Beware – calls could cost £5,000

Cold calling fees

Beware – calls could cost £5,000

On the 25th of June 2004, Communications Minister Stephen Timms announced new legislation that allowed UK businesses to opt out of receiving cold calls by registering their numbers with the Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS). Individuals and companies who fail to check if an individual has registered their number could face a potential fine of up to £5,000 and bad publicity.

We called the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), who control the registration process, and discovered that over 255,119 individual numbers have been registered since its introduction. However, according to a spokesperson at the Information Commissioner’s Office, there doesn’t appear to have been any significant uplift in complaints, but the statistics are published on a annual basis, so it is still too early understand the impact of the new legislation.

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In order to avoid confusion, the Information Commissioner, who ultimately deals with any complaints, published the following definition of an unsolicited call: ‘Where a caller is promoting their goods and services or their aims and ideals’. This means that the legislation also applies to charities, voluntary organisations and even political parties!

So, how does it work? Sole traders and unincorporated companies have always had the ability to register their numbers, but now any business can register any or all of their numbers on the list, but they must do this in writing.

Calls to your existing customers are not affected, and the onus is on your customer to inform you if they decide to register and no longer want to receive calls from you. Responding to calls from companies asking for quotations is acceptable, but then you would think it unlikely that any company would register their purchasing or sales department numbers!

Operations Director Mick Spain of Great Guns Marketing gives his view: “As a company we regularly buy lists on behalf of our clients and have always been diligent in regularly checking lists. We have a strong belief in the quality of contact rather than quantity and have always had a process in place that makes allowance for individuals or companies who do not wish to receive calls.”

Regularly checking your database with an online list checking service, establishing a process for flagging individuals not wanting to receive calls, and dealing with complaints quickly will all help you to stay on the right side of the law.

If you regularly make direct marketing calls, even if it is for charitable purposes, you need to be aware of the amendments contained in the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) (Amendment) 2004, and I would suggest you download it from the Information Commissioner’s website.

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