The House of Commons discussed the issue of nuisance calls thanks to a debate secured by Patricia Gibson MP.
Ms Gibson met with us in Glasgow station this summer, where she backed our Calling Time campaign, including our calls for the Government to make directors of nuisance calling companies accountable.
Nuisance calls in Parliament
In the House of Commons, Patricia Gibson said:
'It is time that the responsibility was no longer placed so heavily on the victims of nuisance calls, and businesses who engage in this practice should be held more accountable for the genuine distress and anxiety they cause to consumers.'
Supporting the recommendations set out by the Nuisance Calls taskforce, she urged the Government to lead a cross-sector business awareness campaign to ensure that companies know their responsibilities when it comes to marketing calls and texts. She also asked the Government to consider how future legislation could tackle nuisance marketing.
The ICO said its investigation found that Home Energy & Lifestyle Management Ltd (Helms) made more than six million calls as part of an automated call marketing campaign offering ‘free’ solar panels.
Our executive director Richard Lloyd said:
‘A bumper £200,000 fine by the ICO should make nuisance callers sit up and take notice. We now also need to see senior executives held personally accountable if their organisation makes unlawful calls.'
The fine comes after a number of similar fines by the ICO against nuisance calling companies.
Making people's lives a misery
The ICO received 242 complaints about Helms between October and December 2014. One complainant said they'd been waiting for news of a terminally ill family member and couldn't ignore the phone, and felt powerless against the automated calls.
The ICO's head of enforcement, Steve Eckersley, said:
‘This company's ignorance of the law is beyond belief. It didn't even bother to find out what the rules were and its badly thought-out marketing campaign made people's lives a misery.
‘The monetary penalty is for a significant amount because of the clear failings of the company, and the number of people affected by its deliberate and unlawful campaign.’
If you want to see the back of nuisance calls, sign our petition.
Will Morris, group managing director, retail at energy company SSE, said:
'Nobody likes receiving a sales call they haven’t consented to, so we put a stop to it back in 2013. We’re not interested in harassing customers – we’re only interested in speaking to them on their own terms about products and services that are actually relevant to them. In the long run, it makes commercial sense as well as being the right thing to do. So we’re right behind this campaign and want to see more action to clamp down on nuisance calls.'
'BT has been at the forefront of tackling nuisance calls and we welcome the work that Which?, Ofcom, the ICO, industry and Government have done so far in tackling this issue and in raising consumer awareness. BT has developed the BT 8500 phone, which stops up to 100 per cent of unwanted calls. We have also improved the network so that full telephone numbers are displayed for calls made from abroad. These and other products help our customers to manage their calls and only answer calls they want to receive.
'As a responsible business, we make great efforts to ensure we only call customers who want to hear from us. To help to achieve this we have a policy on customer consent that continues to develop in line with customer feedback. We always display a number and leave a message so the customer knows BT called them and customers can contact us to remove themselves from our calling lists.'