NEDMA Speaker: Government Rules Are Strangling Teleservices

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BURLINGTON, MA -- The First Amendment is under attack from government, Dennis J. McCarthy told attendees in a presentation on Federal Trade Commission legislative efforts at the New England Direct Marketing Association annual conference here yesterday.

"The government seems to have forgotten that we have a right to communicate with people who are our customers and we have a right to communicate with the public," said McCarthy, president of teleservices provider Share Group Inc., Somerville, MA, which has more than 100 clients. "They are trying to make the keyhole smaller and smaller. Sadly, I don't see any change to that in the near term."

McCarthy gave statistics regarding the effect of the upcoming national do-not-call list.

"What we can reasonably expect ... is a minimum of 20 percent of the public will no longer be available ... and in some states, I have seen it go as high as 30 [percent]," he said.

A bit of good news he delivered is that the FTC is not looking at mistakes, but rather a pattern of behavior.

"If you make a mistake, that's fine, you follow it up," he said. "[But] if you're not monitoring for compliance, it's $11,000 for every complaint."

The regulatory environment will make customer retention of paramount importance.

"If you don't have a relationship with them, it's going to be very hard once you lose them to get them back in the door again," he said. "You need to think about, 'What's the contact strategy to keep them as your customer as long as possible?' Because once they're lost, it will be much more expensive and much more difficult to get them back on board."

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