Cheque in the mail? Postal union fined for unidentified robocalls

October 15, 2013

Recent settlements made with the CRTC by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) and its voice broadcasting service provider underline the risks that organizations face in making automated recorded calls.

CUPW and service provider Union Calling agreed to pay penalties of $50,000 and $65,000 respectively as part of settlements respecting violations of the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules, respecting robocalls made to Ontario residents regarding the possible closure or downsizing of post offices in certain communities.  Both organizations also agreed to implement a compliance program.

In particular, the union and voice broadcaster were fined for failing to identify CUPW in the recorded message as the party on whose behalf the calls were made, and for failing to include a local or toll-free telephone number where the call’s originator could be reached.  Ironically, the postal union was also fined for failing to include its mailing address.

Union Calling noted in a press release that call recipients were able to access the required identification and contact information by pressing a number on their telephone handset; however, the CRTC Rules require that this information be provided at the beginning of the recorded message itself.

The Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules place tight restrictions on the use of Automatic Dialing- Announcing Devices (ADADs), also known as robocall devices.  The use of ADADs to make unsolicited calls for the purposes of solicitation is prohibited, unless the prior express consent of the call recipient has been obtained.  Even where ADADs are used for purposes other than solicitation, a number of important restrictions apply, including the requirement to include caller identification and contact information in the recorded message, and a prohibition on making calls outside stipulated calling hours.

The Rules apply to both telemarketers/voice broadcasters and their clients, and as these recent settlements illustrate, both parties may be fined for the same robocall campaign.

The settlements with CUPW and Union Calling are only the most recent in a spate of Administrative Monetary Penalties handed out by the CRTC this year respecting robocalls, including a number of fines levied against political candidates, political parties and their voice broadcasting service providers

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