Tag: Barclaycard

Barclaycard sucked into Italian website disaster

British bank Barclays appears to have gone native in Italy with its Barclaycard service.

For a long time, Italian banks have had a reputation for being not exactly helpful. This has saved them money lately. They were largely unaffected by the banking crash because they forgot to loan much money out.

Now it seems that Barclays, which is the only British bank working in Italy, appears to have gone completely native.

Not only are local branches spontaneously closed for no apparent reason, the move to online banking has created a website site www.barclays.it that is full of holes which makes it impossible to do anything basic like order a Barclaycard.

The website appears helpful, telling you all you need to know about the different types of Barclaycard, what you have to pay and how you can do it.

It is more or less what you would expect from a modern banking site, until you come to order the card itself.

The site tells you can order your Barclaycard by visiting the site you are on, visiting Barclaycard.it, phoning up a 24 hour hotline, or going into your branch.

However nowhere on the site does it allow you to apply for a card. Indeed if you go to the Barclaycard sister site www.barclaycard.it, you find similar information, but can’t order one either.

If you call up the 24 hour help line to apply you are asked to input the card number that you have not got before they will put you through to anyone. In fact when we tried to contact them on a Saturday the office appeared to be on an automatic message due to an Italian national holiday.

If you decide to go to your local branch you will find a very helpful person who says you have to apply online for a Barclaycard and she can only do paperwork for an American Express Card.

It appears then that the British Barclays is trying to avoid losing money in Italy. It sets up a nice website, which everyone has to be referred to, and then twice “forgets” to stick the page where you apply for one, thus preventing anyone from applying for one and getting into debt.

Unless it really was a mistake and it was just not spotted by the site QA. 

Ofcom increases fines for silent phonecalls

Companies which fail to comply with new “silent call” regulations could face a fine of up to £2 million.

That’s the warning from Ofcom, which tomorrow puts in place rules designed
to prevent people being harassed by repeated silent calls from the same company.

We’ve known about these new rules for a while now. Back in December, Ofcom listed silent calls as one of the key complaints in a survey. At the time it said that despite an overall decline, complaints about silent calls had jumped from 6,600 in 2009  to over 9000 in 2010 to date.
Those who have been found guilty of this in the past include Barclaycard, which was fined the then maximum £50,000 in September 2008.

And Barclaycard once again popped up on our radar last week when we discovered it had been “bullying” some of our readers using automated services to “remind” them every hour that they owed money. Ofcom said at the time that although persistent calls could lead to a fine, companies that used these kinds of calls as payment reminders had a leg to stand on.

The watchdog has also found that over 70 percent of people have received two or more calls in a day from the same company. These silent calls were often over a period of days or even weeks.

Ofcom believes that this is mainly due to technology used by call centre operators to detect answer machines. This can mistake a ‘live’ consumer for an answering machine and cut off the call without the person hearing anything, resulting in a silent call.

Ofcom believes that this is mainly due to technology used by call centre operators to detect answer machines. This can mistake a ‘live’ consumer for an answering machine and cut off the call without the person hearing anything, resulting in a silent call.

The watchdog has now written to the call centre industry spelling out the regulations which place restrictions on the use of automated dialling equipment.

The new rules will prevent a company using answer machine detection equipment more than once a day if an answer machine is ‘detected’ on the first attempt. This would mean that consumers currently worst affected should no longer receive repeated silent calls from the same company over the course of a day.

Companies will also be monitored by Ofcom, which expects the new rules to help lower the
overall number of complaints it receives.

Ernest Doku, communications expert at uSwitch.com, said: “Consumers have the right to own a telephone in their home without being too scared to pick it up when it rings. Silent calls have brought unjustifiable inconvenience, distress and even fear to consumers’ lives for far too long. This marks the return of privacy to people’s homes.

“We believe that the new rules will go a significant way towards stamping out this appalling practice that gives the call centre industry such a bad name. Unlike some regulations, this is not just an empty threat. The £2 million penalty that Ofcom is imposing on anyone that breaks the rules should be enough to force many companies to change their practice. This cannot happen soon enough.”

Last September, Parliament approved an increase in the maximum financial penalty available to Ofcom to use to combat silent and abandoned calls, from £50,000 to £2 million. Ofcom intends to use the full extent of the new financial penalty if appropriate.

Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: “Silent and abandoned calls can cause significant consumer harm. Ofcom has given sufficient warnings to companies about silent calls and is ready to take appropriate action against those companies who continue to break the rules.”

Companies that have fallen foul of the laws in the past include Abbey National, which was slappes with a £30,000 fine, Toucan which had to shell out £32,500 and Carphone Warehouse, which got a £35,000 fine.

Barclaycard's automated calls frustrate and annoy

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.”