An important part of telemarketing services is being compliant with all related telemarketing laws and regulations. We want to share an article written by Karl Koster, Chief IP Counsel of Noble Systems and one of the National Board of Directors of PACE, the Professional Association for Customer Engagement about some of those proposed changes:
The FCC has been recently soliciting comments on a petition (the “Bank” Petition) asking whether home telephone numbers, when used for home business purposes, should be considered as a “residential line” under the TCPA. With the increase in home businesses, it is not surprising that some individuals are ‘repurposing’ their home telephone numbers and advertising them for business purposes, including printing their home number on business cards, providing their home number on business forms, publishing the number on the business’s web site, etc. Why are they doing this? Probably not for the convenience, since having other family members making/receiving calls on that same number is likely to be a distraction to the business. We all know the real reason: to reduce costs to the business. This is even admitted by the individual who filed the petition to the FCC!
Congress sought to provide different protections to residential telephone users as compared to business telephone users. Statutes such as the TCPA, Telemarketing Sales Rule, and the Do Not Call list all distinguish between residential and business calls. So, how should the FCC treat business owners that repurpose their home telephone number for business purposes? Should those numbers be given the protections granted to residential telephone lines when the user is holding them out for business purposes?
We have all seen examples of manufacturers or service providers that provide different terms based on whether the product/service is being used for consumer or commercial purposes. For example, a dishwasher may be warranted for residential use only or an insurance policy may only cover a home owner’s residence, excluding commercial operations. These distinctions are fair, because the risks and costs are different. In this case, we don’t need to protect business owners who try to ‘game the system’ by saving money on telephone service, and when they do receive business calls to that number, they cry foul for receiving such calls and then sue for damages under a consumer-oriented statute.
Policies targeted to protecting consumers and their privacy do not apply to a business owner trying to increase their profit margin for their business (home-based or otherwise). Let that home business pay for its own telephone service – it’s a legitimate business expense. If the business owner wants to reduce business expenses by repurposing their residential telephone number, then they have waived some of their consumer-oriented protections granted by Congress under the TCPA and other statutes. The FCC should not seek to protect business owners who are “gaming the system” in order to increase their business profit margin. That is not the public policy the FCC should be using to guide them in this matter.
Please join us at the 2016 PACE TCPA Washington Summit September 18th – 20th at the W Hotel in Washington, DC. We will be further discussing this topic as well as updating you on the status the PACE appeal with the FCC. This is an event you don’t want to miss. I look forward to engaging with you in Washington.
Karl H. Koster
Chief IP Counsel
Noble Systems Corporation
National Board Member, PACE