Effective February 12, 2016, the Telemarketing Sales Rule (“TSR”) will be amended to specify that it exempts calls received on business lines only if the purpose of the call is a sale to the business or to solicit a charitable contribution from the business.
Calls to business lines for the sale of personal items (by whoever answers the call) will not be exempt. The Rule change is one more example of how business-to-business calls are sometimes regulated by consumer protection statutes.
As frequently happens with regulations, the “clarification” raises more questions than it answers.
I. Business-to-business calls for sales to the business or to solicit contributions from the business
Business-to-business calls, with the exception of offers to sell non-reusable office or cleaning supplies, are exempt from the TSR and the national “do-not-call” list. 16 C.F.R. § 310.6(b)(7).
II. Business-to-business calls to solicit sales from the individual answering the business line
The TSR provides that it is a violation to initiate “any outbound call to a person” when that person’s telephone number is on the “do-not-call” list. § 310.4(b)(1).
“Person” is not limited to individuals and thus includes businesses.
So the amended TSR means that businesses could add their numbers to the national “do-not-call” list, but only for sales of personal items. Calls soliciting charitable contributions, by the business or individual, are still are exempt from the list.
While I do not know the number of business lines in the United States, I feel certain that the Federal Trade Commission did not contemplate them all being added to the list.
You should also train your representatives to honor “company specific” “do-not-call” requests, even for business-to-business calls.
Finally, you should review the application of state and federal statutes to your campaign, even if for sales to businesses, as they are not always exempt from consumer protection disclosures, registrations, and even the “do-not-call” restrictions.