Telemarketing sales rule

The Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) prohibits all prerecorded sales calls unless the consumer has given express written agreement to receive such calls.

Telemarketing sales rule (‘‘TSR’’) final rule amendments from the Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission issued its final ruling on the proposed amendments to the Telemarketing Sales Rule stating that prerecorded sales calls will no longer be permitted unless the seller obtains the consumer’s express permission. The text of the Federal Register notice may be found at www.ftc.gov/os/2008/08/R411001tsrfrn.pdf.

 
NNA’s comments to the FTC in response to their proposed amendments to the TSR

NNA’s comments to the Federal Trade Commission in response to their proposed amendments to the Telemarketing sales rule.

Download NNA's comments

Telemarketing sales rule frequently asked questions

Q: What do I need to know about the new ruling?

The Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) prohibits all prerecorded sales calls unless the consumer has given express written agreement to receive such calls.

Q: When does the ruling go into effect?

Dec. 1, 2008

Q: Is there an exception?

Yes. Sellers have until September 1, 2009 to make prerecorded calls to consumers where there is an existing business relationship.

Q: Are there any requirements for what must be included in the message that are permitted by consent?

Yes. Any prerecorded sales 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. if the call is answered by a person, make an automated interactive voice and/or keypress activated opt-out mechanism available that adds the phone number to the company list and ends the call,
  5. if the call is answered by an answering machine, provide a toll-free number that allows the person to be connected to an automated interactive voice and/or keypress activated opt-out mechanism anytime after the message is received, and
  6. comply with all other requirements of the TSR and applicable federal and state laws.

Q: What types of calls are affected?

All prerecorded sales calls are subject to the ruling. This includes calls regarding special promotions, discounts and trial offers, even if no explicit “ask” for an order occurs.

Q: What types of calls are not affected?

Any prerecorded call that is purely informational in nature does not fall under the TSR so long as an underlying commercial transaction is not involved. For example, a message advising readers of weather delays in delivery would be informational.

Q: What will be sufficient for written agreement?

The FTC seeks to permit some flexibility on this point. Written agreement may include any electronic or digital form of signature that is recognized as valid under federal or state contract law, as well as hard copy signatures.Point-of-sale agreements will also be permitted, so long as consumers have a clear choice. For example, it would be sufficient to include “Yes” and “No” checkboxes along with a straightforward statement such as: “I would like to receive telephone calls with prerecorded messages from XYZ Newspaper regarding subscription renewals at this telephone number:_____.” Negative options or opt-out choices, however, are not valid consents.

Q: What is the penalty for noncompliance?

After Dec. 1, 2008, the FTC may bring an enforcement action against any seller or telemarketer that makes prerecorded calls inconsistent with the new requirements. Note, the seller will have the burden of proof to show adequate written agreement was obtained.

Questions?

Call directly to NNA Washington at             703-465-8808       and ask for Sara or Tonda, or e-mailNNAWashington@nna.org.

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