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Company takes heavy losses for unwanted phone calls

Unwanted sales calls and "robo-dialers" are one of the biggest nuisances associated with owning a phone. Everybody seems to have a story about a company that manages to call during the middle of dinner or in the early hours of the morning when people are still asleep.

Well, one Arizona company is now feeling a significant sting for invading the privacy of consumers.

Desert Valley Aire, Inc., a company that specializes in heating and air conditioning (HVAC) services, has agreed to fines of $340,000. The agreement allows them to end actions by the state's Attorney General over more than 25,000 telemarketing calls the company made between 2011 and 2015 in violation of the federal "Do Not Call" list and regulations. In addition, the company will reimburse the state's legal fees, which amount to around $14,000.

Some observers think the company is getting off pretty easy. It's paying around $14 per nuisance call -- but the law allows a $1,000 fine per call when companies decide to ignore the laws surrounding telemarketing.

Under federal regulations, companies are required to update their call lists regularly in order to capture the most recent additions to the national registry that allows consumers to opt out of annoying telemarketing calls. In addition, state laws require companies to cease calling any consumer who specifically requests it when they answer the phone.

According to the complaint against the company, not only did the company not bother to remove numbers from their call lists based on the national registry, they routinely told aggravated consumers that they weren't required to do so. Representatives also abruptly disconnected people who attempted to ask them not to call back.

In addition to financial consequences, the court imposed one more condition that seems to fit the crime: The company can't make telemarketing calls to anyone -- whether they're on a no-call list or not -- for the next five years. The only people they can call to solicit business from are existing customers.

Other business owners should take note of the incident. It's never wise to ignore the laws that pertain to business operations -- and the consequences can have a lasting effect on your future.

Source: tucson.com, "Ignoring Do Not Call list will cost Arizona company $340,000," Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services, May 15, 2018

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