What It’s Like to Run a Legitimate Robocall Business

Here is a typical phone conversation with a person who calls our office to inquire about our legitimate robocall services and rates:

“Good afternoon, Monarch Broadcast”

“Hi, do you do robocalls?”

“Yes we do. How can we help?”

“We’ll how much does it cost?”

“The cost depends on the number of calls you make and the length of your message.  May I ask the purpose of your call?  Are you selling a service or product?”

“Yes, I want to promote a new service to people that will help them with their taxes.”

“OK, do you have list of phone numbers of people who have given you permission to call them about that?”

“No. I just want to send the message to the general population and get a reading on how they respond.”

“Recorded telemarketing calls like that are actually against the law, so you would need an opt-in list of phone numbers of people who have given you their explicit permission for you to call them.”

“How can that be?  I get calls like that all day.”

“Those calls you’re getting are illegal and when they are caught they pay millions of dollars in fines.  You don’t want to get yourself in that kind of situation, so we advise everyone to be very careful about the purpose and content of their messages.  You simply cannot use robocalling to sell a product or service without obtaining permission from those you are calling.”

“So what robocalls are legal?”

“Generally speaking, informational calls are permitted — calls that inform existing customers, company employees and agents, association members, and students about events, schedule changes, news, announcements, etc.  Political calls and calls from charitable organizations are also legal, though political calls have some guidelines they need to follow. In general B2B calls are also legal.”

“OK, thank you”

The above conversation is not atypical and why we frequently have to turn away business.  In fact, most of the business prospects we do turn away were simply not aware of the robocall laws.

We See Ourselves as First Responders in the War Against Illegal Robocalls

We see ourselves as first-responders in the effort to stop illegal robocalls.   We serve on the front line and, while we aren’t lawyers,  we do our best to explain what you can and can’t do.

Here is a list of the Top 10 reasons why your robocalls may be illegal, and why we would have to turn away your business.

1)  You don’t want to use a legitimate caller ID.
2)  You may want to call cell phones despite regulations.
3)  You may want to drop messages during prohibited hours.
4)  You may want to deliver a negative message about someone and then give callees a phone number to harass them.
5)  You may want to deliver sales/marketing messages to a non opt-in (permission based) list.
6)  You have purchased lists of phone numbers that are not certified as opt-in (permission based.)
7)  You don’t want to identify yourself in the message.
8)  You want to deliver messages repeatedly within a short time frame, aggravating recipients.
9)  You may want to use robocalls for building your network marketing business
10)  You want to contact former customers that do not have a current relationship with your business.

compliance and regulations binders isolated on the office table

How to Plan Your Robocall Campaign — Legally!

That Top 10 list is a great guide to explain what you should and shouldn’t be doing as you prepare to undertake your robocall program.

Are you selling a product or service, or recruiting people to do the same?  If so, you can only send robocalls to people who have given you their expressed permission to contact them.  If you don’t, your calls will be against the law.  As an alternative, you can hire live agents to call people.  You just can’t do it with recorded messages. We advise most businesses, that want to use robocalls for sales or marketing purposes, to start compiling a list of opt-in numbers. They can be gathered through a form on your website, or collected on a form at the cash register.  It may take a little while to build a list, but those companies that make the effort put themselves ahead of their competition.  But even with an opt-in list, you must be mindful of how often you contact those on your list, and you should give your recipients the ability to opt-out easily by including an opt-out message at the end of your recording.  If you use robocalls judiciously and infrequently, for only special announcements and events, you will be in good shape.  If you abuse the use of robocalls though, you will likely pay the price and find that people request to be removed from your list.  It is a matter of striking the right balance.

Do you have a legit Caller ID number?  You’ll need one to comply with the law.  You can’t send out anonymous calls — people have to know who’s calling or have a number to contact you.  You need to identify yourself or your organization.  On a further note, caller ID’s are phone numbers only.  We frequently get asked to put in a particular company name along with the actual phone number. But the system does not work like that.  When we pass the message to telecom carriers, and they route to the local exchange carrier to deliver in each recipient’s locale, most local exchange carriers do an instantaneous “look-up” and show the business name that the phone number is registered to.  That is not something that we can manipulate.

You can’t send robocalls at all hours of the night.  Be respectful and place your calls during the day or early evening.  With the exception of emergency calls, most states only allow you to deliver between the hours of 9 am and 9 pm.  But state laws do vary, so you should check.

Outside of political calls (which are mostly legal) you can’t send a robocall to send negative information or hurt someone’s reputation.  And you can’t put in a fake Caller ID number to have people call it and harass someone.

You can’t use robocalling to recruit associates for your network or multi-level marking program.  You may think that you aren’t selling something and just “prospecting” or “recruiting” people, but the law is clear — robocalls and network marking don’t mix.

It’s Not Easy to Turn Away More Business Than We Accept

We like earning money as much as any business, so it’s not easy being in a line-of-work where you are forced to turn away more customers than you accept.  In order to stay compliant, we have to qualify our customers by asking questions they may find objectionable.  For example, when we ask, “What does your message say?” or “What is the purpose of your call?” some prospects may think it’s none of our business.  “What difference does it make?” or “Can’t you just deliver the calls?” they may say, not realizing that the content and purpose of their calls means all the difference in the world — the difference of being hit with a hefty fine or not.  We don’t want our customers to get in trouble, and we don’t want to get in trouble ourselves.

The FTC and FCC enforcement agencies can shut down operations very easily. There are legitimate and good ways to use robocall technology, but the illegal use of the service is upsetting to everyone and giving the technology a black eye.  Also note, that many of the illegal calls that people receive are generated from off-shore companies and much more difficult for the FTC and FCC to police.

Please realize that most of the calls we get are from very well intentioned people who aren’t aware of the legal restrictions involving robocalls.  And who can blame them?  We’re all inundated with robocalls all day, so they naturally think that if everyone else can send robocalls they should be able to as well.

Just remember, if you can’t tick off all of the boxes for a legal call, then you shouldn’t call at all — you will likely pay a hefty price in fines and lose your reputation in the process.

We’re in business to help you improve the effectiveness of your robocall programs, keep you legal, and achieve your goals. Please call us at 888-387-8636 or click here to learn more about our phone broadcasting services.