The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged women's clothing chain Talbots Tuesday with violating proper procedures for placing "robocalls." Talbots and the telemarketing company it used agreed the same day to settle the charges for $161,000.
Pre-recorded robocalls that automatically dial phone numbers must notify consumers immediately of their right to opt out of receiving telemarketing phone calls, according to FTC rules. Talbots and telemarketer SmartReply violated the rule during seven marketing campaigns conducted between February and July 2009 by delaying the opt out message until after the sales pitch. All the calls were placed to customers who had bought merchandise from Talbots and its other brands during the previous year.
In addition to the fine, Talbots and SmartReply agreed in future calls to tell consumers how to opt out of telemarketing calls before launching into a sales pitch; immediately disconnect consumers who opt out of the calls; and give consumers the option to opt out at any point during the call.