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Phone Number Portability and its Impact on Telemarketers

You may have recently been excited to hear that you no longer have to update your phone number each time you decide to take advantage of a new wireless phone offer. This new found freedom will, without a doubt, be of great convenience to consumers and will generate a large amount of competition and new business within the cellular industry. However, it may also create a difficult situation for telemarketers.

Legislation already exists that prohibits telemarketers from contacting consumers on wireless phones with the help of an auto-dialer. But, even more fundamental to most marketing programs, as consumers shed multiple phone numbers and utilize one number for multiple phones, how will telemarketers deal with the potentiality of a sales pitch that is actually costing the consumer money in the form of wireless minutes?

In 1991 congress passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) which prohibited any marketer, solicitor, or salesperson from contacting a wireless account number through the use of an auto-dialer. Actually, the provisions prohibits any auto-dialer from generating a call the will result in a charge to the consumer. The TCPA was also responsible for developing common industry practices such as limiting calls to after 8 a.m. and before 9 p.m., maintaining a do not call list, and ending the common practice of sending unsolicited faxes. Although simply shifting one cellular number to another phone company may not propose an immediate problem, the implications of number portability are fairly worrisome. The practice insinuates the ability of consumers to forego separate numbers for their cell phones and home phones. Potentially, families could have one contact number that rings through on either their cell phone or their land line. This would make it impossible for telemarketers to discern when they were contacting a wireless phone or a home phone. Only the popularity of single number calling plans will determine the scope of the issue. However, the notion of having just one number seems awfully convenient.

And, convenience is why people get wireless phones. They want to be accessible to friends and family members. As expressed by the popularity of the National DNC list, it is popular opinion that sales calls are decidedly inconvenient. We all know how valuable those “anytime” minutes are, and some of us know how extreme overage charges can become. Ninety percent of all telemarketing takes place during normal working hours. A substantial number of calls during those “anytime” hours could easily become a nuisance. Try to imagine yourself twenty or thirty years ago rec