What to know about Canada’s Do Not Call List

Laws can sometimes feel quite remote from the day-to-day grind. Because of that, it’s easy to become complacent and assume no one cares if they are strictly followed. So, to make things more real, let’s imagine how one law, the National Do Not Call List (DNCL), could have a real impact on someone’s daily life.

It’s 6 p.m. Good ol’ Hank (as his friends call him) is sitting down for a nice meal with his lovely wife, Betty, their 2.5 children and their Golden Retriever, Rufus.

“What’s for dinner, Daddy?” his children ask.

“It’s your favourite: spaghetti and meatballs,” Hank calls out from the kitchen.

“Yay!” the 2.5 children call out in unison as they gather around the table.

Suddenly, the phone rings.

“I’ll get it, honey,” says Hank. He walks over to the phone and picks up the handset.

“Hello?”

“Hi,” says a friendly voice on the other end of the line. “This is Sneaky Survey Incorporated Limited. Would you be willing to answer a few short survey questions on Canadian spending habits?”

“Sure,” replies Hank. He knows his phone number is on the DNCL but, being a well-informed individual, he also knows surveys are exempt under the law. “Whatever I can do to help Canada…”

“Great!” The friendly voice cuts him off and proceeds to ask Hank a series of monotonous questions. Hank answers each in turn honestly and faithfully. “We’re almost done here,” the voice notes, “but you’ve been so helpful today. Would you be willing to have your name and phone number added to a list of individuals willing to be contacted by real estate salespersons regarding the sale of their home?”

“Wha..uh..wha…I guess.” Hank is flabbergasted and his face is flush as he hangs up the phone. He knows that wasn’t a survey question, but thinking about dinner lowered his defences.

Hank feels cheated. The kids are hungry and crying. Rufus is barking. Angrily, Hank rushes over to the family computer and sends off a complaint to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the agency responsible for enforcing the DNCL.

Sound unlikely?

The CRTC receives 300 complaints per day relating to the telecommunication rules that cover the DNCL. That’s a lot of angry Hanks. Some of the most common complaints related to the real estate sector include:

  • REALTORS® using service providers to make calls without their brokerage having registered or subscribed to the National DNCL; and
  • Attempts to circumvent the prohibition around calling numbers on the DNCL by disguising a solicitation call as a survey.

It’s important to note hiring a third party to manage a brokerage’s telemarketing operations does not absolve the brokerage of its DNCL responsibilities.

Each brokerage is responsible for calls made on its behalf. Therefore, brokerages should exercise caution if hiring a service provider. They may wish to make inquiries to ensure any calling practices are consistent with the law.

Failure to comply with the DNCL can lead to steep penalties: $1,000 per violation in the case of an individual and $15,000 per violation in the case of a corporation. Those penalties can quickly add up if many violations occur.

Don’t ruin Hank’s dinner. If you’re thinking about telemarketing, check out the resources CREA has prepared on the DNCL on REALTOR Link®.

The article above is for information purposes and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel.

Simon Parham, Legal Counsel, is always on hand to provide helpful advice to CREA, Boards, and Associations on all aspects of federal legislation that can be reduced to an acronym, including: PIPEDA; FINTRAC; and the DNCL. In his spare time, Simon enjoys running, camping, discovering the world with his daughter, and planning his “big year.”


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