You’ve likely heard and read about it, but did you know that Canada’s own ‘Do Not Call’ (DNC) list will be up and running by September 30, 2008? This development means changes for REALTORS® both as consumers and as businesses. Bell Canada has been awarded a five-year contract to establish and maintain the list. When they launch it, consumers, including REALTORS®, will be able to register their cellular, fax and landline numbers for free to reduce the number of telemarketing calls they receive. Sign-up will be available via a toll-free number and website set up by the company. Join the list once and you’ll be good for three years unless you renew your registration before the time is up.
However, you’ll still get calls from groups such as political parties, registered charities, pollsters and newspapers. If you get a telemarketing call 31 days after you sign- up, you will be able to submit a complaint to Bell Canada within two weeks of the unwanted call. Bell Canada will forward your complaint to the Canadian Radio-television Commission (CRTC) (or another investigative body to be determined) on your behalf if the company feels your complaint is valid. On the flip side, when the DNC list becomes active, consumers will also be able to file a complaint against you as a telemarketer if you try to cold call or send broadcast faxes to them after they join the list.
To avoid potential fines of up to $1,500 per call for individuals and $15,000 per call for companies (e.g. your brokerage), you’ll need to register yourself with Bell Canada as a telemarketer and download the ‘Do Not Call’ list regularly so you can compare the numbers you’d like to dial to the numbers on the list.
Bell Canada says you’ll also be able to verify individual numbers against the list without actually downloading the entire list. The only exemptions to the DNC list requirements for REALTORS® will be if you have a personal relationship or an ‘existing business relationship’ with someone who’s registered on the list. An ‘existing business relationship’ is defined by the Telecommunications Act as “a business relationship that has been formed by a voluntary two-way communication between the person making the telecommunication and the person to whom the telecommunication is made”.
According to the Act, a Business Relationship exists when: (a) The purchase of services or the purchase, lease or rental of products, has occurred within the previous 18 months; (b) An inquiry or application has been made within the previous six months; or (c) A written contract has been entered into within the previous 18 months. A written contract can be a signed real estate contract or written notice from the person you wish to reach stating that you may call them for business purposes. The U.S. experience If the United State’s experience in launching a national ‘Do Not Call’ list is any indication, the Canadian list will be popular among consumers and telemarketers could be fined substantially if they don’t respect the list.
Here are some interesting stats on the numbers registering on the U.S. list, which became active in:
June 2003: within four days:10 million numbers;
within 40 days: 30 million numbers;
by December 2004: 64 million numbers;
by December 2005: 107 million numbers;
By December 2005, the following companies found themselves facing fines for not complying with the list: AT & T: $800K Primus: $400K Dynasty Mortgage: $770K Direct TV: $5.3M
So far, it’s unclear how telemarketers will be able to access the Canadian ‘Do Not Call’ list. The subscription fees haven’t been finalized either, however we will keep you posted as these details become available. For more information, go to: www.bell.ca/donotcall.