Fresh questions are being raised about the effectiveness of the Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS) following claims that there has never been a single enforcement notice handed down since the controversial scheme was launched nearly 13 years ago.
Exact figures on the number of complaints the service generates seem to be a closely guarded secret, although according to one estimate it can receive up to 300 a month. However, like many complaints to the consumer TPS the vast majority are unfounded. Even for the ones which are genuine, it is virutally impossible to prove a deliberate breach of the Privacy & Electronic Communication Regulations (PECR).
The scheme is not without its critics as, although there are 2.7 million business numbers registered, it is understood they belong to fewer than 500,000 firms and represent just a fraction of the 5.4 million UK businesses.
It has been argued that, given that most of the companies registered are so large, most of their employees do not even know they are on the file, so would not complain anyway.
The move follows speculation that the CTPS is facing the chop; a claim the DMA has swiftly scotched. The industry body, which runs the scheme on licence from the Information Commissioner’s Office, points out that along with the consumer TPS, any change to the CTPS would mean changes to primary legislation, which would be flagged up months before it happened.
Privately the DMA would love to see the back of the CTPS; it lobbied unsuccessfully against its introduction in 2004 arguing – correctly it now seems – that it was unenforceable and yet another administrative burden on the industry.
As far back as 2005 – just 6 months after launch – the DTI and Ofcom were being urged to review the CTPS, following research showing the system was open to abuse by large corporations.
And in 2010, the DMA urged members to back a fresh call for a review, after the Contact Centre & Telemarketing Council built a dossier of evidence on how the CTPS damages businesses. It went on to present the findings to regulators and policy makers in Whitehall but its campaign fell on deaf ears.
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