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.

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Comments on “FTC Outlaws Pre-recorded Sales Calls”

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43 Comments
Ragaboo says:

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.

Yakko Warner says:

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.)

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Dam! says:

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.”

John Duncan Yoyo (profile) says:

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.

Nick says:

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

MH says:

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.

Stephan Kinsella (profile) says:

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.

Chris Corcoran (profile) says:

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…

Robert says:

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…

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

John (profile) says:

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?

Another Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

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.

any says:

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.

Pious Phone Girl (user link) says:

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.

r.binkly says:

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.

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