• Khoan Nguyen

Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) Amendments - Additional Information

Regarding Pre-recorded Calls

The prerecorded call amendment requires that any prerecorded telemarketing call must:

  1. Allow the telephone to ring for at least 15 seconds or four rings before an unanswered call is disconnected;

  2. Begin the prerecorded message within two seconds of a completed greeting by the consumer who answers;

  3. Disclose at the outset of the call that the recipient may ask to be placed on the company's do-not-call list at any time during the message;

  4. In cases where the call is answered by a person, make an automated interactive voice and/or keypress-activated opt-out mechanism available during the message that adds the phone number to the company's do-not-call list and then immediately ends the call; and

  5. In cases where the call is answered by an answering machine or voicemail, provide a toll-free number that allows the person called to be connected to an automated interactive voice and/or keypress-activated opt-out mechanism anytime after the message is received. The telemarketer, while complying with each of these provisions, also must be in compliance with all other requirements of the TSR and other federal and state laws.

Regarding Permissible Abandonment Rate

The additional technical amendment the Commission has made pertains to the method of calculating the maximum allowable rate of call abandonment that telemarketers may have. Call abandonment is a side-effect of very efficient telemarketing equipment called predictive dialers. Predictive dialers place calls in anticipation that a salesperson will become available by the time one of the numbers called is answered.

Inevitably, a call will sometimes connect when no sales representative is available. The TSR sets a limit on how often this can occur. It requires that at least 97 percent of a telemarketer's calls that are answered in person - not by an answering machine - be connected to a salesperson within two seconds after a consumer answers. This is designed to minimize the number of "dead air" and "hang-up" calls that result when no salesperson is available to take the call. The amendment will retain the current three percent permissible abandonment rate, but will permit it to be calculated over a 30-day period, rather than on a daily basis as is now the case. The change will permit the use of smaller calling lists than before without an appreciable increase in call abandonments. It will enable all sellers to target their calling campaigns to consumers most likely to be interested in their offer, and will benefit small businesses that have smaller customer lists in particular.

Effective Dates

The provision requiring that all prerecorded telemarketing calls provide an automated interactive opt-out mechanism will become effective on December 1, 2008. The provision requiring permission from consumers to receive such calls will become effective September 1, 2009. The amendment modifying the method for measuring the maximum allowable rate of call abandonment will become effective on October 1, 2008.

The Commission vote approving issuance of the Federal Register notice announcing the amendments to the TSR was 4-0. The notice will be published in the Register shortly and can be found on the FTC's Web site as a link to this press release.

If you would like some assistance in understanding and implementing the changes required by the Telemarketing Sales Rule please contact Primas Today at 888-477-4627

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