Do Not Call Register may include business numbers

The Do Not Call Register may be extended to include all business numbers and fax numbers, which will create extra compliance, red tape and costs for business.

The Do Not Call Register may be extended to include all business numbers and fax numbers, which will create extra compliance, red tape and costs for business.

The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, today has invited submissions into an inquiry to expand the Do Not Call Register.

“The Do Not Call Register has proved extremely popular. However, the Government is aware that there is some community demand to allow the registration of fax numbers and the telephone numbers used by organisations, such as small businesses,” Conroy says.

At present telephone numbers used primarily for business use, emergency service numbers and fax numbers cannot be listed on the Do Not Call Register.

Conroy said a discussion paper would seek community views on whether the eligibility requirements should be expanded to allow the registration of all telephone and fax numbers on the Do Not Call Register.

The paper looks at two options; one suggests all business numbers be included and the second that only small business numbers be included. The thinking goes that small businesses don’t have the resources to attend to unsolicited phone calls.

However any attempts to include business numbers on the register would be a disaster for business, says the chief executive of the Australian Direct Marketing Association Rob Edwards. “This would stop normal business-to-business commerce. It would have huge ramifications.”

He says if all business were included then every business would have to use the register before calling, which would add to the cost of doing business.

“The photocopier salesman couldn’t just ring around and get appointments without checking, yet this is a legitimate business activity,” he says.

The way that businesses go to the market would have to change dramatically.

He says there are probably some small businesses working from home that find unsolicited calls annoying. “But they have the option of listing their home number on the register,” Edwards says.

He says the only country he knows where small business has been included on the register is Britain. “I understand not many small businesses have registered,” he says. “We have to be very careful we are not cracking a nut with a sledge hammer.”

He also said there would be a problem with companies acting vexaciously and registering competitors to stop them receiving calls. For example the main switchboard of News Ltd was listed.

Patrick Flannigan, chief executive of Service Stream which “washes the phone numbers” says more than one billion numbers have been washed, two million people have registered their phone numbers, and people continue to register at 1000 a day. He says it has dropped back but people move house, get a new number and are continuing to register. “This shows the register is now accepted by the community. However I am not sure what an annoyance it is for business. But it is probably a good initiative. It might be a problem for small business.”

 

Feedback: We want your views. Should the Government include all business numbers on the Do Not Call Register? If it does will this change the way you do business? Will it add to your costs and red-tape burden? Or are you a small business bothered by unsolicited calls and would welcome such a change? Send in your views to [email protected]

Read more on the Do Not Call Register

 

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