Sweepstakes Entry May Come Calling, Despite “do-not-call” registry

Recently, the Arkansas Atorney General has seen a rise in the number of complaints from consumers claiming that they are being contacted by telemarketers despite having signed up for the do-not-call registry. Upon investigating the claim, the state has found that in fact, the consumer has signed away his or her right not to be called by signing up for a sweepstakes or other trade promotion.

Increasingly, marketers and companies are adding language to their sweepstakes rules that state that those entering are specifically granting permission to receive a home phone call from the sponsoring organization, despite the fact that they are not on the do-not-call list. While a change in promotions law may be imminent (especially in Michigan, where similar cases have been brought), currently, it is not a violation of promotions law to require a person to be contacted by the sponsor in order to enter. Moreover, the do-not-call list only affects home numbers. Thus, at trade shows, where consumers are asked to drop their business card in order to be eligible to win a prize, there is generally no proscription against companies using that information to market their services.

Practice Pointer: It is certainly legitimate for companies to ask for contact information in order to reach potentially new customers and doing so through a promotion is a time-tested way to drive numbers. The fallout, however, for burying such requirements in the fine print can be worse than never having asked for the information in the first place. Companies should be clear about their desire to use the information they collect for marketing purposes, even if it reduces slightly the number of entries they receive.

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