LANSING (AP) – People would be able to receive fewer unsolicited calls from telemarketers under a bill approved yesterday by a legislative panel.

“I believe it will reduce those calls by 75 percent,” said Brian Mills, a spokesman for state Rep. Ken Bradstreet, a Gaylord Republican who helped reach an agreement on the legislation after months of debate.

The legislation would allow telemarketers for charities, political groups and public safety organizations to continue calling people on Michigan’s no-call list.

Other companies exempt from the legislation include those that solicit people who are already their customers and those that received earlier approval from a consumer to make such a call.

Despite the exemptions, AARP Michigan said the bill will significantly reduce calls from telemarketers.

“Consumers really have only one choice right now to avoid telemarketers and that’s to purchase a service or a machine to screen their calls and a lot of people can’t afford that and shouldn’t have to,” said Bill Knox, spokesman for AARP Michigan.

Even Larry Evans, the president of a direct marketing company in West Bloomfield, said the legislation is a good idea.

Evans’ company, PSI Call Center, makes business-to-business calls, receives calls from consumers interested in certain products and calls customers for research purposes.

Only the research calls would be limited by the legislation, Evans said.

“If someone doesn’t want to be bothered and hates being called, they are not a good prospect for your business,” he said. “A no-call list actually has a benefit for companies.”

The compromise legislation must be approved by the House and Senate before moving on to Gov. John Engler for his signature.

The no-call list would be established by either the Michigan Public Service Commission or a designated vendor, according to the bill.

Fees paid by consumers and solicitors would cover the cost of managing the list, although the cost hasn’t been determined, Mills said.

Fees for telemarketers aren’t set in the legislation, but customers wouldn’t have to pay more than $5 for a three-year period.

The customer fee would be similar to those in the other states that have no-call lists, Mills said. At least 26 states have similar lists, Knox said.

If the legislation is adopted, state regulators would have about four months to decide whether the state should establish the list or if it should offer a contract for the work to a private company.

It’s unlikely a no-call list would be offered immediately after the law took effect because state regulators are trying to determine whether the federal government is close to creating a national list, said Mary Jo Kunkle, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Public Service Commission.

The bill wouldn’t require Michigan to establish a state no-call list if the federal government created a national list within the first four months of the law.

About three months after a no-call list is established, telemarketers that aren’t exempt wouldn’t be able to call customers on the list.

Telemarketers that misrepresent the price of item or conditions of a purchase or fail to disclose all costs or conditions of a prize would face up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.

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The telemarketing bills are House Bills 4042, 4632.

Headline: Panel approves bills to limit telemarketing calls

Category: N

Creation Date: 12/3/2002 13:19:18 Submit Date: 12/3/2002 13:21:04

By Line: By AMY F. BAILEY Title: Associated Press Writer

Object Name: MI FEWER TELEMARKETERS, MICH BJT, 1ST LD-WRITETHRU

ID: G8605

Source: The Associated Press Credit: (AP)

File Type: text/xml

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