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Companies to face huge fines for cold calling menace

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 March 2015 at 10:50 am

With energy efficiency companies now topping the list of nuisance callers it's good to hear that the rules on cold calling are being tightened up. (About time too, some may say). Energy efficiency cowboys recently knocked those calling about compensation for missold PPI (payment protection insurance) off the Prime Menace spot of cold callers. Dodgy solar panels sales companies are also vying for the top spot.

However, from 6 April 2015 the Government is changing the law to make it easier for companies responsible for nuisance calls to be hit with fines of up to £500,000. At the moment the Information Commissioner must be able to prove a company has caused 'substantial damage or substantial distress' by their behaviour before he can take action against it. From next month that won't be necessary.

Nuisance calls and texts are a significant concern for many people. Around four out of five people suveyed by Which? said that they are regularly cold-called at home, and a third of them are left feeling intimidated. Six out of 10 people say that they no longer want to answer their own phone.

There were 175,000 complaints related to nuisance calls made to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). Of 15,642 complaints in November 2014 2,377 were about solar panels.

"For far too long companies have bombarded people with unwanted marketing calls and texts, and escaped punishment because they did not cause enough harm," said Ed Vaizey, the digital economy minister. "This change will make it easier for the ICO to take action against offenders and send a clear message to others that harassing consumers with nuisance calls or texts is just not on."

This level of nuisance in an industry as new as energy efficiency and renewable energy has a damaging effect on people's trust in the products, and so this new initiative is very welcome. If you're getting regular calls of this type, it makes it much more worth reporting them to the ICO, which you can do here.

The government is also looking to introduce mandatory caller line indentification so that all marketing callers will have to display their telephone numbers. It has also confirmed that it will look at measures to hold board level executives responsible for nuisance calls and texts. Neither of these can come a moment too soon in my opinion.

(Ironically I was interrupted as I wrote this blog by a cold call from someone trying to sell me new windows and doors under the green deal. I am signed up to the Telephone Preference Service. It doesn't stop all the calls, but it does reduce the number of them significantly).

Picture: Michael Pujals

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Comments

1 comments - read them below or add one

brian tempest

brian tempestComment left on: 6 July 2015 at 10:36 pm

we have had a very poor experience from solar sense in bristol. they fitted our solar water panels but then refused to comeback and check the system on a post sale basis. we have never had anything more than luke warm water from the system- even on the hotest day of the year recently in July 2015. Every year we complain to solar sense and every year they promise to return our telephone calls but never do so.

I do not recommend this company to anybody as their post sales responsibilities are inadequate

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