Dish Network Doesn’t Understand ‘Do Not Call’, Cited For 57 Million Violations

Dish Network is in hot water with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for outright violating the agency's Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), including the "Do Not Call" registry, by placing tens of millions of unsolicited calls to numbers that appear on the list. In all, Dish Network and its retail partners made some 57 million unauthorized outbound calls.

The FTC is holding Dish Network responsible for illegal calls made by its vendors to numbers on the DNC registry since Dish retained the retailers, authorized the retailers to market Dish products and services, and because the retailers violated the TSR by initiating the Dish telemarketing calls to numbers on the registry.

Dish Network
Image Source: Flickr (Ken Teegardin)

Interestingly, the vast majority of Dish Network's violations pertain to what the FTC refers to as "abandoned calls," which are calls that are not transferred to a live sales agent within two seconds of the recipient's completed greeting. Of the roughly 57 million illegal calls, nearly 50 million of them fell into the abandoned calls category.

In a related blog post, the FTC gives an example of the types of calls Dish and/or its retail partners were making.

"One consumer works the night shift at a North Carolina hotel. Turning the phone off when she tries to sleep during the day isn’t an option. Her husband has a serious medical condition and she needs to be available in case of emergency. After getting repeated calls about Dish service, she took steps to put an end to the annoyance," the FTC states. "She listened to the whole recorded sale pitch, hoping a live person would pick up so she could beg them to stop calling. When she finally got somebody on the line, she told them to put her on their Do Not Call list. She started sleeping on the couch with pencil and paper in hand so she could document the calls when they woke her up. Ultimately, she filed two complaints with her State AG. Dish responded that she probably already was on the company's entity-specific Do Not Call list, but she would be added 'in an abundance of caution.' But despite all that, the calls kept coming – and according to the government’s motion, she was never put on the entity-specific list."

That's one example of what led to the lawsuit, which could turn out to be awfully expensive for Dish. Penalties for violating the Do Not Call list can be as much as $16,000 per outbound call. As it stands, the case will go to trial in July.