Dealing with Telemarketers

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Revised December 2012

Acquisitions librarians often receive unwelcome telephone solicitations from publishers' telemarketing representatives. The following is a brief summary of the legal and trade guidelines on this topic:

Federal Law

16 C.F.R. Part 310 is the Federal Trade Commission's Telemarketing Sales Rule. It defines as an abusive telemarketing practice the initiating of a telemarketing phone call to someone who has previously stated that he or she does not wish to receive such calls. The rule provides guidelines which, if followed, shield a vendor from liability. The creation and maintenance of a list of those requesting not to be contacted is one aspect of these guidelines.

Unfortunately for law librarians, the Rule exempts from its provisions those telephone calls made between a telemarketer and any "business". Although the term "business" is not included in the definitions section of the Rule, most law librarians would probably agree that their libraries are part of business organizations.

State Law

16 C.F.R. Part 310 allows for state regulation in this area. An acquisition librarian might check the law in this area for his or her home state.

The National Do Not Call Registry

The Federal Trade Commission maintains the National Do Not Call Registry whereby consumers can register to be removed from telemarketers' calling lists. The National Do Not Call Registry is only for personal phone numbers. Business-to-business calls and faxes are not covered by the National Do Not Call Registry.

So, what's an acquisitions librarian to do?

There are several informal measures a librarian can employ to lessen the number of telemarketing calls received or shorten the time spent on unwanted calls that do come through:

  1. When a telemarketer calls, ask to be placed on the vendor's "do-not-call" list. The vendor might maintain such a list even if not required to do so by law.
  2. Be proactive. If a particular vendor's telemarketing forces are annoying you, call Customer Service and ask to be placed on a "do-not-call" list.
  3. Have a stock answer ready and use it whenever a telemarketer calls. Possibilities include:
    - "I'm sorry but we never order merchandise over the phone. If you would like to send me a brochure, I will be happy to look at it."
    - "I'm sorry but we deal only with our local representative." (You may have to repeat this one several times, as the telemarketer tries to assure you that your local rep will be absolutely delighted to have you purchase merchandise from the telemarketing representative.)
  4. Have your local sales representative, if you have one, intercede on your behalf. Since local sales reps usually prefer that you not be tempted by alternative purchasing opportunities, they will usually do their best to have your name removed from the telemarketing list.