TalkTalk fined for nuisance calling the public

Ofcom has hit ISP TalkTalk with a £750,000 for nuisance calling the public.

Over 2011, two call centres were making what Ofcom ruled an “excessive number” of both abandoned and silent calls. These can happen when a phone call is placed but the caller hangs up as the receiving person answers the phone, while a silent call is when a phone rings but there is nothing on the other end when it is answered.

Generally, Ofcom says, it is the loathed call centre that is to blame – either staff behaving badly or misuse of answer machine detecting, or AMD, technology, which tries to filter out calls to answering machines. If your voice is particularly monotonous and robotic, AMD thinks you’re an answering machine and you get a silent call.

Ofcom has a limit on abandoned calls companies can make, and it found TalkTalk exceeded that by a “substantial amount” over one month in 2011 – with 9,000 silent and abandoned calls registered.

The watchdog also slammed TalkTalk for its actions during a separate marketing campaign, where it was found to have failed to keep silent or abandoned call records up to date. TalkTalk also failed to make sure multiple abandoned calls didn’t go to the same household.

TalkTalk’s most recent quarterly on-net revenue was  £292 million, so the penalty is significant but not devastating.

Ofcom said it made the decision to fine TalkTalk because the company was ultimately responsible for complying with the law – and that it was responsible for the call centre operators it used, Teleperformance Limited and McAlpine Marketing Limited.

TalkTalk has 30 days to cough up.