Telemarketing in Different Countries: What are the Laws and why Should You Care?

Historically, telemarketing has established itself as a pushy and intrusive business, so the authorities had to enforce some strict regulations against cold callers to limit their excessive enthusiasm. But what is telemarketing now?

These days, telemarketers face even more legal restrictions but you shouldn’t be discouraged. A modern version of telemarketing doesn’t seek to interrupt people’s day anyway.

Staying within the designated limits will increase your chances to open a genuine conversation with the right people. What are those cold calling laws and limits? Keep reading!

Telemarketing regulations 101: Things you should know

There are different laws in different countries. The US and Canadian call center laws will not be the same as telemarketing guidelines in Europe or VOIP India regulations. Similarly, telemarketing time restrictions in Australia will not be the same in other countries.

This means that you’ll have to research each region before starting a campaign. Whereas the telemarketing legislation of each country has its own peculiarities, they all address pretty much the same areas.

The corresponding call center laws exist in USA, Canada, Great Britain, the European Union, Australia, India, Pakistan, Israel, etc. Most countries require that telemarketers:

  • comply with the cold calling legislation and register as a telemarketing company;
  • consult the national Do Not Call lists no sooner than 31 days before the start of a campaign. They might be called differently but they do exist in most countries; 
  • have internal Do Not Call lists, too, and add customers to those lists no later than in 14 days prior to the campaign start date;
  • make telemarketing calls to those contacts who have given prior consent (in most cases a written one) to this type of call, especially if calls are made using pre-recorded messages;
  • disclose the purpose of the call, i.e. let people know that this is a telemarketing call, as well as introduce themselves and the company on behalf of which they make a call (including the name of the client for the outsourcer);
  • provide customers with a separate call back number, which they could dial to discuss the purpose of the call or ask the company to add them to DNC list (the call must be answered by the company representative). It is also allowed to give customers a contact email;
  • maintain records of all the telemarketing campaigns and preserve them up to 3 years.

telemarketing laws review

What happens if you do not comply? Depending on the country, lots of things may happen. You can become a subject of massive fines, nationwide injunctions, disconnection from telecom resources, or even imprisonment if you are a repeat offender.

Therefore, any telemarketing company must adjust to the rules and regulations of the country where they choose to operate. We recommend that you research those restrictions to make sure your call center does not violate legal telemarketing hours or other laws.

To help you make sense of modern call center regulations around the globe and avoid serious risks, we’ve compiled a Complete Guide to Telemarketing Laws and Regulations in different countries. Be sure to check it out!

How to stay out of trouble?

Now that you know the basic telemarketing laws and regulations, here are some handy tips as to how you can ensure compliance at all times.

Check who you can call

Generally, there are two basic regulatory schemes when it comes to telemarketing, opt-in and opt-out. Opt-in means that the recipient of telemarketing calls must give prior consent for you to actually call them. Opt-out telemarketing means that no prior consent is required; however, the recipient can request removal from future campaigns after the first call. Therefore, if your target country has implemented an opt-in system, you must be sure to get the updated call lists prior to making actual calls. For the countries with opt-out schemes, the routine is pretty simple, too. If you contact someone and they tell you not to call them again, you add their contact details to your blacklist and never bother this person again. Also, consult the national DNC registries a month before the campaign starts to avoid any fines.

Review other appropriate information

Find out what are the actual resources that outline telemarketing rules and restrictions in a particular country and make sure that you read through all of those. Besides some fundamental things like what regulatory scheme is in place or what actions are prohibited for telemarketers, or what are the legal times for telemarketers to call, be sure that you also understand the specific requirements, such as the time of day in which telemarketing calls can be received by the user.

Tell people who you are

All countries require that telemarketers let people know they are telemarketers. Therefore, anyone making calls on behalf of your business must introduce themselves and the company they represent. Starting a conversation without fully disclosing who you are and what is your agenda is a very dodgy strategy. It won’t help you sell your product or service but it can get you a fine or two if a call recipient files a complaint against you. Also, if a person on the other line asks for more information (i.e. contact number, address, or the name of the telemarketing company), you must provide it to them.

Don’t make automated calls (unless you really, really have to)

Automated calls or robocalls ‒ phone calls made by a computerized auto dialer to deliver a pre-recorded message ‒ are usually not welcome. There are even auto dialer laws prohibiting robocalls in some countries, so it is generally recommended to avoid making them. If you absolutely must run such a campaign, do a thorough legal checkup because in most cases, robocalls are either prohibited whatsoever or allowed under firm restrictions. Also, make sure you don’t confuse the terms here. Even if a person has agreed to receive live calls, this doesn’t mean they agreed to receive automated calls, and you won’t get away with far-fetched evidence of consent.

Following telemarketing regulations made easier with Voiptime Cloud

All those legal issues can be tiresome. Our goal is to simplify compliance for our customers starting this week. Meet the new exciting Voiptime Cloud features!

    • Add one more option to choose from the period of a maximum abandoned call percentage calculation in our call center software. The default period is 30 days (which allows you to comply with US and Canadian telemarketing rules) but you can change it to 24 hours (as required by Ofcom regulations).
    • Adjust the ringing time. Now, you can choose between 15 and 40 seconds, which allows you to comply with the legal requirements as for how long the call attempt to a client should last.
    • Control redialing rules for abandoned calls. According to outbound calling regulations, calling back to abandoned call is allowed no earlier than in 72 hours after an unsuccessful attempt or in the guaranteed presence of the operator. Now, a default interval of 72 hours to repeat a dialing attempt is being set automatically.
    • Choose an action on the waiting queue time expiration. According to FCC and Ofcom regulations, if the agent is not available to answer an outbound call immediately, the recipient goes to the waiting queue and they must receive a prerecorded message. We’ve added the possibility to choose what action should be made by the system to comply with the local outbound calling regulations:
      • end the call (in 2 seconds);
      • play a prerecorded prompt;
      • no action.

In the first two cases, such calls will be marked as abandoned and won’t be transferred to an agent.

Automated compliance features are work in progress and more updates are yet to come.

Stay tuned!

Originally published December 20, 2018 11:04:42 AM, updated June 26, 2019

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