What’s Telemarketing Got to Do with It?

by Bill McClellan on Jul 19, 2017 9:41:28 AM Advertisements, Consumer Protection


Let’s travel back in time to the 90’s when the majority of lead generators were small sales floors. Fast forward to 2017 and you can probably list off the timing and location of when and where you received your last five robocalls.

This is something you can thank online lead generation for according to Lois C. Greisman, associate director, Division of Marketing Practices, Federal Trade Commission (FTC). She says that by visiting websites and filling out your information, you could be placed on every call list available.

These are just a few insights from a panel discussion at the 2017 Government Affairs Fly-In, when were joined by speakers, Greisman, Bill Knowlton, partner, Invictus Law, P.C., and Phil Smith, Response North LLC. The panel was moderated by Leonard L. Gordon, partner, Venable LLP.

Knowlton of Invictus Law says self-regulation for direct response marketers is about integrity vs. marketers that don’t care to follow the rules. He says if the marketplace is tainted, it affects your business too whether competitors are using illegal telemarketing tactics or advertising claims they can’t support.

This is why it’s so important for direct response marketers turn in the bad folks, and better yet, the FTC encourages marketers to do so as well. Knowlton says it’s not a get out of jail free card, but your case is more likely to move to the top of the FTC’s list.

This brings us to the work of the Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ESRP). ESRP gives direct response marketers access to FTC leaders while working to enhance consumer confidence in the electronic retailing industry. Smith of Response North mentioned that Lois Greisman was one of the first FTC leaders to meet with ESRP at its inception, and she helped to provide guidance on how to keep direct response marketers in check.

ERSP is managed as a separate self-regulatory program administered for the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council (ASRC) - formerly known as NARC - by the Council of Better Business Bureaus. And to date, companies working with ERSP have modified or discontinued nearly 200 advertisements. To view recent cases, check out their website here.

Knowlton says that tracking data is also invaluable to your customers. This can certainly be true in the case of DeVry University. They had to pay a $100 million fine at the beginning of this year to the FTC for claiming in advertisements that 90 percent of all of their graduates who were actively seeking employment obtained jobs in their field of study within six months of graduation. The FTC argued that DeVry did not have a reasonable basis to support this. The big question is, how can DeVry still be seen by consumers as credible after this?

Any other recent cases come to mind regarding telemarketing, online lead generation, or false advertising? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

 About the Author


Bill McClellan serves as ERA's Vice President of Government Affairs. Prior to joining the association, Bill worked as a lobbyist at the Georgia Automobile Dealers Association, covering the state legislature and Georgia's congressional delegation. Before working for the GADA, Bill managed political campaigns at both the congressional and state constitutional levels.


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The statements, opinions, and advertisements expressed on the ERA Blog and other online entities owned by the Electronic Retailing Association are those of individual authors and companies and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Electronic Retailing Association.