Telemarketing using automated dialling equipment is already illegal unless the recipient has already opted in, but the Direct Marketing Association has now published on automated telemarketing code.
Who: The Direct Marketing Association
When: February 2002
The UK's Direct Marketing Association published a new Code of Practice for the use of automated dialling equipment for marketing purposes. As the DMA reports in the summer 2002 issue of its "Interact" magazine, the use of automation in the UK telemarketing industry has grown over the last 10 years, with advanced dialling technology now used in 20% of the country's call centres. This has led to an increase in efficiency but also to an increase in the number of nuisance calls received by consumers.
The idea of these guidelines, which are mandatory for all DMA members, is to reduce significantly the number of complaints which are made to BT's "Nuisance Call Bureau". The provisions include a requirement that dialling equipment is adjusted to ensure a minimum ring time of 15 seconds before the call is abandoned as unanswered. Equipment should also ensure that if a "live" individual does not take the call, it should be abandoned and release the line within a maximum of one second from when the line is picked up. Also, the rate of calls abandoned should be no more than 5% of calls in any campaign over a 24 hour period, while DMA members operating automated telemarketing campaigns must keep an up to date archive of diallers' statistics which clearly demonstrate compliance with these provisions of the Code.
The Code also requires that Calling Line Identity Information is provided so that consumers are able to identify the source of any abandoned calls. If a consumer calls back on the number so provided, then he or she should be informed of the name of the company on whose behalf the call was made or the name of the call centre from which it originated, provided with information so as to allay any fears as to the purpose of the call and, where the call was unsolicited, information allowing the recipient to indicate that they do not wish to receive further direct marketing calls related to that campaign. The Direct Marketing Authority, established by the DMA, is responsible for monitoring the Code.
Why this matters:
The current position under UK law is that calls for marketing purposes can only be made by automated dialling equipment on an "opt-in" basis. In the light of this, it is perhaps interesting that the DMA's Code makes no reference to this and lays down no detailed guidelines as to how telemarketers must take steps to ensure compliance with the legal requirements.