New Government regulations could result in marketeers consistently ignoring the wishes of consumers facing a prison sentence of up to two years.
In March, Government laid draft regulations in Parliament for a new law that would protect consumers from aggressive and other unfair sales practices. The Protection from Unfair Trading regulations are expected to come into force on 26 May 2008.
The regulations would ban 31 types of unfair sales practices. One of these is 'making persistent and unwanted solicitations by telephone, fax, email or other remote media except in circumstances and to the extent justified to enforce a contractual obligation'. Breaching this banned practice would be a criminal offence and would carry with it a maximum fine of £5,000 and / or a term of imprisonment of up to two years.
The term 'other remote media' has yet to be defined, but it is likely that this will include direct mail.
The Direct Marketing Association supports the new legislation. Janine Paterson, Legal and Public Affairs Advisor at the industry lobby group, said: "Companies ignoring the Telephone Preference Service and persistently calling numbers registered on the scheme have got away lightly. Now however they could face prison if they continually call numbers against the consumer's wishes. The DMA welcomes this new legislation and is advising members on this and other elements of CPUT regulations."
Many of the 31 banned sales practices are intended to stop scams involving deceptive unsolicited mailings, phone calls and e-mails, including pyramid selling schemes, prize draws and miracle health cure scams.