FTC sues Dish over unwanted telemarketing calls

The Federal Trade Commission has launched a lawsuit against Dish Network for violating ‘do not call’ regulations.

Millions of customers have been harassed by telemarketers since September 2007, it says, despite having asked not to be called. This was deliberate, it claims.

FTC rules state that even where customers haven’t signed up to the  National Do Not Call Registry, telemarketers aren’t allowed to call again if the consumer specifically asks them not to.

“We have vigorously enforced the Do Not Call rules and will continue to do so to protect consumers’ right to be left alone in the privacy of their own homes,” says FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.

“It is particularly disappointing when a well-established, nationally known company – which ought to know better – appears to have flagrantly and illegally made millions of invasive calls to Americans who specifically told Dish Network to leave them alone.”

According to the FTC, Dish Network broke the rules while attempting to sell its satellite television programming, both directly to consumers and via a network of authorized dealers who make calls on its behalf.

The FTC’s already issued one lawsuit against the company for calling consumers who were signed up with the  National Do Not Call Registry using so-called ‘robocalls’. It also settled with two authorized Dish dealers.

The FTC says it’s looking for civil penalties for the current violation. If successful, it’s entitled to collect penalty fees of up to $11,000 for every violation before February 9th 2009, and $16,000 a throw thereafter – potentially costing Dish many millions of dollars.