FCC Fines First Firm for Recorded Phone Ad

Federal regulators announced Wednesday the first fine against a company for using a recorded message to solicit business.

Warrior Custom Golf (search), of Irvine, Calif., was fined $23,500 by the Federal Communications Commission (search) after four consumers complained about messages. Last year the agency warned the custom golf equipment company to stop using recorded messages to sell its products.

Since 1991, federal law has prohibited companies from contacting consumers with unsolicited, prerecorded advertisements or leaving messages on answering machines. The FCC has issued 58 warnings, but not until this case had anyone been fined, agency spokesman Kurt Schroeder said.

Companies are warned first and then monitored for future infractions, which is why it has taken so long for the first fine, the FCC said.

The popular Do Not Call list (search), instituted last year, prohibits telemarketers from contacting consumers who have placed their numbers on a government registry. The FCC said it has not seen any relationship between the list and violations of the prerecorded messages law.

In both cases, companies are exempt if they already have ties with the customer or such a call is necessary because of an emergency. Nonprofit and political groups also are exempt.

Warrior was fined $4,500 for three violations and $10,000 for a repeat violation against one customer who had asked not to be contacted after receiving one solicitation.

The golf company has 30 days to pay the fine or appeal. Its lawyer, Joseph Donahue, said the company will work with the FCC and investigate the complaints.

Consumers wishing to report violations can contact the FCC at 1-888-CALL-FCC.