BOCA RATON, Fla. — The new 2013 Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) rules have just gone into effect. Two of the biggest changes have to do with autodialed and/or pre-recorded calls and texts. Many water quality dealers use autodialers or pre-recorded messages and need to be sure they are compliant with the new laws.

Beginning Oct. 16, 2013, prior express written consent is now required for all autodialed and/or pre-recorded calls and texts sent or made to cell phones, and pre-recorded calls made to residential land lines, for marketing purposes.

Consumer consent must be unambiguous, meaning that the consumer must receive a “clear and conspicuous disclosure” that he/she will receive future calls that deliver auto-dialed and/or pre-recorded telemarketing messages on behalf of a specific advertiser; that his/her consent is not a condition of purchase; and he/she must designate a phone number at which to be reached (which should not be pre-populated by the advertiser in an online form).  Limited exceptions apply to this requirement, such as calls/texts from the consumer’s cellular carrier, debt collectors, schools, informational notices and healthcare-related calls.

Beginning Oct. 16, 2013, the “established business relationship” exemption for pre-recorded telemarketing calls to residential landlines was eliminated.

In the past, advertisers could rely on an established business relationship (such as a previous purchase) to circumvent the need to obtain a consumer’s written consent to receive telemarketing calls.  That exception to the consent requirement will no longer exist after this year.  Advertisers will have to obtain written consumer consent, even if they previously had a business relationship with the consumer.

Companies who rely on autodialers should consider having their customer lists scrubbed against the most up-to-date “do not call” and cell phone lists. No one wants to be hit with a fine.

For more comprehensive information about the TCPA, please go to the TCPA page of the Dataman Group website.


Dale Filhaber is president of Dataman Group Direct Mail and Telemarketing Lists based in Boca Raton, Fla. She is also past-president of the Florida Direct Marketing Association. "DataDale," as she is known in the industry, has been a guest lecturer at several WQA, national and regional water conferences. She has published numerous articles about marketing in the water and home industries and is the author of "Ask DataDale," a popular blog for the direct-marketing community. She can be reached by phone at 800-771-3282 or email at dale@datamangroup.com.