Digital Spy

Search Digital Spy
0

Tech News

Ofcom reports progress in silent calls battle

By
Ofcom logo
Fewer consumers are experiencing silent or abandoned calls from companies due to a campaign against the menace, Ofcom has reported.

The media regulator said today that just under a quarter of consumers (23%) have experienced an abandoned call during this year, down from 35% in 2009. Silent calls have hit 24% of people in 2011, down from 30% two years ago.

This follows a major enforcement action by Ofcom against companies not complying with rules on silent and abandoned calls, including the threat of fines of up to £2m.

Silent calls occur when automated systems in call centres, known as 'diallers', generate and attempt calls, but fail to find an operator to handle them.

Ofcom has warned telecoms firms that they must run an automated message if calls are abandoned by call centres, in order to prevent customers from becoming unnerved by the silence on the line, particularly older people.

Ofcom is currently taking action against Homeserve, nPower and communications provider TalkTalk over silent calls. These investigations are "still ongoing" and Ofcom said that it expects to issue updates in the New Year.

Alongside the enforcement action, Ofcom also feels that increased consumer education has helped reduce the harm of silent calls, as people become more aware of how to make a complaint.

In 2011 Ofcom received around 30,000 visits to the consumer advice on its website about silent and abandoned calls. Increased media coverage and improvements in online complaints processes has resulted in the number of complaints topping 11,900 at the end of October 2011, compared with 9,000 in the whole of 2010.

The regulator has also been working with nine landline providers to reduce the charges they impose on consumers for leaving their contracts early. In some cases, charges have been reduced by as much as 85%, said Ofcom.

Complaints about early termination charges have also nearly halved, from around 4,000 in 2010 to around 2,000 at the end of October 2011.

Ofcom's consumer group director Claudio Pollack said: "We are pleased that companies are getting the message that silent calls are unacceptable and we will take action against those that flout the rules.

"We put the consumer at the heart of everything we do, and we are committed to ensuring that competition in the communications sector delivers benefits for consumers."

Bundling of services, such as combining TV, landline and broadband in a package known as 'triple play', remains a strong way for consumers to save money, but Ofcom is concerned about continuing difficulties experienced by people wanting to switch between providers.

More consumers found switching in the bundled market more difficult than in other services, with 23% saying it was "fairly or very difficult", compared with just 9% for digital TV, 15% for broadband, 9% for mobile and 6% for landlines.

As consumer switching is among its priorities for 2012, Ofcom said that it will monitor compliance and consider launching investigations where necessary.

The regulator has already banned rollover contracts, involving landline and broadband contracts being automatically renewed by providers for fixed terms without consulting the consumer first.

You May Like

Comments

Loading...