Solicitation telephone calls in Florida: What you need to know.
By Gonzalo Macchi, Identity Theft, Consumer Finance, Collections, Family Law, Contracts, Landlord/Tenant issues, and Traffic Citations Attorney
Are you still receiving phone calls to sell you a product or service? While this may not happen as often as it used to with the advent of the Internet and e-mail, it still does happen, and there are laws in place to protect you from telephone solicitation calls.
The primary statute dealing with this is Florida Statute Section 501.059. A telephone solicitation call is defined as “a telephone call or text message to a consumer for the purpose of soliciting a sale of any consumer goods or services, soliciting an extension of credit for consumer goods or services, or obtaining information that will or may be used for the direct solicitation of a sale of consumer goods or services or an extension of credit for such purposes.”
So what are your rights if you do receive a solicitation call?
Of course, you have no obligation to answer the phone. You can simply ignore the calls and even call your telephone service provider to get the number blocked. Even if you do pick up the call, you have no obligation to buy the product or service and can simply say you are not interested and hang up the phone. If you are not interested in receiving solicitation calls, you can register your number with the Do Not Call registry (www.donotcall.gov). If you do this, your number will be placed on the registry for five (5) years.
If you do receive a solicitation call during the five (5) year period, you may file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission for an investigation.
What happens if you do decide to purchase a product or service from a phone solicitor?
In Florida, the sale is not finalized and enforceable unless the following criteria are met under Florida Statute Section 501.059(6):
(a) A contract made pursuant to a telephonic sales call is not valid and enforceable against a consumer unless made in compliance with this subsection.
(b) A contract made pursuant to a telephonic sales call:
1. Shall be reduced to writing and signed by the consumer.
2. Shall comply with all other applicable laws and rules.
3. Shall match the description of goods or services as principally used in the telephone solicitations.
4. Shall contain the name, address, and telephone number of the seller, the total price of the contract, and a detailed description of the goods or services being sold.
5. Shall contain, in bold, conspicuous type, immediately preceding the signature, the following statement:
‘You are not obligated to pay any money unless you sign this contract and return it to the seller.’
6. May not exclude from its terms any oral or written representations made by the telephone solicitor to the consumer in connection with the transaction.
However, there are exceptions as noted under Section (c), including:
contractual sales regulated under other sections of the Florida Statutes, or to the sale of financial services, security sales, or sales transacted by companies or their wholly owned subsidiaries or agents, which companies are regulated by chapter 364, or to the sale of cable television services to the duly franchised cable television operator’s existing subscribers within that cable television operator’s franchise area, or to any sales where no prior payment is made to the merchant and an invoice accompanies the goods or services allowing the consumer 7 days to cancel or return without obligation for any payment.
Furthermore, unsolicited telephone calls do not include calls:
- You made an express request to;
- Made in connection to collecting an existing debt or contract;
- When you had a prior or existing business relationship with the telephone solicitor; or
- Made by a newspaper publisher or his or her agent or employee in connection with his or her business.
An attorney can help you enforce your rights by reviewing any proposed contract or terms and conditions presented to you by the telephone solicitor before you sign it, advice and enforce your rights under the contract or terms and conditions if the company is in breach, as well as send a cease and desist letter to the telephone solicitors.