Time is up, the NPRM comments were due to the FCC on Monday, May 8th (hopefully you sent yours in) and a decent number of companies and organizations showed up. Some are showing up in big ways and others in smaller, but all that matters is that they showed up in hopes that their collective voices will be heard and considered. This NPRM is a pretty big deal, and the effect could potentially shut down a whole industry. REACH submitted an amazing comment on behalf of its members, make sure you take a peek, I am going to give you the highlights of a few of the business comments that were submitted.
UHC brought a simple thoughtful approach.
- Consumer education through the process of lead gen, consumers are given the opportunity to speak with multiple health insurance providers. This process is helpful for consumers to learn about multiple plan coverage, premiums, and benefits. Consumers are then empowered to make educated decisions when it comes to health insurance choices.
- Potentially consumer harm when comparison shopping. If consumers are limited in their choices, they may miss better options that may be available to them.
- Point out the “critically important” role lead gen plays in matching consumers who have consented to be contacted to insurance providers who may meet their needs.
- Opposed listing all the names of the companies who may contact in the TCPA consent due to page limitation and consumer confusion.
- In agreement that the consumer consent should be limited to the “subject matter” that consent was given for and provides a broad example of how the consent should apply to “companies that operate in the health coverage market”.
- Request for definitions to be provided for the vague terms “topically” and “logically”.
Short and sweet, in their comment they state in general they “are supportive of a proposed rule that ensures consumers are not receiving unwanted calls and text messages wholly unrelated to the products and services they are shopping for.” They also include a few additional callouts.
- Opposed to expanding on the TCPA consent with the names of the companies who may call, they offer the solution, which many businesses apply today, of a hyperlink to disclose potential callers.
- Expressed the importance of keeping disclosure clear and concise for consumers and businesses alike.
- Urges to keep intact the consumer’s option to comparison shop.
Connection Holdings LLC-
Small business packing a mighty punch to drive home the potential effects this rule-making may have.
- Highlights the effects of a small business providing a service to other small businesses and the potential to wipe them all out overnight, with thousands losing jobs.
- Provides insight into how they use and maintain their partner list and why. This is important for the FCC to understand if they choose to regulate the process.
- Calls attention to the fact that there are bad actors in the space, but they are most likely coming from outside the country and potential new restrictions to American-based business will do little to stop these bad actors in the industry.
Hitting the high notes with a concise approach to help tackle the issue and provide solutions that are both consumer and business-friendly.
- In support of online consent forms identify marketing partners and suggest standards around them, while also highlighting the useful effects of a hyperlink to present those potential partners clearly to consumers.
- Limit the consent to the webpage, which would be more restrictive content-wise, rather than a website, which can be broad in topic.
- Sheds light on the importance of consumer’s ability to comparison shop and the value of availability to provide the best choices for consumers.
- Offers the solutions on limiting the number of times consumer consent is matched with a company and provides proof this effort will strike the right balance of limiting consumer outreach while allowing companies to showcase the products the consumer expressed interest in.
- Proposes a time limitation on the selling of consumer consented inquiry to 5 days while offering up to 90 days to contact the consumer once the buyer has obtained the consent for contact.
- Submits the recommendation of guidance around how many times a business can conduct consumer outreach once the lead is obtained. While the lead may be circulated to multiple businesses, they will be limited in their daily attempts to make contact with the consumer.
Rate Simple Mortgage-
Dropping the stats to help drive home the potential effects this may have on businesses that rely on consumer leads and the limiting effects it could have on consumer choice.
- Provides multiple statistics across many industries to tell the story of consumers turning to the internet to comparison shop and businesses looking to match with those consumers to meet their needs and offer their products and services.
- Helpful insight on how businesses both large and small are challenged to keep up with the consumer demands in a digital world and how they utilize consumer leads to grow and maintain their businesses.
- Urges the FCC to focus its attention on weeding out the bad actors rather than limiting reputable businesses.
Balboa Digital LLC –
Providing clarity on third-party marketers’ role in the equation.
- Most small businesses lack the budget and the marketing skills to engage their intended consumer base, that is where third-party marketers enter with their expertise and know-how.
- Power of consumer choice and not limiting their ability to comparison shop.
Lending Tree –
Backing the consumer’s right to compare stays intact while providing helpful consumer solutions.
- In opposition to naming the exact business in the consent disclosure, pointing out that consumers’ inquiries are typically narrowed to businesses after they express interest and consent to best meet their needs.
- Express concern about overwhelming and confusing the consumer in regards to important disclosure becoming buried in the required disclaimer if a list of business names is provided at the time of consent. Suggest a weblink be allowed for a comprehensive view of potential businesses who may reach out.
- Recommends, although I imagine may be hard for many to scale, communicating to the consumer whom they have been matched with after the consent was provided and before or at the same time the matched business is reaching out.
- Suggest limiting the number of businesses that can match with a consumer’s consent, a practice Lending Tree already applies to its business model.
- Protect the benefits of consumer comparison shopping and their potential to save on products and services when businesses are allowed to compete.
- Request for clarity for standards around “logically and topically associated” to consumer inquiries.
I see a common thread of protecting the consumer’s option of choice while also working towards a common goal of providing those sought-after products and services with the consumer’s best interest in mind. While noting that there are bad actors in the arena, most businesses want to serve their future customers to the best of their abilities, not annoy them. Leveling the playing field will bring challenges but eliminate temptation and expose the bad actors.
Reply comments are due by June 6, 2023. Troutman Amin, LLP will continue to be a voice through their efforts with REACH and track any breaking news around the NPRM Lead Gen Loophole.
Until next time, Duchess, out!