The world of robocalls–even in retail energy markets–will start looking very different very soon.
This Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to give phone carriers the power to automatically block robocalls they deem illegal or that they feel are unwanted or unwarranted.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai provided a statement explaining the reasoning behind the vote. He began the statement highlighting the response he received from average Americans after news broke three weeks ago the vote would take place.
Much of the input expressed a sense of relief, as if a burden was about to be lifted. This response, Pai said, was representative of a wide-reaching sentiment among all people, regardless of beliefs, creed or political stance.
“If there is one thing in our country right now that unites Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, socialists and libertarians, vegetarians and carnivores, Ohio State and Michigan fans, it is that they are sick and tired of being bombarded by unwanted robocalls,” he said.
Ruling May Affect Competitive Retail Energy Markets
Over the past three months, three different energy supply companies in retail markets faced class-action lawsuits for unwarranted robocalls.
The prevalence of these missteps led to the Pennsylvania Utilities Commission’s Dan Mumford to tell a crowd at a National Energy Marketers conference earlier this year that robocalls were “the hot button issue right now”.
In competitive markets, convincing customers to sign a contract is part of the business environment. However, consumers drew the line at unwanted robocalls pitching an ESCO’s services and/or pricing.
The new FCC regulations would allow mobile carriers to use their own discretion in blocking those robocalls. So, there could be a chance that an ESCO’s sending out robocalls pitching new programs or low pricing may never get through to the people they’re trying to contact.
In one sense, it will cut away one method of several through which ESCO’s search out new customers. In another sense, it may also cut down the chance that lawsuits will arise. Should a mobile carrier become zealous in blocking robocalls, an ESCO may inadvertently avoid litigation for calls that otherwise wouldn’t be blocked.
The FCC’s decision is indicative of a growing distaste for robocalls among citizens and lawmakers. Right now, Congress is mulling the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, which would further regulate how carriers handle robocalls.
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