June 17, 2005

Ofcom investigates short-call complaints

by brian_turner

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The UK telecoms regulator Ofcom is to investigate whether seven marketing firms have breached the Communications Act by misusing automated call systems which generate ‘silent calls’.

Marketing call centres use automated phone systems to dial telephone numbers. The machines transfer any calls that are answered to a human operator. However, if all the operators are busy, the line is terminated, meaning the person who answers the call hears silence.

Silent, or short duration calls can also be caused by companies trying to send faxes to ordinary phone numbers.

According to Ofcom, BT receives approximately 160,000 complaints about such calls each month.

The firms to be investigated by Ofcom are Promote IT, Toucan Telecom, The Listening Company Ltd, ANT Marketing UK, Thompson Directories Ltd, Firestorm Marketing Ltd and Fax Information Services Ltd.

Under the 2003 Communications Act, Ofcom can fine a company up to £5,000 for each contravention of the regulations. It can also issue an enforcement notice to make the company change its practices. A company may also be liable to pay compensation to “remedy the consequences of the misuse”.

Four of the companies under investigation are members of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA).

The DMA said it welcomed Ofcom’s action and would liaise with the regulator over the issue.

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