Friday, February 17, 2012
Many telemarketers have cleverly found a way around the do-not-call rules (as well as finding a way to call just when a family sits down to dinner).
These seemingly endless interruptions have aggravated so many that, after receiving thousands of complaints, the Federal Communications Commission took action to curb unwanted land-line and cellphone telemarketing calls.
The changes are welcome. It's particularly important the FCC moved on reducing the telemarketing calls to cellphones. It's a travesty if cellphone customers, depending on their plans, get stuck paying for a telemarketing solicitation.
Under the new FCC rules, telemarketers are required to obtain written consent -- either on paper or electronically -- before placing autodialed or prerecorded calls to a consumer, the Los Angeles Times reported. Telemarketers also must provide an automated opt-out mechanism during each call so consumers can immediately tell the telemarketer to stop calling.
The FCC also strictly limited the number of abandoned or so-called dead-air calls -- in which consumers answer their phones and hear nothing -- that telemarketers can make within each calling campaign. And the FCC's new rules will apply to text messages.
"Despite (the previous) clear ground rules, too many telemarketers, aided by auto-dialers and prerecorded messages, have continued to call consumers who don't want to hear from them," said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. "Consumers by the thousands have complained to us, letting us know that they remain unhappy with having their privacy invaded and their time wasted by these unwanted calls."
The intervention by the FCC is welcome. Let's hope it significantly reduces this irritant to consumers. If not, the FCC needs to go further.