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FCC grants NADA petition clarifying national do-not-call rules

November 22, 2010

The Federal Communications Commission clarified in June that the National Do-Not-Call (DNC) rules do not prohibit dealers from calling consumers to alert them that their vehicles have been recalled due to a product safety or defect concern and to schedule appointments to correct the defect.    

 

A petition filed with the FCC earlier this year by the National Automobile Dealers Association sought clear guidance on whether such phone calls are considered telephone solicitations that are subject to the restrictions imposed by the National DNC rules. The NADA argued that, because consumers are neither requested nor required to "purchase" the services necessary to repair the defects (with payment coming instead from the manufacturer of the recalled item), such phone calls do not fit within the definition of telephone solicitation.

 

The NADA cited the important public policy objective of increasing consumer awareness of, and response to, recall notices and obtained a letter of support from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

 

In granting NADA’s Petition, the FCC stated:

 

"… We agree with (the) NADA that calls made to consumers for the purpose of informing them of product recalls are not telephone solicitations because such calls are not made for the ‘purpose of encouraging the purchase or rental of, or investment in, property, goods or services…’  As a result, these rules do not prohibit such calls to consumers that have registered their telephone numbers on the national do-not-call list. . . . We believe this clarification will ensure that consumers are made aware of potential safety concerns involving products that they have purchased and have an opportunity to correct these defects in a timely manner…."

 

Rules and Regulations Implementing the TCPA of 1991, Docket No. 02-278, NADA Petition for Declaratory Ruling, FCC 05-1667, paras5-6.     

 

The clarification applies when the defect repair work involves no cost to the consumer. Calls that encourage the purchase of other goods and services "will be deemed a prohibited telephone solicitation." The full text of the Ruling is at  http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-05-1667A1.pdf  <​/span>

 

The NADA has sent a similar clarification request to the Federal Trade Commission, which also administers the National DNC rules, although its jurisdiction is limited to interstate telephone solicitations. The FCC has jurisdiction over both intrastate and interstate telephone solicitations. A similar interpretation from the FTC (albeit in the form of an informal staff interpretation) is anticipated. 

 

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