|Received:||11/30/2004 9:04:47 AM|
|Subject:||Trade Regulation Rule on Telemarketing Sales|
|Title:||Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Request for Comment|
|CFR Citation:||16 CFR Part 310|
Comments:The FTC should not change the current rules with regard to the call abandonment safe harbor provision. Given current technology, such measurements are capable of being performed automatically with no difference in cost of collection for the different measurement periods. Allowing a longer measurement period means that on certain days abandonment rates could reach significant proportions, and campaigns could be manipulated by companies by more agressively calling higher potential targets (with higher abandonment rates) on those days, defeating the purpose of the current regulation. For example, numbers that are likely to be answered by an answering machine at the time of the call could be used to lower the measurement for the month. This would be a low cost way to average down the number of measured abandonment calls, allowing a campaign to focus on a particular day. With regard to allowing telemarketing calls that deliver a prerecorded message to consumers with an established business relationship, this should not be permitted, however, if permitted, this should only be allowed on an opt-in basis. Automated systems are likely to generate higher call volumes, with attendant higher error rates(e.g. calling a customer who has requested to be placed on the company's DNC list), abandonment rates, and repeat (busy, do not answer, answering machine) rates. Prerecorded messages are likely to be more difficult to stop, harder to identify the source, and often require the called party to listen to the entire message before receiving the number which can be called to terminate such calls. Thus, at the very least, a consumer could be required to listen to a lengthy adverstisement in its entirety in order to opt out. At a minimum, if permitted, prerecorded messages should be required to begin with the preamble "This is a pre-recorded message from <name of seller>. You may request that you not receive any further calls from <name of seller> by calling <toll-free or local phone number>. You may terminate this call at any time by hanging up." Since automated calling often results in 1 to 6 seconds in silence before the recorded message starts, these calls, if permitted, should place music, tones, or a background sound on the line while waiting to determine if the call has been connected so that the caller knows an automated system is calling. Requiring customers to opt-out defeats the purpose of the National Do Not Call registry as a consumer must once again make contact with each company that it wants to prevent receiving calls from. It should not be a burden to companies to obtain opt-in permission at the time of a sale, billing, or inquiry, and can be easily and cost effectively accomplished for existing customers using a toll-free number and automated voice response system. Any legitimate business that is looking for repeat or expanded business will not want to offend existing customers. Using an opt-in approach is more in line with this strategy. Companies that call customers that have expressed a preference not to receive telemarketing calls in general, and have not requested calls from the company via opt-in are likely to be questionable firms. Consumers should be allowed to opt-out even if they have earlier opted in.