Although TPS is not yet a flawless concept, millions of people have benefitted and found it is a great way to reduce the number of unwanted cold calls you receive. (For more information on how it works, see our recent interview with the TPS). Crucial too, its usefulness is law. It is compulsory for all legitimate firms to abide by the rules or be held to account by the ICO.
A recent ICO enforcement case piqued our interest. Yes Consumer Solutions, based in Hove, was fined £170,000 pounds for illegally calling nearly 200,000 TPS registered numbers.
It won’t surprise you that most companies found to be in breach of the TPS rules around calling consumers tend to be selling goods and services in an unscrupulous way. Often, these firms are selling energy saving or solar products and warranty insurance. It is not that all companies selling insulation, double glazing and the like are illegitimate but those product category types do tend to attract unethical call centres sales businesses who can ‘close’ sales over the phone.
However, that’s not what Yes Consumer Solutions was selling. Unbelievably they were selling call blocking devices.
IPS are fans of call blocking devices, like those recommended and provided to vulnerable consumers by our friends at National Trading Standards. Call blockers do have limitations, with the most obvious being that the hardware only works with landline numbers rather than mobiles. However, they can make a massive difference and free people from the curse of scams and nuisance calls. They provide reassurance and comfort for family members who do not live with them old and vulnerable relatives.
So, Yes Consumer Solutions were in the unpleasant position of promoting something that we think can help protect people from the worse sort of invasive marketing and scam calls by using tactics that amount to just that. They were making unwanted and illegal sales phone calls to customers who have expressly attempted to avoid those sort of calls by registering with the TPS.
Yes Consumer Solutions claims to have sold over 12,000 of its devices. Some firms seem to disregard the rules about making sales and marketing calls through, inexcusable, ignorance. But Yes Consumer Solutions, given the market it is in, cannot possibly have failed to understand how the TPS works.