What is the Telephone Preference Service (TPS)?
The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is responsible for administering the UK’s official central opt out register where consumers and businesses can register their telephone numbers to not receive unsolicited sales and marketing calls from telemarketing firms. Registration is free of charge and can be done online. This should be the first port of call you try when attempting to prevent unwanted sales calls being made to your telephone number. Telemarketers are not lawfully permitted to make unsolicited sales calls to any numbers that are registered on to the Telephone Preference Service central opt out register. This includes charities and political parties. Organisations that have an existing client relationship with individuals are also not entitled to make sales calls to these clients. TPS registration only prevents unsolicited sales marketing calls. Organisations are still able to call individuals for the purposes of genuine market research.
The original legislation was introduced in May 1999. The regulations were updated to the Privacy and Electronic (EC Directive) Regulations 2003. Although the Telephone Preference Service administers the central opt out register, the regulations are enforced by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The ICO will instigate enforcement action against any organisation that breaches the regulations by issuing enforcement notices. An enforcement notice is a legally binding document that sets out what an organisation must do or stop doing in order to comply with the legislation if they do not want further action being taken against their organisation. A call is not deemed as unsolicited if the organisation that contacted the recipient had their prior consent to do so or if the caller is phoning on behalf of a company that the recipient has an established business relationship (EBR) with. This also includes any organisation that the recipient has purchased goods or services from within the last 18 months or any organisations that the recipient may have made an enquiry with.
A call is not classed as unsolicited if an organisation that obtained the recipients’ telephone number did so by purchasing it from a company that the recipient authorised to sell their information. Individuals may not recall giving a company permission to sell their contact details but may have failed to read all of the terms and conditions on a form they filled in at an earlier time. Lots of companies do have affiliates and any of these affiliates that are related to the original product or service that was purchased by the recipient are allowed to contact those recipients as well. If individuals are happy to receive telemarketing calls from some companies but not others they should refrain from registering their telephone number(s) on to the Telephone Preference Service central opt out register and only contact the companies that they do not wish to receive marketing calls from to request that they add their details to their ‘do-not-call lists’.
The Telephone Preference Service is a free service. There is no cost involved for consumers or businesses to enter their telephone numbers on to the central opt out register. Once a telephone number has been registered, it will become effective 28 days later. This will be when the ban on calling that number will take effect. If consumers or businesses wish to enter their details on to the Telephone Preference Service central opt out register, they can do online through the TPS website. Alternatively, you can register your details by calling the Telephone Preference Service Registration Line on 0845 070 0707. For general enquiries, the TPS can be contacted on 0207 291 3320. The TPS can also be contacted by way of post by writing to; Telephone Preference Service (TPS), DMA House, 70 Margaret Street, London, W1W 8SS.
Is your Telephone Preference Service (TPS) registration not working? Are you still receiving sales calls?
A large number of consumers are not aware that the Privacy and Electronic (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 only extend to telemarketing firms that trade in England and Wales. Telemarketing firms based outside of England and Wales and overseas can lawfully make unsolicited sales calls to consumers in England and Wales without reproach. Larege numbers of unsolicited sales calls come from abroad from places such as India, South Africa, the Philippines and Europe. Furthermore, a large number of telemarketing firms based in England and Wales break the law and do not screen their tele data against the TPS register as a result of enforcement action not being very adequate for light offenders. For these reasons, the Telephone Preference Service can only offer a reduction in sales calls from telemarketing firms based in England and Wales that choose to trade wihin the regulations.
This is why many consumers and businesses become extremely frustrated to still find themselves receiving unlawful unsolicited sales calls after registering with the TPS. Like most free services, they are not usually the very best services but are OK to a degree. Usually offenders will only receive a standard formatted letter by way of post detailing the complaint and requesting a response. No verbal telephone contact is made or personal visit to offenders. If offenders choose to ignore this correspondence, no follow up action is usually taken by the TPS. The Telephone Preference Service does not even have the power to enforce the regulations as enforcement action can only be taken by the Information Commissioner’s office (ICO). This system does not give individual consumers the needed assistance they require at the time of receiving illegal sales calls or prevent further sales calls. Enforecement action by the ICO can be a lengthy process. To the surprise of many, registering with the TPS is highly unlikely to stop all sales and marketing calls being made to their number.