Teleservices Report Released by the Information Policy Institute

No Clear Mandate for National “Do Not Call” List As the FTC Prepares to Create One

Information Policy Institute Will Push for Exemption to Help Magazines, Newspapers and Educational Materials

The Information Policy Institute released its path breaking study “Consumers, Citizens, Charity, and Content: Attitudes Toward Teleservices” at a news conference in Washington, D.C. today. The six state study evaluated teleservice use and satisfaction and sought to assess public attitudes toward government regulations concerning organizations that telephone people at home.

“ There is a significant disconnect between what consumers say their predispositions are about teleservices and their behavior and satisfaction with them,” said Institute President Dr. Michael Turner.

More than eighty percent of the respondents said they acquired a product or service, gave voting support, or made a donation in the past year as a result of a telephone solicitation and were satisfied with the product or service. However, only one in seven of those surveyed believe they will do so in the near future.

“While current public policy trends are toward severe limitation of telephone services this research indicates that there is no clear mandate to create a national do not call list,” Dr. Turner continued. “The majority of residents support some form of regulation on calls from organizations into their households, relatively few have taken any action.

As the FTC meets this week for a rule making session that will affect services received via the telephone, this research brings to light potential alternative effective approaches to regulating consumer telephone marketing.

“This research shows that respondents who are on DNC lists do receive fewer unwanted calls but they also purchase goods and services through the telephone,” said Kymberly Messersmith, Information Policy Institute Senior Director of State Policy & Outreach. “Nearly half the country has a DNC list and many other states are considering them, this research should help to create fair and accurate DNC laws.”

The six states that were surveyed are Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana, and New York. All of these states have existing laws involving a DNC list on which residents can register their household to reduce telephone solicitation from specific types of organizations.

Some Key Findings:

  • High Suggested Support for Do Not Call List – Overall, three in four support legislation that would create a “Do Not Call,” (DNC), list prohibiting calls from all organizations, regardless of whether they know the respondent or not. However, only one-half of those surveyed support a regulation that would allow local or community-based organizations to call, but only during a limited number of hours during the day.
  • Charities Have Strong Success on the Telephone – Financial support of charities or not-for-profit agencies is the single most successful form of telephone solicitation investigated in this study, with four in ten respondents indicating they have given financial assistance to a charity that sought their support over the telephone in the past year.
  • Not As Many People Ask To be Removed from Call Lists – The frequency with which respondents report taking the initiative to ask individual organizations not to call them at home is lower than might be expected based on common perceptions of telemarketing. Indeed, a significant minority of residents says they never or rarely ask individual organizations not to call them at home.
  • Local and Community Groups have High Support – Slightly less than one-half of respondents support legislation that would allow calls, but only from local or community-based organizations with whom they have an existing relationship.
  • National Companies Have Lowest Support – Regulations affecting telephone calls from national companies are not viewed as favorably as those affecting local companies, as four in ten residents of the states surveyed support a regulation that would allow national organizations to call, but only during a limited number of hours during the day.
  • Seniors Not Buying Over the Phone – It is also important to note that more mature consumers were less likely to purchase over the phone – it is possible to conclude that there is a high degree of fraud prevention awareness among this population.
  • High Satisfaction from Purchases Over the Phone – Respondents report a high level of satisfaction with telephone shopping experiences in the past year, with seven in ten of those who have acquired a product or service over the telephone satisfied with the shopping experience.