Pre-recorded telemarketing messages are legal in Brazil and used by many companies. In this article we will look at the regulations for automated telemarketing and highlight some of its most common uses in the country.
Regulation for Automated Telemarketing in Brazil
Brazilian regulation does not institute specific measures towards automated telemarketing - the practice of reaching customers through pre-recorded telephone messages. This type of publicity falls under general advertising regulations, established by the Brazilian Consumer Defense Code and is subject to regulatory measures by state consumer protection institutions and Anatel, the Brazilian Telecommunications Agency.
Companies of this sector usually follow guidelines instituted by the national associations of telemarketing and customer relations. An important note about these guidelines and regulation is that they are focused on business to consumer relations, and do not cover business to business telemarketing.
Telemarketing Ethics Code
A Telemarketing ethics code established in conjunction by the Brazilian Direct Marketing Association, or ABEMD, the Brazilian Consumer Company Relations Association, or ABRAREC, and the Brazilian Teleservices Association, or ABT, first published in 2005, instituted guidelines for the handling of active telemarketing and the specific case of pre-recorded messages. Some of these are:
- Only deliver calls on weekdays from 9 A.M to 9 P.M., on Saturdays from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M, never on Sundays or national holidays and never charge customers for the call
- In the case of pre-recorded messages, information such as the name of the company responsible for the call, the call’s objective and a telephone number used for support or additional information must be clear to the receiving user, it must also start with a disclaimer stating the pre-recorded nature of the message
- Pre-recorded calls must be able to be terminated at any moment by the receiving user
Mobile and Telephone Operators
The Anatel regulation for Mobile and Telephone Operators institutes that customers must be able to opt in and out of telemarketing calls or offers from their telephone service operators, who must include these options as part of the service contract and also offer ways to allow for this choice once the contract has started.
Since 2012, Anatel regulation requires Brazilian mobile operators to provide a telephone number to which their subscribers are able to send an SMS message with the word “Sair”, the Portuguese term for “exit”, and be permanently exempt from receiving the carrier’s service offers and publicity.
Telemarketing Block List
The Consumer Protection Agency, or Procon, of eight Brazilian states - São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Mato Grosso do Sul, Paraná, Espírito Santo, Rio Grande do Norte, Paraíba, Goiás and also Distrito Federal, the country’s Federal District, institute a telemarketing block list, in which consumers can register their personal phone numbers to opt out of all kind of telemarketing messages directed at them.
Companies who still continue to deliver these calls after 30 days from when a number has been added to the block list are subject to fines by Procon. Through this system, customers can also allow for determinate companies of their choice to deliver telemarketing messages. The only exceptions to the block list are public announcements from the government and philanthropic institutions, which are still allowed to deliver telemarketing messages intended to raise funds from telephone numbers included in the list.
Common Uses for Automated Telemarketing
Pre-recorded telemarketing messages are used by many institutions and companies in Brazil for a variety of purposes, mainly due to the lower cost of the calls when compared to those handled by telemarketing operators.
Product and Service Offers
Some of the companies that handle most of the automated telemarketing messages in Brazil are banks and telephone operators, which in most cases offer services like internet and subscription TV and send special offers to their client base through automated telemarketing. Some of these recorded messages allow for customers to show their interest in the offer by dialing numbers on their telephones and opting to continue the call.
Another common use of automated telemarketing is for local advertising directed to a city’s neighbourhood or region. This is a preferred method for some companies due to the focus of the publicity on consumers in a determinate region and the inherently low cost of pre-recorded messages.
The Brazilian Electoral Court, or TSE, instituted in 2014 that political candidates are forbidden from using telemarketing calls and pre-recorded messages for campaign purposes, even though this is still a largely employed tactic during election years in the country.
Brazilian public institutions such as the water distribution service or municipal transit departments also make use of pre-recorded messages to deliver public announcements by telephone. This refers, for example, to tips on how to save water and how to be safer when crossing streets.