Telemarketing Rules In Australia Are Getting A Consumer-Friendly Revamp

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The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is preparing to tighten up the rules for telemarketers and researchers. This will affect how they are allowed to interact with you over the phone - in a good way. Here are the proposed changes that you need to know about.

The ACMA is in the process of remaking the Telemarketing and Research Industry Standard 2007 and is currently accepting submissions. Under the proposed changes, callers will be required to give the name of their company at the start of the conversation so that consumers have greater clarity about the nature of the call.

In other words, it will be more difficult for telemarketers to confound you with tangentially related facts or rhetorical questions prior to the 'hard sell'. Currently, the company's name does not need to be shared immediately if the consumer does not specifically request it.

Otherwise, the changes aim to rationalise and clarify the existing requirements of the standard and to remove requirements which appear to offer little or no benefit to consumers. Rules that are expected to remain in the standard include the hours and days when calls can be made, the information that must be provided during a call, when calls must be terminated and the use of calling line identification.

While the above the legislation will remain largely unchanged in the new standard, the process of remaking the Telemarketing and Research Industry Standard 2007 is a legal requirement if they are to be retained. As explained by the ACMA in a statement:

Legislative instruments generally ‘sunset’ (that is, they are automatically repealed) on 1 April or 1 October that first occurs 10 years after they are registered. This is an automatic process that applies to most legislative instruments regardless of the particular content.

For a refresher, here are the times when telemarketing and research calls cannot be made:

Research calls Telemarketing calls
Weekdays Before 9.00 am or after 8.30 pm Before 9.00 am or after 8.00 pm
Saturday Before 9.00 am or after 5.00 pm Before 9.00 am or after 5.00 pm
Sunday Before 9.00 am or after 5.00 pm Calls prohibited
National Public Holidays Calls prohibited Calls prohibited

Submissions to the consultation paper can be made here. You can make a complaint to the ACMA about telemarketing violations here.

If you haven't already, be sure to sign up to the Do Not Call register to remove telemarketers from your life forever. Just be aware that some organisations (chiefly charities and political parties) can still make telemarketing calls to numbers on the register.

Unfortunately, the safeguards currently being tweaked do not cover parties exempt from the obligations contained in the Do Not Call Register Act 2006 (DNCR Act). However, the ACMA will accept submissions on this topic, which will then be referred to the Department of Communications and the Arts.


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