4 Key Rules for Utilizing Voice Recorded Telemarketing Messages

Voice recorded telemarketing messages can be a simple and convenient way to communicate with your audience—provided you know when and how to use them. You know how important it is to comply with the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) and similar laws, both on a federal and state level. When you’re working with prerecorded messages in particular, you should take care to observe the following key rules.

  1. Express, Advance Consent

Before you even think about delivering a prerecorded sales message, you need to make sure the consumer has agreed to receive your calls. The TSR requires a written agreement that has been signed by the intended recipient. The agreement must contain an “unambiguous” statement declaring the consumer’s willingness to receive prerecorded telemarketing calls from your company. It should also include that person’s telephone number and signature. That means you cannot place “cold” calls that deliver voice recordings.

Voice recorded message calls that communicate healthcare messages, as well as calls placed on behalf of a non-profit charitable organization, are generally exempt from this requirement under specific circumstances.

  1. A Simple Opt-Out Function

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), telemarketing calls with prerecorded voice messages must include a quick and easy way to opt out of future calls. This rule stands whether the call is picked up or goes to voicemail. If someone picks up the phone, they must be able to opt out at any point in the call by pressing a key or speaking a keyword. The call must then be disconnected. If the message goes to an answering machine or voicemail, it must include a toll-free number that connects to an automated opt-out mechanism. In either case, you then have a responsibility to add their number to your in-house Do Not Call list.

  1. Call Abandonment

Even if you are using a prerecorded message, the TSR prohibits you from abandoning any outbound telephone call. This can be tricky when you use predictive dialers. In specific terms, you must let the phone ring for 15 seconds or 4 rings before you disconnect an unanswered call. You also have to play your pre recorded message within two seconds of the person’s greeting. In other words, if someone picks up and says “hello,” your message must play after a maximum of two seconds. A “safe harbor” amendment in the TSR allows some room for honest mistakes, but you must document your efforts to follow its rules.

  1. Mixed Messages

In some cases, certain TSR regulations won’t apply because you’re placing a purely informational call. Your prerecorded informational message might be an appointment reminder, a flight cancellation notice, an update on a previous sales transaction, or something similar. Take caution when it comes to “mixed” messages, or informational messages that include a sales pitch. For example, you cannot call with an informational message that also promotes a new product, announces the availability of a warranty, or proposes an upgrade to something the customer has already bought. This rule applies only to recipients who have not given express, signed consent to receive your voice recorded calls.

If you plan on using prerecorded voice messages in your telemarketing efforts, you should make every effort to comply and maintain your records. Do you have any questions about telemarketing rules and exemptions? The professional telemarketing attorneys at Cove Law would be happy to discuss your legal needs. Give us a call to minimize your liability and give your business a better chance at success.

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Written by Andrew Cove

Cove Law has significant experience defending federal investigations and formal actions by the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Finance Protection Board and the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as similar matters on the state level by the respective state Attorney General’s Offices and other local agencies.