As annoying as millions found Sprint Corporation (NYSE:S) rival Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ)’s “Can You Hear Me Now” marketing campaign is/was, apparently Sprint’s marketing campaigns that involve telephone calls and text messages irk customers even more. Following complaints by customers and potential customers who joined “Do Not Call” lists yet were continually harangued by the wireless carrier Sprint in 2011, the Federal Communications Commission force Sprint to pay a $400,000 fine.
This fine and rebuke apparently fell on deaf ears for Sprint Corporation (NYSE:S) for the last three years. Consequently, yesterday the FCC levied the largest “Do Not Call” violation fine on the company and fined Sprint $7.5 million. Effectively, the Federal Communication Commission took a page out of Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ)’s marketing book by issuing its own version of “Can You Hear Me Now.” While Sprint’s track record would suggest that they haven’t, perhaps a fine of $7.5 million might make the company listen. $400,000 is one thing but $7.5 million is real money and presumably the next fine won’t get any smaller.
“Do Not Call” list dates to 2003
Since 2003, Americans have had the luxury of going to www.donotcall.gov in order to opt-out of telemarketing campaigns that seem to pick up in scope just as you sit down to the dinner table. Ok, perhaps not the best example, as it seems Americans rarely sit down to dinner together, and meal preparation seems to be some version of already fatty foods topped with bacon with a “value” price being bought from a drive-thru if rising fast food sales are any indication of what people are eating.
“When a consumer tells a company to stop calling or texting with promotional pitches, that request must be honored,” FCC enforcement chief Travis LeBlanc said in a statement. The settlement means that Sprint will not only be hit with the largest fine ever in this regard, but it also must set up a compliance program and provide regular reports to regulators for the next two years further upping the cost to the company.
Sprint Corporation (NYSE:S) said the settlement “relates to issues resulting from technical and inadvertent human errors, which Sprint reported to the FCC.”
“We have conducted a thorough, top-to-bottom evaluation of our Do Not Call data management systems, and significant capital investments have been made to improve our Do Not Call/SMS Message architecture, oversight and compliance,” the company said.
While that may very well be the case, it doesn’t seem to have swayed the FCC one bit.
Not just Sprint
The Federal Communications Commission announced a $2.9 million fine Thursday against Dialing Services LLC, a New Mexico-based firm that the FCC says continued to place robocalls over the past year despite having been warned against doing so in March of 2013.
Sprint is not alone. The company Dialing Services which runs the website gopcalls.com and offers Republican candidates robocalls to help sway voters was recently hit with a $2.9 million fine.
It’s illegal to make robocalls to mobile phones and Dialing Services was warned about this in 2012 when it placed 4.7 million robocalls to mobile phones. Apparently they also didn’t feel the need to listen to the FCC. Unlike other branches of government, the two fines suggest that the FCC is looking at paying its own way amongst regulatory commissions and agencies.