02-Feb-2011 11:10

Ofcom launch new rules to curb ‘silent calls’

As of the 1st February 2011, the Communications regulator Ofcom, launched new measures to limit the number of silent calls made by call centres to individual households to just one per day.

Companies that breach these new regulations will now face a punitive fine of up to £2 million (a long overdue increase from the previous maximum £50,000 fine).

The new rules prevent any companies from utilising answer-machine detection equipment to generate calls more than once a day - unless a company call-centre agent is available to actually respond in person.

Silent calls are often generated when the call-centre technology mistakes a ‘live’ voice for an answering machine & then ‘ends’ the call without the customer hearing anything from the caller.

The new Ofcom rules apply to all calls made by a UK company whether UK-based or from an offshore call-centre.

According to an Ofcom report in 2010, they received more than 9,000 residential complaints about ‘silent calls’ and over 70% of the complaining consumers said that they had received two or more calls daily from the same company over extended periods.

Abbey (now Santander), Barclaycard and Carphone Warehouse are amongst the companies to have been fined over silent calls.

Last year Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards reported that, ‘Silent & abandoned calls cause significant consumer harm. Ofcom has given sufficient warnings to companies about silent calls and is ready to take appropriate action against those companies who continue to break the rules."

Norman Feiner, Managing Director of SimplyFone Ltd, has warned, “This is a helpful step in the right direction. However, the new Ofcom regulations continue to rely on companies & consumers actively raising complaints directly with Ofcom - this may not happen. Furthermore, the increased fines will still not stop companies making ‘silent’ calls from outside the UK and may simply exacerbate the problem”.

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