The DMA has retained the account to run the Telephone Preference Service and Corporate TPS – worth a tidy £5m over five years – following a tender run by the Information Commissioner’s Office, which had been delayed for 18 months.
The original contract was due to expire in August 2017, although the tender was suspended because of concerns that the looming EU E-Privacy Regulation could enforce an opt-in regime for telemarketing.
The ICO, which took over the running of both services at the end of 2016, rebooted the tender in May; there is still no sign of the EU E-Privacy Regs.
Telephone Preference Service Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of the DMA set up in 1998 to run the TPS, beat off one other unnamed company to land the contract, which will be for an initial term of 36 months and contain an option to extend for up to two further periods of 12 months each.
According to Companies House, directors of TPS Ltd include DMA head of CRM and database manager Michelle De Souza, DMA solicitor James Milligan and Kevin Cordray, founder of US digital agency Response Genius.
As part of the contract, TPS Ltd can licence out the file to data bureaux and direct to companies, who by law have to run their databases against the TPS before embarking on telemarketing activity.
Back in 2016, Decision Marketing launched the Call for Action on the TPS campaign, following industry fears that the TPS and Corporate TPS were no longer fit for purpose and were wide open to abuse.
As part of its response to these issues, the trade body not only rejected calls for the files to be cleaned up, it also insisted it does not profit from running the service.
At the time, it said: “In terms of the businesses that purchase TPS licences, the DMA does not make any profit from the sale of these and the cost for businesses was actually reduced by half in 2011.”
However, while that may be the case, Decision Marketing reveals that TPS Ltd is still trousering well over £100,000 a year in profit.
According to its latest accounts to March 31 2018, filed at Companies House, TPS Ltd made a gross profit of £867,783, which after “administrative expenses” of £733,123 meant its operating profit was £134,660. It also received £1,900 in interest payments.
In total, pre-tax profits were £136,560 for the period; after tax, its profits were £110,620. In the year to March 31 2017, it pocketed £119,495 after tax. In addition, TPS Ltd has “retained earnings” (ie cash in the bank) totalling £606,374.
Nevertheless, despite DMA resistance, inactive and invalid numbers are continuing to be purged from both the TPS and the Corporate TPS. Last week, Decision Marketing revealed that over 5 million numbers have been deleted since the ICO ordered TPS Ltd to begin the clean-up operation last year.