Select Committee chooses its telemarketing targets correctly

The Advertising Association’s chief executive Tim Lefroy recently told Marketing Week that the advertising industry has to be on its guard over the next 18 months against politicians looking for easy targets in exchange for votes. 

Russell Parsons

LeFroy said: ““As we approach next year’s European elections and 2015’s UK parliamentary elections it is essential we act [to make advertising ‘s case]. This is when you get the silly ideas on advertising bans. Politicians chasing votes rather that making sensible policy proposals.”

I mention this in the wake of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee’s report on nuisance calling. Given the level of public disquiet about unwanted marketing calls and the brownie points and even votes a finger wagging condemnation could bring, I feared the worst.

What I read, however, was a reasonable and balanced report that called for regulators to use the powers that they have and be handed more to clampdown on nuisance callers as well as a call to action for phone companies to offer free of charge tools for customers to screen and cut off unwanted calls.

The report read: “A complete ban on cold-calling should not be sought, not least because there are many legitimate reasons why such calls might be made, be it by the emergency services, medical practitioners, pharmacists, elected politicians, candidates for elections, charities and companies with whom the recipient has a genuine relationship.

“The target must be unsolicited calls and texts for marketing purposes and the smaller number of calls made with fraudulent intent.”

Bravo. I have said before that not all cold callers are the enemy, not all cold calls a waste of time. Targeted, empathetic and relevant marketing calls can prove to be a benefit not the bane of a right thinking citizen’s life.

The Select Committee’s report, however, contains only recommendations. It is in the new year when the Government’s thinking will be known. It is thought that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s plans will focus on making the current rules easier to enforce.  Lowering the burden of proof the Information Commissioner’s Office needs to act against suspected offenders, for example.

Whatever it ultimately contains, the target should be those that misuse data, that ride roughshod over customer’s that have registered with the Telephone Preference Service or use machines that generate silent calls – not those that do telemarketing well.   

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