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More fines from Ofcom over silent calls
Thursday 18 April 2013 10:57:30 by Andrew Ferguson

Those calls where you answer and no-one is on the end are frustrating, and while many are not deliberate attempts to annoy but the result of automated calling systems, Ofcom has taken notice and in the last year handed out fines of over £1.5 million.

Today sees the latest fine of £750,000 handed out to TalkTalk for excessive numbers of abandoned and silent calls to potential customers in 2011. What many may not realise is that silent calls themselves do not break any rules, the rules are only broken if the number of calls goes above a certain level.

"Ofcom’s Guidelines set out an “abandoned call rate formula” which provides that the abandoned call rate shall be no more than three per cent of live calls per campaign (i.e. across call centres) or per call centre (i.e. across campaigns) over a 24 hour period. Where users of automated calling systems fail to abide by this three per cent threshold, Ofcom is likely to consider the persistent misuse to be serious."

Ofcom defined threshold for abandoned and silent calls

The other fines in the last 12 months are £750,000 to Homeserve and a smaller £60,000 on npower. If you are pestered by silent calls, then Ofcom has a guide covering calls and text messages.

Comments

Posted by AndyS over 4 years ago
"silent calls themselves do not break any rules, the rules are only broken if the volume goes above a certain level." - I had to read that one a second time before I twigged! :D
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
Lol - guess volume could be read several ways, so have reworded that bit
Posted by mobilebb over 4 years ago
If that wasn't the case then your aunty calling but momentarily leaving to pick something up, leaving dead air on the line as you answer it, might be considered a breach hehe.
Posted by adslmax over 4 years ago
BT should removed withheld number and should be identify the caller from any third party marketing only. Otherwise how would we know who had called us ?
Posted by AndrueC over 4 years ago
@adslmax: Nice idea but a lot of marketing calls are from outside the country. BT has no way to force them to provide compatible signalling information.
Posted by camieabz over 4 years ago
Withheld calls should be residential only, with said calls' caller, date, and time being stored separately for nuisance investigation.

In addition, it should have some safeguard to ensure that the call is not made by a computer.

Commercial enterprises misuse the withheld feature. I know of no one who has ever lauded the withheld feature, but I'm sure there are occasional scenarios where it might be useful.
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
It is time for Ofcom and the ICO to sort out survey and sales calls from companies who do not use the TPS or claim you have opted in at some point in the past to receive calls from them or their 'partners'.
Posted by zhango over 4 years ago
I've been registered with the TPS for years and very rarely get a nuisance call although I used to, so it works for me. I haven't got one myself but there are phones that you can program to reject withheld number calls.
Posted by undecidedadrian over 4 years ago
Scottish power have been hassling me for the last couple of weeks and the number comes up "Unavaliable" and they do not listen to my requests for the data to be removed.

I even had one sales person say "whatever" to me and held the line for 10 mins.

Cold calling sales should be banned in the UK full stop.
Posted by c_j_ over 4 years ago
And who is going to pay this fine? TalkTalk customers in due course, that's who. How does that encourage other organisations to behave properly? Individual directors let this happen, individual directors pay themselves loadsamoney when things in their organisation go right, individual managers should accept responsibility and pay the price when their organisation fouls up.

Meanwhile, there are now relatively cheap phones which simply don't ring if the Caller ID is unavailable. Not the whole answer (eg family/friend in hospital?) but maybe a start.
Posted by farnz over 4 years ago
@c_j_ It encourages organisations to behave responsibly because it increases their costs; their competitors who behave themselves don't incur such fines, so can undercut TalkTalk if they try and make their customers pay the fine.

In theory, the fine should be greater than the benefit from ignoring the rules; that way, ignoring the rules doesn't pay off for the company.
Posted by Bob_s2 over 4 years ago
Simple solution is to stop companies withholding their number or pretending to be not in the UK.
Posted by Bob_s2 over 4 years ago
Pretty pointless complaining to OFCOM as they will do nothing unless you can give them details but of course they all withhold their numbers
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
Given how VoIP allows you to have a number from any country and use it anywhere in the world, even if using say a Glasgow code the actual caller could be located in a call centre in Siberia
Posted by fibrebunny over 4 years ago
BT have a phone out which allows you to block incoming calls from withheld numbers, payphones, international and no caller ID. Blocks I think 10 numbers and has a white list only option.

We have one and haven't had any marketing calls since.
Posted by AndrueC over 4 years ago
I bought a TrueCall unit. I've not been bothered by any unwanted callers since then. They are a bit pricey but worth it to cut out the crap.
Posted by herdwick over 4 years ago
Getting UK bodies to use correct caller ID presentation should be a priority - when the doctor, hospital, wife's workplace all withhold caller ID blocking it is a difficult option.
Posted by comnut over 4 years ago
um, if your auntie called, her number would show??
there are a lot of 'call barring phones' out there, just search that phrase.. :)
Panasonic do a decent DECT phone, with space for 20 barred numbers, and will only ring for phonebook numbers, otherwise going to voicemail..
Posted by comnut over 4 years ago
the problem with 'caller ID blocking' is it is often unintentional - they are behind a company exchange, that cannot send out a number...
Posted by herdwick over 4 years ago
"they are behind a company exchange, that cannot send out a number..." - I don't buy this excuse, the switch should be configured with a presentation number eg the company switchboard number so that call recipients have a clue who's calling. They may not want to disclose individual DDI numbers but presenting one common number is not difficult and should IMO be mandatory.
Posted by shaunhw over 4 years ago
If the call cannot be made, due to the fact that the automatic system made the connection when no human from the company was then available to take up the call, they should be required to render a voice message explaining what the purpose of the call in fact was, and who made it. At least then the recepient would know it wasn't menacing.
Posted by stoatwblr over 4 years ago
I have a Fritz!box 7390, which allowed me to solve this my own way using its PBX and multiple answering machine functions

1: Setup a couple of incoming voip numbers.
2: Get a 070 premium rate number (1.50/min), Divert to VoiP
3: Only give out a 070 number to businesses.
3: Withheld numbers on landline get a message to unmask or call the 070

There're a bunch of other rules, but that takes care of most of it.
Posted by Bob_s2 over 4 years ago
To get around TPS & OFCOM many companies use overseas call centres others use out of area numbers so although totally UK based they present an International number

The problem of these calls could easily be solved by requiring all call from companies to present a caller ID I guess though there is a danger that they will then pretend to be using residential numbers

The best solution at present is to get a phone that will pass calls through that present a caller ID but which will send calls that b have withheld their ID to Voice Mail.
Posted by comnut over 4 years ago
Hmph, there are *already* companies that use a *created* number to call.. I have had 00000000, 12345678, and lots of 0845, 0800, etc nums.. Even most of the 'normal' nums do not really exist.. at least those can be checked by going to
callid.org or whocallsme.com
Posted by comnut over 4 years ago
It is rather pointless enforcing caller id, even the DWP & jobcentre does not have one!!! and many colleges cannot afford one due a cheap deal they got on their exchange...
Posted by markjroberts over 4 years ago
We have been registered with TPS for years and we still get these calls.
last one was from 01792 211846 when you ring it is is either busy - making more nuisance calls, or a pre-recorded BT message saying the line does not accept calls.
the other trick is to use a premium rate number so when you call it back you get hit for a huge charge. I just report the calls to TPS and hope that if they get enough complaints they will take action.
Posted by wallace-yg over 4 years ago
One particularly annoying (and worrying) message is the recorded variety which cannot be shut-off by replacing the handset. If you listen to the message to see when it's ended, sometimes you will get an option (say, 5) to pursue the subject of the message or - and here's the worry - an option of 9 "if you feel you've received this call in error". The worry is because pressing nine will redirect your call to a premium rate number for which you will be charged an extortionate sum.
Posted by Kaufhof over 4 years ago
Posted by herdwick 3 days ago
"they are behind a company exchange, that cannot send out a number..." - I don't buy this excuse, the switch should be configured with a presentation number eg the company switchboard number so that call recipients have a clue who's calling. They may not want to disclose individual DDI numbers but presenting one common number is not difficult and should IMO be mandatory.

As I am sure was the case before privatisation.

Trevor
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
@wallace-yg - an incoming call cannot be redirected and then you be charged for it.

@kaufhof - CLI did not exist before privatisation.
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