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Direct mail: Fines are costly, but trust is priceless

18th Feb 2014
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Companies are being warned to respect the consumer’s rights when it comes to making unsolicited calls and posting marketing letters. Ignoring individuals’ requests to be left off contact lists comes not only with a hefty fine, but also a threat to brand reputation and, subsequently, a considerable loss of custom.

The Direct Marketing Association  is reminding telemarketers that failing to screen their contact lists against the Telephone Preference Services - which individuals can sign up to if they do not wish to receive unprompted calls - puts them firmly on the wrong side of the law. However, what may be even more detrimental than the legal action they'll face, is the loss of consumer trust.

While the Direct Marketing Commission and the Advertising Standard Authority do not have the powers to fine companies themselves, the DMA’s executive director, Chris Combemale, considers the loss of trust to be reason enough not to breech the codes set out by the Committee of Advertising Practice. “Consumer trust is essential to effective one-to-one communication, but this is all too easily jeopardised by not making the simple check to see if someone wants to be contacted or not.

“Watchdogs like the ASA and DMC have a vital role in holding businesses to account for wrongdoing, and over the past year we’ve seen the ICO starting to issue fines to companies for nuisance calls and spam texts.

“But the biggest risk businesses face is from losing consumer trust, which means losing potential customers and potential revenue. This should be incentive enough for businesses to check their consumer data against the MPS and TPS.”

So far this year, the ASA has already made examples of retailers who have disregarded the CAP code, while the DMC's report for 2013 revealed most of its investigations were into nuisance phone calls. As a company, you can gain access to the MPS and TPS registers, which hold 5.5 million addresses and 20 million phone numbers, by applying for a licence. 

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