Friday, February 2, 2001
Senator Susan Fargo introduces 'Do-Not-Call' legislation
As the Massachusetts Legislature moves into action in this new year, Senator Susan Fargo of the Fifth Middlesex District, which includes Carlisle, has filed legislation to protect consumers from telemarketers.
Senate Bill 44, which already has 22 co-sponsors, would do the following:
· Establish a do-not-call registry that would include the names of consumers who do not wish to receive unsolicited telemarketing calls. The list would apply to unsolicited telemarketing calls selling goods or services where payment or authorization of payment is required.
· The Attorney General's Office of Consumer Affairs would set up and maintain the list.
· Any Massachusetts resident wishing to be included on the list would notify the Office of Consumer Affairs, in writing, including his name, mailing address, phone number and signature.
· Telemarketers would have to obtain a quarterly updated copy of the list. They then would have 30 days to abide by the new names and phone numbers.
· The Office of Consumer Affairs might charge a reasonable fee to customers and/or telephone solicitors to defray the costs of such a list.
· Telemarketers, working anywhere in the nation, would be prohibited from calling any resident on that list, or face a $2,000 fine.
· Non-profit organizations would be exempt.
· Local telephone directories would be required to inform their customers of the do-not-call list by publishing a conspicuous notice or attachment to the directory.
· No one would be held liable for violating this act if:
1. the call is in response to an express written or verbal request of the customer,
2. the call was the result of an error,
3. the sale of goods and service could not be completed and payment was not required at the time of the call.
"Consumers are fed up with being interrupted at dinner, work and during family time by nuisance and often misleading telemarketing calls. The Commonwealth must step in to provide consumers a choice in who contacts them. The creation of a "do-not-call" list gives citizens the option not to receive calls, and helps telemarketers save time and money by cutting back on unsuccessful calls," says Fargo.
If Massachusetts consumers wonder if a bill such as Fargo's has a chance of reducing unwanted telemarketing calls, it is important to note that 18 states already have similar laws or regulations that have proved successful.
New Yorkers flock to registry
New York State enacted a law in October to authorize a registry of people who do not want to receive unsolicited phone calls from telemarketing companies. Although it won't take effect until April 1, more than 180,000 New Yorkers had put their names on a "do-not-call" registry by the middle of November. When signing the New York bill, Governor George E. Pataki had this to say, "Telemarketing companies and their persistent calls have multiplied to the point where it seems you can't sit down to a meal without being interrupted. Even worse, telemarketers often dupe consumers into buying products they don't want or can't afford."
Elizabeth Mahony, an assistant to Senator Susan Fargo, suggests that citizens interested in the passage of the "do-not-call" legislation, should call Senator Fargo's office at the State House Telephone 617-722-1572 or FAX 617-722-1119 to voice their opinion.
© 2001 The Carlisle Mosquito