Most phone customers opt to block direct marketing calls


DIRECT MARKETING companies have now been banned from phoning more than 61 per cent of landline customers to try to sell them goods or services.

Telecommunications regulator ComReg said that 982,238 people had contacted their phone providers to tell them that they did not want to receive direct marketing calls. There are 1.6 million fixed telephone lines in the State.

More than 82,000 people requested the ban on “cold calls” in the past year. Since mid-2005, all telephone subscribers have the right to opt out of receiving these unsolicited calls.

All landline numbers in public phone books or available through directory inquiries are held in a central record known as the national directory database, which is used by direct marketing firms.

When a customer tells their phone provider that they do not want to receive direct marketing calls, this is recorded in the database.

If the customer continues to receive calls 28 days after the request has been recorded, the marketing company could be prosecuted by the Data Protection Commissioner.

Ex-directory telephone numbers are automatically recorded as not wanting to receive direct marketing calls.

The issue does not arise for mobile phone users as mobile phone companies have barred all direct marketing companies from making cold calls to their clients.

In the unlikely event that mobile phone users want to allow direct marketers to contact them, they can ask their mobile service providers to make their number available to direct marketers.

In 2006, ComReg and the Data Protection Commissioner ordered the Talk Talk telecommunications provider to apologise publicly after receiving complaints from the public about unwanted calls from the company.

Staff at an outside sales agency hired by the company had contacted consumers who had registered their preference to opt of direct marketing calls.

In its public apology, Talk Talk blamed the problem on “internal processes” and said it had been immediately rectified.

ComReg has a guide to preventing unwanted calls from direct marketing companies on its website