The Telephone Preference Service has revealed its own attempt to combat nuisance calls with the launch of the first certification scheme for the UK telemarketing sector, aimed at proving companies comply with privacy laws and industry guidelines.
Dubbed “TPS Assured”, the scheme comes amid mounting criticism over whether the TPS is fit for purpose.
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 will have to undergo an annual audit to continue displaying the TPS Assured mark.
The DMA runs the TPS under licence from Ofcom, which says complaints about nuisance calls hit a record monthly high this year, with over 10,000 complaints in February.
It is hoped that TPS Assured will enable companies to demonstrate to their clients, regulators and the public that they comply with all the rules governing telemarketing, as well as the highest standards of industry best practice.
Minister for Culture, Communications and 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.”
The regulation of telemarketing is under intense scrutiny. The Department of Culture, Media & Sport is due to release its report into nuisance calls and texts this week, while Vaisey’s own action plan is also due to be published.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Nuisance Calls, chaired by Scottish Liberal Democrat MP Mike Crockart, has made 16 recommendations calling on telecoms companies to pilot new ways of blocking specific phone numbers and for caller identification to be provided to consumers free of charge on all marketing calls.
Crockart is also bringing a Private Members Bill – due to have its second reading on November 1 – which will try to reduce the level of harm which regulators need to prove from “distress” to “annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety”.
Former agency chief Martin Troughton, who is now marketing director of Anglian Home Improvements – the first company to complete TPS Assured – said: “Tighter regulation and higher standards are essential in order to ensure customer confidence in the TPS scheme. At Anglian, we are great believers in raising the standards in every aspect of our work and, as such, we are delighted to champion TPS Assured. We now know that we are 100% TPS compliant, which gives us confidence that we are contacting people who are happy to receive calls, as well as removing the risk of being penalised and maximising our resources from a commercial point of view. We would encourage all businesses involved in telemarketing to sign up and go through the process.”
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