FTC Outlaws Pre-recorded Sales Calls

from the but-will-they-enforce-it? dept

Over the past few months, at least twice a week, I've received a phone call on my mobile phone with a stern (almost angry) recorded voice saying "this is your second warning that the factory warranty on your vehicle is about to expire." Of course, the factory warranty on my car isn't about to expire, and considering that I've received about 30 of these calls, it's difficult to believe it's the "second" warning. Apparently, I'm not the only one to receive these calls. An informal poll of friends found that more than 50% of them were all receiving the same bogus calls. While those already broke various telemarketing rules, it appears that the FTC is looking to further crack down, announcing that all pre-recorded telemarketing sales calls are banned without a signed, written agreement allowing the calls. Informational calls (non-sales calls) such as informing you that a flight has been delayed are allowed -- but sales calls are not.

Of course, the big question is whether or not the FTC will actually enforce the new rules and go after violators. Part of the rule change does give the FTC more leeway in going after those responsible for the messages, but until the FTC really does start shutting some of these operations down, you can bet they'll continue making the automated pre-recorded calls. I'm sure I'll be hearing about the imminent expiration of the factory warranty on my vehicle for some time.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    AdamR1, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 3:53pm

    Rofl, I get those calls 3 times a day and dont't even have a car.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Thomas, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 3:58pm

    They will just move..

    They can just mve the call center out of the U.S.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Ajax 4Hire, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 4:24pm

    Once a month I get a Spanish speaking

    Once a month I get a Spanish speaking male babbling on about what I should do for upcoming elections in the USA.

    Burns me up wasting my time and money.
    I have verizon and they will not block a once a month call.

    I have real anger issues with machines talking to me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Yakko Warner, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 4:28pm

    Debt collectors?

    What about the pre-recorded calls from debt collectors? We must get a dozen or so calls per week for someone who has never lived at our home (and of course, when you speak with an actual person, they don't believe you), and it's been reduced to the automated "IT IS IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO CALL OUR OFFICE AT 1-800-XXX-XXXX IMMEDIATELY" message over and over.

    (If it's so important, call me yourself instead of waiting for my return call, because it's not coming.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Ragaboo, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 4:33pm

    Re: Once a month I get a Spanish speaking

    I get the Spanish-speaking election guy, too. WTF is that all about? Anyone know?

    And I also get the car-warranty one, as well. I actually do have a car and my warranty DID expire recently, so I figured it might be legit. Too bad I don't care about warranties expiring or they may have gotten me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 4:34pm

    Don't forget...

    They left a loop hole and made sure political robo calls are still allowed.

    This is legislation at its worse. It "does" what needs to be done, except puts so many exceptions that the law is useless. But because its already a law, yuou can't make it better easily.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Ragaboo, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 4:35pm

    Re: Debt collectors?

    Geeze, I've gotten this one, too. Are these messages all scams? They all sure sound like it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Dam!, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 4:37pm

    And I thought it was just me

    I've actually stepped though their whole process to get a person on the phone.. Let them explain the whole thing to me only for me to say nah.. and stop calling me.. Every time I've done that. They do call like twice a day for the last 9 months. And they still do.. And every time I do and say the same thing.. "Dude.. Your wasting my time so I thought it would be fit to waste some of yours. Thanks for the call but not interested.. Until next time."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Rangabee, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 4:57pm

    DoNotCall

    And when was the last time they enforced the Do Not Call list? I've started getting calls at dinner time again and have reported them to the FTC web site. Nothing ever happens, so why should the telemarketers even care?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Nick, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 4:59pm

    why wait for the FTC?

    Lol... something was up today because tons of people got these calls this afternoon. Since it's the 3rd or 4th time they've called me, I tried to find out from them where they're located. The guy who picked up confessed its an Arizona company called "Warranty Services," but quickly hung up when he realized I was grilling him and not interested in his scam.

    Anyways, turns out plenty of people are already suing these guys:
    http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/250013

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    MH, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 5:04pm

    Can we have the FCC outlaw Political ad calls and polls?

    I'm on the National Do Not Call list and during election season, I get 10-20 pre-recorded calls per day from campaigns. They're selling s4it aren't they? Let's ban those calls. Anyone swayed by a 30 second call from some senator's daughter bragging about her dad deserves to have their voter registration card burned.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 5:17pm

    Al hates t-marketers

    Several people I know have turned off the ringer and just check the messages several times daily. I am close to doing this myself.

    Thanks to the D-Bags for ruining what was once a very useful tool.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 6:01pm

    i don't have a car either

    and i get these calls around twice a week.

    sometimes i even wait until they say the part about pressing two to be removed from the list, doesn't work.

    i'm also on the do-not-call list, and have been for years.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    Stephan Kinsella (profile), Aug 20th, 2008 @ 6:16pm

    The government is worse than spammers and cold-callers and telemarketers

    Of course, unsolicited spam, telemarketing, etc. can be viewed as a type of trespass (see my post, Causation, Spam, and Worms). However, the state is the biggest trespasser, and has no business regulating this area. It ought to be a private matter between the user and his ISP, telco, service provider. If his telco does not prohibit its other users (directly, or indirectly via inter-telco/inter-ISP agreements) from engaging in "spam", customers ought to put pressure on them to do so or vote with their feet. The FTC is worse than any spammer.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 6:26pm

    Extended warrantys?

    It must be profitable, or else they wouldn't do it.

    Just consider how many stupid people out there pony up $100 a year to get a "Health Care Plan", "Prescription Plan" or "Dental Plan" and think it's supposed to work like insurance.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Chris Corcoran, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 6:57pm

    I get them as well

    I've received those calls. Actually, I've also received letters in the mail. Maybe they're two different companies. I actually called the number once when I had some down time to get them to leave me alone. They tried pitching a three year extended warranty for $4,000. I would still have to pay for annual maintenance and such. Totally bogus. The person kept trying to scare me into accepting the deal. All I did when he started saying that was hang up...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Cornholio, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 7:01pm

    Never Will Stop

    VOIP from India, and an FCC owned by business, mean we'll get these forever.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    David jones, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 7:20pm

    Re: Debt collectors?

    Should not you be pursuing the option of paying your creditors?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Versed, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 7:27pm

    Re: They will just move..

    In or out of the country, the company causing this, can still be fined.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 7:32pm

    Re: Don't forget...

    I'll vote for, Hell, I'll campaign for anyone of whatever (viable) political party who will ban automated political adds!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 7:38pm

    Re: Debt collectors?

    Get a GrandCentral Line and forward all your calls to it. After a few weeks, make a nicely-formatted Excel Spreadsheet showing the calls.

    Under FTC Fair Debt Collection Act, a creditor can only call once a week. At this point, it would be good to write a letter (or, better still, have a lawyer draw one up) and include your call log.

    You'll have a very strong case in court too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Overcast, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 7:41pm

    Oh man - yeah, I get those stupid things too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    dude, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 8:12pm

    I bet the folks at Boxpilot aren't to happy excited about this. http://www.boxpilot.com/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Robert, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 8:16pm

    Waranty expire calls..

    I have no less than 100 calls for the same damn prerecorded calls about my last chance to get a waranty because mine is running out...I am so mad I could scream....I have a 1999 dodge ram pickup, it is way past the waranty.If I were in the market for a waranty, I would never buy one from these criminals, they have harrassed me for too many calls. Today, I have had 7 of them, I have blocked 12 of their phone numbers, but they always have more to call me from and harasse me with a pre recorded crap. These people should be prosecuted for criminal harrasment, and for more than just jail time, they should have to pay dearly...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 8:48pm

    Re: Re: Debt collectors?

    David jones -> Should not you be pursuing the option of paying your creditors?

    Yoda ?
    Is that you ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    random_texan, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 9:05pm

    I started copying what Tom Mabe does and just do a reverse prank call. Instead of calling someone and acting like a jerk, I let the guys call me and then waste their time. I am sick of the phone calls about warranty too but since the FTC probably won't do anything about it I'll just keep entertaining myself at work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    ECA (profile), Aug 20th, 2008 @ 10:32pm

    30 calls is all you got??

    Lets see, my record is 8 in 1 day...HOW THE HELL did you only get 30 total..

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    yogi, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 11:12pm

    I see a business oppurtunity here

    I wonder why we there isn't a spam filtering system for telephones?
    Something like the gmail system where phone numbers are reported as spam by a minimum number of users and then filtered out.
    Would this be technically feasible?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2008 @ 6:34am

    I get that one too LMAO

    "this is your second warning that the factory warranty on your vehicle is about to expire."

    Yeah I get really scared the warranty on my 1987 Alfa Romeo is going to expire any day now LMAO . . . ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    AJ, Aug 21st, 2008 @ 7:14am

    Service..

    I've heard there is a service that you can get that has a recording pick up the phone and tells them to press 1 to ring the phone, or 2 to leave a messege, since a recording does neither, it basically stops them from leaving a messege or ringing thru.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    John Duncan Yoyo, Aug 21st, 2008 @ 7:40am

    Re: DoNotCall

    >And when was the last time they enforced the Do Not Call list? I've started getting calls at dinner time again
    >and have reported them to the FTC web site. Nothing ever happens, so why should the telemarketers even care?

    The problem is that if you have ever done business with a company they have the right to call you with other offers under the DNC.

    The ones that cheese me off are the ones that ring the phone three times a day and no one is there on the other end. I'd almost welcome a robocall from them so they would stop.

    My answering machine gets everything unless I'm looking at the caller ID and recognize the caller.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2008 @ 8:20am

    Re: Service..

    No good, I get these calls at work and they dial my direct 3 digit extension to get to me. I laugh at the idea of my bosses 3 month old porshe's factory warranty expiring (his name is on the main number) then go back to work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2008 @ 9:50am

    More spam ...

    Mike -> While those already broke various telemarketing rules

    Yes, I thought there were regulations about t-marketing to cell phones. As I recall, it is similar to the ruling on spamming a fax machine. They are effectively stealing from you.

    So why do the cell phone operators allow this to continue? Because it is not their problem and they are making $$. I suppose it is the DA or AG who should shut them down.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    oregonnerd, Aug 21st, 2008 @ 11:03am

    by the way...

    Did I tell you the warranty on your web site has expired? This IS YOUR SECOND CALL!!!
    --Glenn

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    John, Aug 21st, 2008 @ 12:50pm

    Ho hum

    Okay, the story is fine, but the issue about how the FTC will make something else illegal is just ho-hum news.
    Most people need to realize that a law is only as good as its enforceability. So what if it's against the law to call someone after 8:00pm or call them 30 times a day. If the caller hides behind a "000-000-000" Caller ID or doesn't say who they are, how can you file a compliant about them with any agency?

    "Predictive dialers" (where a company has a computer call you and you hear silence as the rep on the other end is connected to the call) have been illegal for years. But, good luck prosecuting a company for it.

    Junk faxes have been illegal for years, but companies still do it. Why? Either they know they won't get caught or the punishment will be a small fine (also known as a "cost of doing business").
    So what reasons do telemarketers have to stop calling?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Another Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2008 @ 12:58pm

    Amusing way to fight back

    If you have time with nothing better to do, you can inject a little FUD into the phone spam operation.

    The robospam always gives you a number to press "to speak to a representative". That's some minimum wage or less schlub who tries to sell you their "product" and otherwise get as much financial and identity information as possible, so his bosses can rip off your CC or bank account.

    So, press the TT number to "speak to a representative".

    When they're taking orders for car warranty, just say, very slowly and stupidly, "But I wanted to order carpet cleaning. The call said free carpet cleaning".

    Play around as long as possible, and always insist that the call was about something besides what they are selling. Ask if you can speak to someone who can "fix this problem". Maybe you can speak to a supervisor. If you do, play the same game.

    Waste as much of their time as possible. Of course that depends on how much of your own time you want to waste.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Aug 24th, 2008 @ 8:52am

    RE Post #14

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Aug 24th, 2008 @ 9:00am

    RE Post #14

    and continuing my well formed arguments from post 37:

    "The government is worse than spammers and cold-callers and telemarketers by Stephan Kinsella - Aug 20th, 2008 @ 6:16pm
    ...the state...has no business regulating this area. It ought to be a private matter...customers ought to put pressure on them to do so or vote with their feet."

    Agree entirely!

    And the government has no business regulating crimes like murder or theft. We should all simply put pressure on murderers and theives to not rob or kill us, and vote with our feet if they haven't been severed and interred. And we should each hire our own security staff that enforces our rules, instead of sharing a common police force that follows a common set of rules that they are so bold as to call "laws".

    Let's privatize everything. Down with the government.

    OR: dude, get a grip. This is exactly the kind of thing we need government to do. The 'townsfolk' should gather in the town square to agree that they hate SPAM calls, agree as a group to forbid, and entrust someone to enforce that decision. Societies, sadly, need laws or some bad apples will invariably cross our boundaries without recrimination.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Barbara, Sep 6th, 2008 @ 4:16am

    Re: DoNotCall

    The DO NOT CALL list is a JOKE! The Fed's sell your number to telemarkers the instant you sign up. You are FREE GAME for 90 days, at which time, they can no longer call. Ever wondered why after signing up for it you suddenly get MORE calls? This is why!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Lucita, Mar 23rd, 2009 @ 10:07am

    Re:

    I just got a call too..& I have to pay for incoming calls from jerks on my cell phone. I get them on my cell...at work...Like I'm really going to buy any poice from unsolicited freaks calling on my phone! Pleazzzzzzzz!
    the phone # was from (416)-523-1121...very annoying!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    any, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 3:51pm

    i get these

    just about everyday.

    since i don;t answer strange numbers most went to voicemail but then when it didn;t stop after month i started getting pissed.
    you connect through and they ask for the make and model of your car.
    i do not own a car and actually have never owned a car with a warranty.
    you tell them to stop calling, ask who the company is and they hang up in you.

    WTF!!!!

    according to my cell they have multiple numbers. today it's 978-570-2245. tomarrow, who knows?

    i reported it to fcc. apparently someone knows something weird is going on(azstarnet article) can't hurt to add.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Pious Phone Girl, May 14th, 2009 @ 11:08am

    You Can Stop Them

    By not being the nimrods who respond. Like spammers, they count on the 1% of the population who fall for their scam.

    At work, I have to answer the phone. I hate these morons, and all the others like them. "Did you know the government is giving away free grant money" "Buy foreclosures in your area" "We're calling to let the owner know they qualify for a ($$) line of credit"

    I press "1" to speak to an agent and try to waste ~their~ time for a change.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    r.binkly, Nov 8th, 2009 @ 3:22pm

    Alternative to FTC new voice broadcasting laws

    FTC has changed the voice broadcasting laws starting September 2009. You must have written permission from the recipient before sending a voice broadcast message. The only thing I've found that can still deliver pre-recorded messages to voice mail legally, is a service called voicemail courier which makes it possible to comply with the laws. Its suppored by voicelogic.com, is the only legal substitute that can still deliver a pre recorded message.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This