Business Telephone Preference System Overview
When undertaking a telemarketing or telesales campaign, it is essential that you make yourself aware of the laws surrounding these practices regardless of whether you are keeping it in-house or hiring a telemarketing agency. In particular you should always know if the leads you generate are registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) or not. If you contact those who are registered with the TPS, you run the risk of financial and legal penalties.
With this warning established up front, this article outlines:
- What the Telephone Preference Service is
- Corporate TPS & its legal responsibilities
- The benefits of using a TPS Checker
- The costs of carrying out a TPS check
Telephone Preference Service – What Is It?
It is vital before undertaking any telemarketing campaign to ensure your lead list has been Telephone Preference Service filtered. Ensuring leads are not TPS registered is essential for your company to remain on the right side of the law, avoid financial penalties and potentially lose professional affiliations, particularly where the telephone preference service for business is concerned.
A TPS checker can be the simplest and most efficient way forward here.
The Telephone Preference Service is free and currently has more than 18 million individuals registered. Likewise, many thousands of businesses also avoid being cold called by companies via the TPS’ equivalent service, the Corporate Telephone Preference Service, set up in June 2004.
If your business wishes to market its products and services via outbound telesales, be aware that not calling individuals and companies on this list is a legal requirement that you should adhere to if you wish to keep your campaign profitable.
TPS Checker – What is it?
A TPS checker is a software tool or service that automatically cleans your leads of those that are registered with the TPS or the CTPS. Investment in this tool can support B2C or B2B telemarketing campaigns and potentially save you thousands as you’ll avoid the fines and legal ramifications of ignoring the do not call list.
Costs for a TPS checking service will vary, but some offer flexible options, depending upon the size of your campaign. Economies of scale mean the more leads you pay for to be screened, the less you pay per lead and the cheaper your cost per conversion.
The Corporate Telephone Preference Service is for businesses who want to stop receiving unsolicited sales and marketing telephone calls, which can be numerous. This is particularly important given the expanding number of call centres based elsewhere in the world, who are not bound by British law and whose automatic dialling systems can become a nuisance for staff.
Since 2011, the regulatory body, the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) can now fine you up to £500,000 for a telemarketing campaign that fails to implement a TPS check.
The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) powers permit the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) to take enforcement action against any company not adhering to the regulations. Now that more businesses are aware of their rights under the law, they are pressing for compensation for what they perceive as nuisance calls.
Some telemarketing companies operate a ‘do not call’ list already, but it is recommended screening any remaining outbound call lists to avoid complaints and fines levied against you. There are over 2,700, Corporate Telephone Preference Service registered businesses in the U.K. A mistaken call to any one of these registered companies could siphon off all campaign profits, or worse still could cost you your business.
Corporate TPS - Legal Obligations For Telemarketers
For specific details of the law in relation to Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS), you should check out the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) (Amendment) Regulations. These telecommunication regulations state that since 1st May 1999, it has been against the law to place a direct marketing call to any individual who is TPS registered or who has stated directly to your company that they do not wish to receive marketing calls.
Legally, the definition of ‘individuals’ includes not only residential consumers, but sole traders and partnerships (except Scotland). Many companies make the mistake of seeing these legal entities as ‘companies’ and believe they are not covered by the Telephone Preference Service - they are. So, whether running a B2B or B2C campaign, it is advisable to run your leads through a TPS checker.
Corporate subscribers to this service include bodies such as U.K. limited companies, limited liability partnerships in England, Wales and Northern Ireland or any partnership in Scotland. Organisations and public bodies are included on the Corporate Telephone Preference Service also, such as: schools, government departments, hospitals, charities, political parties, or other public agencies.
The Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS) may apply either to all of an organisation's telephone numbers, or merely to certain specified numbers. Should a company be called by one of your telemarketers mistakenly, they have right of redress from the Information Commissioner's Office.
If you are considering ‘push button’ mobile marketing, it is worth knowing that the Information Commissioner (IC) considers that SMS text messages should be regarded as telephone calls for the purposes of the Regulations.
In terms of how long data is excluded from your call lists for, the CTPS keep each registration for a year, so exemption from calls for registrants lasts for one year only. Reviewing your data on a regular basis means, therefore, that you will optimise your list.
Professional Sanctions For Breaching Regulations
Fines are not the only potential problem for your business when running a telemarketing campaign. If your business is regulated in any way, for instance, by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), the Financial Services Authority (FSA) or other regulated body, then breaching the telephone privacy regulations increases the risk of you losing your licence to trade, or at the very least, having restrictions imposed on your business.
Such sanctions are also a matter of public record and available on internet, potentially damaging your business reputation.
TPS Recommendations For Telemarketing Campaigns
If you wish to maintain your credibility and viability, good practice demands that you use a TPS check on your data. If you want to avoid heavy penalties, then at the least a TPS checker ensures legal compliance.
Furthermore, knowing your list is clean gives you the assurance of remaining within the legislative boundaries of industry regulators and keeping bad press to a minimum.
Regular reviews of your data, along with appropriate segmentation for well-planned campaigns will ensure that you stay on the right side of the law. For those companies who are on the TPS, it may be worth checking with them if they are happy to receive a call in the future and make a note of this. This adds further value to your lead list, as they have specifically ‘opted in’ for future campaigns.
Finally, shop around with lead providers, as prices vary and check they filter their lists to exclude those registered on the Telephone Preference Service for Business. If you find any have slipped through the net, be sure to inform your supplier, who should replace each lead for a viable alternative.
We recommend exploring your telemarketing options further. You can discover the benefits of telemarketing, find out the truth about cold calling or find the perfect telemarketing partner for your small business.
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