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  1. 1. Click on the submission below to be taken to the relevant document Submission # Submission Name 309 National Council of Women of Queensland (Cairns Branch) 423 National Credit Union Association 410 National Heart Foundation 115 Nave 453 Nederhof 227 Nicholls 388 Noble 140 North 191 Norvick 356 Notley
  2. 2. RATIONALE Whilst the NCWQ (Cairns Branch) recognises that not all Australian citizens have issue with receiving unsolicited phone calls from persons either in Australia or off-shore, some branch members have stated concern at the nuisance factor, and unnecessary intrusion in their lives by the abovementioned phone calls. Some members have stressed their annoyance at being interrupted at busy time of the day – a time generally used by them as family time or relaxation after a day at work. Calls are intrusive on work time – particularly for those members who work from home. Comments have been made as to the impertinence of callers who continue to talk when they have been told “I am not interested thank you!” This leaves two options – listen or hang up – neither of which members felt should be necessary if the caller has been told that the call is of no interest to the receiver. In this scenario, members have felt that unnecessary anger/stress results from being ignored – and they felt this scene would be replicated thousands of times across Australia. There is the risk factor, and possible question of manipulation of elderly, or those who are unable to understand the nature of the call. The can be coerced into doing something (purchasing) they perhaps did not want to do. Some members have stated that whilst they are not normally aggressive to callers, they do react in a negative way to the callers, particularly if the callers continue to harass. As cited in the background paper, younger people perhaps do not have the same issue with unsolicited calls, given they are more in tune with direct marketing, however, members of the NCWQ (Cairns Branch), have stated that their concern is largely for those older persons in the community. The members have concern that if not addressed, the situation could balloon out to enormous heights, as did the issue of unsolicited e-mails – an issue that needed to be addressed at government level. It is for this reason that the submission has been written. The background paper has been read and the contents and issues for debate have been noted. COMMENT The branch members recognise that there are times households will be subject to unsolicited phone calls. These include calls for societal or statistical purposes, or from callers seeking valid comment on public issues such as at election times. These calls are not constant, and generally contacts are taken at random and the recipient may refuse to comment. They have the choice. It is mainly the calls which revolve around the purchase of or sale of goods from unknown companies that raised the ire of members. It has been interesting to note in the discussion paper (p6) “that research indicates some consumers welcome direct contact from companies, particularly companies they know and trust”. Members, whilst accepting this fact, stated their concerns over privacy issues. Their concerns are about access by companies to their confidential information.
  3. 3. Regarding regulation, members suggest that a long and broad advertising campaign would be required for the establishing of an effective “do not call” register. The length of time to be on the register is certainly one to be debated. Members suggest that at least five years membership (no less than five) is required, given the ageing of the Australian population. A further issue would be the advising of members when their expiry time was drawing to a close – how would this be done? The use of automatic calling equipment was raised, and members have noted the standards adopted for the 2003 Model Code revisions to the Federal Privacy Act 1988 have been noted. Having read the Discussion paper and noted the various models used by other countries, members of the NCWQ (Cairns Branch) welcome the stance taken by the Federal Government to provide an Australian Model for a Do Not Call Register Model to reduce the intrusive calls into private homes and to provide choice for individuals as to the use of their home or business phones. This submission is made as a clear statement of support by members of the NCWQ (Cairns Branch) to the Minister of the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts into the future discussions and eventual strategy to provide Australians the choice of whether they want to do not want unsolicited phone calls made to their homes.
  4. 4. National Credit Union Assn Inc ABN 67 533 140 236 NCUA 165 Moggill Road Taringa Qld 4068 PO Box 21 Indooroopilly Qld 4068 Telephone (07) 3870 3877 Facsimile (07) 3870 3343 Email Web 30 November 2005 Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts GPO Box 2154 CANBERRA ACT 2601 By email: Dear Sir/Madam, SUBMISSION - INTRODUCTION OF A DO NOT CALL REGISTER – POSSIBLE AUSTRALIAN MODEL Thank you for the opportunity to provide our thoughts on a possible Australian “do not call register” model. The NCUA is responsible for representing the interests of member credit unions to appropriate government departments, authorities and parliamentarians, as well as advising members of all appropriate legislative and related developments and requirements. Credit unions are financial co-operatives, owned and controlled by their members. Credit Unions operate in the financial sector and generally provide financial advice, deal in deposit products such as savings accounts and term deposits, deal in non-cash payment facilities such as EFTPOS Cards and BPay, and general insurance. Credit unions are required to hold an Australian Financial Services Licence under the Corporations Act authorising these activities. Credit unions also undertake a banking business and offer loans, and as such are an Approved Deposit Taking Institution (ADI) under the Banking Act 1959, and a lender under the Uniform Consumer Credit Code (UCCC). Although our members do not generally market to the public via the telephone, they do cross sell various financial products and services to existing customers. Accordingly we have an interest in ensuring that any model encompassing a “do not call” register takes these circumstances into account. In commenting on a proposed model, we will largely limit our comments to issues that are directly relevant to our member, although more general comments may be made. Possible Model The NCUA is supportive of government’s efforts to establish a “do not call” register under legislation to allow individuals to register not to receive telemarketing calls. While some forms of direct marketing are acceptable to consumers, we suggest that direct
  5. 5. marketing by phone is intrusive and annoying for consumers, particularly where automated dialling equipment is used resulting in silent calls or recorded message calls. We believe that an “opt out” approach is preferable and strikes an appropriate balance between legitimate telemarketing businesses and the rights of individuals not to receive such calls. In respect to other features of a possible model, we agree that the maintenance of a “do not call” register listing the land and mobile phone lines of individuals and small business would appear to be the simplest to administer. We suggest that there be no time limits placed on registration of numbers. Further an individual or small business should be allowed to register all numbers belonging to them. Coverage and Types of Calls Although we recognise the difficulties of attempting to regulate offshore telemarketers, we believe that the framework of any legislative response on this issue must include a mechanism to deal with it. We submit that the approach adopted under the Spam Act 2003 would be appropriate for telemarketers. Although the effectiveness of such extra-territorial reach may be questionable, we believe that it should nonetheless be regulated. A foreign corporation intending on raising funds in Australia is required to abide by the Corporations Act and issue a prospectus. Likewise a foreign corporation intending on selling goods and services is required to undertake its activities in accordance with the Trade Practices Act 1973. To ensure that Australian consumers are appropriately protected we submit that Australia should attempt to regulate offshore telemarketers. There is no doubt that the availability of cheaper human resources has resulted in a proliferation of call centres or telemarketing functions offshore. It is essential that the proposed model appropriately cover Australian corporations, which outsource its telemarketing function overseas just as much as an overseas telemarketing company. Exemptions Before discussing possible exemptions, we note that the discussion paper was relatively silent on the definition of “telemarketing” and therefore “telemarketers”. This is an important issue, and it must be fully explored. The current definition of “telemarketing”, as noted in Appendix A, “includes all activities that relate directly or indirectly to direct marketing and which involve the use of a telephone to contact consumers”. This definition is very wide and has the potential to capture all businesses marketing its products to existing or new customers via the telephone. It should be recognised that credit unions operate as mutuals. Pursuant to ASIC policy statement PS147 and the Corporations Act, one of the fundamental tenants of mutuality is that the company is not run for the purpose of yielding a return to shareholders. On the contrary the purpose of a credit union is often to provide banking and other financial products to remoter regions of Australia, or to service the specific needs of racial, industrial or other affiliations. Accordingly the public benefit of its activities in promoting its products and services must not be overlooked. It would also be fair to say that our members generally do not engage in direct marketing to the general public via the telephone. However, direct marketing to existing
  6. 6. clients, who have generally indicated their consent to being contacted about other products, is common. We do not believe that these activities, which are ultimately to promote a better understanding of various financial products available to our member’s clients, should be caught by the proposed model. This can only be achieved with either a more targeted definition of “telemarketing” or appropriate exemptions. It is also relevant to note that companies who deal in or offer “financial products”, as that term is defined under the Corporations Act, are subject to the anti-hawking provisions in s.992A and s.992AA. It would be unworkable for separate regimes to apply to marketing of the same products. The potential for the “do not call” register to conflict with existing legislative requirements must be examined in detail. We submit that the “established business relationships” exemption mentioned in the discussion paper gives appropriate weight to the importance of a business maintaining contact with existing customers. We also suggest that where there is specific legislation dealing with the marketing of particular products, such as “financial products”, which has the ability to extend to telemarketing, that such specific legislation must take precedence. This will avoid confusion, and regulation under two separate regimes. Administration We support the proposition that the Australian Communications and Media Authority either directly administer a “do not call” register or tender out the administration process. Given the potential for products and services and marketing activities to be covered under several pieces of legislation (as noted above), it is imperative that the government department administering the regulation be cognisant of the areas which are independently regulated. It is also essential that appropriate recognition be given to breaches which either arise inadvertently as a result of system issues or which do not result in any consumers being taken advantage of. We support the use of similar “safe harbour” provisions as the United Kingdom and the United States. Demonstration that telemarketers have done all they can to comply with the appropriate regulations coupled with details of company policies and evidence of continual training should be a sufficient defence for breaches. We would be pleased to provide any further information required in relation to the matters addressed herein. Yours sincerely, National Credit Union Association Inc. Joe Tham Legal Manager
  7. 7. Submission to the Dept of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts on the proposed introduction of a National Do Not Call Register Prepared by the National Heart Foundation of Australia, November 2005
  8. 8. Do Not Call Register The National Heart Foundation of Australia believes that registered charities should be exempt from participation in the national Do Not Call Register. This position is based on a three main factors: 1. Cold calling acquisition is a vital source for recruiting volunteers and a potential source of recruiting new donors. We currently achieve a 14% positive response rate from cold list volunteer acquisition. 2. The financial and staff resource costs of washing our database to ensure compliance with the proposed regulations will place a huge burden on our organisation. The additional expenditure would have a substantial impact on the cost of fundraising - a significant consideration in a closely regulated environment where compliance is already a challenge. 3. A consumer’s motivation to opt out of commercial sales phone calls is not necessarily the same as opting out of charity calls. If the government were to arrive at a position where charities should not be exempt, we would recommend that the following points be incorporated into the new legislation. Definition of an Unsolicited Call The Heart Foundation recommends that the definition of an Unsolicited Telemarketing Call should be based on an extension of the current US model. That is, where there is a prior relationship where there has been a previous transaction history with a charity, a call would not be deemed unsolicited. We recommend that for the charity sector in Australia the definition of what constitutes an existing relationship be that a transaction must have occurred with the person called at least once in the five years prior to the call taking place. With this definition, the Privacy Act would continue to take effect to ensure charities run their own internal ‘do not call’ lists for warm prospects. The table below gives an indication of the extent of rejection of telemarketing contact amongst our constituents at the Heart Foundation. As can be seen, nationally, less than half of one percent of our constituents have opted out of telephone contact with the Heart Foundation. We believe that this data indicates that if the broader community has any issue with cold calling it is not with charity telemarketing. Do Not Call Register Submission to Dept of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Prepared by the National Heart Foundation of Australia, November 2005 Page 2.
  9. 9. Summary Table - Heart Foundation internal “do not call’ list (November 2005) HEART FOUNDATION % OF TOTAL HEART DIVISION FOUNDATION SUPPORTERS ON ‘DO NOT PHONE’ LIST Australian Capital Territory 0.43 New South Wales 0.61 Northern Territory 0.12 Queensland 0.51 South Australia 0.49 Tasmania 0.10 Victoria 0.67 West Australia 0.21 TOTAL 0.48 Compliance We recommend that in line with the US and UK experiences, the minimum length of time for a registration to take effect should be every 28 days. This would allow organisations engaged in telemarketing sufficient time to wash their data and would limit any fees incurred. Obviously the more frequently databases need to be cleaned, the higher the resource and financial burden placed on the complying organisation. If charities are not exempt from Do Not Call provisions, then the cost of accessing the Do Not Call Register for the purposes of washing our databases should be waived. In the worst case, fees should be charged at a significantly lower rate than for commercial entities. Length of validity We recommend that there should be a sunset clause for any Do Not Call Registrations. Do Not Call Register Submission to Dept of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Prepared by the National Heart Foundation of Australia, November 2005 Page 3.
  10. 10. I strongly support a 'do not call' register. The idea that I could opt out of receiving unsolicited telemarketing calls fills me with joy. These calls are a real intrusion on my privacy and are getting more all the time. Some days I receive up to 5 calls, and seeing as I have never bought anything from these calls, they are a waste of my time, and the companies time as well. I definitely think tighter controls are needed on this industry as it is getting more out of control all the time.
  11. 11. Dear Sir/ Madam, 1. Congratulations to DCITA for initiating moves which could remove this major public nuisance. 2. I strongly support the establishment of a Do Not Call Register as the frequent nuisance calls currently received are a major invasion of privacy. 3. I do not think the process should be self-regulatory. There should be statutes enforcing a Do Not Call regime, and sanctions for those who breach it. 4. There should not be any exemptions. People should be able to nominate whether they want their Do Not Call restrictions to apply to (a) sales calls, and/or (b) charities and/or (c) social research, or (d) all non-personal or non- solicited calls. 5. Calls from charitable organisations are no less an invasion of privacy than commercial telemarketers. I have a set number of charities which I choose to donate to every year. I don't want calls from other groups intruding into my homelife. 6. Charities don't benefit from being allowed to call people who do not wish to receive their calls and who accordingly are unlikely to donate. A Do not Call register which allows people to opt out of calls for charitable institutions may well save the charities money by advising them which numbers are not likely to produce results. Again thank you for undertaking this importance initiative, which I hope the Government agrees to put in place as soon as possible. Yours sincerely, June Noble
  12. 12. I am concerned about unsolicited phone calls to my home. I would like to see a system that allows people to on IN. Not an op OUT model. The act should also cover people calling from overseas to Australia. I would not mind charities and some genuine researchers being exempt. Authorised call should be limited to the hours between 9am and 7pm. There should be strong fines for any wrong doing. An electronic log of phone numbers called should be kept and forward to a body to check that no breaches have been made. This could be an automated system and should be cost effective.
  13. 13. We support the introduction of a Do Not Call register. We hate telemarketing calls and have never acted on marketing information provided through unsolicited calls, so telemarketers are wasting their time calling us. We also find these calls to be very intrusive, and it can be quite difficult to get rid of telemarketers even when you tell them you are not interested. I don’t think we should have to put up with this sort of thing. We would definitely put our name on such as register