The U.S. Federal Trade Commission had made my day. In their release entitled, New Rule Prohibiting Unwanted “Robocalls” to Take Effect on September 1, we learn:
Beginning September 1, 2009, prerecorded commercial telemarketing calls to consumers – commonly known as robocalls – will be prohibited, unless the telemarketer has obtained permission in writing from consumers who want to receive such calls, the Federal Trade Commission announced today.
Hurray — except there are many exclusions to the Telemarketing Sales Rule:
The rule amendments going into effect on September 1 do not prohibit calls that deliver purely “informational” recorded messages – those that notify recipients, for example, that their flight has been cancelled, an appliance they ordered will be delivered at a certain time, or that their child’s school opening is delayed. Such calls are not covered by the TSR, as long as they do not attempt to interest consumers in the sale of any goods or services. For the same reason, the rule amendments also do not apply to calls concerning collection of debts where the calls do not seek to promote the sale of any goods or services.
In addition, calls not covered by the TSR – including those from politicians, banks, telephone carriers, and most charitable organizations – are not covered by the new prohibition. The new prohibition on prerecorded messages does not apply to certain healthcare messages. The new rule prohibits telemarketing robocalls to consumers whether or not they previously have done business with the seller.
A big sources of unwanted phone calls at our home are alleged charities claiming to be calling on behalf of our local deputy sheriffs, firefighters associations, etc. Scams, all of them. Plus, there are lots of faux surveys, sponsored by political groups, that are carefully worded to influence public opinion. Those are except as well.
Of course, lots of organizations are going to ignore the new rules anyway. Still, this is great news.