The DMA has jumped to the defence of the Telephone Preference Service in response to Decision Marketing‘s campaign calling for a review, although the industry body insists it is “open to suggestions” to improve the scheme.
The move coincides with the Contact Centre Association – the trade association which represents UK call and contact centres – pledging its support for the campaign.
Decision Marketing launched the Call for Action on the TPS initiative earlier this month, following concerns expressed by many in the telemarketing and data industry that the TPS is no longer fit for purpose.
Since then, it has been backed by a raft of senior industry figures, who have offered their support for the initiative.
Until now, the DMA had been reluctant to comment, but in a specially prepared statement, managing director Rachel Aldighieri insisted some of the industry’s concerns are unfounded.
Dismissing a Which? study which showed people registered on the TPS receive more calls than those who are not on the file, Aldighieri said: “Figures from Ofcom have shown that registering on TPS reduces the number of nuisance calls by at least a third. Unfortunately, there are rogue businesses that are happy to flout the law by calling consumers that have registered with the TPS.”
She also claimed that removing inactive numbers from the list would be counter-productive, even though people who take over the numbers would find themselves inadvertently registered on the TPS.
Aldighieri said: “Any suggestion that the amount of numbers registered on TPS should be reduced by removing inactive numbers is not putting the protection of consumers first and foremost. This action could suddenly make available millions of telephone numbers to both legitimate and illegitimate marketers alike, which would undoubtedly drive an increase in cold and nuisance calls.
“This perceived increase in potentially unwanted calls would only draw negative attention to the channel. Ultimately, any calls to loosen the regulation around nuisance calls would send the wrong message to the rogue businesses that are breaking the law.”
Aldighieri also insisted the DMA does not profit from running the TPS on licence from Ofcom: “In terms of the businesses that purchase TPS licenses, the DMA does not do not make any profit from the sale of these and the cost for businesses was actually reduced by half in 2011.”
However, in a more conciliatory tone, she concluded: “We are continually working with the Government, ICO, Ofcom and our own members on improving the protection that TPS offers to consumers, as well as ensuring that contact centres continue to prosper by always putting the customer first. We are of course open to suggestions to enhance that.”
Meanwhile, Contact Centre Association chief executive Anne Marie Forsyth pledged her association’s support for a review. She said: “We have to constantly look at issues like this; is the TPS still fit for purpose? How do we know unless we examine it?”
Forsyth is no stranger to the issue, having sat on the Nuisance Calls & Texts Task Force on Consent & Lead Generation, convened by Which? at the request of the Department of Culture. However, she maintains that the DMA should be heavily involved in any discussions.
Drawing comparisons with the charity sector’s current troubles, Forsyth explained: “I’m sure charities thought they were doing the right thing. But collectively it is obvious they were not.”
Decision Marketing publishing editor Charlie McKelvey said: “It’s great to see the DMA is open to suggestions because we obviously need them to be involved. No-one is pointing the finger at the DMA, they do what they can with the tools available. All we are saying is, is there a better way? Clearly there are issues with the current system. Can we improve it, and protect both consumers and legitimate marketers? It is a conversation that needs to be had.”
Moving forward, we are planning to hold a series of open forums so that supporters can air their views on how the industry can resolve this issue. If you would like to join the campaign or simply provide your views on the matter, please email firstname.lastname@example.org – anonymity guaranteed.
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