Telephone solicitation, also known as telemarketing, is the practice of making unsolicited calls to individuals whom telemarketers intend to pitch their products and services. Telemarketing began in the late 1980s and was a way for businesses and individuals to gain customers cheaply without going house-to-house. However, individuals with nefarious intents quickly hijacked this practice and used it to defraud unsuspecting customers.
Today, it is not uncommon for an Arizona resident to receive an unsolicited call from an unknown number, with the caller pitching them a fraudulent product or service. When residents reportedly receive an estimated 3 million unsolicited calls per day, the Attorney General’s Office swung into action. For one, the Office encourages residents not to answer unsolicited calls from unknown callers. In such cases, the call recipient may confirm the unknown caller’s name and location. Armed with this information, the recipient may call back. Otherwise, the Office urges Arizona residents to block such unknown numbers and register their numbers on the Do Not Call registry.
Speaking of robocalls and unscrupulous telemarketers, in August 2019, the AG’s Office formed an arrowhead of state attorney-generals and phone companies bringing perpetrators to book. Because the coalition is cross-jurisdictional, the Attorney General’s Office can take legal action against in-state and out-of-state violators of Arizona’s telephone solicitation law. The most notable of these cases was the Do Not Call case against Adobe Carpet Cleaning, which resulted in a $1,000,000 civil penalty. There was also the case against Desert Valley Aire, which ended in a $340,000 civil penalty.
Arizona enacted its telephone solicitation law to protect consumer rights, especially as several businesses use underhanded tactics to defraud residents and artfully skirt the law. For one, the law requires companies that make telemarketing calls to inform prospective customers of their rights—both verbally and in writing.
Generally, customers have the right to cancel a purchase made after a telemarketing call within three days of receiving the product or service. Suppose a company fails to inform the customer of this right. Then, the customer may cancel the purchase at any time, even after the expiration of the three-day cancellation period. Either way, the company must process the refund for the cancellation immediately. If the company refuses to refund the customer’s money, the individual may file a consumer complaint with the Attorney General’s Office. In addition, the consumer may gather all necessary documentary proof of the transaction and initiate a chargeback with their financial institution.Note, the three-day cancellation policy and supporting law are not a catch-all. The telephone marketing law does not put legit businesses at a disadvantage of equally unscrupulous consumers who may seek to exploit the cancellation policy. The law applies only in specific circumstances such as the sale of credit services, phone pitching of business opportunities, and discounts. To comply with the telephone solicitation law, a business that makes cold calls must register with the Secretary of State’s Office and file a bond with the State Treasurer. Erring businesses are liable to civil penalties.