PDA

View Full Version : As a customer, recording a phone call into the company.


Tripler
12-24-2007, 02:36 PM
There'd been a few past threads about the problems with cancelling AOL accounts.

But then Cervaise posts an idea (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showpost.php?p=9302595&postcount=6) which got me thinking--what's to stop customers (who have the technology) from recording their calls into the company?

If I called AOL, or Bank of America, or Mom & Pop's Cookie Store in Sandusky, Ohio and said to the representative, "I am a customer. This call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes. . ." or something to that effect, what's the legality of such a thing? I would think it's legal in all 50 states because I'm declaring it up front. Whether or not I choose to record it is up to me. . . Would it improve customer service? I mean, they're recording me, so why couldn't I record them?

Has anyone tried this before? If so, did it work?

Tripler
This post may be recorded. . . . aw hell. This thread will self destruct in 5 seconds.

AngelicGemma
12-24-2007, 02:40 PM
I work in customer service. I'm not sure of the legality of it, but I've had a customer tell me they were recording the call. I had no problem with it and continued the call. I recorded on my end too of course.

Washoe
12-24-2007, 02:45 PM
Start here (http://www.rcfp.org/taping/)óitís the best Internet reference on the subject Iíve so far encountered. It may not address your exact question, but it should at least give you a firm overview of the subject.

Freudian Slit
12-24-2007, 02:45 PM
Didn't that guy who tried to get rid of his AOL service do that? And then posted it on the Internet because the guy on the other end wouldn't let him?

DesertDog
12-24-2007, 02:50 PM
IANAL but so far as I know, it's entirely legal to record telephone calls so long as both parties* are aware and give their consent (presumably by not hanging up). That's why you get the "For quality control purposes, this call may be recorded" announcement when you call a customer service number these days.

*There are obvious exceptions, like warranted wire taps and the like; I'm talking about your ordinary citizens and companies here.

ETA: Wow, Washoe. Good reference.

Valgard
12-24-2007, 03:10 PM
There was a story on NPR just last weekend ("This American Life") where they had one of their staffers trying to sort out a problem with MCI (it was a story about awful customer service). At one point they decided to bring their journalistic might to bear so they called up MCI and said "We are recording this call to use on an international radio show".

The first-level support had no problem with it. Then his manager got on the line. Her first words were "Stop recording right now or I will hang up."

So given that both parties are made aware that you are recording it's legal (AFAIK and IANAL, just what I've read in the front of my phone book) but don't necessarily expect some company to cooperate, they are free to end the call.

levdrakon
12-24-2007, 03:18 PM
IANAL but so far as I know, it's entirely legal to record telephone calls so long as both parties* are aware and give their consent (presumably by not hanging up). That's why you get the "For quality control purposes, this call may be recorded" announcement when you call a customer service number these days.

*There are obvious exceptions, like warranted wire taps and the like; I'm talking about your ordinary citizens and companies here.

ETA: Wow, Washoe. Good reference.Interesting. I understand both parties can record each other as long as they both know they're being recoded, but why should a business be able to cancel a costumer service call based purely on the fact it's being recorded? I *cannot* conduct business with a company without it being recorded, shouldn't the company be *required* to conduct its business with me while being recorded?

LSLGuy
12-24-2007, 03:52 PM
The operative word in your last sentence is "shouldn't". In other words, in an ideal world that would be true. But this is not an ideal world.

Annie-Xmas
12-24-2007, 04:11 PM
In New Jersey, it is legal to do as long as one of the parties knows the call is being taped (no third party tapes). So they would be no problem with doing it here.

brazil84
12-24-2007, 08:53 PM
In many states, it's legal to tape record your call without telling the other person. The problem is that when you call "customer service," you don't necessarily know what state the other person is in.

Also, it occurs to me that if the other party announces that it is recording the call, it is arguably consenting to you recording the call too.

I doubt these issues have been tested much in court. On the other hand, it strikes me as unlikely that anyone would be prosecuted for tape recording a call to customer service.

Personally, when I call customer service, I always tape unless I happen to know that the call is being routed into a state that requires the other person's consent.

I was called by a fast talking bank representative a few months ago offering me a loan at a really favorable interest rate. I tape recorded the call which is legal where I live as far as I know. The bank has refused to honor the promised interest rate and I have filed a complaint with the appropriate agency. I advised them that I had tape recorded the call. If you are curious, I will let you know how it turns out. Unless I get into trouble. Hehe.

LouisB
12-24-2007, 09:52 PM
If I am told by a human being that a call will be recorded, I refuse to grant them permission. The usual reaction is stunned disbelief and a plaintive "Why not?" I always say simply that I don't want my calls recorded. Drives 'em nuts.

MC$E
12-24-2007, 10:27 PM
You could argue that the phrase "This call may be recorded for Quality Assurance purposes" is effectively giving you permission to record the call, and not just a notification that they might be recording. That would depend on the wording though.

Projammer
12-25-2007, 12:27 AM
Someone posed a similar question last month in What part of "Close This Account Out Now" don't you understand? (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=444954) and I was curious enough to do a little research on the matter.

For the most part, you can record any conversation with the knowledge and permission of only one party, in this case yourself. There are states which require the permission of all people involved so you would need to make sure whomever you're talking to isn't located in one of them or inform them that they are being recorded.

According to Dave (http://www.askdavetaylor.com/is_it_legal_to_tape_my_phone_calls.html)

So with the exception of three or four states, you don't have to tell them anything about recording the conversation.

commasense
12-25-2007, 01:45 AM
If the OP wants to know if he can record calls he makes as long as he tells the other party (or parties, if there are more than one) that he is making a recording, the link that Washoe posted makes it clear that the answer is "yes" everywhere in the U.S. As long as all parties consent, the recording is legal.

Furthermore, in all but 12 states (n.b. Projammer, not three or four) he can legally make a recording without telling the other parties, but only as long as they are not in one of the 12 so-called "two-party" states.

However, the OP seems to imply the question that brazil84 asks, and that I asked (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=420058&highlight=recording) several months ago: If the other party says he is recording and I consent, can I record without his explicit consent to my recording, since both parties have consented to a recording? In other words, does consent imply approval of any and all recordings, or only of those explicitly disclosed?

This specific question wasn't answered in my thread, and nothing I've read here or in the links posted here answers it either.

Sierra Indigo
12-25-2007, 02:45 AM
Interesting. I understand both parties can record each other as long as they both know they're being recoded, but why should a business be able to cancel a costumer service call based purely on the fact it's being recorded? I *cannot* conduct business with a company without it being recorded, shouldn't the company be *required* to conduct its business with me while being recorded?

Bolding mine.

Are you sure you CANNOT conduct business with the company without the call being recorded? Personally from the centres I've worked in it simply comes down to recording the call for quality assurance. If you don't want the call recorded, you say up front "I don't want this call monitored and recorded" and any persons listening/recording are then obligated to terminate their monitoring of the call and that's that. I believe (in Australia) that the relevant ombudsman for the company can actually fine them if they're found to be recording calls where the customer has withdrawn permission.

The CSR will then continue the call as normal, probably a bit more relaxed because they know then that their manager isn't looking over their shoulder trying to find out what they have or haven't done on this call.

The only time I've encountered a situation where the company NEEDED to record a call was when signing up for a new service over the phone. Because you can't sign anything over the phone, companies use voice recording software to gain your verbal agreement to the contract you're entering into so if there's any dispute (either from your end or their end) there's a record to refer back to, rather than just notes entered by the sales rep. But again, apart from that portion of the call, you can request that the rest of the call not be monitored or recorded and they have to comply.

brazil84
12-25-2007, 03:57 AM
However, the OP seems to imply the question that brazil84 asks, and that I asked (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=420058&highlight=recording) several months ago: If the other party says he is recording and I consent, can I record without his explicit consent to my recording, since both parties have consented to a recording? In other words, does consent imply approval of any and all recordings, or only of those explicitly disclosed?

I don't think there is any answer to the question, because it will depend on how a judge interprets the applicable statute. As far as I know, this issue has never been decided by any court.

Further, it may never be decided, since it would probably require a prosecutor to decide to bring charges against somebody for taping such a call. Realistically, it's unlikely that any prosecutor would bring those sorts of charges.

Do any of the statutes allow for a private right of action? Even if some do, it's also unlikely that AOL or whatever would sue one of its customers for taping a call that AOL itself may have taped. They would look silly.

IAmNotSpartacus
12-25-2007, 09:00 PM
This post is applicable to California specifically, although I can't imagine courts from other "two-party consent" states deviating very from the same findings.

Of course, IANAL, IANYL, and this info is based on my own personal research and above-average layman's knowledge of California state law.

In Flanagan v Flanagan (March 2002), the California Supreme Court held that the recording of communications was prohibited if one or more parties had reasonable belief that the call was not being recorded, or was otherwise not able to be overheard.

Since the company you're calling has no reason to believe the call is not being recorded (hell, they told you right at the beginning that the call was being recorded) then there should be no reason that you can't record the call yourself.

Telephone recordings obtained contrary to law are not admissible as evidence in a court of law, either criminal or civil.

PetW
12-25-2007, 09:12 PM
In many states, it's legal to tape record your call without telling the other person. The problem is that when you call "customer service," you don't necessarily know what state the other person is in.

Also, it occurs to me that if the other party announces that it is recording the call, it is arguably consenting to you recording the call too.

I doubt these issues have been tested much in court. On the other hand, it strikes me as unlikely that anyone would be prosecuted for tape recording a call to customer service.

Personally, when I call customer service, I always tape unless I happen to know that the call is being routed into a state that requires the other person's consent.

I was called by a fast talking bank representative a few months ago offering me a loan at a really favorable interest rate. I tape recorded the call which is legal where I live as far as I know. The bank has refused to honor the promised interest rate and I have filed a complaint with the appropriate agency. I advised them that I had tape recorded the call. If you are curious, I will let you know how it turns out. Unless I get into trouble. Hehe.
I'm interested to hear more. I briefly worked at a very shady call center where basically we mislead people into thinking we were their bank and able to offer them lower interest rates (for a fee, as you'd eventually find out.) The customer would get an automated phone call telling them to dial 1 for cheap interest rates, then they'd be transferred to us, self identifying as "Card Services" (we were not allowed to elaborate.) Basically it was all a long misleading sales pitch to receive a very questionable service/product. Are you sure it was your bank that called you?

brazil84
12-25-2007, 09:24 PM
Are you sure it was your bank that called you?

Positive. But I have since learned that this bank -- I'll call it Bank X -- is a bit shady. When I called the regional office of the federal agency that regulates Bank X, the first option on their menu system was something like "If you have a complaint about Bank X, press 1"

SCSimmons
12-25-2007, 11:37 PM
Are you sure you CANNOT conduct business with the company without the call being recorded? Personally from the centres I've worked in it simply comes down to recording the call for quality assurance. If you don't want the call recorded, you say up front "I don't want this call monitored and recorded" and any persons listening/recording are then obligated to terminate their monitoring of the call and that's that. I believe (in Australia) that the relevant ombudsman for the company can actually fine them if they're found to be recording calls where the customer has withdrawn permission.

Different countries, different rules. The US Federal Government put in our 2007 contract to provide Medicare prescription services that all service calls from those members had to be recorded. Every ... single ... one. :eek:

levdrakon
12-26-2007, 12:54 AM
Are you sure you CANNOT conduct business with the company without the call being recorded?No, I actually don't know that. I was assuming I'd get hung up on. Now that we're discussing it, I think from now on whenever I hear "this call may be recorded (which is almost all the time)" I'm going to respond, "I may be recording you too."

About ten years ago I had an answering machine which allowed me to record conversations I was having on the phone and the machine would beep every five or ten seconds or so and I seem to remember the instruction manual saying the regular beep was all that was required legally to let the other party know they were being recorded.

MEBuckner
12-26-2007, 02:56 AM
When I called the regional office of the federal agency that regulates Bank X, the first option on their menu system was something like "If you have a complaint about Bank X, press 1"
That's definitely Not A Good Sign.

picunurse
12-26-2007, 04:41 AM
I have a very limited comment about this. It's true to the best of my knowledge, but may have changed since the time frame.

While a family member was in ICU, (in California), I would call for an up date each morning. I was told each day that the conversation was being recorded. For the duration of the call, a beep would sound every few seconds to confirm the recording continued.

Later, I worked in a hospital where all calls between nurses and physicians required recording. The same intermittent beep verified, to both parties, that the recording was on-going.
During that time, I was given an information sheet, by my employer, saying that California law required the intermittent beep to verify continued recording.

bdgr
12-26-2007, 04:56 AM
I Know when I worked for a internet provider many many many years ago we required to immediately hang up if someone indicated they were recording the call.

Turek
12-26-2007, 08:17 AM
I Know when I worked for a internet provider many many many years ago we required to immediately hang up if someone indicated they were recording the call.

Don't confuse company policy with legal requirements.

Bill Door
12-26-2007, 11:12 AM
You could argue that the phrase "This call may be recorded for Quality Assurance purposes" is effectively giving you permission to record the call, and not just a notification that they might be recording. That would depend on the wording though.

That would be my position. As long as they phrase it like you said, the word "may" can mean either that recording the call is allowed, or that the possibility of recording exists. If I choose to assume the former, I need not inform them that I am making a recording, they have already given permission.

Garula
12-26-2007, 12:03 PM
Does "this call may be monitored" have the same legal meaning as "this call may be recorded?" Suppose I call a company and receive the message "this call may be monitored for quality assurance." Suppose that during the call I say something that comes back to bite me in the ass. Down the road we end up in civil proceedings and the company trots out a recording of the conversation. Can I then get that recording thrown out because I only consented to "monitoring" rather than "recording?"

bdgr
12-26-2007, 02:59 PM
Don't confuse company policy with legal requirements.


Of course not. It is absolutely legal in Texas, where we were located. What I was a saying is that if you are trying to resolve something customer service wise with a company and you anounce you are recording the call you may find that nobody at the company will talk to you; which is a bit counter productive.

stuyguy
12-26-2007, 06:47 PM
...Now that we're discussing it, I think from now on whenever I hear "this call may be recorded (which is almost all the time)" I'm going to respond, "I may be recording you too...."
This is an intriquing plan, actually. Since no human being on the receiving end will probably ever hear you tell them you might record the call -- their "this call may be recorded..." messages sound like automated outgoing messages only -- they would probably argue that they never gave consent to being recorded.

You could then say, "Sure you did. After you said that you might record the call, I said that I might record the call, too. I didn't hang up and didn't object, and neither did you, so we both gave consent."

If they say, "But you said you might be recording the call when no one was listening on our end," couldn't you say, "Well that's just too bad. It's a phone call. If you can presume that I'm listening when you ask for consent, why can't I presume you're listening when I ask, only seconds later?"

Tripler
12-26-2007, 07:05 PM
Man, I'm glad I opened up this thread. It sounds like it's been considered before, but never actually tried. . ..

I wish I had tried this when this crappy laptop was still under warranty. :mad:

Tripler
Yes. This one, dubbed the "craptop".

x-ray vision
12-26-2007, 07:16 PM
In many states, it's legal to tape record your call without telling the other person. The problem is that when you call "customer service," you don't necessarily know what state the other person is in.
I don't think that is a problem. AFAIK, you have to follow the rules of recording in the state YOU are in. What the rules of recording are in the state the other party is in is not your concern.

Genericuser234
12-26-2007, 09:39 PM
in canada, i know its legal to record any conversation if the other party has been clearly informed about said recording. its illigeal to record it without there permission

commasense
12-27-2007, 09:02 AM
I don't think that is a problem. AFAIK, you have to follow the rules of recording in the state YOU are in. What the rules of recording are in the state the other party is in is not your concern.It's not quite that simple. This page (http://www.rcfp.org/taping/http://www.rcfp.org/taping/) from the site Washoe posted above says that actions have been brought arguing that the laws of the state that was called should apply. In at least one case, that argument might have carried the day, but the case was decided on other issues.

The page says, "In light of the differing state laws governing electronic recording of conversations between private parties, journalists are advised to err on the side of caution when recording or disclosing an interstate telephone call. The safest strategy is to assume that the stricter state law will apply."

brazil84
02-07-2008, 06:32 PM
I'm interested to hear more. I briefly worked at a very shady call center where basically we mislead people into thinking we were their bank and able to offer them lower interest rates (for a fee, as you'd eventually find out.) The customer would get an automated phone call telling them to dial 1 for cheap interest rates, then they'd be transferred to us, self identifying as "Card Services" (we were not allowed to elaborate.) Basically it was all a long misleading sales pitch to receive a very questionable service/product. Are you sure it was your bank that called you?

An update: The bank's attorney called me the other day and said they would give me my rate. I asked for something in writing, which hopefully I will get in the next week or so.

Unfortunately, the top people at the bank are in 2-party consent states, so I don't want to take the risk of recording the calls.

Antinor01
02-07-2008, 07:16 PM
Are you sure you CANNOT conduct business with the company without the call being recorded? Personally from the centres I've worked in it simply comes down to recording the call for quality assurance. If you don't want the call recorded, you say up front "I don't want this call monitored and recorded" and any persons listening/recording are then obligated to terminate their monitoring of the call and that's that. I believe (in Australia) that the relevant ombudsman for the company can actually fine them if they're found to be recording calls where the customer has withdrawn permission.

It depends on the company. At several places I worked all calls were automatically recorded so there wasn't an option to not record.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.