephone solicitations, similar to their now existing option to have call-waiting or any of the other optional services offered by each phone carrier. If they elect not to receive solicitations by availing themselves to the service, subscribers would pay a nominal monthly fee to the telephone company for this service, generally in the $2 to $3 per month range. In consideration of the fee, the telephone carrier would key in their number at the specific central station. With regard to the telemarketing firms, all calls placed from that firm or service would have included in the ringer signal, a series of alert tones which would be captured by the central telephone station serving their phones. The "alert tones" would immediately identify the call as being a telephone solicitation. In the event the call was being placed to a phone number which has elected not to receive telephone solicitations (and prior to the citizen's phone number even ringing), the program would recognize the alert tones and prohibit the call from going through to the subscriber. A number of options are available at this point, none of which apply to the subscriber, as his or her phone has not and will not ring. The alert tones would either disconnect the call from the telemarketing service or firm, or deliver response back to the firm to place this subscriber's number on the do not call list, all without any physical participation of the phone subscriber. This program would eliminate the need of the subscriber to hear a phone ring from a telemarketer, answer a phone call from a telemarketer, attempt to have his or her name placed on to do-not-call list, attempt to discern, via caller ID, who is even calling and for all intents and purposes the program will allow the subscriber to return to a level phone service which existed prior to the proliferation of intrusive telemarketing calls in United States.
Additionally, the service would generate recurring revenue for the phone companies which would cover all servicing, updating and implementation costs while providing the phone company with a source of profit it does not now have. The telemarketing services and firms would pay no ongoing fees other than a possible provisioning fee to the phone company's central office to implement the program. Alternatively or additionally, provisioning of the necessary equipment to run the program may be augmented by grants from public or private sources, such as grants made under the Rural Electrification Project. Additional capital costs could be recovered from the recurring revenue or possibly tariffed access fees. In all, capital costs would be nominal. On behalf of consumers, the ability to individually determine whether or not they want to receive telephone solicitations should and would result in a dramatic decrease in complaints filed or reported as a result of intrusive telephone solicitations. Finally, our proposal would not infringe on the First Amendment rights of the telemarketing firms and services but would support the right of each and every American to choose whether not they wish to receive these calls in the privacy of their home.
5. Rationale: At present, consumers, upon receiving a telephone solicitation, have the right to accept or deny said solicitation. Additionally, they must orally alert the caller to place their name and number on a do not call list in the attempt to avoid any further calls from this firm or service. This is a conscious decision made each and every time by each consumer upon receiving a solicitation, a burden many Americans would prefer to avoid but cannot because of the telemarketer's right to call. We see no difference in effect, in having the phone subscriber make a conscious decision not to accept the telemarketing solicitation upon answering his phone, from making a conscious decision not to accept telephone solicitations by subscribing to service provided by the telephone company.
6. Authority of FTC: We believe our proposal, and specifically our program, encompasses the very essence and intent of the Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act to include the Telemarketing Sales Rule. Furthermore we believe that it is within the rule making authority of the FTC, in conjunction with interpreting the intent of The Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act, to make it mandatory for all present and future telemarketing firms and services, without regard to "grandfathering" provisions or exceptions, to subscribe to this technological program.
7. Conclusion: The technology now exists which would allow each and every telephone subscriber to make an informed decision as to whether or not they want to accept telephone solicitations. We believe each American's right to decide whether or not to receive these calls is greater than, if not at least equal to, a telemarketer's right to place the call. We further believe that there is no discernible difference to making the decision to accept a call on a case-by-case basis as opposed to making the decision only once by subscribing to a phone company provided-service that carries out the subscriber's wishes, other than the elimination of the aggravation of having to repeatedly inform the telemarketer of the subscriber's desire not to accept telephone solicitations. Additionally, we are convinced that the program must be mandated by our government as opposed to making it an option for telemarketing firms. The rationale is simple:
8. Further Information: We would be pleased to present a more detailed demonstration of our program to members of The Federal Trade Commission at their convenience as well as submit our suggestions on incorporating the program into the Telemarketing Sales Rule. Again, Mr. Ken Jursinski may be reached at (850) 477-7878 and Mr. Tom Adkins at (419) 893-1001
We thank you for this opportunity and remain available to discuss the above at your convenience.
Respectfully submitted by:
Kenneth A. Jursinski Thomas W. Adkins