FTC GIVES TELEMARKETERS EXTENSION

Have Until October to Implement Some Do-not-call Rules Changes

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- The Federal Trade Commission on Friday agreed to delay one facet of its new "do not call" rules changes but still requires the overall implementation of the changes to take effect on March 31.

The FTC considered requests from two telemarketing trade groups, the Direct Marketing Association and the American Teleservices Association, who said the technology changes required by the new rules couldn't be implemented by March 31.

Remains on schedule
The new rules create a national

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telemarketing do-not-call list and allows consumers to call or go online to put their names on the list, where they would remain for five years. Friday's action by the FTC doesn't affect the schedule for implementing the list -- under which marketers could be fined as much as $11,000 per incident for calling people who have signed up -- but instead involves several key related changes the FTC adopted to further protect consumers.

Those rules affect marketers who call too many people, having wrongly predicted how many calls will go unanswered and subsequently don't have enough staff available to talk to all the consumers who pick up the phone. Marketing groups say that happens to about 5% of calls consumers answer, and that the predictive dialing is vital to the industry's economics.

Oct. 1 deadline
Under the new rules, marketers can drop no more than 3% of calls consumers pick up and have to provide a voice mail message for those dropped calls, giving the name of the caller and a phone number. The DMA and ATA argued there wasn't enough time by March 31 to provide the voice mail and the FTC delayed its implementation to Oct. 1. Changes to predictive dialing, however, would still need to be in place by March 31.

The two trade groups have filed separate lawsuits to block the do-not-call list, arguing the rules are unconstitutional, and that because the FTC regulates some marketers but not others, the changes favor some marketers over others for similar product lines. The groups are also seeking temporary injunctions against the March 31 changes.

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