The Telephone Preference Service is the UK’s statutory list of numbers that have been opted out of receiving cold calls. It is administered under licence from Ofcom by the Direct Marketing Association. Recently there was a significant jump in registered numbers. Stephen Groom reports on why the jump and why the significance.
Who: the Telephone Preference Service and the Direct Marketing Association
When: April 2012
Law stated as at: 4 May 2012
The number of telephone numbers registered on the UK's "Do not call" list reached 17,463,171.
The UK's do not call list has to be maintained by law pursuant to Regulation 25(1) of the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 ("PECRs").
Making an unsolicited marketing call to any number on the list is a breach of the PECRs unless (1) the number dialled went onto the list less than 28 days before the call was made or (2) the recipient of the call has previously notified the caller that he or she does not object to such calls being made by that caller on that line (Regulation 21 PECRs).
Ofcom outsources the maintenance of this list to the Direct Marketing Association ("DMA"), whose contract with Ofcom has recently been renewed for five years. The list goes under the name: "Telephone Preference Service" ("TPS").
The DMA's role faces two ways. It provides a free opt-out service to individual subscribers who want to register their number on the list. It also ensures that telemarketers actively screen against the TPS, paying a licence fee for the privilege.
The 17.4 million number level has been reached after three months of significant and increasing jumps. In January 2012 nearly 98,000 were added (a level of increase not seen since March 2011), in February 2012 over 109,000 and then in March over 156,000.
It is so far unclear why these increases occurred, but what is clear is that even taking into account that approaching 2 million of these numbers are mobiles (it is not generally appreciated that mobile numbers as well as landline numbers can be registered), this represents close on two thirds of UK households.
Why this matters:
With a clear majority of UK homes taking the trouble to opt out of cold calls, telemarketers clearly have their work cut out in ensuring that such calls are compliant and the costs of such campaigns must be budgeted to include the TPS list screening fees.
An alternative of course is to maximise the opportunity of being able to avoid TPS screening altogether. This applies where the subscriber has notified the caller that there is no objection to such calls being made to that number. If marketers paid as much attention to this as to obtaining opt-ins for email marketing, for example, when devising mechanisms for data capture, they might find the path to compliant outbound telemarketing campaigns was easier and cheaper.