The problem is that a small number of very active telemarketing teams have been annoying customers. Things like making repeated calls, making calls to people who have opted out via the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) and sometimes even calling and playing automated messages that annoy customers.
Annoyed people have votes- and in the run up to the general election politicians from all parties have decided to take action.
The underlying problem is that the enforcement agencies (Ofcom, TPS and the Information Commissioner’s Office) have not had the resources to effectively police every business that undertakes telemarketing.
The solution chosen by the UK Government is to involve Trading Standards departments across the country. There is a well staffed and resourced Trading Standards department in every county.
From now on there are sufficient resources available to enforce the law and ensure that all businesses- whatever their size- stay within it
Why regulate instead of banning telemarketing?
Telemarketing is a valuable sales tool. Many businesses rely on their ability to call potential customers for their sales. Without telemarketing over 1 million jobs and 5% of GDP could be lost from the UK economy.
Regulation sets clear parameters of what is and is not acceptable behaviour. It clearly defines what a business can and cannot do. Now it is up to businesses to take the regulations seriously and stay within the law. If a business chooses to disregard the law, it is likely to be caught and have a business affecting fine imposed on it.
Who is affected?
Any business that engages in telemarketing. In the past there has been a misconception that the rules only apply if you are calling consumers. This a mistake – there are rules that apply when calling businesses and a business version of the TPS, called Corporate TPS (CTPS) exists to enable business to opt-out from sales calls.
How do I stay legal and avoid getting fined?
The regulations are clear and easy to understand. The first thing to do is to find out what the law is, and stick to it (see the useful links below).
The second thing you need to do is to be able to prove that you are sticking to the law. If you get complaints, the onus will be on your business to prove that you are law abiding.
- Manage your call lists so that you only call appropriate people; screen against TPS / CTPS and your own do-not call list – this avoids calling people who have asked not to be called - You will need to ensure your data is "Swept" every 28 days
- Control the calls your staff make - this avoids annoying people by calling them multiple times.
- Ensure that your data is compliant all the time.
- Keep campaign reports and where possible consider recording your calls. This means that you can prove when and how often you called someone and if recording is in use, what was actually said.
Plan of Action
If your business relies on telemarketing perhaps now is a good time to take a look at your systems and processes? The key questions are “are you legal” and “can you prove it?” However, there is another approach you can use because there is now low cost technology you can use that will keep you legal and have the added benefits of increased sales and reduced costs.
Corporate Telephone Preference Service: