InfoUSA Wants Small Businesses Exempt From DNC

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InfoUSA CEO Vin Gupta yesterday called on Congress to exempt small businesses from the national no-call list, saying that the list was not meant to restrain local businesses from contacting their neighbors.

In a statement, Gupta said the DNC list should not apply to companies with fewer than 100 employees that make fewer than 100 calls per day. Currently, only political and nonprofit calls, along with calls made to existing customers, enjoy exemption from the list.

Beauty salons, travel agents, doctors and other small companies could go out of business if they are denied use of telemarketing, Gupta said. Unlike large marketers, they lack the option of switching to other media channels, he said.

"Small businesses can't afford expensive TV, radio and newspaper advertising," Gupta said. "Calling people in their neighborhoods is the only way to promote their services."

InfoUSA, Omaha, NE, is one of the nation's largest list providers, and many of its products are aimed at small businesses. It recently began a DRTV campaign promoting a prospecting kit designed for independent businesses that includes a business directory of 12 million names and sells for $79.80.

One reason cited by a Denver federal court judge for his ruling overturning the no-call list in September was that it exempted some telemarketing calls but not others. An appeals court is reviewing that ruling, which is currently suspended.

Meanwhile, Congress is acting to toughen the national DNC rules. This week, lawmakers considered an appropriations bill that included language to require telemarketers to update their no-call files monthly, as opposed to the current quarterly updates. It also would order the General Accounting Office to review whether the DNC list was meeting its stated goal of eliminating 80 percent of all telemarketing calls to consumers.

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