Write this one down in your diary. A federal agency has actually done something useful.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is banning so-called robocalls effective September 1st, at least most of them.
You know what I'm talking about. We all get them, typically during the dinner hour to maximize our annoyance. As if it's not bad enough getting a phone soliticitation, the ultimate insult is to get one from an automated voice. I would say it's obnoxious. But, that gives the word "obnoxious" a bad name.
The FTC has heard our cries.
Starting September 1st, it will be illegal to use automated phone telemarketing pitches, with a few exceptions.
1. Companies and organizations can still use them for the sole purpose of dispensing information, like an upate on your flight or your doctor's office with an appointment reminder. Okay, that makes sense.
2. Calls for monetary gain are still allowed by charities, politicians (yuck!), telephone companies (yuck squared!) and banks (The stimulus money wasn't enough? Beyond yuck!).
For those exceptions to the rules, there are some new rules however.
- There must be an opt-out feature so a caller can stop the madness.
- They must let the phone ring four times before dumping the call. This will hopefully curtail the "ring and run" strategy to find out if anyone's picking up before wasting the time of a real human being cold calling that same number.
- The recorded message must begin within two seconds of picking up the phone.
Violators can be fined up to $16,000 per call.
Sounds wonderful. Not very enforceable; but wonderful.
Last updated: Aug 27, 2009
RENEE ORICCHIO is a technology writer and former supervising news producer for CNN Financial News. She has been covering the computer industry since 1987. @oricchio