Abandoned calls often result from telemarketers’ use of predictive dialers to call consumers

Abandoned calls often result from telemarketers’ use of predictive dialers to call consumers

In addition, in the small permissible percentage of calls in which a live online payday loans Maryland representative may not be available within two seconds of the consumer’s completed greeting, the telemarketer must play a recorded message

Unless a telemarketer has a person’s prior consent to do otherwise, it’s a violation of the TSR to make outbound telemarketing calls to the person’s home outside the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. local time at the location called.

Call Abandonment (and Safe Harbor)

The TSR expressly prohibits telemarketers from abandoning any outbound telephone call, but has an alternative that allows some flexibility while enabling you to avoid liability under this provision.

Predictive dialers promote telemarketers’ efficiency by simultaneously calling multiple consumers for every available sales representative. This maximizes the amount of time telemarketing sales representatives spend talking to consumers and minimizes representatives’ “downtime.” But it also means some calls are abandoned: consumers are either hung up on or kept waiting for long periods until a representative is available.

Under the TSR’s definition, an outbound telephone call is “abandoned” if a person answers it and the telemarketer does not connect the call to a sales representative within two seconds of the person’s completed greeting. The use of prerecorded message telemarketing, where a sales pitch begins with or is made entirely by a prerecorded message, violates the TSR because the telemarketer is not connecting the call to a sales representative within two seconds of the person’s completed greeting.

The abandoned call safe harbor provides that a telemarketer will not face enforcement action for violating the call abandonment prohibition if the telemarketer:

  • uses technology that ensures abandonment of no more than three percent of all calls answered by a live person, measured over the duration of a single calling campaign, if less than 30 days, or separately over each successive 30-day period or portion thereof that the campaign continues.
  • allows the telephone to ring for 15 seconds or four rings before disconnecting an unanswered call.
  • plays a recorded message stating the name and telephone number of the seller on whose behalf the call was placed whenever a live sales representative is unavailable within two seconds of a live person answering the call.
  • maintains records documenting adherence to the three requirements above.

To take advantage of the safe harbor, a telemarketer must first ensure that a live representative takes the call in at least 97 percent of the calls answered by consumers. Calls answered by machine, calls that are not answered at all, and calls to non-working numbers do not count in this calculation. (Note that calls that are answered by machine and that deliver prerecorded messages raise other concerns. See “Telemarketing Calls That Deliver Prerecorded Messages.”)

A telepaigns (on behalf of the same or different sellers) cannot average the abandonment rates for all campaigns, offsetting for example, a six percent abandonment rate for one campaign with a zero percent abandonment rate for another. Each paign is subject to a maximum abandonment rate of three percent measured over the duration of a single calling campaign, if less than 30 days, or separately over each successive 30-day period or portion thereof that the campaign continues.

A telemarketer also must eliminate “early hang-ups” by allowing an unanswered call to ring either four times or for 15 seconds before disconnecting the call. This element of the safe harbor ensures that consumers have a reasonable time to answer a call and are not subjected to “dead air” after one, two, or three rings.

The message must state the name and telephone number of the seller responsible for the call, enabling the consumer to know who was calling and, should the consumer wish, to return the call. The Rule expressly states that sellers and telemarketers still must comply with relevant state and federal laws, including, but not limited to, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (47 U.S.C. § 227) and FCC regulations at 47 C.F.R. Part . The FCC regulations prohibit such recorded messages from containing a sales pitch, but, like the TSR provision discussed here, require that the message state “only the name and telephone number of the business, entity, or individual on whose behalf the call was placed and that the call was for ‘telemarketing purposes.’” The recorded message must not contain a sales pitch. The number on the recorded message must be one to which a consumer can call to place an entity specific Do Not Call request.

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