Barclaycard’s “bullying” automated calling systems have angered and frustrated some of our readers.
And as well as being annoying they could also be breaching Ofcom’s 2003 Regulations on Silent or Abandoned calls, which also cover automated messages.
The sorry story began when a reader’s direct debit for his monthly Barclaycard payment failed. He wasn’t aware of the failure so when he received an automated call from the company informing him of this and asking him to follow the steps and pay it, he was surprised. He told us he hung up so he could speak to his bank to find out why the direct debit hadn’t gone through. However, he didn’t get a chance to do this until the next day, by which time Barclaycard had called his mobile eight times with the same message, and also overtaken his landline.
Another reader tells us she was “bullied” by the company from 8am in the morning until 9pm for a week on her landline as she refused to pay using the automated system.
We contacted Ofcom to get the lowdown on the issue and to find out what could be done.
A representative for the watchdog told us: “Ofcom believes that the persistent use of automated calling systems to transmit recorded messages that are not marketing messages within the meaning of the 2003 Regulations or to make silent or abandoned calls or fax-scanning calls may be persistent misuse within the meaning of section 128.”
However it seems Barclaycard, may have half a leg to stand on.
“Some uses of automated calling systems are beneficial, either to the general public or to the individual recipient. An obvious example of a public benefit would be where emergency authorities transmit a recorded hazard warning to subscribers within a defined geographical area.
“More limited cases, where the benefit is restricted to the individual, are the application of Interactive Voice Messaging (‘IVM’) technology to activate credit cards, check abnormal credit card use, arrange deliveries or remind for payments and appointments.
“Ofcom will consider each case on its own merits in terms of assessing whether misuse has occurred in the context of section 128(5) of the Act,” she continued
She also advised people who have fallen victim to the constant calling to contact Ofcom through the website, or on 020 7981 3040 particularly if they have the Caller Line Identification.
We put our reader’s woes to Barclaycard, which told us: “We use the system to contact customers in situations where we may need to contact customers such as when we have spotted a suspicious transaction on an account or where we are reminding customers about their payments.
“It is not our intention to inconvenience customers by using this system and we would like to apologise if this has been the case.”