Telemarketing accreditation scheme launched

The Direct Marketing Association has launched a certification scheme for telemarketers, aimed at recognising companies that comply with privacy regulations and the principles of the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).

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Marketing Week revealed that the scheme, named TPS Assured, was being developed in August, in response to ongoing controversy about the volume of nuisance calls received by consumers.

According to John Mitchison, head of the TPS: “The TPS Assured scheme will help to restore confidence in telemarketing by helping businesses, consumers and regulators to clearly identify those companies that operate on the right side of the law.”

To meet minimum standards for TPS Assured, telemarketers will need to show records covering at least 10 data points relating to marketing calls, including the source of the call list, the number called and the caller ID displayed to the recipient.

They will also be required to declare to consumers on whose behalf the call is being made, and to demonstrate processes for complying with regulations and maintaining best practice. It will cost businesses £500 plus VAT each time they apply for certification, then £3,000 plus VAT for an initial single-site audit, followed by £1,500 plus VAT for subsequent annual audits to renew their membership.

Mitchison claims that direct marketing companies are unlikely to be deterred by the cost: “The cost of complying with the legislation has been much higher in the past, two years ago the cost of a TPS licence was twice as much as it is now – £4,400 compared to the current cost of £2,200.”

Commenting on the launch of TPS Assured, communication minister Ed Vaizey said: “Direct marketing is a legitimate industry but the public has had enough of nuisance calls from companies simply flouting the rules. We have encouraged regulators to take action against those who break the law but we are also keen for industry to improve best practice. I welcome this initiative by the TPS and hope that it helps to drive up standards.”

The unveiling of TPS Assured follows yesterdays publication of a report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Nuisance Calls, chaired by Liberal Democrat MP Mike Crockart, while an action plan from Vaizey on the subject and a separate report by the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee are also expected imminently.

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