you have to meet this – Frankwatching

The Telecommunications Act will change from 1 July 2021. This law can have a big impact on the way your company recruits or approaches potential customers. The biggest change in the law is the disappearance of the Do Not Call Registry, which makes way for an opt-in system. There must therefore be prior permission to contact someone by telephone. In this article I share the most important changes and rules that you must comply with and examples of organizations that apply the new law well.

The 7 most important changes

The adjustments in the Telecommunications Act are not applicable to every company, but many will have to deal with it. The adjustments are aimed at telemarketing: recruiting customers by telephone. Since the introduction of the Do Not Call Register, the number of complaints continues to increase. Time to change the law. The main changes are:

1. Opt-in becomes mandatory

If you want to approach potential customers by telephone with a commercial, charitable or idealistic message, permission must be given for this. Just like with e-mail, this opt-in must be explicitly given, unless there is a customer relationship. This change in law includes all natural persons. These are private individuals, but also, for example, freelancers and sole traders.

2. The Do Not Call Registry disappears

The Do not call register assumes that you could always be contacted by telephone without being asked. If you don’t want this, you have to unsubscribe. After every phone call you will be informed of the right to object and the possibility to unsubscribe from the register. This is called an opt-out method: by default you have an opt-in unless you take an action to opt-out yourself. This changes on 1 July with the opt-in obligation and this register will disappear.

3. You can call customers

If the telephone number was obtained during a sale, you may call. Also with a commercial message. But only to offer its own and similar products or services. These products and services must also make sense for the customer.

For charities, the definition is somewhat broader. In addition to donors, where a financial transaction has taken place, volunteers and sympathizers can also be called.

4. Maximum customer term is 3 years

Do you have a customer relationship? Then you can contact this customer by telephone up to three years after the agreement, donorship or last purchase. This term is not laid down in law but in the Code for Telemarketing (CTM). If you have a good reason to extend the customer term, you can submit a request to the Customer Period Committee of the Advertising Code Foundation.

5. Cold calling by phone is no longer allowed

The amendment to the law mainly affects cold calling. This concerns the people who are not yet customers and with whom you do not yet have a relationship. You are no longer allowed to call these people without an opt-in. It refers to telephone numbers that are used privately. This also applies to natural legal entities such as a sole proprietorship, general partnership and partnerships, where the private number is often also registered as a business number with the Chamber of Commerce. They may therefore not be approached without permission.

You may approach corporate legal entities such as NV, BV, cooperatives, associations and foundations for ‘cold’ acquisition.

6. Calling from a recognizable number

The Telemarketing Code already stipulated that calling with a recognizable number was desirable. But now it is laid down in the Telecommunications Act that telemarketing with an anonymous telephone number is prohibited.

7. Opt-In Tracking is Mandatory

To be allowed to use opt-ins, you must be able to demonstrate that the opt-in has been issued as of 1 July 2021. Just like with email marketing. You can do this in, for example, a database, CRM or CDP. In addition to saving the data, you must also save the information surrounding the opt-in. According to the GDPR, you must at least store the following information about the opt-in:

  • Who issued this
  • What the status is
  • Where and how it was obtained
  • When it is obtained verkregen
  • What permission has been given

The biggest amendment of the law is therefore in the opt-in and the required registration. Within the GDPR and Telecommunications Act, consent is described as a free, specific, informed and unambiguous expression of will. With which the data subject accepts the processing of his data by means of a statement or unambiguous active act.

In addition to the requirements that must be met to obtain an opt-in, you must also take into account:

  • The organization must be able to demonstrate that permission has been given. Record the date, time and source of this.
  • Withdrawing consent should be as easy as giving it. If you have requested permission online, it must be possible to cancel this online. You may not demand that this has to be done by telephone or letter. And certainly not in an environment that requires you to log in.
  • There must be no adverse consequences for the person who withdraws the consent. For example, restricting the use of an app when no opt-in has been issued is not allowed.

If you break the law you can be fined. The DHW is the supervisor of the Telecommunications Act in the Netherlands.

What remains the same in the Telecommunications Act?

What will remain the same now? Calling about topics that do not have a commercial message and calling people with whom you have a customer relationship.

Serviceberichten

When you call without a commercial message, you do not need permission. This call then falls under the heading ‘service message’. In response to rulings by the Advertising Code Committee, service messages comply with the following elements:

  • The message is for informational purposes only.
  • You can therefore only call to inquire about facts and circumstances that change and have a (significant) influence on the service.
  • Calls are only made to those for whom the service message is relevant.

Customer relationship

I mentioned earlier that no opt-in is required for a customer relationship and that a customer relationship lasts up to three years after the last agreement. This means that you have to keep track of when the relationship was established, so that you can also end it after the term. There are a number of conditions for approaching a customer with a commercial message:

  • An obligation for a financial transaction has been agreed together, whereby the customer has provided his/her telephone number.
  • When providing the telephone number, it is indicated that the telephone number can be used for commercial messages.
  • When collecting the data, the option to opt-out is given.
  • Of course, you only have an opt-in to call on behalf of this company. So you cannot share your opt-in with one of your other brands. Telemarketing agencies may continue to call on your behalf.
  • The offer made with regard to own and similar services or products, of which the recipient can logically consider that this belongs to the offer.

Tip: Start with an inventory

As a first step, make an inventory of the places where your organization collects telephone numbers and make an overview.

  • Make it clear where and why you are asking for the number here.
  • Ask yourself whether it is necessary to ask for the personal information in that place. Check this again with a colleague.
  • In addition, it is good to determine whether the telephone number will be used for commercial or transactional communication.

With this list you can then take the right steps to collect an opt-in in the right way. A second tip is to see whether you understand the approach and the learnings from the initiatives your company has taken with the introduction of the GDPR regarding email marketing.

3 good applications of the renewed Telecommunications Act

Now you are aware of the most important changes in the rules for the telecommunications market which you must meet as of 1 July 2021. Below I share three examples of organizations that apply the new rules well.

Phone number as optional field

At the Heart Foundation you can choose whether or not to enter your telephone number when requesting a recipe booklet. This makes it a free permission, because it is not mandatory. At the bottom of the form it is clearly indicated that Hartstichting can call you with more information about their work, for fundraising and for (customer) research.

Opt-in form by caption

When you request a phone number and clearly state the purpose as a caption, this counts as an opt-in. In the case of Natuurmonumenten, you give permission to be called once’As a result of your order for the booklet, Natuurmonumenten can call you once about a membership.’

It is assumed that a caption cannot be missed and that you know with the information what you give permission for, of course the field may not be mandatory to fill in. Placing the information in an ‘i’ is not sufficient, it is possible that the person filling in this information overlooks this information.

With a trial subscription you have a customer relationship

One way to be allowed to use a telephone number without an unambiguous opt-in being given is when there is a customer relationship. This is possible by, for example, entering into a trial subscription. De Volkskrant, for example, makes use of this option.

Please note that when collecting opt-ins, an option to opt-out must also be given immediately. In this case, when entering into a (trial) subscription, it is indicated that ‘As a subscriber to de Volkskrant you will receive news, attractive offers, current affairs and product information by email. You can change this at your preferences.‘ In preferences you can directly change the opt-ins.


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