No more silent phonecalls say Ofcom
There's almost nothing as infuriating as some idiot ringing you up when you're having your tea and trying to sell you tat. The only thing that grinds my gears more is when it's some automated service - especially that one with the foghorn and the sea-captain.
Like all automated things, they often don't work, and instead of hearing a badly recorded message, you get absolutely nothing, giving the impression that a robot has rung you up and forgotten that it isn't able to do the whole heavy-breathing thing.
Concerning the latter, companies that pester us with these silent calls could be facing eye-watering fines of up to £2m under government proposals unveiled today.
So what causes these silent calls? Well, basically, call centres use machines to ring large numbers of people in one swoop. Numbers are dialled automatically and customers are meant to be connected with a human when they pick up. However, if all the lines are busy, the line is silent.
Ofcom gets around 400 complaints a month about this and, worryingly, it seems that these people are targeting pensioners, as Ofcom found that 35% of over-65s had received silent calls in the six months to June.
As it stands, Ofcom can fine companies up to £50,000 if they persistently make silent calls, but the government is proposing the maximum be increased to £2m.
A few years back, Carphone Warehouse got slapped with a fine of £35,000 for irritating everyone and last September, Barclaycard got the maximum fine of £50,000 for the same thing. There is a solution too. To reduce silent calls, you can register your telephone number by ringing 0844 372 2325 while the Telephone Preference Service on 0845 070 0707 allows people to opt out of receiving unsolicited sales or marketing calls. I hope they don't sell your information on to other companies...