King Bill Looks to Rein in Telemarketers

U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-NY, is getting involved in efforts to beef up federal restraints on telemarketers that failed to gain approval last year.

King is sponsoring legislation, dubbed the Dinnertime Bill. that would ban telemarketing between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. The bill also would require telemarketers to begin every solicitation by informing consumers of their right to be placed on the Direct Marketing Association's do-not-call list or, when appropriate, a state DNC list.

These provisions were supported last year by Matt Salmon, the Arizona Republican who retired from the House of Representatives at the end of the 2000 legislative session.

The bill also would require telemarketers to use the DMA's DNC list as well as all state DNC lists, creating a nationwide standard for DNC lists. The bill, H.R. 232, also would ban the intentional blocking of caller-ID by telemarketers.

Another bill currently before Congress, H.R. 90, proposed by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-NJ, also would prevent telemarketers from intentionally blocking caller-ID. The American Teleservices Association and the DMA have supported this bill.

Calls to King's office were not returned.

Matt Mattingley, legislative director at the ATA, said the association opposes most of King's proposals, in particular the provision that would require telemarketers to give a warning at the beginning of each call.

In the past, the ATA has compared this provision to forcing telemarketers to give a Miranda-type warning to consumers.

“There is no precedent in any industry for such a requirement,” Mattingley said. “The very idea is insulting to the millions of honest men and women working in the industry.”

The ATA also opposes federalizing the DMA's DNC list, Mattingley said. However, many telemarketers already use both the DMA list and state DNC lists to prevent calls to consumers who do not want telephone solicitations and thus are poor sales prospects.

If King's proposal to ban telemarketing during dinner hours becomes law, telemarketers would lose a key time period during which consumers are easiest to reach, Mattingley said. Such a ban would likely result in a legal challenge from the industry.

The ATA is monitoring the progress of King's bill but does not consider it a high priority on its lobbying agenda, Mattingley said.

“It's way too early in the process to roll out the big guns,” Mattingley said. “[The bill] doesn't appear to have a great deal of support.”

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