TalkTalk Fined After Sales Calls Blunder
TalkTalk Reputation Hit Following Abandoned And Silent Calls
Show of hands please; who hates sales calls? You know, the type that waste your time at work and always interrupt dinner at home? The only thing worse than sales calls are repeated intended sales calls that are abandoned or have silence on the other end. Well now it seems you have a company to direct some of your anger at.
Telecoms operator TalkTalk has been fined £750,000 by the regulator Ofcom for making in excess of 8000 abandoned and silent calls to potential customers in 2011. They were made through two call centres during a telemarketing campaign to attract new subscribers. Abandoned calls occur when a person answers the phone but the caller then hangs up. A silent call is where the phone rings but there is only silence on the other end of the line and no information message is played. According to Ofcom, such problems are often caused by answer machine detection technology. Sometimes the software mistakenly identifies an answer machine or voicemail and terminates the call, even though it has been answered by a human being.
Reputation Protection Involves Playing The Blame Game
As much as we would all like sales calls to be illegal (particularly at dinner time or just as Eastenders is starting), they're not. However, companies making sales calls do have to adhere to certain regulations, including how many silent or abandoned calls can be permitted during a period of activity. Ofcom found TalkTalk had exceeded the specified limit on four separate occasions in a seven week period.
"Silent and abandoned calls can cause annoyance and distress to consumers. Companies must abide by the law and Ofcom's policies. If they fail to do so then Ofcom will take firm action," said an Ofcom spokesperson.
TalkTalk said it was fair that Ofcom had imposed the fine but tried to protect their reputation and blamed the two call centre operators concerned. TalkTalk said it had terminated its relationship with those businesses as soon as the problem was discovered and was in the process of recovering the fine from them.
Reputation Management Already Underway
TalkTalk wasted no time in implementing a reputation management strategy to offset the negativity surrounding their sales procedures. "TalkTalk demands high standards from the companies it works with and as a result TalkTalk immediately stopped using these suppliers," said a spokesperson. It appears they are placing the blame solely with a third party supplier but are taking action to prevent similar problems in the future.
TalkTalk are no doubt very aware that two years ago the maximum fine for abandoned calls was raised to £2m so the fine imposed could have been far more substantial.