The Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission regulations governing the National Do Not Call Registry went into effect nationwide in the United States in October 2003. The FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule covers calls made across state lines, and the FCC’s Telephone Consumer Protection Act Rules apply to calls made within and outside your state.
There are numerous federal regulations that govern telemarketing, and many of them have been in effect for over a decade. The 2003 rules have attracted so much attention because they introduced the Do Not Call Registry, intended to prevent telemarketers from calling anyone whose phone number has been registered.
When I read the actual rules, what sprang to mind was an excerpt from the entrepreneurship classic “Small-Time Operator” by Bernard Kamoroff: “The Lord’s Prayer contains 56 words. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address has 268 words. The Declaration of Independence is 1,322 words long. Federal regulations governing the sale of cabbages are 26,911 words long.”
You’re welcome to read the regulations yourself, if you dare. The actual rules are available at www.ftc.gov.
A more or less plain English explanation is available at www.fcc.gov.
Basically, the pages and pages of rules boil down to this: “Don’t call people who have never heard of you, at home, and try to sell them consumer goods and services.” Well, I could have told you that without needing to pass a law.
Don’t get me wrong — I think these regulations were, if you’ll excuse the pun, called for. My own home telephone has been blissfully silent since I put my number on the Registry. Most of the calls I receive now are from friends, and actually welcome.
The good news for those of us who spend a fair amount of time marketing our services by phone is that the rules are designed to protect us from receiving many unwanted calls ourselves, while still allowing us to market our own businesses effectively.
First of all, business-to-business marketing is exempt from the Do Not Call provisions. If you market your services to corporations, nonprofits, or small businesses, you are engaged in business-to-business marketing. If an entrepreneur or self-employed professional is using a home telephone number to conduct business, and you call them at that number to sell them something for business use, that’s a business-to-business call.
Also exempt from the Do Not Call rules are calls made on behalf of nonprofit organizations, calls made to people with whom you have a personal relationship, calls made to those with whom you have an established business relationship, calls made to anyone who has specifically requested that you call them, and any call that is NOT made for the purposes of soliciting a sale.