Submission Number: 00023
Received: 12/22/2010 2:26:13 PM
Commenter: Steven Ramsdell
Agency: Federal Trade Commission
Initiative: 16 CFR Part 310: Telemarketing Sales Rule
Attachments: No Attachments
1. How widespread it consumer use of caller ID?
In my family (siblings, their spouses and children, and my in-laws, totalling about 30 people) EVERY person I know uses it. There's nothing worse than being halfway through changing a baby's diaper to rush to the other end of the house and pick up the phone and hear some recorded garbage often selling things I can't even use (for example, siding or windows - we RENT our apartment so we couldn't buy windows or siding if we wanted to!). It's gotten so bad that we never even answer the telephone anymore and just wait for the answering machine to pick up, and if it's a real live person who we know, we'll call them back. Worse, this is all happening despite having signed up for the "do-not-call" list several years ago.
2. Would changes to the Telemarketing Sales Rule improve caller ID?
I hope so. If the regulations are loosened or not enforced I would imagine people will forego telephones entirely and communicate strictly by text or email alone. Many people I know haven't had landline phones for years.
3. Should the FTC amend the rules to recognize or anticipate specific developments?
Yes. I would suggest that telemarketing via cellular phones (including via text message) should be made strictly illegal. I can imagine a situation where someone ignores a cellphone call, thinking it to be yet another telemarketer, only to have it be a legitimate call from a child or parent in an emergency situation who could possibly DIE as a result ("My car broke down in a sketchy neighborhood - please come get me" or "I'm having chest pains - I called an ambulance but they haven't come.") Finally, I would suggest beefing up the "do not call list" or re-implementing it entirely if needed, with a provision that any documented infraction would cost the telemarketing company dearly (a fine of $500,000 per instance, for example, should be enough to deter them).
4. Should the FTC amend the caller ID provisions of the Rule to specify the characteristics a telemarketer must transmit?
I think any telemarketing call or political "get out and vote" call should be prefaced with the word "Telemarketer call" in caller ID followed by a legitimate phone number for the organization. That way, if for example I keep getting 4 or 5 calls a day from a company offering some product or other that I have no interest in, I can call the number or look it up and ask them to stop calling. Further, if such a request is made, the telemarketer should be required to compy and stop calling - permanently. I would further suggest that no telemarketer be allowed to call a person more than once in a 48-hour period under any circumstances. Finally, the FTC should impose prohibitavely large fines on telemarketers who break these rules, something to the tune of $500,000 per documented infraction.
5. Should the FTC amend the caller ID provisions to allow the seller or telemarketer to use trade names instead of the actual name of the telemarketer?
Again, if all telemarketing calls are prefaced with the words "Telemarketing call" I would have no problem with that. However, absent that, I do not think a telemarketing call should be disguised by some nefarious means and should always clearly state the company name at a minimum and, at the option of the telemarketer, the product name (such as "Johnson & Johnson - Crest Toothpaste") along with a legitimate contact number which will be answered by a live human being and not a machine.