|Received:||11/28/2004 3:09:02 PM|
|Subject:||Trade Regulation Rule on Telemarketing Sales|
|Title:||Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Request for Comment|
|CFR Citation:||16 CFR Part 310|
Comments:Dear FTC: I wish to comment on the proposed change to the telemarketing sales rule which would permit pre-recorded sales calls to individuals with whom the selling firm has a prior business relationship. I ask that the Commission NOT allow this change in the rule. I rely on the telephone to bring information about the well being of my family when they are away, and from relatives who live out of state. I thus am obligated to answer the phone when it rings, anticipating that there will be a "live" person on the other end of the line who needs to speak with me. Unlike the television and radio which broadcast advertisements into my home, I cannot reach over and turn off the telephone when it becomes annoying. Doing so would make me unable to learn of emergencies faced by my family. The prerecorded call is among the more annoying of the telemarketing approaches. First, the automated nature (low cost) of the calling device enables firms to broadcast many more messages than would be the case with "live" sales representatives. As a result, the number of unsolicited calls from firms with which I have a business relationship is likely to rise significantly. Second, the automated nature of the device makes it possible for firms to blanket customers will sales pitches witout regard to whether a given customer has demonstrated an interest in the product or service being offered. Live telemarketing, by contrast, is sufficiently expensive to cause firms to segment markets and target their calls to people who have demonstrated an interest in similar offerings. Third, the prerecorded call is an interrpution for which there is no immediate recourse, as exists when a "live" telemarketer calls and I can ask him or her to remove me from their call list. Fourth, when I am not at home, my calls are picked up by a voice mail system that signals my cell phone. Replaying recorded messages from telemarketers becomes doubly annoying because it then costs cellular airtime. I recognize that the telemarketing sales rule carved out an exception for sellers with existing business relationships to consumers. I don't believe that the intent of this exception was to enable business to market indiscriminantely to those very consumers. In the days before the telemarketing sales rule, I received two or three prerecorded sales calls daily (an four or five "dead lines" that I believe were unattended calling machines). I don't want to return to those days. Further, with the consolidation in industries known for telemarketing (telecommunications, financial services), having a business relationship with one division will open individuals up to unsolicited calls from others. The telemarketing sales act is working. Please do not weaken it. We do not need to go back to the bad old days. The telemarketing industry only benefits when the rule loses its teeth. Don't let that happen.