Guide to the telephone preference service

From 25 June this year businesses have, for the first time, been able to prevent unwanted marketing calls by registering with the corporate Telephone Preference Service (TPS).

Previously, the service only made it illegal for businesses to cold call potential residential customers and certain types of business.

A failure to comply with the regulation could incur fines of up to £5,000, so it’s important to ensure you know how the legislation affects your business.

A survey of 900 businesses by telecommunications company Solutions 42, carried out just before the new legislation came into force, showed that 70% of businesses were unaware of it.

“The general effect is that both business-to-residential and business-to-business marketing companies must verify that the prospects are not registered with the corporate TPS or, if they are registered, have agreed beforehand to receive the promotion,” explains Jane Wright, project manager for Solutions 42.

The legislation does not include market research. The Data Commissioner has issued guidance on the regulation, including information on what constitutes a marketing call, and explanation of responsibilities to ensure you comply with marketing regulations.

“Businesses may buy data screened for TPS compliance. This will need to be updated every month as the list changes. Alternatively, the calls can be routed via a supplier who will bar any call to a TPS registered number. For small businesses requiring individual numbers to be checked a free service is available at www.numbercheck.co.uk,” adds Wright.

She also suggests that sales staff will require training concerning the extension of the regulations so that consents may be achieved and TPS-registered clients are not contacted by mistake.

“Where external contact centre staff are used or where external mailing lists are purchased, care should be taken to verify the third party complies with the regulations. The responsibility will still remain with the company on whose behalf the call is made,” cautions Wright.

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