Telemarketing Calls That Deliver Prerecorded Messages
In endments to the TSR that directly address the use of prerecorded messages in teleendments, the TSR expressly prohibits outbound telemarketing calls that deliver a prerecorded message unless the seller has obtained the call recipient’s prior signed, written agreement to receive such calls from that seller. The prohibition applies to prerecorded message calls regardless of whether they are answered by a person or by an answering machine or voice mail service. With certain exceptions (explained below), the prohibition applies to all calls that deliver a prerecorded message, regardless of whether the number called is listed on the National Do Not Call Registry. THE PROHIBITION APPLIES TO CALLS THAT DELIVER ANY PRERECORDED MESSAGE, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE PRERECORDED MESSAGE IS PLAYED OR SELECTED BY A LIVE OPERATOR.
Moreover, even when the seller has the call recipient’s prior agreement to receive prerecorded message calls, the message must provide an automated interactive opt-out mechanism that is announced and made available at the outset of the message (right after the required prompt disclosures described above). If a call delivering a prerecorded message possibly might be answered “live” by a consumer, the message must include a voice-activated or telephone keypress automated mechanism that will automatically add the number called to the seller’s entity-specific Do Not Call list and then immediately terminate the call. If a call possibly might be picked up by an answering machine, or voicemail service, then the message must include a toll-free number that, when called, will connect a caller to the same automated opt-out mechanism, which must be available “24/7” for the duration of the calling campaign.
In addition, sellers or telemarketers placing calls that deliver a prerecorded message must also comply with three additional requirements that mirror those of the abandoned call prohibition. Specifically, they must:
- allow the telephone to ring for at least fifteen (15) seconds or four (4) rings before disconnecting an unanswered call;
- play the prerecorded message within two seconds after the recipient of the call completes his or her greeting; and
- comply with all other requirements of the TSR and other applicable federal and state laws.
The Written Agreement Requirement
Calls delivering a prerecorded message may be placed only to individuals who have provided the seller with a signed, written agreement to receive such calls. Therefore, prerecorded message calls are prohibited if the seller does not possess a written agreement from the individual to whom such a call is placed to receive such calls. The existence of an “established business relationship” does not does not permit a seller or telemarketer to place a prerecorded message call.
The TSR requires that the seller have a written agreement with the called party for all calls delivering prerecorded messages, with the two exceptions discussed below. The written agreement is required regardless of whether the number called is on the National Do Not Call Registry. Nor does it matter whether a call delivering a prerecorded message is answered “live” by a person or by an answering machine or voicemail service. In all cases, the seller must have the call recipient’s prior written agreement to receive prerecorded message calls at the number called.
What must the written agreement contain?
- unambiguous evidence that a call recipient is willing to receive telephone calls that deliver a prerecorded message by or on behalf of a specific seller;
- the telephone number to which such messages may be delivered; and
- the call recipient’s signature.
I would like to receive telephone calls that deliver prerecorded messagesfrom [ABC Co.] that provide special sales offers such as _____________________________at this telephone number: (_____)____________.