The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposes new rules, slated for a vote on June 18, 2015, further limiting “unwanted and intrusive calls and texts” to landlines and cellphones. This is welcomed news to consumers but decidedly unwelcomed news to companies conducting phone survey, opinion and marketing research.
The FCC’s proposed rules would:
– Give consumers the right to revoke their consent to receive robocalls and robotexts in any reasonable way at any time;
– Allow phone companies to offer robocall-blocking technologies to consumers;
– Protect consumers of reassigned phone numbers by requiring callers to stop calling the number after one call;
– Define “autodialer” as any technology with the capacity to dial random or sequential numbers; and
– Allow limited, specific exceptions for urgent circumstances and empower consumers to opt out of even those exceptions.
Companies whose business hinges on calling consumers are up in arms about the proposed rules. First, they claim that the FCC’s proposed rules fail to distinguish among:
– Preview dialing, in which a human interviewer previews the number on a computer screen, then can dial or not;
– Predictive dialing, in which a computer automatically dials a number, then waits for an answer before a human speaks to the consumer;
– Automated interviewing, in which a computer automatically dials a number and the consumer is “interviewed” by a computer that requests answers indicated by pressing this or that phone button.
Secondly, they claim the proposed rules might seriously impede survey, opinion and marketing research by phone. Third, they claim it could effectively destroy smaller survey companies who cannot afford to hire human interviewers and cannot resort to the internet to compensate for the new restrictions.
The companies conducting phone survey, opinion and marketing research could previously rely on Congress to protect their interests somewhat. However, the mood in the Country and in Washington, DC has supposedly shifted toward greater protections for consumers, which bodes ill for companies calling at dinnertime to ask us about yet another product/issue that doesn’t interest us.
The FCC’s fact sheet on the proposals can be accessed here: https://www.fcc.gov/document/fact-sheet-consumer-protection-proposal
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