Dish Network violated the federal “Do Not Call” registry with an overwhelming mass of telemarketing outcalls – the satellite TV provider was found guilty of making over 57 million unsolicited calls to phone numbers that were registered with the Federal Trade Commission’s Telemarketing Sales Rule, known as the Do Not Call list. The complaint was lodged against Dish back in 2009 by the Department of Justice.
Writes CBS News on Jan. 21: “The potential penalty could be staggering, and could include a possible windfall to consumers who often are the beneficiaries in telemarketing cases. A federal judge issued a partial summary judgment, making the finding that those calls violated federal rules, but left open such questions as what potential penalty the satellite-TV provider could face.”
FCC penalties for infringing on the Do Not Call list can be up to a whopping $16,000 for each outbound call. Dish Network, which has 15 million subscribers nationwide, markets its services directly, either via local retailers and installers or through contracted telemarketing firms.
In its 238-page ruling, the District Court for the Central District of Illinois found that Dish Network called over one million phone numbers that were registered either on Dish Network’s own website as Do Not Calls, or that were marked as “DNC” by telemarketing vendors.
According to Dish.com’s legal page, the provider says they “understand that some customers and members of the community may not wish to receive sales calls for DISH products and services from DISH Network, L.L.C.” and that “in order to protect the privacy rights of consumers and comply with applicable Do Not Call laws and regulations, the phone number of any person who informs DISH that he or she does not wish to receive solicitation calls will be placed on DISH’s Internal Do Not Call list.” The site then offers a field for individuals to enter their name, address and phone number.
Per the FCC press release, Dish was also found liable for abandoning or causing telemarketers to abandon nearly 50 million “outbound telephone calls, in violation of the abandoned-call provision of TSR.” Per FDIC.gov, an “abandoned call” is defined as a call that is “not transferred to a live sales agent within two seconds of the recipient’s completed greeting,” ultimately resulting in millions of potential hang-ups, only to be recycled back into the system for another call.
The Federal Trade Commission listed a number of specific examples of Dish’s Do Not Call violations. For example, the site recounted one consumer’s Dish nightmare: A night worker, a North Carolina woman, said she cannot turn her phone off during the day in order to sleep because of her husband’s medical condition.
The FTC writes: “After getting repeated calls about Dish service, she took steps to put an end to the annoyance. She listened to the whole recorded sale pitch, hoping a live person would pick up so she could beg them to stop calling. When she finally got somebody on the line, she told them to put her on their Do Not Call list. She started sleeping on the couch with pencil and paper in hand so she could document the calls when they woke her up. Ultimately, she filed two complaints with her State Attorney General. Dish responded that she probably already was on the company’s entity-specific Do Not Call list, but she would be added ‘in an abundance of caution.’ But despite all that, the calls kept coming – and according to the government’s motion, she was never put on the entity-specific list.”
A trial has been set for July. According to the complaint, California, North Carolina, Ohio and Illinois are also party to the suit.
Let’s hear from you: Ever get a call from Dish, despite (supposedly) being on their Do Not Call list?