The Federal Communications Commission has charged Sprint with the largest fine ever levied for violations of Do Not Call Laws, dunning the wireless telecom carrier with a record $7.5 million fine. This after repeat violator Sprint allegedly failed to honor a previous consent decree reached in 2011.
In 2011, Sprint paid $400,000 to the federal government because of a consent decree resulting from an investigation into consumer complaints that Sprint had continually made telemarketing calls to consumers who had asked to be placed on Sprint’s internal Do-Not-Call list.
Even though Sprint ran into trouble before and agreed to cease and desist from violating the consumer protection law, violations continued. The FCC decided to send a message and make an example of the carrier by levying the historic fine. In addition to paying the fine, Sprint must take several measures mandated by the government in the consent decree:
- Develop and put into action a robust compliance plan designed, among other things, to help ensure future compliance with the FCC’s rules requiring companies to maintain internal Do-Not-Call lists and honor consumers’ requests
- Develop operating procedures and policies specifically designed to ensure that Sprint’s operations comply with all company-specific Do-Not-Call rules
- Designate a senior corporate manager as a Compliance Officer to ensure that Sprint complies with the terms and conditions of the compliance plan and the consent decree
- Implement a training program to ensure that Sprint employees and contractors are properly trained how to record consumers’ Do-Not-Call requests so that the company removes their names and numbers from marketing lists
- Report to the FCC any noncompliance with respect to consumers’ Do-Not-Call requests;
- File with the FCC an initial compliance report within 90 days and annual reports for two years.
“We expect companies to respect the privacy of consumers who have opted out of marketing calls,” said Travis LeBlanc, Acting Chief of the FCC Enforcement Bureau. “When a consumer tells a company to stop calling or texting with promotional pitches, that request must be honored. Today’s settlement leaves no question that protecting consumer privacy is a top enforcement priority.”
For Sprint’s part, they attribute their continuing pattern of violation to faults in technology and human error. “This consent decree relates to issues resulting from technical and inadvertent human errors, which Sprint reported to the FCC,” according to Sprint in a written response. “The issues related only to Do Not Call Rules. We have conducted a thorough, top-to-bottom evaluation of our Do Not Call data management systems, and significant capital investments have been made to improve our Do Not Call/SMS Message architecture, oversight and compliance.”
Since 2003, US residents have been able to opt out of receiving most telemarketing calls by putting their phone numbers on the National Do-Not-Call Registry. Consumers can register their phone numbers on the Do-Not-Call registry for free by going to www.donotcall.gov and they will remain on the list until the consumer removes them or discontinues service. The Do-Not-Call registry does not prevent unwanted calls from the following:
- Calls from organizations with which you have established a business relationship;
- Calls for which you have given prior written permission;
- Calls which are not commercial or do not include unsolicited advertisements;
- Calls by or on behalf of tax-exempt non-profit organizations.
This story was originally published by Nearshore Americas’ sister publication Customer Experience Report.