6 July 2009
Complaints about unwanted telemarketing calls plummet
There has been a 60 per cent drop in complaints about calls to numbers on the Do Not Call Register, indicating a significant improvement in compliance by telemarketers.
‘This very sizeable drop in complaints indicates that the telemarketing industry is getting the message and changing behaviours,’ said Chris Chapman, Chairman of the Australian Communications and Media Authority. ‘Making prohibited calls to people on the register just isn’t worth it – you will get caught and you will get penalised.’
The ACMA has combined ongoing education and information campaigns with enforcement action against those businesses that fail to comply with the Do Not Call Register Act 2006 (the Act). Over the past two years, the ACMA has issued eight formal warnings, accepted eight enforceable undertakings and collected more than $300,000 in penalties from businesses that have called people on the register.
‘The compliance guide, which was developed in close consultation with the telemarketing industry, is a one-stop-shop for best practice compliance with the Act,’ Mr Chapman said. ‘The ACMA has looked to industry for what does work, and has observed through its investigations what doesn’t work. It has compiled this information into a simple step-by-step guide listing the measures that telemarketers can take to comply with the Act, to get it right, and save Australian citizens time and money.’
There are currently 3.5 million numbers on the Do Not Call Register, which was launched in May 2007. People can register their domestic and mobile telephone numbers at www.donotcall.gov.au or by calling 1300 792 958.
Australians on the register who receive telemarketing calls they believe are in breach of the rules can make a complaint to the ACMA via the online complaint form at www.donotcall.gov.au, or by calling 1300 792 958.
‘The ACMA thanks the Australian Direct Marketing Association for its valuable input into the development of the Compliance Guide,’ Mr Chapman said.
Media contact: Donald Robertson, ACMA Media Manager, (02) 9334 7980.
Under the Do Not Call Register Act 2006, (the Act) individuals can list their Australian fixed line or mobile telephone numbers on the Do Not Call Register, provided those numbers are used primarily for private or domestic purposes (for example, calls to family and friends). Registration means that individuals have opted out of receiving a wide range of unsolicited telemarketing calls. Registrations are valid for three years, and can be removed from the register at any time. To date, more than 3.5 million phone numbers have been registered. 1.5 million of these phone numbers were registered in the first months of the register’s operation and will be due for renewal in early to mid 2010.
It is unlawful, in the absence of consent, for any telemarketer in Australia or overseas to make a non-exempt telemarketing call to a number listed on the register. The ACMA is responsible for overseeing the register’s operation and for investigating breaches of the Do Not Call Register legislation, including the Act and the Telecommunications (Do Not Call Register) (Telemarketing and Research Calls) Industry Standard 2007.
From May 2008 to May 2009, 12,057 complaints were received; this represents a 60% drop from the May 2007 to May 2008 figure of 30,060 complaints. The majority of these complaints raised potential breaches of the Act and/or the Industry Standard and were handled by the ACMA.
Compliance with the Act and the Industry Standard
The ACMA’s general approach to compliance is to seek to resolve a matter, where appropriate, without resorting to formal procedures. Where complaints are received, the ACMA generally issues an advisory letter to the relevant business providing it with an opportunity to review its compliance processes and address the apparent issues. The ACMA has also undertaken an extensive education campaign about the DNC Legislation during the past two years.
Where an informal approach to a business has not been effective in addressing the apparent compliance issues, the ACMA undertakes a formal investigation into the matter. There are a number of enforcement options available to the ACMA, which include:
- issuing a formal warning;
- accepting enforceable undertakings;
- issuing an infringement notice, which specifies a financial penalty; or
- commencing proceedings in the Federal Court or Federal Magistrates Court.
The Compliance Guide
The compliance guide is a compilation of practical measures telemarketers can take to comply with the Act. The development of the compliance guide has involved consultation with a broad cross-section of the telemarketing industry, including telemarketers and call centres of varying sizes. The compliance guide has also drawn on knowledge gained from investigations that the ACMA has conducted.
The compliance guide is not intended as a statement of things telemarketers must do to comply with the Act, nor is it a list of measures that, if applied, would necessarily ensure a person’s compliance. Its primary objective is to help telemarketers to meet their regulatory obligations under the Act and therefore reduce the number of prohibited calls made to numbers on the register.