The value proposition for hiring a third party to scrub your cell phones: To help you win in court. By Telemarketing Defense Attorney Eric Allen, Allen, Mitchell & Allen PLLC –
Hiring an outside expert vendor to do your cell scrubbing is advisable because that’s all they do. They know it better than you ever could. And if you select a good one, they don’t make mistakes. They are going to scrub more accurately, and with better data, and have a far greater chance of holding up under legal scrutiny.
It makes you look good to hire an outside expert. Sort of an informal safe harbor. Shows you're fully engaged and on the same compliance page as regulators and plaintiffs’ attorneys. “Oh, this guy hired an outside vendor to do his scrubbing." I wouldn’t even try to defend companies that don't hire a top compliance company for cell scrubbing.
Litigation class actions, many over cell phones, are up over 50% in the last two years alone. B-to-B is not immune. For years they said, “we’re protected.” But the new rule is agnostic regarding whether a cell is a consumer, or business, or dual purpose phone.
One-third of all households are wireless only. And everyone is using their mobile phone now. On purpose or accidentally, B2B liability exposure is growing because the number of people using cells instead of landlines is up. (See Bob's blog: "Why B2B marketers must scrub cells now for TCPA Law Compliance.")
How is your company dealing with the new cell phone rules and their impact on Business-to-Business calls?
Are you trying to handle cells in-house? Are you even scrubbing cells at all? All data sources have some private cell phones slip through. They'll have insurance agent private wireless numbers for example. Eighty percent of consumer numbers are on DNC lists, so it's a great way to reduce the chances you’ll accidentally call a consumer cell number. And it's tough to say you have a compliant cell calling system when you haven't even identified them!
Another great thing to show a regulator: “We don’t have to scrub DNC, but we do it anyway. Look here’s the vendor we use.”
We tell all our B-to-B clients to register as exempt and scrub against the DNC list anyway, even if they’re only trying to call businesses. Again, it's an advantage to voluntarily scrub the consumer DNC list for B-to-B's, even if exempt, because it reduces the chance that you'll accidentally call a consumer number you thought was a business line.
Most B-to-B guys are very surprised when cell numbers show up on their bank card call lists, for example. (These are little companies that go around and try to get you to switch your credit card company to their processor.) Or tech companies soliciting other tech businesses. They do a ton of telemarketing. We've found only about 1 out of 100 B2B's have even heard that the cell laws were amended October 14th, 2013 to include them. “I just got served with an AG subpoena" they'll say. These are primarily over a private cell number, and a lot of these companies that are in trouble are B-to-B. So get a SAN, it's free under the B2B exemption. Businesses that have signed up for the DNC lists probably aren't going to buy anything anyway, and will have a higher propensity to complain. (See Bob's blog: "Why B2B Companies Should Scrub Against the National DNC List - for Free.")
TCPA and DNC Suits will get worse for B-to-B's before they get better.
Washington State is an example. A variety of TCPA plaintiff's firms are filing B-to-B robocall cases and putting brands out of business. Most companies do have General Liability (GL) or GLCIP and errors and emissions - but in this country, these policies don’t cover TCPA class actions. Lawyers are getting calls all the time from these B-to-B marketers. Surviving companies will continue to be severely challenged.
States have local telemarketing rules that apply to business lines that go beyond the Federal standards - with no B-to-B exemption.
These State rules are totally separate and in addition to autodialer and prerecorded Federal laws. Washington is an example. If you robocall a Washington business landline, that's a violation. So these cases filed under State law by folks receiving telemarketing calls are a real and growing compliance threat. And B-to-B guys are mad they got dragged into this stuff.
The rules are not limited to socially sourced consumer cells, but apply to all mobile phones.
More company professionals are conducting business on mobile phones, and many are using their personal handsets. They’ll register a domain and business related licenses with the state, including their cell information. So it’s hard to find a business list that’s not polluted with cells these days. (See Bob's blog: "The 5 TCPA Risks of Using Social Media for Sales Calls.")
Cell owners are savvier today, well educated, and know their rights. The FTC spokespeople now say, “You can’t call cells ever” with any automated help. Owners essentially feel they shouldn’t receive any cell phone calls at all from businesses. And this makes them more apt to complain. People misunderstand their compliance rights and think they have freedoms to prosecute anyone that calls. So even if you win, given the time to defend the suit—you lose. You’ll never get your attorney’s fees back. You spend $50,000 defending; you’re still out the 50 grand. Win or lose, you don’t want to get sued, or generate complaints.
People, in general, think they shouldn’t be receiving cell phone calls anymore. So a lot of companies say we are not calling mobile phones any longer. Some B-to-Cs are switching to B-to-B also.
These are cursory examples from our practice specializing in telemarketing, Do Not Call and TCPA Defenses for Business. There may be some errors here, so make sure you consult with your legal attorney before making decisions on cell scrubbing and DNC List protections for your B2B calling initiatives.
For more information on Cell Scrubbing and Do Not Call Protections for B-to-B marketers, please call Eric Allen at 801-930-1117 or Bob Traylor at 561-317-3001.