Beautyrock Inc., an Ontario outbound call centre operation, has launched an attack on the CRTC’s newly adopted telemarketing rules, joining the Canadian Marketing Association (CMA), which appealed Telecom Decision 2004-35 in August. Beautyrock filed a Part VII application seeking a review of certain measures on August 25, while the CMA took a two-pronged approach, filing a similar Part VII on August 6 and an appeal to Cabinet on August 19. The new rules don’t effectively balance consumer protection with the right of businesses to use telecommunications to market their products and services, writes Beautyrock in its application. The company contends that this balance already existed under the previous rules. Citing actual statistics from its calls, Beautyrock notes the new rules have actually increased consumer confusion, annoyance and complaints, while also increasing call times and increased instances of not contacting the intended party. This, indicates the company, has resulted in lower productivity and increased costs for businesses. Beautyrock is therefore requesting the commission to review and change certain provisions contained in the new telemarketing regime. The company says that the caller identification procedure must be altered so that it is only initiated once the intended party is reached. The inclusion of the toll-free number must also be moved to the end of the call and only if requested by the intended party, it says. The telemarketing firm also questions the CRTC’s wisdom in not excluding calls to existing customers from the new rules. It notes that the Federal Communications Commission recognized this and granted protection to existing business relationships. The CMA agrees with Beautyrock’s assessment of most aspects of the new rules that they will not serve the best interests of consumers and businesses using telecommunications to market products and services. However, its opinions on the implementation of a national do-not-call registry are diametrically opposed. The CMA writes in its Part VII and reiterated in its appeal to Cabinet that a national do-not-call list can solve many of the problems that have arisen following the implementation of the new rules. It takes aim at issues surrounding the cost of implementing new rules. “The requirement for both businesses and call centre agencies to maintain a database of unique identification numbers for every consumer that wishes to go on their do not call list, is proving to be particularly expensive to implement…The cost to implement such a system is estimated to range from $5,000 to $15,000 for small businesses, $1 million for a large telecommunications carriers, and $3 million for a large financial institution. In addition, the on-going aggregate costs associated with administering thousands of such databases is expected to run to tens of million of dollars per annum,” reads the CMA’s Part VII. Beautyrock, on the other hand, says more restrictive rules such as those associated with a national do-not-call (DNC) registry won’t balance the interests of all stakeholders. “As witnessed by the implementation of the national DNC list in the United States, this ‘sledgehammer’ measure will result in more than half of the households in Canada being put on this list which effectively reduces call volumes by close to 50%. This will result in a potential loss of billions in sales and revenue; upwards of 135,000 jobs lost, many in small rural communities where unemployment is already high; and business closures.” The company also notes that despite the negative picture of telemarketing expressed by a small minority, this type of marketing is effective and welcomed by a majority of people. “Millions and millions of happy, satisfied consumers respond by purchasing goods and services, and donating to their favourite charities, at a rate that is more than ten times that of direct mail or email. These consumers have voiced their opinions on telemarketing, loud and clear, to the tune of $16 billion a year in revenues. They are yelling, ‘we like it!’” concludes Beautyrock on not needing a national do-not-call registry.