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back to article Ofcom fines TalkTalk AGAIN - a whopping £750k over 'abandoned calls' gaffe

Ofcom has once again fined telco TalkTalk, after the company swamped potential customers with silent calls. It now has to pay £750,000 for failing to comply with UK law. The ISP was hit with a massive £3m penalty from the communications watchdog in 2011 for wrongly billing tens of thousands of customers for services they never …

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Happy

Ouch

~£83 per silent call. Ouch.

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Silver badge

Re: Ouch

Not "ouch" enough, by a long chalk. I get 3 of these calls a day, every day, weekends included. £1000/call, given to the victim, would be a good start.

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Re: Ouch

Interesting point Phil.

They are fined for distress to the customer, however there is no compensation reaching said customer.

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Distress

there's nothing preventing a victim pursuing a claim in civil court. Talk Talk can hardly deny it. The only tricky thing might be to demonstrate that it happened. However, since you are only working on the balance of probabilities, I wonder if the court would accept it happened *unless* TalkTalk could disprove it ... would make for very interesting times ...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ouch

there is no compensation reaching said customer.

More the reverse - watch what will happen to their tariffs. Someone has to pay that..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ouch

yeah this is the way forward. Get the compensation for the 'victim' of the silent call. Plus the offender should then be ordered to find and process all the silent-call recipients. It's a lot of work and it'll cost them time and money.

*Good!*

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ouch £1000/call, given to the victim

less tax, cause it's like we're all in it together, remember?

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Re: Ouch

If UK law in this area wasn't so biased in favour of the companies, you would. Compare and contract the civl penalties available under the USA's TCPA

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Anonymous Coward

My TalkTalk connection has gone from weeks of stability (that was about three days ago) to my connection cutting out whenever the phone gets picked up.

I hate it. I'd call and complain, but I know how fucking useless their tech support is.

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don't call them

Go to talktalkmembers.com - the people staffing it are really capable, diligent and helpful (and UK based). They'll get your issue sorted for you.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: don't call them

So much for that.

Because I'm a technically a tiscali member, it won't let me register.

It comes up with crap saying my account number or phone number is "not in their database."

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Faulty microfilter

The description of your fault points to either an unfiltered device (Sky, house alarm or anything else that uses POTS) connected to an extension socket or one of your microfilters is on its way out.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Faulty microfilter

I've only got one microfilter.

And I've swapped that six times.

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Thumb Up

good on Ofcom. Next time make the fine higher.

Oh I'm so surprised. TalkTalk deserve this. I had one dealing with them a few years back where they took on my phone line without consent. The sales drone had forged my signature!

A few months back one of the TalkTalk sales drones knocked on my door and promised me that 'it is all different now'. It seems that OFCOM has proven that TalkTalk are as disgusting and shady as ever.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: good on Ofcom. Next time make the fine higher.

"TalkTalk are as disgusting and shady as ever."

In the Kingdom of the Blind the one-eyed are king...

I've been spamvertised by Orange, had my fixed tarrif repeatedly sent skyward by TMobile and had O2's marketing dept ignoring my opt out requests from their insidious Dome-related SMSes.

And don't get me started on the dinosaur that is BT - a small brain at either end and nothing in between.

Not to mention ELITE Telecom. About as useful as a condom on a handset.

Er. 'Praps I ought to go 'nonymous for once before the lawyers strike...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: good on Ofcom. Next time make the fine higher.

Funnily enough, I had an issue with Orange and my phone (since my phone is Orange)

My SIM card had been updated, and I got a text message saying:

"We've made the changes you asked for"

Pretty fucking sure I would have remembered something like that.

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I would agree with most of the comments that will undoubtedly say "well done OfCom". However the problem is TalkTalk will not be the ultimate bearers of this payment. It will go to the two companies that actually made the silent calls meaning TalkTalk get nothing but a bit of bad press (and let's face it, that shitstorm of a company gets that everyday but still comes out the other side).

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Silver badge

"TalkTalk will not be the ultimate bearers of this payment"

Depends on the terms of the contract between them. For starters, although the word "fine" has been used, I'd guess that this is one of the now-fashionable extra-judicial "civil monetary penalties". If OFCOM have applied that to TalkTalk, it doesn't automatically follow that they can stiff other people with it. Moreover, if anybody on either side had a clue, then TalkTalk and its call centre providers would have had a very, very clear SLA in place, that dictated what actions happened when an autmatically dialled call couldn't be handled, or the application of answer machine detection.

I agree that TalkTalk should pay the penalty for failing to manage their contractors, and that should be the incentive to control them in future. That does potentially let the call centre contractors off the hook, but (just as TT have been), their reputation has been damaged by this. If you were contracting for a call centre, would you shortlist somebody who had been caught flouting the law?

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Trollface

Well

They should've used Intel!

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Anonymous Coward

I spent some time last year working for TelePerformance, in the unit that housed their TalkTalk campaign. TalkTalk might be claiming it's all the suppliers' faults, but it isn't. What are the chances of two independent companies, both respected names like TP and McAlpine, both of whom trade on their good names running call centres for the likes of Apple, Sony, Samsung, HP etc., both making the same mistake for the same client at exactly the same time in the same manner? Clients define the operation of the campaign, clients provide the materials and the systems, clients do the auditing - the responsibility is the client's.

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Silver badge

A bit more detail?

So, if their client tells them to break the regulations, they do? Isn't that like telling a professional driver to break the speed limit or overload his vehicle?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A bit more detail?

"So, if their client tells them to break the regulations, they do?"

In a nutshell, yes. You see this most often with warranty-based support. Every agent on the call floor knows for a fact EU law requires 2 year warranties on customer electronics, but call up on day 366 of owning a product and you'll be referred through to a sales department to buy out-of-warranty support. This is a blatant breach of a whole raft of consumer protection laws, but everyone does it anyway because clients demand it and you'll simply lose the contract if you don't play by the client's rules.

In this case, it's probably a bit more complex. Because there were two companies involved, there's a good chance neither company on their own broke OfCom's limits, but both together working for the same client did.

Of course I'm not saying the service suppliers are blameless - they're basically the scum of the earth in most respects - but if your client issues you a contract that requires you to break the rules and then gets fined for breaking the rules, there's little recourse for the client to reclaim the money from the supplier.

If it's the result of technical faults or genuine malfeasance on the part of the suppliers then fair enough, but for it to happen to two suppliers working for the same client on the same campaign, and for ofcom to find the client "ultimately responsible" tells me they've got a snowball's chance of getting their cash back.

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Unhappy

We had a week of silent / unwanted almost abusive calls earlier this year. So I don't think there are any lessons learned.

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Anonymous Coward

F**king Call Centres

Having worked in a call centre I can honestly say it’s the most soul destroying work I have ever done, including being a door to door salesman (yes I know, but it was that or the dole), I think a lot of this could be avoided if targets set by these companies were not so stupid, imagine rows and rows of zombie-fied people running on Redbull and coffee.

Finishing a call and having 30 seconds to fill in any data, complete notes, and look up details for next call, if you are not ready the call goes out anyway and leaves you hearing people saying “Hello? Hello?” on the end of the line.

Need a piss? The computer gives you 5 minutes, if you are not back in time you get’ flagged’

Phone call lasting longer then 10 minutes?

Flag – even on calls making a sale if I didn’t ‘escalate’ the call in time I would get a ‘flag’

Don’t hit target on calls (speak to 100 people a day)

Flag

Don’t hit target on sales (8+ a day)

Flag

3 Flags in a week?

Pay deduction

That’s right, so if in one week you take longer than 5 minutes to use the loo, make a sale but spend more than 10 mins to ‘sell it’, or only talk to 99 people one day (answering machines don’t count) they take £10 out your weekly wage.

And all this for less than £8 an hour, that’s not to mention the abuse you get for doing it in the first place

Thankfully I was able to get a decent job afterwards, but just remember next time you get a cold call, it’s small 5 minute hassle for you, it’s a 10 hour day 6 day a week shift for them.

I fucking hate call centres

Rant over

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Re: F**king Call Centres

And now you know why when I do get an unwanted sales call I spend as much time as possible wasting the caller's time.

The faster people realise it's a mug's game and ship out, the better - and I suggest you chat to the CAB about those "deductions" as they're highly likely to be lillegal, should you wish to cost your previous employers some money.

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evs
Gimp

I kind of like silent calls

I have an entry in my contacts for "Spammer" that immediately redirects to VM. If I get an autodialer (unknown number, nobody answers on hello) I immediately hang up and add that number to the list. No need to burden myself listening to some quasi-legal push poll.

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WTF?

AMD?

What's the relevance? Why is this mentioned?

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Re: AMD?

AMD = Answering Machine Detection

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Devil

Re: AMD?

AMD = Answer machine detection.

Basically the dialler tries to tell the difference between a human answering the phone and a voicemail or answering machine. With AMD enabled (or the Ofcom button as it's known), the dialler dials the number lists automatically and only puts a call through to an agent when it thinks it has a human on the other end. Obviously the system isn't foolproof, and it can get confused and think a machine has answered when it is a human, at which point the dialler hangs the call up on them.

That's one of the reasons for silent calls. The other reason being that a company auto dials lists too quickly. So, more people answer than the company has agents to connect to, then the dialler sits there waiting to pass a call through to an agent so the customer again hears silence and after a few seconds they hang up.

Ofcom figures allow for 3% of dialled calls to be misdetected or abandoned when auto dialling. Once that limit is reached companies are supposed to use something calle preview dial where every call is put through the the agent and they decide what is answering.

Obviously that is way slower than using AMD. A list of 10,000 numbers could be completed using AMD for example in a day whereas preview dial might take a week! When it works it is much more effecient and cost effective.

You'll see various AMD success figures branded about by the dialler makers, often as high as 90% successful detection rate. That's completely bollox and the actual varies but generally runs more toards about 55 or 60% success rate.

I believe Teleperformance use a Avaya dialler as they use Avaya ACDs. I could be wrong on that though.

D

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FAIL

Fining companies...

...is the wrong solution to these type of problems. The company simply raises its tariffs/charges/rates to the enduser/victim and Bob's your uncle - back to the Champagne and the huge pension. The banks' fines are a good eaxmple of this - guess how they will "recover" the costs of these fines (Libor etc...)?

No, what should happen is that the directors of the company should be held personally responsible and accountable for the mis-deeds of the companies they run. These fines should be directly extracted from these directors pockets. This will make them think twice before engaging in dodgy practices or simply being lazy.

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