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Carphone Warehouse fined for silent calls

It's been fined £35,000 for breaching rules


A row of smiling call centre workers

Carphone Warehouse has been fined £35,000 for making silent calls.

It is one of four firms to be rapped by the telecoms regulator for ‘causing annoyance’ to consumers via the calls.

Ofcom also imposed fines of £45,000, £40,000 and £32,000 on the firms Space Kitchens, Bracken Bay Kitchens and Toucan Residential Ltd respectively.

The regulator contacted the four companies in November saying it believed they had persistently misused the telecoms network.

Financial penalties

It announced the fines today after considering steps taken by the four firms to end the misuse and comply with the rules. The maximum possible fine is £50,000.

‘Ofcom has now considered representations by each of the companies and has decided to issue a financial penalty in each case,’ the regulator said in a statement.

Silent calls occur when automated systems used by call centres generate more calls than the centre’s staff can manage.

The automated system abandons the call if no agent is available, leaving a silence on the line for the person on the receiving end.

Silent calls

Ofcom said between April and July 2006 all four companies’ abandoned call rates regularly exceeded 3 per cent and in some cases were higher than 20 per cent.

One or all of the firms failed to supply a recorded information message to prevent abandoned calls from being silent calls, the regulator said.

A Carphone Warehouse spokesman said: ‘We accept Ofcom’s findings that relate to the period of April to July 2006.

‘We have made significant progress since then and are now fully compliant with all their silent calls regulations.’

Direct marketing

James Kelly, MD of the Direct Marketing Association trade body, backed Ofcom’s decision to impose fines.

‘As telemarketing is increasingly under scrutiny, there is an even greater need to adhere to best practice as outlined in our direct marketing code of practice to protect consumers from inappropriate behaviour,’ he said.

‘It is therefore essential that companies in breach of industry regulations are penalised accordingly to enable us to maintain high standards within the direct marketing industry and build consumer confidence.’

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