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Who can you call?

Making sense of the Telephone Preference Service

In Principle
According to the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 it is considered against the law for anyone in business to make a direct marketing call to anyone who has expressly asked not to be called. Individuals can also register their number at the Telephone Preference Service, which is governed by the same regulation. An individual is defined as a consumer, sole trader, PLC, Ltd Company, or partnership (except in Scotland).

Let Them Know Who You Are
When undertaking a marketing campaign your identity must not be concealed. and when requested you must provide the company name, address and contact details.

During the course of talking with prospective customers, it's good practice to ask if they mind if you contact them again about products or services. If they agree to further contact, find out if they prefer a phone call or email. This is known as opting-in, as the individual is giving you specific permission to contact them again about business dealings. Organisations also use terms and conditions as an implied opt-in to further contact, but also state they can opt-out at anytime. Think hard about if the benefits outweigh the possible damage to relations. Be open and honest with customers, it is the best policy to build long lasting relationships.

Individuals have the right to opt-out anytime they do not wish to get communications from you any longer. Emails must always provide the opportunity clearly to opt-out and a link to do so. This must be included in every email you send.

Keeping Your Data Clean
Direct marketing campaigns are only successful with the use of quality prospect data. A large client database is not a very valuable asset if a lot of the details are out-of-date or incorrect. So clean up your information whenever you get the chance.

Once registered with the TPS or FPS there is a 28-day grace period in which unsolicited calls are tolerated. After that, if contact is made to any individual on the list you have not opted-in; a fine of up to £5000 can be applied.

Purchasing data for a mailing campaign leaves the obligation with you to see none of the names are registered to not be contacted. The list broker should selling clean lists but it is the buyer's responsibility to double check. Selectabase allow you to manually check as many numbers as you need to for £10 per month. An automated service is available for high volume needs.

Good list brokers will ensure the following:
  • Postcode Address File (PAF) Processing
  • National Change of Address (NCOA) Processing
  • Telephone Number Verification and Appending
  • Electoral Roll Verification
  • Gone Away Suppression
  • Bereavement Suppression
  • Mailing Preference Service (MPS) Processing
  • Telephone Preference Service (TPS) Processing
  • Fax Preference Service (FPS) Processing
  • Duplicate Detection
  • Consumer and Business Profiling
Policing the Scheme
The Telephone Preference Service Ltd will investigate initial complaints by any individual who has been contacted after the registration grace period.

The Information Commissioner's Office will determine any action for breach of the Regulations.

The Direct Marketing Association Ltd, appointed by OFCOM to manage opt out registers. They also set up a subsidiary company, the Telephone Preference Service Ltd, in order to do so.
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