Cold-calling is one of the least desirable methods of marketing for many in the business world and it's unlikely to please those on the other end of the cold call. Nonetheless, cold-calling is a reality in the business world and is an important way many companies generate business. However, companies that market their business and services using cold-calling techniques must be careful to adhere to laws about outbound cold calling so they aren't subject to hefty fines.
One of the primary laws regarding cold-calling covers the times during which the telemarketer may call. Federal law requires that all cold calls be made between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. in the time zone in which the recipient of the call lives. According to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, these rules do not have to be followed if the customer has already given consent to the caller to call at a different time or if the telemarketer is calling the potential client at work. Time restrictions only apply to residential calls.
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The telemarketer cannot disguise the reason for his call. The Federal Trade Commission indicates that the caller must promptly disclose to the caller four specific pieces of information so that there is no guesswork as to the nature of the call. The telemarketer must reveal to the caller who it is that he is calling on behalf of. In other words, he must disclose his company's name, but not necessarily his own identity. The recipient must also be told why the call is being made and clearly enough to ensure that the consumer is not being misled. The products being offered must also be disclosed as well as any information regarding prize promotions, such as if a purchase is necessary to qualify for the prize.
The telemarketer must also not make any misrepresentations about the nature of the call or the goods and services being offered. No misrepresentations may be made regarding the cost and quantity of a product, any conditions, limitations or restrictions on the purchase of the product and any falsifications regarding the performance of the product and what it can accomplish. Disclosures must be made regarding refund and cancellation policies and any other material information that might affect the consumer's decision.
Do Not Call Lists
A cold-calling telemarketer cannot call a potential customer if she is on the do-not-call registry created by the Federal Trade Commission. The only exceptions are if the call recipient is a family member, acquaintance or friend, or if the intended call recipient has already given the cold caller permission to call. People on the do-not-call list can also be called if they are already a current customer of the company that the telemarketer is calling on behalf of. If the call recipient asks to be put on the company's do-not-call list, the company must comply.
Companies can gain access to the do-not-call registry for up to five area codes without having to pay any fees. Access only allows them to see up to about 10 phone numbers at a time to prevent mass random calling. Companies who violate the list may pay fines up to $16,000 per violation, according to the Bureau of Consumer Protection. This also goes for telemarketing calls to established customers who have asked the company to quit calling.
Jared Lewis is a professor of history, philosophy and the humanities. He has taught various courses in these fields since 2001. A former licensed financial adviser, he now works as a writer and has published numerous articles on education and business. He holds a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in theology and has completed doctoral work in American history.