A Guide to UAE's New Telemarketing Rules: Penalties, Exemptions and More

A Guide to UAE's New Telemarketing Rules: Penalties, Exemptions and More

Beginning in mid-August 2024, telemarketers operating in the UAE are restricted to contacting customers solely between the hours of 9 am and 6 pm.

Notably, if a consumer declines a service or product during the initial call, they cannot be contacted again on the same day. Those who violate these regulations will be subject to administrative repercussions, such as warnings and fines reaching up to Dh150,000.

The Ministry of Economy, along with the Telecommunication and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA), has unveiled a series of fresh controls and procedures.

Here's all you need to know:

When will new rules come into effect?

The new regulations will be enforced starting in mid-August 2024.

What is the purpose of the new regulations?

The resolutions seek to establish guidelines for companies to follow regarding the appropriate channels and timing for marketing their products and services. Their primary objective is to minimize unsolicited marketing phone calls, thereby enhancing consumer comfort and respecting their privacy.

What time can telemarketing executives call customers?

Marketing phone calls are permissible solely between the hours of 9 am and 6 pm.

Can the telemarketing team call customers multiple times in a day?

Marketing executives are restricted from making repeat calls to consumers who decline their product or service during the initial contact. Furthermore, they are limited to contacting consumers once per day, and if the consumer doesn't answer or terminates the call, they may only attempt to reach them twice per week.

Do marketing executives need to ask customers if they wish to continue the call at the beginning?

Yes. The resolutions mandate seeking the consumer's consent before initiating marketing or advertising for the offered product or service during a phone call. Additionally, the resolutions permit the utilization of automated dialing systems for marketing and advertising the company's products or services, as outlined within its provisions.

Can customers file complaints?

Yes. Consumers retain the entitlement to lodge complaints with the appropriate authority regarding unsolicited marketing calls. Such complaints should include the complainant's name, contact details, as well as those of the respondent, along with any pertinent supporting documentation, if accessible.

Do customers have the right to ask to stop receiving marketing phone calls?

Indeed, consumers possess the entitlement to enroll in the DNCR (Do Not Call Registry) to halt the receipt of marketing phone calls and to lodge complaints against firms that breach regulations.

Can telemarketers pressure customers?

The resolution prohibits telemarketing representatives from employing tactics that apply undue pressure on consumers to convince them of the merits of a product or service, with a focus on avoiding deception and misleading practices in marketing efforts.

Will the law cover landlines, SMS messages and social media also?

The upcoming legislation will impact companies involved in promoting their products and services via outbound phone calls made by either the company itself or its representatives to consumers, with the aim of marketing, advertising, or endorsing their offerings or those of their clients, utilizing both landline and mobile phone numbers. This encompasses promotional text messages and marketing communications distributed through various social media platforms.

Are telemarketing executives required to make calls only through company-registered phones?

Marketing executives must adhere to regulations stipulating the use of local phone numbers sanctioned by authorized telecommunications providers within the country. These numbers should be registered under the licensed company's commercial permit. Additionally, they are responsible for establishing communication channels for consumers seeking marketing information, reaching out exclusively to those who have consented to receive marketing calls. It is imperative that they refrain from contacting individuals registered in the Do Not Call Registry (DNCR) and maintain comprehensive records of all marketing phone interactions, utilizing forms mandated by regulatory bodies.

Can individuals make marketing phone calls from their personal phones?

Individuals or entities are not allowed to conduct marketing phone calls for their own products or services, or on behalf of their clients, utilizing landline or mobile phone numbers registered under their names with telecommunications companies in the UAE.

What is the penalty if an individual calls from his/her phone?

The resolution outlines strict consequences for individuals engaged in marketing phone calls for products or services, whether on their own behalf or representing clients. If these calls are made using a landline or mobile number registered in the individual's name, they face a Dh5,000 fine and disconnection of all associated phone numbers until the fine is settled. Repeat offenses escalate the penalty, with a Dh20,000 fine and three-month disconnection for violations within 30 days of the initial penalty, and a Dh50,000 fine plus a 12-month ban on telecom services for violations within 30 days of the second penalty. Furthermore, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TDRA) retains the right to levy additional administrative penalties on offenders.

How many penalties are there in the law for violations?

The resolutions delineate 18 categories of violations along with corresponding penalties for breaching their stipulations. These include failure to secure prior approval for phone marketing activities from the appropriate authority, with administrative fines escalating from Dh75,000 for the initial offense to Dh100,000 for the second, and Dh150,000 for subsequent violations. Moreover, fines vary from Dh25,000 to Dh75,000 for engaging in deceptive or misleading practices while marketing products or services to consumers.

Furthermore, there's a penalty of up to Dh75,000 for marketing products and services via phone calls using numbers not registered under the licensed company's commercial permit. Additionally, a range of fines spanning from Dh10,000 to Dh150,000 is applicable for any other breaches of the resolutions’ provisions.

Do telemarketing firms need to train staff?

Companies must furnish thorough training sessions for their marketing personnel, emphasizing the ethical standards governing marketing communications.

Will firms’ licenses also be cancelled for violating laws?

The resolutions outline a range of administrative penalties, including warnings, fines, temporary suspension of activities for a duration of 7 to 90 days, revocation of licenses, and deregistration from the commercial register along with the disconnection of telecommunication services and removal of phone numbers. The authority reserves the right to forego the graduated penalties and impose the harshest administrative sanction if a company repeats the same violation within 6 months of a prior penalty being issued.

Can telemarketing firms disclose or sell data of customers?

Companies are strictly forbidden from disclosing a consumer's personal data or selling it for reprocessing without their explicit consent, particularly for the purpose of marketing products or services via phone calls.

Are there any exemptions?

Companies will not face penalties for placing phone calls that were initiated at the request of the consumer.

Do firms need approval for telemarketing practice?

Businesses must seek approval from the appropriate authorities, be it federal or local government bodies, before engaging in telemarketing activities to ensure legal compliance.

Will it cover all telemarketing companies in mainland and free zones?

The legislation will encompass all licensed companies within the UAE, regardless of whether they operate within free zones.

Do firms need to submit records regularly?

Businesses are required to submit regular reports, as outlined by the appropriate regulatory body, detailing their marketing phone call activities within one month of the report's deadline.

Can firms destroy customer phone call records?

Licensed companies must furnish data and details concerning their marketing endeavors via phone calls, ensuring retention until the duration stipulated by the regulatory body. They are mandated to record marketing phone conversations, with prior notification to the consumer at the onset of the call, and refrain from premature deletion of such recordings.

Which authority will monitor calls for banking, and insurance products?

The Central Bank of the UAE holds authority over regulating and determining all aspects concerning marketing phone calls for banking services, financial institutions, and insurance companies.

Which UAE authorities will monitor the implementation of the law?

The Ministry of Economy will collaborate with the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority, the Central Bank of the UAE, the Securities and Commodities Authority, local licensing bodies, and pertinent organizations to ensure the effective execution of these resolutions within their respective domains.

News Source: Khaleej Times

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