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Trading standards enforces TPS laws for first time

By Linsey Knight on May 27, 2014 in DMA
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What is TPS?
TPS is a Telephone Preference Service that is a legal requirement which ensures that companies do not make such calls to numbers registered on the TPS registered list, however the TPS has no powers of enforcement, and a survey found that people registered on the TPS list received twice as many marketing calls as those not on the list. Enforcement is the responsibility of the Information Commissioner, which until 2012 did not have suitable legal powers to act.

The TPS is the only such register that is enforced by law in the UK. It is regulated by Ofcom and enforced by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). It is run by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), the organisation grouping telemarketers, on behalf of Ofcom; neither Ofcom nor the Government provide any funding.

The TPS comprises two parts – TPS (for consumers, sole traders and partnerships) and CTPS (Corporates, Limited Companies and PLC’s). So, if you are calling consumers, your data needs to be screened against the TPS master file only. However, if you are contacting businesses, then the data needs to be screened against both TPS and CTPS to ensure compliance.

Legislation & consequences
The original legislation was introduced in May 1999. It has subsequently been updated and now the relevant legislation is the Privacy and Electronic (EC Directive) Regulations of 2003. 

In 2012 the TPS legislation act  acquired the power to impose fines of up to £500,000, although enforcing the rules was not easy given the vast amounts of money that companies which flouted the rules.

Telephone Preference Service’s has warned businesses conducting sales and marketing calls of an increased risk of fines, after a local trading standards authority made a legal prosecution of a company for calling people registered on the TPS’s ‘do not call’ list.

In February of 2012, Dorset County Council Trading Standards Service issued a first-of-its-kind fine to a home improvements company, for making unwanted sales and marketing calls to residents registered on the TPS. The company was fined £36,000 for causing ‘persistent nuisance’ to elderly and vulnerable people. This action has set a legal precedent, paving the way for companies operating nationally to be fined for TPS breaches in every county it operates.

During the past year the issue of nuisance calls has attracted widespread media and political attention as complaints have soared to an all-time high. The TPS has been calling on the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the organisation responsible for enforcement, to prosecute rogue operators in breach of TPS legislation. The ICO started to issue penalties to companies for nuisance calls over the past 18 months, but their efforts have been hampered by the need to prove significant damage or distress was caused. Dorset Trading Standards is the first regulator other than the ICO to have fined a company using the Consumer protection from unfair trading regulations 2008.

How Can TPS Screening Benefit your business?
Telesales and telemarketing often form an integral part of a sales strategy, but it is important to realise that the TPS offers both protection for individuals and companies, but can also benefits sales departments and call centres. By screening prospect data regularly (every 28 days by law), call centres can save valuable operator time as well as improve conversion rates. More meaningful conversations will improve results all round – increased sales, happier call centre operators and satisfied customers. Failure to screen data risks poor sales results, wasted operator time, demotivated call centre staff, risks brand damage and could lead to a hefty fine.

Check out other useful blogs on the DMA website

For Telemarketing information please contact Jacqui Crawley at KMB


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Linsey KnightView all posts by Linsey Knight
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