Privacy Issues Hit Telemarketers First (528 words)
The strength of telemarketing is also its weakness: Telemarketers literally have a direct line to consumers. That advantage means they can speak to potential buyers one-on-one, but it also means they hear the first hint of negativity sounding among consumers concerning privacy. Privacy issues are compounded for telemarketers, involving not only the collection of data—where they're getting their lists and how they're using them—but also the privacy advocates who resent any intrusion into the home.
This second factor—minimizing extraneous, unwanted intrusions into consumers' homes—is the crux of the privacy issue for telemarketers. While most marketers make earnest efforts to comply, the regulatory maze can be difficult to navigate.
Explains Noreen Kaminski, vice president, quality assurance, for Mahwah, NJ-based DialAmerica: "We lay things out for our clients beforehand. A lot of them use multiple vendors, so they hear different things and they're not quite sure what they should be doing and what we should be doing."
According to the Telephone Con-sumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA), the client is responsible for statuatory damages arising from violations. Marketers can avoid inadvertent trangressions by working closely with all outsourced call centers to coordinate do-not-call data.
"We have a system set up with each client," say Kaminski. "We send data in a very short timeframe when a do-not-call comes in. It goes right into their status codes so they can put these people on their do-not-call list."
Deciphering state laws takes additional effort.
"There is a lot of confusion among our clients," says Kaminski. "The federal laws are pretty straightforward—they are what they are—but there are a lot of exemptions within state laws."
Tyler Prochnow, an attorney specializing in telemarketing law for Lathrop and Gage, counsel for the American Teleservices Association (ATA), explains, "A lot of states exempt business-to-business calls from regulations, but state business-to-business regulations are all over the map. Some have no business-to-business regulations, some have limited, and others have business-to-business regulations that are more stringent than what is required for consumers."