Ten state attorneys general and the Federal Trade Commission this month announced that they had secured consent judgments against a number of companies that had engaged in a telemarketing campaign involving billions of robocalls.
The regulators alleged that the robocalls incorporated sales pitches for cruise vacations with political surveys.
Although political surveys are not barred by do-not-call and robocall rules, when combined with marketing efforts, regulators argued, these rules were violated.
The complaint filed by the FTC and state attorneys general alleges that the defendants engaged in a campaign involving 12 to 15 million sales calls a day between October 2011 and July 2012.
The calls would begin with a statement that a survey was being conducted by “Political Opinions of America.” After the survey ended, listeners were told to “press one” for a two-day cruise to the Bahamas. At that point, listeners would be connected to telemarketers working for a cruise line, who would seek to sell them various travel and vacation packages.
The complaint charged the cruise line and a number of telemarketing firms with violating the FTC’s telemarketing sales rule by using robocalls to generate sales leads. The complaint also alleged that the defendants used hundreds of different telephone numbers and caller IDs to place the calls to avoid detection by regulators.
The consent judgment includes injunctive relief, a civil penalty of $7.73 million against the cruise line (to be partially suspended after payment of $500,000), and additional monetary penalties against the telemarketing firms.
The attorneys general of Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and Washington joined with the FTC in bringing the case.