Memo to Canada's CRTC: Shame the Telemarketers, Release the Names

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Memo to Canada's CRTC: Shame the Telemarketers, Release the Names

After months of well-deserved criticism over slack enforcement of Canada's new Do Not Call (DNC) regulations the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has finally shown some courage actually issued violation notices to two telemarketers. That is out of some 700 firms that are under some form of investigation. Some nearly 7 million Canadian numbers are on the DNC list. CRTC has also refused to make public the amount of fines these outfits face.

Yet as reported by The Toronto Star July 13, the CRTC refuses to name them. In contrast, the story points out, "to the practices of other regulations such as the Competition Bureau, which investigates complaints and monitors businesses for fair practices, publicize the names of companies charged under the Competition Act, while other agencies do so upon conviction."

The CRTC's reasoning--or in the view of critics, excuse,--according to vice-chairman of telecommunications Leonard Katz is that the "'intent here is to promote compliance,' not punish the companies by publicizing their names right away."

Katz told the newspaper that the policy, "which the CRTC came up with after consulting other jurisdictions, states the offending telemarketers won't be named unless they refuse to pay the fine within 30 days, in which case they will be hauled up before a public hearing."

Nonsense and useless. The only way you get these characters to clean up their acts ASAP--and to protect and enhance the reputation and survivability of this industry that has been tarnished by such skels--is by shaming them now in front of the very people that they have been seeking as customers, but chose to violate their rights by breaking the rules designed to protect them. IOW hurt them where it counts in sales and reputation.

In fact both the CRTC and the FCC and the FTC in the U.S. should have online 'walls of shame' of firms that consumers can check out and whose names would stay up there and then removed after six months or a year of good behavior. The message from the regulators to consumers is that if you want firms to market lawfully, don't buy from violators until they clean up their acts. Make them feel the pain.

In Canada the CRTC should get the hint. It has been lambasted for its actions by critics from the two main Opposition parties that hold the balance of power; there could be an election this fall as one recent poll showed that the public is getting tired of minority governments like the present Conservative government.

The Star article cited comments from Liberal Member of Parliament Dan McTeague who said "the public has a right to know the identity of the telemarketers."

"'Something like this ought to be made public as a means of deterring others,'" he said, noting there have been a number of complaints about telemarketers trying to circumvent the no-call rules. "'Do not call means just that.'"

It also reported and quoted New Democratic Party Member of Parliament Pat Martin who said "few things unite Canadians more than their loathing of telemarketers, especially those who refuse to respect the no-call list launched in September 2008 and that "'They (telemarketers) really are the bottom of the food chain in terms of commercial marketing'"

"'We expected real vigilance on behalf of Canadian consumers, not shielding them (the telemarketers) under anonymity. Half the deterrence of a penalty is the bad publicity you get as being outed as a scofflaw,'' said Martin. ``This do-not-call list is useless if it does not expose the wrongdoers to public outcry. We want them called up on the carpet and read the riot act about pestering us at dinnertime.'"

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1 Comment

I am not sure how disclosing the names of the telemarketing firms who have claims against them is going to support everyone else. Basically, they will be paying fines and will be under the microscope now.

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