/ 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/

You are a hard taskmaster Patrick.

Ed Vaizey should read the many pages of our collective whinges about the problem. It must be one of the most ‘popular’ topics. 🙁

It is THE most popular topic Wavechange, with more than 4,000 comments 🙂

After getting cold calls from British Gas offering home insulation deals I contacted their chat line to complain. They responded by removing my name from their marketing data base. When I asked how come I was on it in the first place I got no satisfactory answer. I think companies should offer a clearly shown opt-in box on their web sites without which they may not call. I am registered with TPS but this does not appear to have helped.

And just to show how poor the ICO are. I’ve just received a reply to an email I sent them on 3rd July, that’s a whole 16 days.

And all my email was was letting them know that their page detailing how to handle spam texts didn’t include the number for 3 customers to forward them too. And it took them 16 days. For something that could have been done in under 10 mins.

No wonder companies don’t care about being caught out.

Verdict: Could do alot better

Most public bodies do not seem to understand the frustration long delays create when replying to simple email questions. Most I have contacted – e.g. Ofgem, Dept for Education, DECC – quote 15 working days to reply on their website – and they stick to it mostly in my experience. When working I regarded incoming emails in the same way as telephone calls and aimed to either reply to them very promptly or let them know that I was working on their enquiry and kept them informed. Public service could learn a lot from the private sector in customer care!

Credit where it is due – the DECC produced a very comprehensive reply in 5 working days to my recent email.

I need some help please.

I’ve had a company calling me repeatedly on my landline (despite me being registered with the TPS).

The last straw came recently, when it has been calling my mobile repeatedly and I once had to pay to retrieve the unsolicited voicemail message.

How do I go about complaining and getting something done about it (hopefully, a fine)?

Hi Louis, we’ve just launched a complaints tool – it will talk you through the process of reporting your nuisance calls: http://www.which.co.uk/campaigns/nuisance-calls-and-texts/

Barry Keating says:
5 August 2013

A company called several times last week and said that they were an energy management company, they used 2 different 0161 numbers, alternating between them using different people They were told that we already have made arrangements and did not need their help. They asked for our electricty account number and repeated calls several times making statements like your wife/husband agreed for them to call. They were told that the number was registered with TPS and asked how they found our number, the response was that as they were not selling anything they did not have to comply with the TPS listing and that our number came from their database. They were told to remove our name from their database and not call again. I have reported them to TPS and ICO because I only had their numbers.

wev says:
5 August 2013

Can you give some whocallsme.com links for the company?

Phil says:
24 August 2013

I see little point in the TPS as many calls I have received claim to be from outside the UK.
There seems to be lots of call centre operatives living outside the UK with Scottish, Geordie and Scouse accents.

Michele M says:
18 September 2013

I got a nuisance call today and when I said I would be reporting them to the Telephone Preference Society the caller just laughed and said ‘It won’t make any difference’.

I have just receive a cold call from a withheld number and when I informed them that the last time they called if they rang back I would report them as I was registered with the TPS. The caller then told me to do my worst and swore at me before hanging up !!! Unbelievable who do these people think they are to insult someone in their own home. I have already reported several other firms but never hear anything back, in my mind its a waste of time reporting.

gg says:
5 June 2014

I had a cold call yesterday that began “Are you the homeowner?” and when I responded “Who wants to know?”, the nuisance caller avoided my question and continued with her script regardless.

When I said I was registered with the TPS and so the caller is breaking the law, the caller asked how recently because “you have to re-register with the TPS every 6 months”, and promptly hung up before I had time to correct them.

Absolute scam of a company, who wanted to send someone round to my house to quote for new gutters (as if I’d ever give out my address to a cold caller/scammer), and they have cunningly remained anonymous.

Due to the ineffective regulation, the withheld number and unwillingness from the phone company to help, there’s nothing I can do about it, except perhaps to get all my calls screened before I answer them, which of course costs me as I have to get the equipment and it will cause some inconvenience to me and other callers but I am more and more inclined to do it every day as anything has to be better than being interrupted by and/or talking to these scammers.

Lightbulb117 says:
4 July 2014

TPS is worthless, no doubt about it. The effectiveness of ICO is also questionable, having fined so few, despite the increasing rise in unwanted calls telemarketing calls, either withholding numbers or using a system to generate a fictitious number. Also despite the numerous requests to the call centre agents who do call, they have been informed NEVER to divulge the company name, but to ignore you and press on with their carefully scripted call.

Despite logging each and every one of the calls on the ICO website, they seem to be all bark and no bite. I keep getting telephoned where they ask for the previous holder of the telephone number by name, when I advise that the number has been re-issued and registered with the TPS and ask if they would remove my number from the list, I am informed that they are unable to do so, as I am not the person that they have as the person registered to the number.

As others have said, make our service providers responsible, then and only then will you see a dramatic drop in the number of calls. However, nothing will ever stop it completely.

Bluedragon says:
28 February 2015

These new regs. are a small step in the right direction. However, I can’t see how I can report automated, recorded calls telling me I can claim for a ppi I never had !!!
These calls to my mobile have no caller ID, no phone number and no company name, so what can I report? and to whom?
As far as I know I have never given them permission but cannot confirm or revoke it as I do not know who is calling.
I get a couple of calls a week, often whilst driving or late evening. At the moment, I just hang up.
Any ideas?

Morning Bluedragon – The best place to complain about these type of calls is the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The ICO is the regulator that enforces laws on electronic direct marketing, which include rules on texts, live and automated marketing calls, and not cold calling consumers listed with the Telephone Preference Service:


You should also have a read through our top ten suggestions to reduce nuisance calls:


I keep getting phone calls from first assist and when I try to ring number back it says please email compliance subject access when I did pick phone up to them it sounded like someone common it was a grimsby number when I looked at map as too were calling from it just looks like a load of houses and maybe a couple of shops can you help me as I’m getting worried many thanks