telemarketing, the practice of selling goods or services to customers by means of the telephone or of surveying consumer preferences in telephone conversations. Telemarketing firms use trained staff and automatic, rapid-dial equipment to make the telephone calls when conducting surveys, telemarketers generally use a script that is designed to elicit only a small range of responses. U.S. advertising and marketing firms spent $110.5 billion on telemarketing in 1999 by the end of the 1990s the value of goods and services sold by telephone had reached $150 billion in the United States and $750 billion worldwide. Telemarketing, also called telephone solicitation, is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission , the Federal Trade Commission , and state agencies. Many of the regulations concerning telemarketing are targeted at combating fraud. The Direct Marketing Association (a marketing industry group) and many states maintain do-not-call lists that are designed to reduce the number of unsolicited telemarketing calls people receive. A move by the Federal Trade Commission to establish (2003) a national do-not-call list was challenged in the courts.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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