Contact: Rhett Wilkinson
Industry leader speaks out
LEHI, Utah, July 14, 2015 – A party-line vote by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in June means that employers have been exposed to abusive class action lawsuits, with employees’ ability to reach customers crippled. Consequently, call centers are also being handicapped and the livelihoods of millions threatened. In the wake, industry leaders are speaking out, including Art Coombs, KomBea President and CEO.
The FCC voted 3-2 to approve an order through the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) to expand the scope of the TCPA beyond its statutory meaning. Also, the FCC’s rulings have created a dangerous landscape for any companies that do business over the phone, as TCPA litigation has dramatically spiked in recent years. Now, almost every call between employees and its customers will become a potential TCPA violation.
“This decision is exactly as the FCC’s very own commissioner described it: a ‘farce,’ and rooted in one of the worst documents ever seen by industry professionals,” said Coombs, who has changed the call center industry through re-inventing the call center wheel. “It’s heinous that call centers, which provide jobs to an estimated 5 million Americans, are consequently being severely impaired.”
Equipment was deemed an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS) if it has the capacity to dial any number, “even if the caller is not currently or presently dialing random or sequential phone numbers but is instead calling a set list of numbers,” said John Adams, FCC Deputy Chief of Consumer and Governmental Affairs. Further, the ruling interprets the term “capacity” in the definition of ATDS as “not unbounded or so broad as to make any equipment that can dial a number an ATDS,” he said.
The ruling significantly expands the definition of ATDS because every Smartphone, tablet, VoIP phone, calling app, texting app and any phone that’s not a rotary dial phone will be an ATDS. The order will make abuse of the TCPA significantly easier, as the primary beneficiaries will be trial lawyers – not American consumers. Additionally, equipment that could function as an auto-dialer constitutes an ATDS today. The new definition is so expansive that the FCC used a rotary phone as an example of technology that would not be covered.
“The three FCC officials who voted for approval were playing a game,” Coombs said. “The winners? Lawyers who are already well off. The losers? Call center agents who we are trying to help make ends meet. We might just be able to pull it off without these sorts of games coming out of Washington.”
The ruling clarifies that the TCPA requires the consent of the actual called party – the subscriber to a phone number of the customary user of that number, “not the intended recipient of the call,” Adams said. Businesses will have only one opportunity to call a reassigned number before facing liability, according to the FCC. The order “makes the situation for good faith actors worse by imposing a strict liability standard” despite “no authoritative database” to determine whether a number has been reassigned, Commissioner Ajit Pai said.
“With mouths to feed, the last thing I want to do is lose my job,” said Garren Hunt, a call center agent. “That’s the reality I face without the ability to reach customers as often.”
Other key components of the ruling include the reiteration that text messages are considered calls under the TCPA; phone services providers can now offer robo-call blocking services and technology; consumers who previously consented to receive calls from a business may revoke that consent at any time and through any undefined “reasonable” means; a consumer’s name in the contact list of an acquaintance’s phone must provide their own consent to be called; and unclear limitations on exemptions to the TCPA’s requirements for time-sensitive financial alerts and healthcare-related calls.
It has been recommended to business owners to immediately take all necessary steps to ensure compliance with the ruling, already in effect.
“Getting contacted by any of the companies that FCC hampers was never a problem. Usually, I appreciated it,” said Raquelle Dickerson, a customer who has purchased many of the products offered through the calls. “I never would have hoped for an attack on these great companies. I know that they make it possible for so many folks to make a living.”
KomBea, Inc. is a provider of world class call center solution, known as soundboarding, which increases productivity, decreases attrition, improves morale, and provides state of the art measurement and accuracy in an industry known for mistakes. Since 2003, it has serviced Apple, H&R Block, Publisher’s Clearinghouse and Hewlett-Packard, and more. They have been featured in TMCnet and The Atlantic. Follow news about the company at www.kombea.com.