Ring, ring! ‘Hello, this is an urgent message regarding your PPI.’ Are you fed up with nuisance phone calls like this? Now the worst offenders are getting a nasty wake-up call of their own.
Anger over nuisance calls appears to be growing, and quite rightly too. The latest Ofcom complaints data shows that complaints made to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) have increased 150% from July 2011 to July 2012.
When we’ve written about this issue previously, 76% of you told us you were still receiving unsolicited calls despite being registered with the TPS. The numbers are simply staggering, so what’s being done to improve the situation?
The TPS makes it clear on its website that there’s been a rise in the number of unwanted calls made to people registered with the service. However, it says that most of these calls originate from companies that deliberately ignore the law or hide/disguise their identity. The TPS itself doesn’t actually have any enforcement powers, but it does send its complaints to Ofcom and the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) each month.
However, despite the TPS sending through more than 1,000 complaints each month, the ICO has yet to issue a fine against any company.
Naming and shaming the worst cold callers
In our joint letter to the ICO, Ofcom and the Direct Marketing Association (who run the TPS), we raised the possibility of publishing statistics on the most complained about companies.
We then decided to go one step further and sent a Freedom of Information request (FOI) to the ICO asking for the names of these companies. And finally, last week, we had a breakthrough! The ICO has decided to start publishing information around the enforcement action that it’s taking, and specifically naming and shaming the nuisance calling companies that have had the most complaints.
The list is hardly surprising – six Claims Management Companies, TalkTalk (which is still being investigated by Ofcom for making ‘persistent’ silent calls), a couple of home improvement companies, and two energy companies (British Gas and Scottish Power). These companies have assured the ICO that they’re working to address concerns about their calling tactics.
The publication of this list, alongside information on the ICO’s enforcement actions, demonstrates that the ICO’s taking a new approach to nuisance calls. It represents a very important first step in the fight against cold calling, although there’s still much more that needs to be done.
We want the ICO to send a clear message to companies that ignoring the TPS will not be tolerated. As well as naming and shaming these companies, we also want to see the ICO fine companies that breach the law.
Are you still being plagued by nuisance calls? Have you complained to the TPS or the ICO?