Last week the government announced a clampdown on companies using cold calling as part of their marketing strategy. Is this just political rhetoric before the election or a genuine attempt to regulate unwanted calls?
Cold calls and text messages have been around for several years and have started to become a daily occurrence. That is no surprise given the continued strength of mobile use among consumers. It must also be true that “cold calling” works otherwise marketing agencies would stop doing it.
So why then is action needed to clampdown on this activity?
Currently anyone can register telephone numbers with the “Telephone Preference Service” (TPS) and in theory, any company wanting to “cold call” must check all numbers against the TPS directory and remove them from their list. However as someone who has registered all my numbers with the TPS, I still get unwanted calls so clearly the policing of this isn’t working.
Any company found to cause “substantial damage or substantial distress” can be punished by the Information Commissioner but it has been argued this is too high a threshold after a tribunal upheld an appeal against a £300,000 fine imposed on Manchester based Tetrus Telecoms, ruling that its high volume of text messages about PPI and accident claims didn’t meet this test.
From 6th April, this threshold is being removed to make it easier for the ICO to take appropriate action against companies making nuisance calls but there appears to be no test in its place.
Ethically, I find it impossible to condone cold calling tactics but equally as a solicitor I find it hard to reconcile a decision to remove the legal threshold entirely. There was a great opportunity here to not only review the enforcement of TPS but lower the threshold as recommended in the consultation paper to one of “annoyance inconvenience or anxiety”.
Sucheet Amin – Managing Director Aequitas Legal & Founder of inCase