Anxious to do anything to try and stem the tide of TPS registrations over silent calls, the DMA has recently published significant revisions to its code affecting telemarketers. We focus on the changes and the implications for the industry
Direct Marketing Association
The Direct Marketing Association published a revised version of its Code of Practice. The revisions focused on telemarketing and were prompted by increasing concerns over "silent calls," where a consumer picks up the phone on an automatically dialled call but there is no human being on the other end of the phone, only silence. It is felt that this issue alone has led to exponential increases in registrations with the Telephone Preference Service.
New CLI Obligation
One of the salient changes to the code, which is binding upon all DMA members but not on anybody else, is the imposition of an obligation on telemarketers to introduce caller line identity ("CLI").
The new Code provisions state that members must provide CLI and where possible should provide their company name using CLI text.
Also, DMA members must ensure that consumers calling back on the number provided through CLI must, either by live operator or recorded message, be informed of the name of the organisation on whose behalf the call was made or, if it is an agency call centre whose equipment is incapable of delivering individual campaign CLI's, the name of the agency from which the call originated, any relevant information to allay fears as to the purpose of the call and where the call is unsolicited, relevant information to allow the recipient to indicate that they do not wish to receive further direct marketing calls.
Calls to numbers supplied by way of CLI in these circumstances must be free for business to consumer calls and for business to business calls the calls should not be charged at a rate exceeding the national call rate.
New obligation to keep records
Members must record and keep up to date details of their company name and contact details for those who wish to be added to their in-house do not call list, network CLIs that they use, presentation CLIs that they use and CLI text that they forward. This data must be supplied to the DMA and will be kept by the DMA on an internal database. The information will be available to the Nuisance Call Bureaux and the public for the purpose of allowing them to quickly identify companies that are calling them.
Another new code provision states that members who conduct outbound calls should have a documented procedure for staff to follow when an individual asks to be placed on the company's in-house do not call list or complaints are received from the Nuisance Call Bureaux, the TPS or Ofcom on behalf of an individual.
Another amendment requires members to ensure that dialling equipment must at all times be adjusted so that the rate of calls abandoned is no more than 5% of live calls on each individual campaign over any 24 hour period.
The amendments go on to require that for each individual campaign members must maintain an up to date archive of dialler statistics that clearly demonstrates compliance with these requirements. This must include a daily summary of the number of calls attempted, answered, connected, passed to a live operator and abandoned by the dialling equipment.
Why this matters:
With the growing clamour for universal "opt in only" unsolicited telemarketing calls, the DMA was under pressure to do something. Whether this stems the tide and helps telemarketing shake off its increasingly tarnished image is another matter, particularly given that telemarketers who do not wish to comply with the code need simply adopt the tactic of not joining the DMA.