’20m householders support UK version of do not call’ screamed headlines reporting reaction to America’s recent launch of a telephone preference service. But hang on, we say, the UK already has its own statutory ‘do not call’ list. We clarify
Who: The Direct Marketing Authority
Where: Precision Marketing magazine
When: September 2003
Reporting on the enormous take-up in America of the newly introduced federal "Do not call list" of those who do not wish to receive cold calls for marketing purposes, the UK's "Precision Marketing" periodical made what looked like an extraordinary gaffe. Under the headline "20 million households support UK version of "Do Not Call", it warned UK marketers they needed to improve their practices quickly in order to avoid similar legislation to that in the US.
Some mistake surely. We already have a national "Do not call list" here in the UK. It was introduced in 1999 by way of the Telecommunications (Data Protection and Privacy) Regulations. It is administered by the Direct Marketing Authority and goes under the name of the "Telephone Preference Service". Any marketers in the UK wishing to make calls for marketing purposes are legally obliged to first of all consult the TPS so as to avoid making calls to those who have opted out.
Why this matters:
It is perhaps a sorry indictment of the lack of profile that the TPS has achieved in the last few years that there is still widespread ignorance, amongst both marketers and consumers, as to its existence. Armed with its new code, the Direct Marketing Association (sister organisation to the Direct Marketing Authority) has recently announced its plans to significantly up its act in terms of building awareness of the various preference services that operate in the UK and encouraging better practice by way of stronger enforcement. Whether this will see the ranks of those who have registered with the TPS increasing to levels similar to those currently signing up in the US remains to be seen.