DMA Will End Telephone Preference Service in Most States

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The Direct Marketing Association will phase out its Telephone Preference Service as it now exists, the association said yesterday.

Starting Nov. 1, the DMA will accept no new consumer registrations for the service. Because consumer names stay on the TPS for five years, DMA members will honor consumers' requests not to be called by scrubbing their prospecting lists against the TPS file until Dec. 31, 2011.

Until that time, the DMA will continue to remove disconnected numbers, update area code splits and changes on the TPS file and eliminate the names of consumers who have been on the TPS for five years.

The DMA began the Telephone Preference Service in 1985 to help consumers who wanted to reduce the number of marketing calls they received.

However, "with the widespread use of the federal government's national do-not-call registry, our efforts have become confusing and duplicative for consumers and are creating an additional and unnecessary expense for our members," said Patricia Kachura, DMA senior vice president for ethics and consumer affairs.

The phaseout has been planned for a while, DMA spokeswoman Stephanie Hendricks said.

"TPS existed long before the national do-not-call registry, and with the widespread use of the federal list -- there are currently 122 million names on it -- TPS has become a duplicative effort and expense for our members," she said.

Tim Searcy, CEO of the American Teleservices Association, Indianapolis, said the move didn't surprise him.

"The use of TPS has gone down significantly since the do-not-call list went into effect," he said. "It is a smart decision on the part of the DMA, since being redundant to the federal efforts is not the best use of the association's money."

The DMA said it would continue to maintain the TPS registry and accept new registrations for residents of Maine, Pennsylvania and Wyoming: states for which the TPS is, by law, the official state registry.

The phaseout will not affect other DMA customer preference services, such as the Deceased Do Not Contact List, the Mail Preference Service or the E-mail Preference Service, the DMA said.

DMA members and other organizations should change Web sites, documents and forms now used to direct consumers to the TPS. They should train customer service representatives not to refer consumers to the DMA for TPS registration. Consumers should be directed instead to the national do-not-call registry at www.donotcall.gov or via 888/382-1222.

The DMA's consumer site, www.dmaconsumers.org, will provide information to help consumers during the phaseout. Marketers will find information and instructions about the phaseout at http://preference.the-dma.org/products/tpssubscription.shtml. .

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