ConsumerTalk with Wendy Knowler

'Yes' to a telemarketer is the same as signing a contract (and here's the catch)

If you verbally agree to a cellphone 'upgrade' or insurance package over the phone, it is legally binding.

The call between a client and a telemarketer is equivalent to a contract, explains consumer journalist Wendy Knowler.

She says many telemarketing offers come from service providers who want to offer clients add-ons to existing contracts.

Ultimately, if you say 'yes' during one of those conversations, it has the same weight as signing a contract.

Wendy Knowler, consumer journalist

Read: What happens when your brand new heater erupts, or worse? Product liability 101

Knowler explains that the call recording of a consumer's exhange with telemarketer serves as the contract.

Also read: At own risk! What you need to know before signing that disclaimer

However, the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) does not guarantee a consumer the right to have a copy of recorded telemarketing calls.

The Act says that only the company must keep a copy of the recording of those calls. There's nothing in there about making a copy available to the consumer.

Wendy Knowler, consumer journalist

It's an oversight, because if a consumer wants to dispute what they were told or agreed to in the call, they have no way of proving it.

Wendy Knowler, consumer journalist

The National Consumer Commission (NCC) has not yet made recommendations for the laws to be amended.

NCC spokesperson Trevor Hattingh maintains that companies must make recordings available to consumers as evidence of the transaction.

Knowler also suggests that consumers record their own calls with telemarketers to protect themselves, if they have the necessary cellphone technology.

Take a listen to her advice and callers share their personal experiences:


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