Prosecution Rates for breach of TPS/CTPS

Discussion in 'Sales, Marketing & PR' started by Montaigne, May 3, 2012.

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  1. Montaigne

    Montaigne UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    Sorry, this post did not retain the original spreadsheet layout of the stats.

    Request for Information


    Further to our acknowledgement of 3 April 2012 we are now in a position to provide you with a response to your request for information dated 2 April 2012.

    As you know we have dealt with your request in accordance with your 'right to know' under section 1(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), which entitles you to be provided with a copy of any information 'held' by a public authority, unless an appropriate exemption applies.

    Request

    In your e-mail you referred to your interest in statistics relating to breaches of TPS and CTPS and the subsequent decisions relating to those breaches. As you had been unable to find any information on our website you asked us to provide you with "… specific data relating only to breaches of TPS and CTPS …".

    Information Held

    As you may know The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) regulates the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR). PECR are concerned with the way organisations send marketing material by fax, text, email and telephone. Marketing can include the promotion of goods, services, aims or ideals.

    Regulation 21 of PECR says that unsolicited live direct marketing telephone calls cannot be made to a telephone number if:


    • the organisation has specifically been asked not to make marketing calls to that number (Regulation 21(1)(a)) or
    • That number has been registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) or the Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS) for 28 days or more (Regulation 21(1)(b))
    Regulation 24 says that the caller must identify themselves when making live marketing calls and, if asked, must provide a valid business address or freephone number.

    In most cases our approach to complaints is to educate organisations to help them understand what PECR requires. We will also advise them to take any steps necessary to comply with PECR in future.


    The ICO and the TPS both handle complaints about breaches of PECR. We have a two stage system for handling complaints. Initial complaints are handled by TPS. However, if an identifiable organisation continues to call despite TPS asking them to stop, the complaints are referred to us and a case is created at the ICO. It is important to note that the complaints which are referred to us by the TPS do not necessarily indicate that a breach of PECR has occurred, simply that a complaint has been logged with them.

    By way of figures, we can confirm that in the financial year 2009/2010 the TPS referred 278 complaints to the ICO, a further 146 in 2010/2011 and 57 complaints from 1 April 2011 to the end of January 2012. Whilst these numbers appear to have been falling over recent years, this is possibly due to individuals choosing to bring their concerns direct to the ICO, rather than complaining to TPS first.

    As we've suggested above, complaints are also made directly to the ICO by individuals. Every complaint we receive helps us to gather the evidence we require. We are not always able to immediately identify the callers, or resolve the matter for an individual. However, we work with other regulators, such as OFCOM, TPS and the DMA to try and trace the organisations concerned so that we can pursue the appropriate action.
    We use an electronic case management system to record all complaints and enquiries submitted to the ICO about the legislation we regulate, including PECR. This system enables us to carry out a search of the number of complaints which have been recorded about a breach of PECR involving the use of live phone calls (ie Regulation 21(1) of PECR), whether these complaints relates to TPS or CTPS calls. However, the system does not allow us to conduct a more detailed search as to whether those complaints have come from the individual directly or were referred to the ICO by the TPS. The figures for the last three financial years showing those cases which have been completed with an outcome to suggest that a breach of Regulation 21(1) of PECR was likely are as follows:

    Financial year: Total: 2009/10 810 2010/11 637 2011/12 520
    Our aim is to ensure that the organisation responsible for the calls complies with the law. Where we receive a number of complaints about an organisation, and it is clear they are not complying with the Regulations, we can take formal action to make them comply.

    Since PECR came into effect the ICO has reached formal undertakings with 8 organisations, and served 9 enforcement notices against organisations for breaches of PECR, all in connection with live telephone calls. The details are as follows:

    Organisation Marketing method Undertaking Signed TalkTalk Telecom Ltd Phone calls - live 18/12/2006 Carphone Warehouse Group plc Phone calls - live 18/12/2006 LCI Travel Phone calls - live 25/05/2007 Satellite Direct UK Ltd Phone calls - live & automated 01/06/2007 Satcover Ltd Phone calls - live & automated 01/06/2007 Space Kitchens and Bedrooms Ltd Phone calls - live 15/08/2007 Weatherseal Holdings Ltd Phone calls - live 30/08/2007 SBP Ltd t/a Europlas Phone calls - live 25/01/2008

    Organisation Marketing method Enforcement Notice Served SAS Fire & Security Systems Ltd Phone calls - live 04/03/10 Direct Response Security Systems Ltd Phone calls - live 19/08/10 Weatherseal Holdings Ltd Phone calls - live 26/06/08 H Morris & Co Ltd t/s Homestyle Kitchens and Bathrooms Phone calls - live 11/07/07 Bowater Home Improvements Ltd Phone calls - live 06/12/06 Bowater Windows Ltd Phone calls - live 06/12/06 Staybrite Windows Ltd Phone calls - live 06/12/06 Zenith Windows Ltd Phone calls - live 06/12/06 IDT Direct Ltd t/a Toucan Phone calls - live & automated 06/12/06
    Advice and Assistance

    You may also be aware that on 26 May 2011, the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 came into force. These amend the original Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003. The Information Commissioner already has enforcement powers under the 2003 Regulations, whilst the 2011 Regulations enhance these powers and introduce new requirements, most notably in relation to cookies.

    Further information about these revised regulations, and the extent to which the ICO will be reviewing and amending our existing guidance to take these changes into account can be found on our website here:

    http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_organisations/privacy_and_electronic_communications/new_regulations.aspx

    You can also find details of the Commissioner's strategy for regulatory action, including enforcement of PECR, on our website at:

    www.ico.gov.uk/what_we_cover/promoting_data_privacy/taking_action.aspx.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2012
    Posted: May 3, 2012 By: Montaigne Member since: Jul 9, 2011
    #1
  2. Montaigne

    Montaigne UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    I submitted a request for info' on how many firms have been prosecuted for breach of TPS/CTPS a month ago and above is their response.

    At first glance TPS and CTPS seems pretty ineffectual. The ICO has only taken formal action against 9 firms in five years and they mention that they do not necessarily prosecute (i.e. fine the £5000 quoted for breach of TPS/CTPS) but rather work with firms to ensure compliance.

    On the other hand, out of a total adult population in the UK of 50,000,000 the ICO had less than a 1000 complaints per year from the general public so whilst calls to lines on TPS/CTPS are consistently annoying either very few people take advantage of the TPS/CTPS service or very few people actually bother to complain.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2012
    Posted: May 3, 2012 By: Montaigne Member since: Jul 9, 2011
    #2
  3. MASSEY

    MASSEY UKBF Legend Full Member

    10,328 1,783
    9 firms....

    Disgusting.
     
    Posted: May 3, 2012 By: MASSEY Member since: Nov 29, 2009
    #3
  4. bdw

    bdw Banned

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    By coincidence I was just talking abut this yesterday. I wonder how much taxpayer's money it takes to run these totally ineffectual organisations?

    .
     
    Posted: May 4, 2012 By: bdw Member since: Aug 13, 2008
    #4
  5. Ashley_Price

    Ashley_Price UKBF Legend Full Member - Verified Business

    7,114 1,308
    This proves what I have been saying for years, the TPS is a toothless tiger. Most telesales firms know this, and I've heard from some industry senior bods, that there are firms now actually targeting TPS-registered people because they know they won't get fined and those people get fewer calls.

    The problem with the TPS is they expect you to do all the work yourself, so you have to record the times of the calls, find out the name of the company and the telesales person that phoned you, etc.
     
    Posted: May 4, 2012 By: Ashley_Price Member since: Feb 9, 2008
    #5
  6. Montaigne

    Montaigne UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    The numbers of complaints seem pretty low to me though.

    Interestingly if you go on to the ICO website and look at actions they do take there are some pretty significant fines being sent out for breaches of data protection but you'd expect that companies that consistently break TPS to the point that the ICO gets involved would get a fine rather than being led by the hand so they don't do it again.
     
    Posted: May 4, 2012 By: Montaigne Member since: Jul 9, 2011
    #6
  7. maxine

    maxine UKBF Legend Full Member

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    I don't think it is toothless where they can act as they do via the warnings, prohibition notices and enforcement. It's not measured by the amount of fines they dish out (ie none) but how many companies stop doing what they were doing.

    The biggest problem is the criteria for making the complaint in the first place as it excludes anonymous calls etc.
     
    Posted: May 4, 2012 By: maxine Member since: Oct 13, 2007
    #7
  8. captaincloser

    captaincloser Banned

    2,770 1,130
    My goodness this is awful, truly awful....

    ...(that anyone didnt know that the CTPS have as many teeth as a 90 year old poodle).
     
    Posted: May 4, 2012 By: captaincloser Member since: Mar 20, 2010
    #8
  9. bdw

    bdw Banned

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    Not many I would guess. Why should anyone be worried about a slap on the wrist with a feather duster?

    .
     
    Posted: May 4, 2012 By: bdw Member since: Aug 13, 2008
    #9
  10. Montaigne

    Montaigne UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    In 5 years they've had less than 20 enforcement and notification actions though.
     
    Posted: May 4, 2012 By: Montaigne Member since: Jul 9, 2011
    #10
  11. garyk

    garyk UKBF Legend Full Member

    5,994 1,017
    Isnt the issue also that many call centres now are out of the UK for which the TPS can do nothing about anyway?
     
    Posted: May 5, 2012 By: garyk Member since: Jun 14, 2006
    #11
  12. Montaigne

    Montaigne UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    Sure but when you get an unwanted call you have no idea if it is necessarily outside of the UK. You'd expect people still to report it.

    It would be interesting to know how many people and businesses are actually signed up to TPS and CTPS.
     
    Posted: May 6, 2012 By: Montaigne Member since: Jul 9, 2011
    #12
  13. MASSEY

    MASSEY UKBF Legend Full Member

    10,328 1,783
    Just because they are not signed up to it does not mean they do not care about being harassed by people who want money paid over the phone.

    Luckily, TPS does really work.It cuts the calls down drastically.
     
    Posted: May 6, 2012 By: MASSEY Member since: Nov 29, 2009
    #13
  14. Montaigne

    Montaigne UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    I agree but that wasn't the point of this thread.
     
    Posted: May 6, 2012 By: Montaigne Member since: Jul 9, 2011
    #14
  15. maxine

    maxine UKBF Legend Full Member

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    When I prepare data lists for telemarketing I do a count of those available numbers that are on either on TPS for non business numbers and CTPS business numbers.

    TPS for residential numbers is usually around the 50-60% mark and for business numbers on CTPS it is around an average of 30%.
     
    Posted: May 7, 2012 By: maxine Member since: Oct 13, 2007
    #15
  16. bdw

    bdw Banned

    6,568 1,269
    After Signing up for TPS several years ago I did see a reduction in the number of calls but I would say that they are on the increase again.

    Invariably, when I confront a caller with the TPs card they apologise and say that they will get my number removed from their database. As we all know this is not what is supposed to happen. They are supposed to check the list and keep it up to date. It is quite clear that this is not happening in a large number of cases.

    What I would like to see is a system of reporting of offenders that punishes them severely. I would hit them with a very large fine if they are caught ignoring the TPS list. That is the only way we will get it stopped.

    .
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2012
    Posted: May 7, 2012 By: bdw Member since: Aug 13, 2008
    #16
  17. Montaigne

    Montaigne UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    In that case the amount of complaints is ridiculously low given the sheer volume of people signed up to TPS and CTPS. Clearly many people complain about it to each other and in forums but never take it as far as making a formal complaint.
     
    Posted: May 8, 2012 By: Montaigne Member since: Jul 9, 2011
    #17
  18. bdw

    bdw Banned

    6,568 1,269
    Here's why ... http://complaints.tpsonline.org.uk/Consumer/.

    The TPS are not responsible for enforcement. That would be the ICO. Let's go there then eh?
    http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints/privacy_and_electronic_communications.aspx

    If you follow this through you will find a six page form that has to be completed. You could end up spending an hour or more on this process. Most busy people who have been annoyed enough to get this far would abandon the complaint when they see how much time it is going to take to action it.

    This is why many cold calling companies just ignore the TPS. They know that the ICO has made it so hard to raise a complaint that the vast majority of people won't bother and if and when someone does go the whole way all they get is a slap on the wrist.

    .
     
    Posted: May 8, 2012 By: bdw Member since: Aug 13, 2008
    #18
  19. maxine

    maxine UKBF Legend Full Member

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    I personally think that is precisely what happens :) People huff and puff but don't actually raise a complaint!

    Sometimes they can't because they haven't got enough info which is not fair really as complaints could still be raised with as little as the company name without all the other gubbins that is required. Also they should get investigated in my view regardless of whether the consumer or business has told the company not to call them again. Why should they have to? The broke the law in the first place. Lots of business people (not just telemarketers) feel it is their right to get on the phone and sell their business services or products and completely ignore TPS and CTPS.

    I also think this will get worse too unfortunately with all the social media calling that is going on... even on these forums :)
     
    Posted: May 8, 2012 By: maxine Member since: Oct 13, 2007
    #19
  20. Montaigne

    Montaigne UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    It's amazing the number of businesses who have never even heard of TPS/CTPS. There's still a lot of people out there who think it is perfectly acceptable to ring from the yellow pages.
     
    Posted: May 8, 2012 By: Montaigne Member since: Jul 9, 2011
    #20
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