Do-not-mail spawned from DNC

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Do-not-mail spawned from DNC
Do-not-mail spawned from DNC

As the children's book says, “If you give a mouse a cookie, he will want a glass of milk”. The children's classic is also a di­rect marketing nightmare.

I recently spent time with my friends at the DMA contemplating the implications of do-not-mail legislation. Clearly, the Do Not Call Registry (DNC) was a cookie that only made legislators hungry for more restrictive rules on other marketing channels. This was a foolish pursuit in 15 states last year and, given that 2008 is an election year, we can anticipate even more legislation.

As an opponent to DNC, the American Teleservices Association is uniquely posi­tioned to comment on the path that this kind of regulation begins. ATA, DMA and hundreds of other entities will spend a great deal of time, energy and ultimately dollars lobbying and possibly litigating to keep the mailbox free for commercial use.

Several things are different this time, and each one only complicates the landscape and confuses certainty in the final outcome.

First, the telephone and the entity deliver­ing service were not established in the con­stitution, but the US Postal Service was. Consequently, governance of this channel enjoys a unique placement at the federal level rather than in the states. The ATA still argues correctly that interstate calling is governed federally by law, constitution and tradition, but the bright line is even clearer every time a US government em­ployee drops off your mail.

Second, the political power of a labor base of tens of thousands of union workers versus millions of teleservices employees is in inverse proportion. Congressional mem­bers cannot afford to ignore this constitu­ency or their other union affiliates.

And third, mail is not an intrusive form of communication. In a landmark case, one judge made the point that the walk from the mailbox to the trash can or recycle bin just isn't very far.

The teleservices industry is a great ben­eficiary of the call traffic created by direct mail. Without the tremendous number of commercial solicitations, where would the contact center industry be? This is a cause that the teleservices industry must take up with the same vigor as the DMA and the direct mail constituency. Politicians have been smitten with the boon of votes from creating the DNC Registry. We cannot let the mouse get the glass of milk.

tim@ataconnect.org

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