The vast majority of Britain's small companies feel that the Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS) is a restriction on trade, according to new research carried out by business information special-ist Mardev.
The research, which revealed low levels of awareness of the CTPS among those it was designed to help, also showed that smaller firms would prefer to have unfettered access to decision makers, and agreed that the CTPS could be a major barrier to them doing business with larger companies.
Nick Martin, general manager at Mardev, said: "There is evidence from previous research that indicates major firms are using the CTPS to shelter themselves from sales calls.
"This was not the intention of the legislation, which was designed to help very small firms. As one of our respondents puts it: 'this legislation operates greatly in favour of incumbent supply organisations, virtually eliminating new entrants to market'. When over 70 per cent of small business told us they depended upon the phone to do business, the CTPS, in its present format, is clearly not helping them."
He added: "It seems contradictory that on the one hand the present Government is trumpeting the need for even greater competitiveness in the UK, while on the other making it harder for small companies.
"This issue came out very strongly in the research. As another respondent said: "Generating new business leads is difficult enough in the present climate here in the UK, further restrictions could see many more smaller businesses going under."
According to the research, only 52 per cent of small businesses were aware of the CTPS, though 73 per cent used the phone to generate new business.
Given the size of many organisations, Mardev believes this means that many could be opening themselves to the risk of heavy fines, since they are unlikely to be screening their calls against the CTPS suppression file.
In addition, 66 per cent said they would prefer to have freedom to market themselves in the way most appropriate to their own business and only eleven per cent saw the CTPS as a useful tool for their business.
John Price, managing director of Price Direct, said: "As chairman of the Contact Centre Council of the DMA, I know that many of our business to business agency members are deeply concerned that this is a law too far.
"The phone is one of the most powerful tools available to businesses looking to build new markets. At a time when global competition is pushing prices down, we should not be adding legislation which puts UK businesses at a disadvantage.
"Small businesses know that gaining access to top decision makers is vital, and the phone is key in letting them make and build those high level contacts.
"For many of them this is a piece of legislation which just increases the difficulty they have in building new business and in competing on a level playing field with existing suppliers. As one respondent pointed out, it's another over-head for the small business which is not borne by their larger competitors."
Mardev is part of Reed Elsevier with offices in Asia, Australia, Eastern Europe, North America, South America, and Western Europe. The company has a database of over 30 million names worldwide and provides highly responsive lists and extensive selection criteria for direct marketing, e-marketing and lead generation campaigns. ..SUPL: