As TCPA.World reader know, the Czar is a big fan of Consumer Consent Council and PACE and I love that the two organizations are coming together.
Unsurprisingly, the folks at PACE are big fans of tcpaworld.com, and when I tipped everyone to the machinations in Oklahoma and Washington, the great lawyers at MacMurray & Shuster got right to work advocating for some sanity here.
In new letters submitted last week–you can read them here Oklahoma Letter and Washngton Letter–PACE focuses right in on the problematic “automated system for the selection or dialing of telephone numbers” language in the proposed bills being considered in both states. (I wonder where they got that idea?)
The letters are effective and well written–as you’d expect–and really drive the point home:
The prohibition against use of an “automated system for the selection” is problematic. The Bill does not define the phrase, nor does it define the word “selection.” This amorphous language creates a hazardous ambiguity. The strict language of this Bill would prohibit businesses from automatically selecting numbers from indexed customer lists, thereby reaching much further than the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”).2
The purpose of the Bill is to prevent certain types of robocalls. But the Bill’s inclusion of the phrase “automated system for the selection” would muddle such purpose. The practical result would prevent consumers from receiving desired calls and would complicate the business’s use of an indexed list to call those consumers, rendering the Bill both anti-consumer and anti-business.
Sound business acumen is crucial to the free flow of commerce, particularly in product and services sales. A special relationship exists between consumers and sales coordinators that requires strong and uncomplicated communication. By adding “automated system for the selection or dialing of telephone numbers” to the law, the Legislature undermines this relationship, hinders the ability of professionals to make sales, and prevents consumers from the communications they desire, and thus prevents them from getting the goods and services they need.
The potential harm this Bill will cause businesses is frightening. Not only will businesses lose the ease and convenience of calling customers from their carefully crafted indexed list, but they will also face uncertainty about how to remain in contact with their customers. Businesses take considerable time and care to index lists of consumer’s numbers to be called to maximize productivity and to make the consumer contact economical. These methods would be thrown out because of this Bill. If compliance fees do not overwhelm businesses, potential litigation costs will. No position could be conservative enough to avoid litigation regarding the meaning of the phrase “automated system for the selection.” Even if the Bill passes and courts find automatically selecting numbers from an indexed list is not prohibited, businesses will carry a heavy expense to litigate to that end.
Let’s hope the folks in the Oklahoma and Washington legislatures heed this sound advice.
Great to see advocacy from PACE on these critical issues.
We’ll keep an eye on these bills and others.