The DMA has dismissed claims that its TPS Assured scheme is dead in the water – despite only two firms achieving the gold standard of telemarketing – by insisting that a raft of companies are going through the rigorous auditing process.
The move follows a report in The Sunday Times which claimed charities had shunned the certification, which was launched in October 2013 to great fanfare.
So far just Which? and Anglian Windows have been approved, however, the DMA – which runs the scheme under licence from Ofcom – insists there are at least 10 companies which have applied in the past few months.
Two of these are very close to being announced, and are said to be major brands. The other 8 – half of which work in the charity sector – are also coming through, although the DMA refused name names.
The increase in charity take-up has been fuelled by changes to the Institute of Fundraising code of practice, made in November last year, which states that charities “must have least have made contact with the TPS Assured team and started the application process by the beginning of 2016”.
Designed to help telemarketers ensure they comply with the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), as well as Ofcom and TPS Assured’s guidelines, firms that earn TPS Assured certification have to undergo months of auditing as well as an annual check to continue displaying the TPS Assured mark.
At the time of its launch, the Minister for Culture, Communications & Creative Industries Ed Vaizey said: “Direct marketing is a legitimate industry but the public has had enough of nuisance calls from companies simply flouting the rules. We have encouraged regulators to take action against those who break the law but we are also keen for industry to improve best practice. I welcome this initiative by the TPS and hope that it helps to drive up standards.”
However, recent evidence submitted to Parliament by the Information Commissioner’s Office suggested there is still widespread abuse of the basic TPS service. Commissioner Christopher Graham confirmed he had written to over 500 companies – including a handful of charities – warning them that they were potentially in breach of the regulations. This is despite the fact that following changes to the rules governing telemarketing in April last year, there was a five-fold surge in the volume of companies seeking TPS licences.
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