Abusing the Political Robocall Exception


FTC / Federal Trade CommissionShowing that they never miss a trick, the powers that be in Washington made robocalls to people on the Do Not Call list illegal – unless one of their own was making the call. The FTC has now acted against hitch-hikers to this rule.

The main target company claimed to be conducting a poll but was actually selling cruises and related items.

“Marketers who know the ropes understand you can’t steer clear of the do not call rules by tacking a political or survey call onto a sales pitch,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. She added: “Anyone who assists in making illegal calls is also on the hook.”

Under the scheme, consumers were told they had been “carefully selected” to participate in a poll and would be rewarded with a two-day Caribbean cruise.

When they connected to collect their cruise, telemarketers pitched a number of things on behalf of Caribbean Cruise Line Inc., including “pre-boarding hotels, cruise excursions, enhanced accommodations, and other travel packages.”

A number of companies were included in the complaint for facilitating the scheme in one way or another.

The FTC is seeking big bucks but settling for a lot less. It said, “The proposed settlement orders also impose: 1) a civil penalty of $7.73 million against CCL, which will be partially suspended after CCL pays $500,000; 2) a partially suspended civil penalty of $5 million against LSS and its owners, upon payment of $25,000; 3) a partially suspended civil penalty of $295,000 against Economic Strategy and its owner, upon the payment of $2,000; and 4) a partially suspended civil penalty of $750,000 against Steve Hamilton, one of the owners of Pacific Telecom Communication Group, upon payment of $2,000. The penalties are partially suspended based on the defendants’ inability to pay.”