What does the TSR mean?
Telemarketing Sale Rules (TSRs) are regulations that support law enforcement as well as consumers. The Telemarketing Sale Rule (TSR) gives the FTC and state attorney generals tools to combat telemarketing scams. It also provides consumers with additional privacy protections and defenses against unscrupulous callers and helps them differentiate between legitimate and fraudulent telemarketing.
The TSR includes, but is not limited to, the following provisions: disclosures required, misrepresentations prohibited, call time windows restricted, information needed on caller identification transmissions, prohibitions against abandoned outbound calls, restrictions regarding billing and payments, upsell restrictions, regulations concerning pre-recorded messages, and recordkeeping requirements.
With some exceptions, however, the majority of telephone calls between a Telemarketer and an organization are exempted from the TSR. Telemarketers often rely upon the B2B exemption to applicable Do Not Call (DNC) and other telemarketing regulations.
There is one caveat.
What should telemarketers do when contacting businesses or consumers?
Recent amendments clarify that the B2B exclusion to the TSR only applies to calls inducing sales from “business entities.” In other words, calls to business entities that are made at the place of their business do not qualify as B2B solicitations. They are also not exempted from TSR.
TSR does not exempt a telemarketer from the requirements if he calls a business and asks employees to buy products or services or make charitable donations for themselves.
It is dangerous to assume, as you can see that all solicitation calls made by telemarketers between businesses and the TSR are automatically exempted from federal and state laws on Do Not Call and some of their provisions.
Telemarketers who rely on the B2B exception must make sure that they don’t shift their sales efforts from the business to the person answering the call if the “business” says that it doesn’t need the product or service that is being sold.
Telemarketers who wish to sell products to individuals for business or personal use must adhere to the National DNC Registry. They also need to comply with internal suppression lists and call time curfews, as well as abandonment rates.
What are the wireless rules for B2B calls?
A common misconception is the belief that automatic telephone dialing systems used for B2B calls do not have to comply with wireless dialing regulations set by the Federal Communication Commission.
It’s not the truth.
B2B calls are subject to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act’s prohibition on using automatic telephone dialing (ATS) for calling cell phones.
It is illegal to call a wireless business number without “express written consent.” The fact that a business owner placed his number in an online directory or on the internet does not equate to consent.
Marketers may also not know if the number they are dialing is a landline or wireless, or even a phone for business that can be used as a personal one.
What should businesses know about?
Many states also have rules for telemarketing that are much stricter than federal law.
Not all states exempt B2B calls from state law. B2B Telemarketers are required to register in some jurisdictions and post a bond before calling into or out of those states.
Recently, it was clarified that the TSR also applies to other aspects:
- Before accepting payment, any recording that is made to commemorate a customer or donor’s verifiable express authorization must “clearly” and “conspicuously” state the accurate description of goods, services, or charitable contributions. It is the seller or telemarketer’s responsibility to prove that exemptions are applicable.
- Do Not Call Registry Fees cannot be shared by multiple sellers.
- Clarified the types of illegal burdens that interfered with a consumer’s right to add their name to a DNC internal list.
How do businesses protect themselves from harm?
B2B telemarketing is subject to the same restrictions on wireless calls as B2B. By clearly separating campaigns for business consumers from those of individual consumers, compliant telemarketing can be enhanced. It is prudent for B2B telemarketers to check against the national and state Do Not Call list, given the inherent risks of mixed-use phone lines.