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Regulation Hub Update - October 2019

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This article is written by Steve Sullivan who is the Deputy Chair of the Contact Centre Council.

ICO
Swansea-based home improvements firm, Superior Style, generated nearly 100 consumer complaints in a 12 month period between 2017 and 2018 by making telemarketing calls to numbers registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). Superior Style couldn’t justify why they didn’t screen their outbound calling database – which they said had been purchased from another home improvement company two years earlier – against the TPS and was fined £150,000 by the ICO for breaking the PECR rules.

Meanwhile, in Brussels the Finnish EU presidency has published a new, revised text of the proposed ePrivacy Regulation which will replace the European rules enshrined in PECR. Experts with a better eye for detail than us will interpret what these latest changes would mean – but it’s still a long way from being agreed. Which brings us to…

Brexit
The government’s slew of sector-specific advice on what to do in the event of a no-deal Brexit doesn’t include anything on contact centres, as far as I can tell. But the checklists (like this one, for example) typically list the same first two pieces of advice which will probably apply to all UK contact centres:
Step 1 - Check if your employees need a visa or work permit and meet any requirements for visiting the country they’re going to for business purposes.
You or your employees may not be able to enter, work or carry out particular activities in some countries without the right visa or permit.
Read the guidance: Providing services to any country in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland after Brexit
Step 2 - Ask your employees to check if they need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme
Your employees may not be able to continue living or working in the UK as they do now, if they do not apply to the scheme.
Read the guidance: Apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (settled and pre-settled status)

DMA
The DMA’s latest data privacy research paper shows a 35% reduction in the proportion of respondents who claimed a good understanding of what GDPR would mean for their organisation. Presumably they’ve not been reading the DMA Contact Centre Council’s monthly Regulation Hub Updates!

Ofcom
Decision Marketing had a typically punchy article in September highlighting that – alone amongst the big players – Three hadn’t signed up to Ofcom’s Fairness for Customers pledge

Fundraising
News of note from the Fundraising Regulator is their first publishing list of charities being investigated after complaints (but crucially, not all upheld), which includes big names like NSPCC, Macmillian and Just Giving.

Just last week the RNLI announced the reversal of their 2015 decision to solely use consent as the basis for their fundraising efforts. This was a controversial move, which the RNLI at the time estimated would cost them £35m in income over 5 years. But in the light of "new financial challenges" the RNLI has announced it will now also use legitimate interest as a legal basis for its fundraising. How this will work out – organisations can’t just flip their legal basis, so the RNLI surely won’t be able to suddenly decide that part of their previous supporter database that didn’t provide fundraising consent is now contactable – isn’t clear, but it’s hardtop imagine that the third sector won’t echo with a chorus of charity fundraisers saying “told you so”!

Phone-Paid Services Authority (PSA)
The PSA has again focused on further penalising previous bad actors who haven’t paid their fines:
  • Powertel has been banned from operating in the phone-paid space for 5 years, as a result of it not paying its £200,000 levied in 2018. Powertel bought up brands’ old, disused customer service numbers and pointed them to a directory enquiries service which charged nearly £7 for connection alone…
  • It’s also banned Simon Boyle from the industry for 5 years due to his leading role in the activities of Flipcove, which the PSA fined £250,000 in late 2018
  • Finally, Eliad & Meital Shenar have had 5 year bans imposed after Halak Online failed to pay its fine
No contact centre-related news from The Insolvency Service, this month and nothing to report from the TPS or the world of Payments.

Hear more from the DMA

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