WASHINGTON - If your company uses the telephone to seek customers, your business is getting more complicated - and potentially more costly.
The federal government is preparing to launch a do-not-call registry for consumers who don't want to be contacted by phone. The penalty will be $11,000 per violation. Thirty-four states have adopted do-not-call programs.
"It's put a hell of a burden on us," says David Voelker, president of Don Allen Automotive Group, a five-franchise dealership in Pittsburgh. "You want to continue the way you used to, but you've got to check into everything," which includes the numbers on Pennsylvania's do-not-call registry.
The rush by states and now the federal government to establish do-not-call programs is a response to public outrage over the flood of telemarketing calls to homes and businesses. They relentlessly push vacations, home improvements, low-interest-rate credit cards, assorted charities and other things.
But nearly all kinds of callers - even automotive businesses that tend to make only sporadic use of phone campaigns - have to comply. The occasional user may be in greater danger of making a prohibited call than the full-time professional telemarketer that has a sophisticated computerized calling system.