Telemarketing: A Thing of the Past?

New rules for the telemarketing industry mean you’ll be getting fewer sales calls.
The Federal Trade Commission has banned pre-recorded telemarketing messages.
Laurie Johnson reports.

The ban applies to nearly all pre-recorded sales calls. Allen Hile is with the Federal Trade Commission. He says the FTC considered loosening the rules for telemarketers. But feedback on that idea caused them to tighten the restrictions instead.

“Pretty much what we received in those 13,000 comments that we got mostly were from consumers who said we really don’t want sales calls. Interestingly enough, there were a number of comments that said we really like getting messages like ‘your flight has been canceled or postponed’ or ‘your dry cleaning is ready to be picked up’ or what have you.”

So those informational messages will still be allowed. But any other pre-recorded calls are out, with just two exceptions. The company has to have a history of doing business with you, and they have to have your written approval to call you.

“We were disappointed with the FTC ruling.”

That’s Jerry Serasale. He’s the vice president of governmental affairs at the Direct Marketing Association. He says the new rule will be financially burdensome for businesses that use telemarketing.

“We do not know yet — haven’t had full time to talk with our members to see what they’re going to do. It’s not a ban on reaching customers. Telemarketers can still call their customers, but they would have to have a live operator.”

But the reality is many people simply don’t like telemarketing, whether it’s pre-recorded or live.
And Serasale admits there’s a shift away from phone sales. It started back in 2003 with the Do Not Call list. But for now, you’ll likely still get those pre-recorded messages. The new rule doesn’t go into effect until September of next year.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.


Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson


Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Laurie has covered a wide variety of topics for HPM, including the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia, Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, and numerous elections. She is a frequent contributor to NPR and has been...

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