Dealers are being urged to join in lobbying of the Government to counter the threat of legislation that would prevent them making service and MoT reminder calls.
The Call For Action On the TPS (CFAOTTPS) is an organisation formed to prevent a ban on telemarketing. It wants the automotive sector to join an executive lobbying team.
The campaign body is creating a group to meet with government ministers and the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) to put forward new telemarketing regulations as an alternative to the ‘opt- in only’ rule that is widely expected following the recent passing of the Digital Economy Act.
Group founder and editor of Decision Marketing, Charlie McKelvey said: “An opt-in only based regulatory regime would effectively deprive dealers and garages of the ability to make call reminders to consumers about servicing and MoTs.”
The new Act was passed as part of the Government ‘wash up’ before Parliament closed for the general election, and under it the ICO will be instructed to draft new direct marketing and data practice guidelines.
Its recommendations will go before ministers for consideration and implementation.
Politicians clearly stated in debates on the act they are not in the mood to tolerate any weak or watered down measures, and ‘nuisance calling’ is the most common subject of letters to MPs.
“There is broad belief the ICO will put forward recommendation for an opt-in based telephone rule similar to that which governs text and email marketing.
“It would effectively mean a ban on telemarketing. A government spokesperson has already said new regulation will be placed on a statutory footing, which means rule breakers appearing in court.”
Ministers do not have to abide by what the ICO puts forward, and part of the Digital Economy Act includes government instruction to the ICO to consult all relevant representative bodies as part of a review prior to formulating recommendations.
CFAOTTPS will put forward alternative regulation that “protects the public and allows ethical companies the freedom to make outbound calls”.
It has already persuaded information commissioner Elizabeth Denham to review the existing telephone preference service.
CFAOTTPS is creating a new executive from business sectors that are major users of telemarketing, such as the energy and telecoms industries, to meet with the regulator and ministers to put forward alternative regulatory reform.
With the automotive sector being one of the major users of outbound calling, representatives from it are being sought to work alongside counterparts from other business areas.
One of the main arguments for less restrictive regulation is that a ban on outbound calls is likely to make matters worse for members of the public.
“Rogue calling companies that currently openly ignore current rules are unlikely to cease operating after they are given the field to themselves,” McKelvey said.
“If they are caught under new regulations those companies based in the UK will fold and remerge as they do when prosecuted under current rules, and the overseas offenders are untouchable by UK authorities. Rogue calling is likely to increase to fill the void left by compliant companies.”
In relation to the automotive sector, a telemarketing ban would heighten the risk car owners failing to have MoTs undertaken on time, and cause problems associated with not servicing vehicles.
“If business sectors do not work together to point out flaws in an opt in system, and do not put forward proposals that will protect both public and commercial interests then it is very likely that MoT and service calls will become a thing of the past.
“There is six months to create alternative telemarketing regulation and then put it to the ICO and government. Once the opportunity is past there will not be a second chance. To save outbound calling its now or never.”
> More information: CFAOTTPS is a free to join collective of telemarketing interests that has been formed to draft regulation, and to put its recommendations to the ICO and government.