DirecTV has agreed to pay $5.335 million to settle a do-not-call list violation complaint lodged by the Justice Department for the Federal Trade Commission.
The FTC says it is the largest civil penalty ever obtained in a consumer protection case.
It also comes a day after DirecTV agreed to pay $5 million to New York and 21 others states, and more in restitution to consumers, to settle complaints against its marketing practices.
DirecTV denied any violations of the telemarketing rules, but paid the money and agreed not to repeat the unwanted calls
The do-not-call list, which was launched in 2003, now has 110 million phone numbers of consumers who don't want to hear from telemarketers. Those telemarketers are able and expected to download the DNC list of registered numbers at telemarketing.donotcall.gov.
The complaint alleged that:
"[T]elemarketers calling on behalf of DirecTV contacted consumers on the National DNC Registry. In addition, the complaint alleges that one of the telemarketers--Global Satellite, directly or through another entity--abandoned calls to consumers by failing to put a live sales representative on the line within two seconds after the called consumer completes his or her greeting, as required under the law.
"Finally, the complaint alleges that DirecTV provided substantial assistance and support to Global Satellite, even though it knew, or consciously avoided knowing, that Global Satellite was violating the TSR."
DirecTV, which is owned by News Corp., has agreed not to violate the rules and to fire anyone who makes cold calls without express permission. DirecTV was not making the calls itself but hiring outside marketers to sell its satellite-TV service.
DirecTV also agreed to set up a complaint department, record the complaints and make the records available to the FTC, as well as to take a number of other affirmative steps to screen its marketing contractors, including:
1) Do a due dilligence investigation before authorizing a telemarketing company to pitch its service.
2) Have a written contract.
3) Have that contract spell out compliance with telemarketing sales rules.
4) Monitor those telemarketers for compliance.
As part of the settlement, DirecTV does not have to make any admission of guilt. The deal must be approved by the Federal District Court in Los Angeles, but that is essentially a pro-forma move.
FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras said there were thousands of violations, though she did not have an exact number. She also said the FTC is investgating other big violators.