Bill Prohibiting Predictive Dialers Referred to California Senate Committee

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A bill that would make it impossible for telemarketers to use predictive dialers in California was referred yesterday to the California Senate Judiciary Committee. It has been scheduled for an Aug. 8 hearing.

The bill, A.B. 2721, calls for telemarketers to have an abandonment rate of 0 percent, meaning they must place a live operator on the line when a consumer answers the phone. Marketers say this would prevent them from using predictive dialers, the computerized systems that dial phone numbers at a preprogrammed pace, whether an agent is available to handle a call or not.

Calls are disconnected if an agent is not available within a predetermined amount of time, usually a few seconds.

The bill passed the California Assembly May 30, where it was amended to permit the use of predictive dialers to further an established relationship. It now calls for a ban only on the use of such dialers when they call numbers at random or generate sequential lists of numbers.

Earlier this year, Kansas passed legislation that would require a live operator to come on the line within five seconds after the call is answered. If an operator is unavailable, the caller would be required to play a recorded message that includes the name of the caller and the company on whose behalf the call was made, but cannot include a promotional message.

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