ATA Eyes Inbound Legislation

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The American Teleservices Association has shifted its resources to address regulations proposed for inbound practices, the organization said yesterday.

"The ATA has been predicting for a few years now that once issues around outbound telesales were addressed to regulators' satisfaction, a new interest around inbound sales, customer service and technical product support would emerge," said Tim Searcy, the association's CEO. "The new legislation the ATA is tracking confirms that interest is growing at the state level."

Presenters will discuss inbound regulations at the ATA's summit in Washington next month, the association said.

The bills ATA is tracking:

· Oklahoma HB2783 would require any business doing inbound work with consumers in Oklahoma to make a live operator available if the customer zeroes out by pressing "0" or saying "operator."

· New Jersey A2089 would require telecom companies using an automated answering system or response system during normal business hours to have trained company representatives available to respond to customer phone inquiries and inform customers that they may have access to a company representative in lieu of the automated system.

· New Jersey A2712 would require cable TV companies to maintain a toll-free or collect-call telephone access line available to subscribers 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with trained company representatives available to respond to customer phone inquiries during normal business hours. After normal business hours, the access line may be answered by an answering service or automated response system, including an answering machine. Inquiries after normal business hours must be responded to by a trained company representative on the next business day. Under normal conditions, telephone answer time by a customer representative, including wait time, shall not exceed 30 seconds from when the connection is made.

· Rhode Island H7660 would require cell phone companies to provide customers with direct toll-free numbers to corporate contacts "other than [an] automated answering system" to resolve service inquiries. Cell phone companies would document all customer inquires and record the time, in minutes, spent resolving the issues raised by the customer. For any inquiry or dispute related to billing or service resolved in the customer's favor, "said customer shall be credited on their account one dollar for every minute spent resolving the issue or dispute."

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