A Florida telemarketing outfit is being investigated by a group of trial lawyers for violating FTC Do Not Call rules. The firm, The Berkley Group, has been calling people all around the US with a campaign called “Political Opinions of America”. The firm has a robo-call which asks the listener to answer three political questions and when they are done transfers them to a representative where they are pitched a timeshare.
The robo-call asks simple questions like “Do you approve of the direction of the economy?” or “Do you approve of President Obama?”. After answering, the user is transferred to a live operator from “corporate travel services”. The operator informs the listener that they have won a cruise for up to four people and all they have to pay is the “$60 dollar Port Cost” and credit cards are accepted.
Critics say it is a scam.
A statement on the website of Shapiro Haber & Ermy, a Boston law firm that is preparing a potential class-action lawsuit against The Berkley Group says,
“We believe these companies make unsolicited calls, purportedly as a political opinion poll being conducted by ‘Political Opinions of America. Then, one is offered a ‘free’ cruise, which is really designed to expose people to sales pitches for vacation timeshares. If you received such a call, you may have a claim against these companies, whether or not you paid them any money.
An attorney for Berkley told FoxNews.com that what the company is doing is completely legal, saying,
“Political Opinions of America makes calls on behalf of numerous political entities for the purpose of gauging public opinion on a wide range of issues. Political Opinions of America makes use of incentives for some of its survey programs, whereby the individuals contacted are offered a free service or item as a means to increase survey response rates. Political Opinions of America complies with federal and state rules governing the delivery of such calls.”
The Federal Trade Commission encourages anyone who receives a robo-call trying to sell something to file a complaint.
Frank Dorman, a spokesman for the FTC, says,
“Businesses have to get your written permission before they can legally send you pre-recorded messages, even if your number is on the National Do Not Call Registry, and even if they have an established business relationship with you. If you get a robocall from a company that hasn’t gotten your written permission first, it’s a scam, since no legal business wants to break the law and risk having to pay penalties of up to $16,000 per call.”
The FTC says that any call trying to sell something is subjected to the Do Not Call regulations.