DMA Appeals for Changes to FTC Dialer Rules

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The Direct Marketing Association asked the Federal Trade Commission yesterday to ease its predictive dialer rules and measure abandonment rates on a monthly basis rather than daily.


FTC rules require telemarketers to keep abandoned calls below 3 percent per campaign per day. The strict standard is negating the efficiencies that telemarketers gain from using predictive dialers, the DMA said in a letter to the FTC.


The DMA requested that the FTC bring its rules in line with the Federal Communications Commission, which also requires a maximum 3 percent abandonment rate but measures on a monthly basis. DMA members have found that adhering to the 3 percent ceiling daily presents a greater obstacle than meeting the FCC's requirements, the DMA said.


"Marketers who use predictive dialing technology are having difficulty configuring their software to comply with the FTC's per day, per calling campaign 3 percent standard," the DMA wrote. "Changing the abandoned call 3 percent standard from 'per month' to 'per day' while retaining predictive dialers' efficiency gains is dramatically more difficult from a practical perspective, and, in fact, renders some predictive dialer applications unusable."


The DMA quoted an anonymous member stating that the 3 percent per campaign daily rate is "virtually impossible" to meet given that some vendors run more than 100 outbound campaigns simultaneously. The abandonment rates of all the campaigns could balance out to less than 3 percent but inevitably some go above the limit, the member said.


The DMA's ethics guidelines once set a per-day, per-campaign standard for abandoned calls, but the ceiling was 5 percent, the DMA noted. A 30-day standard would give telemarketers more flexibility to reduce abandonment rates below the maximum of 3 percent.


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