Businesses are being urged to review the industry standard for telemarketing and research calls, after a Queensland-based telemarketing company was fined $120,000 for breaching the Do Not Call Register Act.
In the first court penalty of its kind in Australia, the Federal Court found that FHT Travel and its director, Yvonne Earnshaw, breached the Do Not Call Register Act.
It found more than 12,000 marketing calls promoting a card offering discounted flights, accommodation and cruises were made to people who had placed their phone numbers on the register.
Earnshaw was found to be “knowingly concerned in the making of a telemarketing call to a number on the register”.
Previous companies hit by fines for not abiding by the Do Not Call Register include Telstra, forced to pay $101,000 and Dodo, which was ordered to pay $147,400.
Westpac has also been given a warning regarding breaches of the act, but has not yet been issued a fine.
The Federal Court has bound FHT and Earnshaw from making certain types of marketing calls without contacting ACMA first for the next five years.
Get SmartCompany FREE to your inbox every weekday
ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said in a statement the case should act as a warning for other telemarketing companies to ensure they are not breaching the rules.
“This case and the penalty imposed should remind telemarketers of the serious consequences of breaching the Do Not Call Register Act,” he said.
Once a number is listed on the Do Not Call Register, telemarketers and fax marketers must not contact those numbers.
Any business that calls or faxes a listed number, or arranges for calls to be made or faxes to be sent on its behalf, may be in breach of the legislation and could face penalties.
Companies that undertake telemarketing must “wash” their customer phone number lists against the Do Not Call Register to ensure they do not contact those on the register.
As well as the Do Not Call Register Act, there is also an industry standard for telemarketing and research calls, which ACMA enforces.
According to ACMA, the industry standard applies to any person or business intending to make telemarketing or research calls, regardless of whether they are exempt from the Do Not Call Register Act.
“Even if a particular business, such as a charitable organisation, is exempt from the requirements of the act and therefore able to call numbers listed on the register, it must still meet the requirements,” an ACMA spokesperson says.
Under inferred consent, people who place their number on the register may receive telemarketing calls or marketing faxes from a business with which they have an established relationship. For example, a bank may contact its customers about banking products and services.
However, even if a person has previously consented to receive calls, it is possible to contact the business directly to withdraw consent to receive future calls.