If you call consumers to ask them, nicely, to take their name off your Do Not Call List is that telemarketing? Apparently DirecTV thought not but the FTC thought otherwise and it cost the company and one of its telemarketers $2.425 million.
DirecTV had previously settled an FTC DNC complaint in 2005 for $5.3 million. In the current case, according to the FTC’s complaint, DirecTV caused one of its telemarketers to place prerecorded calls to numbers on DirecTV’s company-specific DNC list. The prerecorded calls told recipients that DirecTV could not contact them to extend “exciting offers” because their numbers were on DirecTV’s DNC list, and that they could “press one” to remove their numbers from the list. The FTC's position is that calls seeking permission to make telemarketing calls are themselves telemarketing calls, and can not be made to numbers on the caller’s company-specific DNC list or on the National DNC Registry. The FTC also charged that the prerecorded calls constituted prohibited “abandoned” calls because no live operator was connected.
On the same day the FTC announced that it had settled another case against Comcast for violations of the federal “Do Not-Call” (“DNC”) telemarketing laws and the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (“TSR”). The Comcast case marked the first time the FTC acted solely on allegations that the caller did not honor its required company-specific DNC list. The FTC alleged that despite having written compliance procedures for its in-house and third-party telemarketers, Comcast and its contract telemarketers placed more than 900,000 telemarketing calls to numbers on Comcast’s company-specific DNC list. This alleged failure to implement a compliant DNC program, the FTC charged, was sufficient by itself to warrant a civil penalty of $900,000.
Companies conducting telemarketing activities must take notice that refraining from calling numbers listed in the National DNC Register is not, by itself, sufficient to avoid liability under the federal DNC laws and regulations. The FTC will also take enforcement action against companies for failing to honor company-specific DNC requests. Telemarketers — both in-house and contractors — must be instructed how to enter company-specific DNC requests, and companies must effectively suppress telemarketing calls to numbers on their company-specific DNC lists, including calls seeking to have the recipients remove their numbers from the lists.