Ofcom report shows less silent calls

Abandoned calls down from 35% two years ago to 23%
Kerry Butters

December 7, 2011
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A new report from Ofcom shows that less consumers are receiving silent or abandoned calls from companies as a result of action taken by the regulator.

Silent or abandoned calls are those from companies using some form of automated dialler which don’t have an agent immediately available to begin the call when the receiver is picked up.

23% of people questioned experienced an abandoned call in 2011 as compared to 35% in 2009, and silent calls have also been reduced from 30% to 24%.

The reduction is due to Ofcom’s enforcement action which has been taken against companies who don’t follow the rules.

Action is currently being taken against TalkTalk, nPower and Homeserve and if found to have been breaking rules they will be liable for a fine of up to £2 million. The investigation into these companies is ongoing and Ofcom expects to have an update by the new year.

However, despite less calls, it seems more consumers are aware of the action they can take against companies who make silent or abandoned calls.

“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 to Ofcom’s online complaints process have also resulted in an increase in the number of complaints it receives (11,900 to the end of October 2011 compared with 9,000 in 2010),” the regulator said.

The latest report from Ofcom evaluates how their work has benefited consumers as well as looking at benefits to communications customers in terms of competition, choice and price.

The regulator publishes bi-annual research which looks at broadband speeds actually experienced by consumers as compared to advertised speeds.

New guidelines brought out in July this year requires companies to give accurate information out about speeds experienced.

This latest report has found that fewer consumers now have “slower than expected” broadband lines, as only 30% of customers complained this year as opposed to 35% in 2010.

The regulator has also been working with major landline suppliers to “reduce the charges they make consumers pay for leaving their contracts early.”

This has led to a reduction of up to 85% in some cases.

Complaints about the charges have now almost halved and Ofcom have pledged to monitor compliance and to investigate wherever necessary.

Ofcom have found that whilst bundled telecoms packages offer good value for money to consumers, switching is more difficult than it is for other parts of the industry.

The regulator has taken action to ensure that this changes by banning rollover contracts in the broadband and landline markets.

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.”


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