A Government Act to protect the consumer from unwanted ’cold calls’
from rogue telemarketers will come into force in October, with the full
support of the Direct Marketing Association.
Under the Act, it will also become illegal for companies to send
unsolicited faxes to consumers, although business-to-business faxes will
be unaffected by the change in the law.
The DMA has been working with bodies such as Oftel, the Department of
Trade and Industry, the Office of Fair Trading and the Data Protection
Registrar to make registration with the telephone preference service - a
DMA-run scheme by which consumers can register themselves as unwilling
to be cold-called - mandatory rather than voluntary.
Under the new regulations, it will become compulsory for companies which
do telemarketing to use the telephone preference service to check
whether or not an individual has requested the screening.
The proposals are expected to meet with dissent from around one fifth of
the companies that use telemarketing in the UK.
Colin Lloyd, the chief executive of the DMA, explained: ’Twenty per cent
of all outbound marketing calls are made by people that we’d rather were
members of the scheme. It is unfortunate, but there is a fringe element
of companies over which we have very little control. These are the
people that phone you at dinner time, or when you are in the bath.’
The DMA has a graduated system in place to penalise offending companies.
In the first instance, the DMA will work hand-in-hand with the company
to make them behave responsibly. Secondly, a ’name and shame’ campaign
will publicise more serious misdemeanours in the press. Thirdly, the
company can be reported to Oftel, which will withdraw the use of the
telephone numbers under the Telephone Licensing Act, and, in the final
instance, persistent offenders can be referred to the Director of Public
The Department of Trade and Industry began a month-long consultation
period last week with the industry before implementing the new rules,
contained in an EU directive, which must be enforced by 24 October.