DMA Teleservices Committee Chases Bad Apples

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ORLANDO, FL -- The Direct Marketing Association Teleservices Ethics Committee is encouraging DMA members to report bad behavior by problem telemarketers.


Noreen Kaminski, past chairwoman of the committee, exhorted members to make use of a complaint form available from the DMA to refer ethical infractions that they observe to the committee. She spoke during an open meeting of the DMA Teleservices Council during the annual DMA Teleservices Conference here at the Omni Championsgate.


The DMA pursues all complaints, first trying to contact the companies involved and then, if they fail to respond or respond unsatisfactorily, forwarding complaints to federal enforcement agencies. The DMA is working on collaborating with the Federal Trade Commission on the complaint program, Kaminski said.


"We want to be in business 10, 20 years down the road," she said. "We don't want some of this stuff to come back to haunt us."


Not all companies stepping close to the ethics line are small-time operators, said Joan Mullen, a Teleservices Council member in charge of legislative affairs. Some are well-known, national names.


"Triple-A companies that you wouldn't dream of doing anything wrong are pushing the envelope," Mullen said.


In other business at the conference:


· The DMA is urging members to lobby Congress and the Federal Communications Commission on a petition asking the FCC to declare that it has exclusive jurisdiction over interstate telemarketing. The DMA and the American Teleservices Association have asked the FCC to declare that its rules take precedence over the many state telemarketing laws, thus creating a single national standard. State attorneys general strongly oppose such a move. Talking points on the issue are available from the DMA, Mullen said.


· Jerry Cerasale, DMA senior vice president of government affairs, said in a session Wednesday evening that the DMA is preparing to revamp the Telephone Preference Service, its teleservices compliance program. For years, the DMA maintained the TPS as a privately held no-call list that its members were required to use, but the TPS has been overshadowed by the advent of the national no-call list. Cerasale said he had no details to announce but that changes to the TPS were coming soon. "We are examining it right now," he said. "By next year, maybe before then, you will hear something out of the DMA on the TPS."


· Tim Searcy, CEO of the ATA, attended the conference, an unusual visit by an official from an organization that has clashed with the DMA in the past. Searcy said his presence was indicative of the ongoing cooperation between the two trade groups. Earlier this year, the DMA and ATA collaborated on developing a common set of talking points distributed to members of both organizations so they could present a united front in lobbying officials in Washington.


Scott Hovanyetz covers telemarketing, production and printing and direct response TV marketing for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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