|Received:||11/1/2006 8:24:21 PM|
|Subject:||Telemarketing Sales Rule|
|Title:||Request for Public Comment|
|CFR Citation:||16 CFR Part 310|
Comments:As a consumer, I believe automated communications, when done in a personalized, responsible manner can be a benefit to consumers for many reasons, particularly when an existing business relationship has been established. Because these communications mechanisms are more efficient and affordable for companies than live agents, it means that I can be made aware of opportunities and services from the companies I do business with, when in the past they may not have had the resource to place a call to me. One example would be when a wireless carrier makes a proactive call to me to inform me of a few new phone plan options that could save me money. To this end, I much prefer a highly professional automated mechanism that explains the offer clearly and effectively, rather than an agent who will say anything to keep me on the phone. Especially, since I could be given the opportunity to talk to an agent if need be. If I don't want to be contacted, I can simply opt-out, or hang up. I am against the TSR for a number of reasons: (1) Some telemarketing calls are good (personalized, relevant offers with companies with whom I have an existing business relationship) and offer opportunities and benefits for the consumer. I appreciate it when companies I work with take the time to make a proactive, personalized phone call to me with relevant offers based on my past consumption and usage. I do not want to limit this type of communication. (2) The notion of opt-in is vague, and I would prefer the ability to opt-out as needed. That way, I can familiarize myself with the offers that companies are presenting. In the event that I find their offers or telemarketing campaigns to be irrelevant, done poorly or otherwise, I can simply opt-out. I am fine with creating repercussions for those companies who continue calling someone who has opted out. (3) The notion of "telemarketing" is much too broad. For existing customers, any mention of a service or offering that I don't already have could be construed as telemarketing. What about a call from a wireless carrier that said, "we noticed that you have exceeded your allocated minutes for your billing period. In order to avoid high late fees this month, you may want to consider a new plan. To speak to an agent about finding a more appropriate plan for you, press 1"? This is both customer service AND telemarketing and I firmly believe this type of communication should be allowed. Automated calling is perfect for this type of communication for several reasons: 1) it is not cost effective or efficient to hire agents to do this type of work, 2) the message loses relevancy if it is not immediately delivered - a letter would arrive much too late, and 3) it gets my attention and I can take action immediately, 4) it saves me money, 5) and it shows me good customer service. Another example might be to notify me if my car insurance is about to lapse. Because "telemarketing" is too broad a term, this type of notification could be considered telemarketing - it certainly "sells" new services, but, it is also a service call that greatly helps me avoid making a big mistake - lapsing insurance, which I appreciate. A third example informing me of a new service available in my area. I appreciate the automated call – from there I can take action immediately, talk to an agent, or sign-up for service – all without having to navigate a complicated website or IVR. There are endless examples of telemarketing calls that are a true benefit to consumers. I would like to see the TSR rule lifted or amended to allow companies to use this technology to market and communicate with consumers that they have an existing business relationship with. Certainly, if needed, an opt-out mechanism can be in place to guard against abuses of this type of technology. Companies who use this technology responsibly should not be penalized because of companies that don’t.