The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is a statutory register of telephone numbers of subscribers who object to receiving unsolicited telemarketing calls. The Direct Marketing Association operates the TPS register under contract from OFCOM. Registration is free of charge and takes 28 days to become effective. It is unlawful to make unsolicited (or in other words uninvited) telemarketing calls to numbers registered with the TPS. A telemarketing call is one where the caller is promoting their goods and services or their aims and ideals and includes fundraising calls.
Previously, the TPS had only been available to individuals, sole traders and (except in Scotland) partnerships. However, under the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) (Amendment) Regulations 2004 (SI 2004/1039) as from 25 June 2004, limited companies and all partnerships can also register their telephone number(s) on the TPS list.
Organisations that engage in direct marketing will need to check the TPS register before making unsolicited telemarketing calls to businesses. As TPS registration takes 28 days to become effective, registrations made, for example on 25 June 2004 will not take effect until 23 July 2004. However, organisations should remember that, since 11 December 2003 (under the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 (SI 2003/2426)), all businesses have an enforceable right to require an individual company to stop making telemarketing calls to them. Consequently, organisations should already have lists in place of suppressed numbers to ensure compliance with such requests with systems to allow telesales/customer services staff to add further numbers to these lists.
Failure to cleanse lists of TPS-registered company numbers is likely to result, in the first instance, in complaints being passed on by the TPS itself, with the potential for enforcement action to be taken by the Data Protection Information Commissioner if the organisation does not take remedial action. Companies do however have a direct right to complain to the Information Commissioner about telemarketing calls received despite a TPS registration and/or despite an 'opt-out' request previously made.
It is up to the individual organisation as to how it complies with its obligation not to call numbers listed on the TPS register. Details of the options available can be found on the "Corporate Site" page of the TPS website.
For further information, please contact John Armstrong on tel: +44(0)207 3672701 or at [email protected], or Emma Burnett tel: +44(0)207 3673565 or at [email protected].