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As from Friday 25th June 2004 it will be an offence punishable by up to a £5000 fine to make an unsolicited call to any business that has placed its telephone numbers on the Telephone Preference Service opt-out list. However a survey run by MarketingFile.com, the telemarketing data website, of over 900 predominantly smaller businesses identifies that a massive 70% are completely unaware of this new law.

MarketingFile is providing a free service at www.NumberCheck.co.uk that lets you check whether a number can be called or not and so avoid breaking the new law.

A big problem for small businesses

The new legislation poses a serious problem for all businesses that sell to other businesses as they will have to check every number they want to call against the TPS opt-out list before they call it. The MarketingFile.com survey shows that;
• 83% of businesses make unsolicited calls to numbers held on their databases of customers or enquirers and 58% call numbers on cold prospect lists that have been bought-in. These will need to be ‘cleaned’ against TPS before sales calls are made.
• More than 50% make ad-hoc unsolicited calls to numbers that they come across during the day – for example on websites, on letterheads, business cards and signs and in directories and magazines. These numbers will also need to be checked individually before each call and this is probably the area where most businesses will fall foul of the law.

How will businesses comply?

The MarketingFile.com survey indicates that only 6% intend to license a copy of the TPS file which costs £7500 per annum for the full list of consumers and a further £3750 for the list of businesses. Up to a third will use a data bureau service to clean their files and databases. Alarmingly, nearly 1 in 4 businesses say they simply will not bother to comply, preferring presumably to risk the £5000 fine.

For all the others, MarketingFile has launched a free online service at www.NumberCheck.co.uk where they can check individual business or consumer telephone numbers against TPS before they are called. The service also offers free checking of fax numbers against the existing Fax Preference Service list (FPS).

New law ‘will adversely affect business’

The majority of businesses surveyed are deeply unhappy with the new law. Just 27% thought the new rules were ‘probably’ or ‘definitely’ a good idea, whereas an overwhelming 69% thought Corporate TPS either a ‘bad idea’ or a ‘terrible idea that will adversely affect my business’. This hostility to the new law is unsurprising since 78% said the unsolicited calls they make are either ‘essential’ or ‘useful’ for finding and retaining customers.

Although cold calling is becoming increasingly unpopular amongst consumers with some 4m numbers already registered on the TPS, the MarketingFile.com survey found that two-thirds of businesses do not mind receiving unsolicited calls and 3% actually like them.

Although 26% of businesses dislike receiving unsolicited calls and 4% are ‘absolutely incensed by them’ only 16% plan to register their own business telephone numbers with TPS to stop them. However this relatively low figure still suggests that as many as 224,000 of the approximately 1.4m PLCs and LTD companies in the UK might opt-out. This means that unless telephone numbers are checked against TPS before calling, then nearly 1 in every 6 sales calls to businesses will be to a number that is opted out.
Sales calls to opted-out numbers are not only be a waste of time and damaging to a company’s reputation, they also risk a £5,000 fine. The free www.NumberCheck.co.uk service looks set to be bookmarked as a favourite by many thousands of small business owners.

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Notes to the Editor:

The existing Telephone Preference Service (TPS) legislation that enables individuals to opt out their telephone number from unsolicited calls is to be extended to cover business telephone numbers as from Friday 25th June 2004.

The TPS is operated on OFCOM’s behalf by The Telephone Preference Service Ltd, a subsidiary of the Direct Marketing Association. For more information please see www.TPSonline.org.uk or call Liz Batstone, DMA PR Manager on 020-7291-3315.

The MarketingFile.com and NumberCheck.co.uk websites are owned and operated by MarketingFile Ltd, a privately owned company based in Hitchin, Hertfordshire. For more information or for a copy of the survey results please call Chris Loveys on 01462 437733 or 07711 601053(M).

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of MarketingFile Ltd in the following categories: Business & Finance, for more information visit https://pressreleasewire.responsesource.com/about.