September 25, 2003

Don't Call Me, I'll Call You.

Wednesday, a federal judge blocked the new FTC Do Not Call List from going into effect next week.

The judge decided that the FTC didn't have the power to put such a list into place, but the FCC did. Since the Do Not Call List is an FTC effort, the judge shut it down.

From a strict legal standpoint, the judge is probably correct - Congress gave power to both the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission to regualte telemarketing, but only gave the FCC the power to create a "national database" like the current one, but did not give that power to the FTC.

Whatever. Congress is taking the opportunity to step in front of the parade - the registry currently contains 50.6 million telephone numbers - and expressly give the FTC the power to enforce the rule. The House has voted 412 - 8 in favor of the plan and the Senate may follow suit.

Telemarketers promised to continue fighting the plan - but I just can't figure out why. The harder they fight this, the harder they make it for themselves. The reason we got to this point in the first place is because the telemarketing industry has abused what rights they have, and incensed the public and the government into action.

If only they had created - and honored - such a list themselves, there would be no public outrage, no Congressional outrage, and no penalties. After all, one of the key points in sales is finding prospects who are likely to buy from you. A corollary to that is that you shouldn't waste your time with prospects who are not likely to buy from you.

Those fifty million numbers fall into which category? Exactly. This is the second-best market research that telemarketers could have done, and the government had to force them into it. Althought he libertarian in me cringes at the expansion of the regulatory state, the fault here clearly lies with the folks who are now regulated. And unltimately, those who abide by the rules will probably find that their sales covnersion rates - and therefore their profitability - rise. Those that fial to abide by the rules, and keep calling folks who don't want to buy anything from telemarketers - will find their slimmer profits disappearing into fines and legal fees. (Although, like any government regulation, this promoted industry consolidation, since smaller players are less likely to be able to bear the costs of regulatory compliance.)

I'm on the list.

Posted by wasylik at September 25, 2003 05:26 PM | TrackBack
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