The Green Sheet Online Edition
March 10, 2008 • Issue 08:03:01
Brand protection the Teleblock way
For merchants, as well as for ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs), reputation means everything. Fostering and maintaining a good name is paramount to staying in business and prospering.
Thus, cold calling potential customers on a federal or state do-not-call list and subsequently gaining an unsavory reputation can damage that all-important name brand.
To protect that reputation, Call Compliance Inc. offers Teleblock Do-Not-Call Blocking System, which screens and blocks outbound calls in real time against federal, state and in-house do-not-call (DNC) lists.
Dean R. Garfinkel, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Call Compliance, explained the proprietary service:
"Every time that a rep picks up that phone and makes a phone call, the central office switch queries our database in real time. Twenty milliseconds round trip and our database says, 'OK, this guy dialed this number, what will I do?'
"And we go look at the database we set up for this [sales] office and we tell the switch to continue with the call or we tell the switch to play a recording - 'the number that you dialed is blocked by Teleblock.'"
In other words, all DNC-listed phone numbers are screened automatically. The telemarketer experiences no delays in the dialing process, does not have to log on or off any system, and does not have to change dialing patterns.
For businesses with many call centers or independent agents working out of their homes, Teleblock can honor a consumer's DNC request within minutes across an entire enterprise.
"We have one customer that has over 300 call centers worldwide," Garfinkel said, adding that the customer can "log in to our Oracle database" to block a number, and within 15 minutes, all 300 call centers worldwide cannot call that number.
According to Garfinkel, approximately 160 million individuals are presently protected on the National Do Not Call Registry. On top of that, 50 states have their own regulations on the books.
Of those 50 states, 12 have implemented their own DNC lists. Once an individual is placed on a list, telemarketers cannot call that individual for a specified period, typically five years.
"And even though the data [from federal to state] may be similar, we have to treat them all as separate data bases," Garfinkel said. "And then on top of that, each company has their own specific list. ... So when you layer all these lists on top of each other, we have about 350 million records in our database."
Not only does Teleblock screen out appropriate phone numbers, the system also logs every dialing action, giving a business third-party verification that it is abiding by federal and state DNC laws, backed up by data in case a regulator from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission comes calling.
In December 2005, for instance, the FTC slapped a $5.3 million penalty on digital TV provider DirecTV Inc. for violating federal telemarketing regulations. FTC fines now run $11,000 per violation.
"And when the FTC comes at a company, they say, 'Give us your telephone records electronically for the last year,'" Garfinkel said. "Then they say, 'You called 100,000 people on the do-not-call list, so 11 grand each.
"'Now prove to us that these are existing business relationships or that you had written permission to call them within 90 days of when you called them.' No one who has used our product in nine years has ever been fined - ever."
Merchants must also perform internal audits that follow the accounting practices set down by the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act of 2002, particularly Section 404.
Teleblock can be used as part of that audit process to provide internal accounting oversight and, therefore, mitigate the risks of violating the SOX provisions.
Teleblock was recently upgraded with Enhanced DialerID, which automatically manages the caller name associated with the Caller ID phone number, thereby ensuring compliance with telemarketing rules.
Call Compliance sells Teleblock predominantly to major telephone carriers, such as Verizon Business, Qwest Communications International Inc., Paetec Communications Inc. and XO Communications Inc., as well as regional carriers and voice over Internet protocol carriers worldwide.
According to Garfinkel, Teleblock is a value added product that ISOs and MLSs could sell to merchants.
"Anybody who wants to sell our product can," Garfinkel said. "They just have to be a dealer or an agent for one of our distributors. And our distributors are all listed on our Web site."
Call Compliance Inc.
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