We need something better than TPS and current legislation

I really wish, like late payment penalties, there was a simple defined civil charge one could make, sue for if necessary, for someone wasting your time with an unlawful unsolicited marketing call. It would be death by a thousand cuts as people, like us, would simply make claims. The courts would not be involved much, just the couple of times to prove the point to the idiots, and then they have to cough up for each claim without the threat of court.

We got one today that shows the problem quite well.

This is the call: mp3 (note this is stereo, one person on each ear).

The caller was, apparently, Black Sheep Utilities Ltd, selling water supply. They have been in business around 7 years, so really should know better. They called us, FireBrick Ltd.

So, some things wrong with the call...

  • Claims not aware he called a TPS registered number, but later says he could not have made call if we were.
  • Says they check data with TPS, which clearly they do not! That suggests he is just lying.
  • Says you have to re-register every six months, which is wrong. The TPS say every 12 months, but actually the legislation does not require re-registration. We are registered permanently (as I threatened to sue them and OFCOM if they de-registered us again, many years ago) and I double checked and the number he called is still registered even now.
  • He suggests that if you go on line, your number will be "attached to your IP" somehow.
  • He suggests we may have left a "your data will be shared" tick box ticked on the Internet.
  • No remorse whatsoever!
  • He says if we were on the register he would not be able to call us, clearly that is a lie.
This all seems a bit confused. If they screen for TPS and don't allow calls, then how is having a "your data will be shared" tick box relevant. Clearly they don't in fact check against TPS as we are on it.

Until there is proper action against such people, they will just waffle their way through such calls and ignore their responsibilities. We all pay the price in huge amounts of wasted time.

Also, he seems confused over "details being shared" and the unlawfulness of unsolicited marketing calls. It does not matter how much our number is shared, and I would not be surprised if the number is shared, it is on our web site even, and companies may know it. I have no problem with the number being shared to people that may be interested in buying FireBricks. That is why we have a number, so potential and actual customers can call us. What matters for this is that we have not given him permission to call us for marketing. Even if we gave permission to someone else, and gave them permission to share our details, unless we gave Black Sheep permission then his calls are unlawful.

What can be done to sort this, really? The ICO will not be interested, I am sure.


  1. For the “sharing” bit, he might have Reg 21(4) in mind.

    It doesn’t work like that, so they might have got the wrong end of the stick...

  2. Even if it were criminal they would still call just like the scammers do.

  3. TPS is run by the direct marketing organisation, 'nuff said.

    Problem #1 is the opt in-out information is invisible. If you do make a mistake on a web form then you are stuffed for ever more. How hard would it be to create a central database indexed by telephone number to register this information and allow end users to modify? Ownership of a number very simply verified by the fact that I can pick up calls directed to it! This would be a somewhat more fit for purpose TPS. Make them fund it.

    Next is anonymous or mis-formatted caller id's (got a call from '0000' the other day). This makes it impossible for a customer to actually report an offender. When a call is handed off to A&A do you know which telecoms operator it comes from? Can we give operators a reputation score and create an option to block the spammiest ones?

  4. It's been nice to see enforcement action against the very worst extreme offenders in the last year - but spoofed or invalid numbers are becoming an issue too. An automated way to report spam calls (perhaps a shortcode like 1472, "last incoming call was spam", to be logged and analysed by the telco?) would be nice - easy for BT & co to collate and identify the worst offenders, both for enforcement against offending callers and penalties against their originating carriers.

    In the mean time, I like the minor revenge options - like the notorious "I said yes to the phone-spammer, so he sent a sales rep round to measure up for a new conservatory .. he didn't seem too happy after he climbed the stairs to my 3rd floor flat". If we can just make it unprofitable enough, the problem will solve itself!


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