In today’s economy, speaking to customer service agents via phone is an incredibly common occurrence. If someone has a problem with a product or a service, they’re likely to speak with someone else remotely, rather than meet in a physical location. Just as common is the declaration that calls might be recorded for one purpose or another. This has led many to wonder why companies would want to record their calls, of which there are many different potential reasons.
Why Are Calls Recorded?
To begin with, businesses always try to find ways to improve their image and the experience customers have when speaking with their representatives is going to determine a lot about how they perceive a company and subsequently how eager they are to make purchases. As a result, customer service calls are often recorded to serve as models during training as to what is proper procedure and what is not. Recordings also allows companies to assess a particular employee’s work performance.
In addition, call recordings are used for legal purposes. Some calls might involve sensitive subjects and recording a conversation can potentially be useful in the event legal trouble ensues. Also, depending on the industry, some organizations are required by law to record conversations between customer service agents and clientele.
However, despite the commonality of call recordings, the question arises of how legal they actually are.
Federal law regarding call recordings is designed to prevent wiretapping; which is to say, the recording of conversations without the consent or knowledge of the individuals being audiotaped. As such, federal law requires some kind of permission when audio recordings are made, a type of permission known as one-party consent.
One-party consent means that when a conversation is being recorded, only one party involved needs to give permission for the recording to be legally sound. Practically speaking, this means that only one person has to be aware that a recording is being made to be legitimate under the law. This type of consent is the standard across most of the U.S., but understandably some states do not view this as comprehensive enough and opt for a more transparent system.
For states which want something more than one-party consent, there exist laws for two-party consent. Two-party consent requires permission from all participants involved in a phone conversation in order for anything to be recorded. Despite federal law mandating one-party consent, two-party consent laws in individual states are considered constitutionally valid.
Across State Lines
The reason why customer service calls are usually accompanied by a statement saying conversations might be recorded is that in the event someone from a one-party consent state calls someone from a two-party consent state, there still exists a legal obligation to abide by the rules put in place by the two-party consent state. It’s not always necessary to inform people a call is being recorded, but it’s usually done as a protective measure to accommodate different state mandates.