/ Technology

Companies that ignore the TPS are treading a fine line

Old phone handset

The ICO has fined Manchester-based energy firm Tameside Energy Services £45,000 for nuisance calling people registered with the TPS. Are you still bombarded with nuisance calls despite signing up to the TPS?

The fine falls just two weeks after the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) hit two companies featured in BBC Three’s The Call Centre with a whopping £225,000 fine.

It’s also the regulator’s third fine since we called for action with the launch of our campaign Calling Time on Nuisance Calls and Texts.

Fines for the rule breakers

The latest company to be fined, Tameside, was responsible for more than 1,000 complaints between May 2011 and January 2013. According to the ICO, Tameside ‘failed to carry out adequate checks’ and didn’t remove people from their contact lists.

Commenting on the fine, ICO’s director of operations Simon Entwisle said: ‘This is not the first, and will not be the last, monetary penalty issued by the ICO for unwanted marketing calls.’

We’re pleased that the ICO is taking action against companies bombarding people with nuisance calls. With more than eight in 10 of us receiving unwanted calls, we want a tougher new approach from the government, regulators and industry with new laws and new technology to stop you from being plagued by this menace.

How effective is the TPS?

The ICO also issued Tameside with an enforcement notice, requiring the company to stop calling people who are TPS registered or have previously told the company they don’t want to be contacted.

In one case an 80-year-old lady had told Tameside on 20 separate occasions that they must stop calling her. This is a problem that many of you empathise with, such as Rob:

‘Like many other people who receive these phone calls (just about everyone with a phone?), I registered with TPS several years ago. I have to say that TPS is about effective as a chocolate fireguard.’

Commenter A Wright was similarly affected, and now relies on his answer phone:

‘I work from home and despite having telephone preference we were getting between two and six of these calls most days. After a particularly frustrating day, I decided to put my answer phone to better use. I changed my message. It now says “Hello, we have telephone preference so if you’re cold calling please make a note of that. However, if you are a friend, please leave a message after the tone.”‘

Although evidence suggests that registering with the TPS will cut down on nuisance calls, it’s clearly not doing a good enough job when companies are just ignoring the list of registered phone numbers. The 75,000 who have so far pledged support for our campaign are evidence of that.

wev says:
8 July 2013

Jane, could Which please add these to the Nuisance Calls campaign and private members bill.

Mistaken Identity. I said this in the last topic. There’s a company called First Assist and it uses several phone numbers and pretends to be several companies like for car insurance and banks.








The nuisance calls bill won’t work here because people think it’s a company they already are a customer of that’s calling.

Market Research Calls. wavechange and others think they’re a plain nuisance and have to go completely.

Chaining. Market research calls and paper questionaires ask for a lot of personal information that’s useful to scammers. Market research companies can be genuine, but they’ll still sell that personal info to anyone who asks for it and pays. Some will be scammers, and they’ll use it to make victim lists. Read http://www.thinkjessica.com

DVLA. Someone said in a topic that the DVLA sells personal info it has. Can you do something about that?


The whole system of regulators is ineffective, as covered in


The whole lot of them were given 3 months to crackdown on nuisance calls, and I believe that time has come and gone and yet not alot has happened.

Too little, too late springs to mind.

And when they do something they seem so impressed with themselves, They just fined a company £45k even though they wanted to fine them £90k, so what if the company isn’t doing well. This particular one has been breaking the rules for almost 2 years. Why can’t they fine the owners of the company.

The ICO were on the one show talking about they latest action today, and they tweeted “Watching @BBCOneShow and received a nuisance marketing call? Help us find those responsible at ” but what about people who have no access to the internet, did they say how they can report calls?

It’s not rocket science they’re working on. My vote would be scrap the lot of them and start again.

And the most important thing they still haven’t done is make it illegal for a company not hide phone number, without that its very hard to report a call.


Let’s face it…



ENFORCE ALL CALLS HAVE A CALLER ID. This could be regulated by the phone companies i.e. any call that does not have a caller ID just doesn’t go anywhere.

MAKE THE PHONE COMPANIES RESPONSIBLE. We pay them for a phone service. If they got fined for letting allowing nuisance callers on their networks, they would soon stop.

Until this done, these nuisance callers will always find ways to get around the law.


Considering the hassle these companies have caused, the fines are little more than a business expense.

Market research calls are nuisance calls. They should be illegal too, unless we have chosen to receive them. Unless things have changed recently, Which? does not regard market research calls as nuisance calls. Perhaps it is time to ask Which? members or the public. 🙂

Barry Keating says:
26 August 2013

Fully agree.

I gave TPS the number of a Manchester based call centre which has been bothering me, but they are unable to find their registered address unless I give them the real registered name of the caller.

The latest round of nuisance calls I have received is from a company masquerading has energy advisors trying to sell a £140 visit by an “Accredited Green Deal Assessor”.


Just to show how pointless the TPS are, I just got this response for my bothering to report a nuisance call:

“Thank you for your complaint regarding the receipt of an unsolicited direct marketing call.

You may already be aware that the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) does not have the facilities to know which companies are calling you and therefore relies on the complainant to ascertain this information upon the receipt of an unsolicited direct marketing call.

Despite our best efforts, TPS has not been able to ascertain valid contact and/or address details to raise this particular complaint. Please note that even on occasions where a company name and/or telephone number is supplied TPS may still be unable to ascertain valid company details if during the course of our investigation the company name and/or telephone number supplied is found to be fictitious.

Although we have been unable to raise this complaint against the offending company we will make available to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) details of complaints which TPS were unable to raise against the offending company due to lack of valid contact details
The ICO are the government body responsible for enforcing the Privacy and Electronic (EC Directive) Communications Regulations 2003. This may enable them to look at trends in complaints being made and where possible identify those organisations who are not complying with the regulations surrounding such calls. .”

As I get so many calls, this response doesn’t help me by telling me the details I supplied to them. If the current system doesn’t help the regulator track down the culprits, maybe its time it was improved. Not sure I’ll be bothering to report calls in future, as this sort of response is all too common.


I have just started receiving unsolicited competitions over the internet from http://www.prizefun.com/. To STOP they ask for my mobile phone number – I don’t want them to know this as their “competitions” operate on a weekly subscription charged to your mobile. Anyone know how best to stop this and who to report it to? How do these pages appear without an email?


We’ve written to Ed Vaizey MP, asking him to answer our calls to strengthen the law on nuisance calls and texts. Show him we mean business by adding your comments: https://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/stop-nuisance-unwanted-calls-ed-vaizey-letter-calling-time/