Author Posts

22/01/2016 at 4:57 PM

Hello User Group members. I sent an email asking if any of the members would find it helpful to have an anonymous forum in which questions could be raised about Ofcom and the Consultation that requires a response before 10 February 2016. I have had an overwhelming YES response. So here we are!

Please, use this forum as an opportunity to discuss with your fellow users, your feelings and thoughts on the information contained in Consultation (you can read it here). You can also go here where David outlined how you can respond to the Consultation.

I’m not sure how I can express this in print. It is very important that you participate in responding to the Consultation because it is about your future. I understand that many of your are concerned about becoming targets of Ofcom if you respond to the survey. All of your companies need to participate in responding to this. We learned at the last User Group Conference that Ofcom has very little view into the industry, and their point of view is mostly the side of the consumer (responding to complaints). As members of this user group, you represent the industry and you need to help Ofcom understand your collective point of view.

The forum is open, so let’s discuss…

25/01/2016 at 3:17 PM

Hello. I would be interested in knowing what everyone’s understanding of the zero tolerance on abandoned calls is.

It sounds as though its not that we are not allowed to abandon at all, just that in the event there was a complaint, any information regarding the abandoned call % would factor heavily.

Id also be keen to have views on the use of virtual and virtual opt out dialling if the proposed regulations go ahead

 

thank you

  • This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by  John Kadas.

25/01/2016 at 3:34 PM

Hi. During a call it was discussed whether there should be different rules for different calls, eg, cold calling  where there is no existing relationship, and collections where there is.

Many participants felt that Ofcom should accept that there is a clear  difference where there was an existing relationship with a customer, and a valid reason for contact.

Particularly in a collections environment, earlier notification and resolution may mitigate the risk of further financial hardship, thereby  treating our customers fairly.

Does anyone have any thoughts regarding this?

 

thanks

 

 

 

  • This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by  John Kadas.
  • This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by  John Kadas.
  • This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by  John Kadas.

27/01/2016 at 3:23 PM

Thank you for the postings so far. Dave Nicholls has some comments on these queries and they will be posted shortly.

27/01/2016 at 3:30 PM

*DAVE NICHOLLS POSTED THIS RESPONSE (I had to re-post this for him, and since he is helping to answer questions, I included his name):

Hi,

I am not a lawyer, but in the past Ofcom have pointed out that they are constrained by the Communication Act 2003, which gives them their powers, and so can’t treat different call types in different ways.

I am not a lawyer, but I think the relevant part of the act is the definition of misuse:

”:(5)For the purposes of this Chapter a person misuses an electronic communications network or electronic communications service if—

(a) the effect or likely effect of his use of the network or service is to cause another person unnecessarily to suffer annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety; or

(b)he uses the network or service to engage in conduct the effect or likely effect of which is to cause another person unnecessarily to suffer annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety.”

If a call causes unnecessary annoyance, inconvenience, or anxiety then it’s misuse. As far as I can see any call can cause annoyance, inconvenience, or anxiety, so the only part that needs clarification is whether it is ’unnecessary’.

Can you frame the position that was discussed in a way that deals with the ’unnecessary’ part?

27/01/2016 at 3:33 PM

*DAVE NICHOLLS POSTED THIS RESPONSE (I had to re-post this for him, and since he is helping to answer questions, I included his name):

Having read through the document a number of times I think there are several things going on:

Firstly, Ofcom is actually laying out more clearly some things that they have said, and used in their processes, before but which weren’t explicitly included in previous statements of policy. For example, if you look at their notification for Ageas50, which can be found here:

http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/enforcement/competition-bulletins/open-cases/all-open-cases/cw_905/Ageas_50_limited26june2014.pdf

You’ll see that two of the three days on which they breached the 3$ policy it was with very small numbers of calls (3 and 5)

Ofcom also fined TalkTalk for silent calls that were caused by agent activity , not the dialler. The communication act does;t specify anything about technology, it’s just about the end result of the calls.

Secondly, Ofcom clearly want to push down the number of silent and abandoned calls made. Some of the other comments one consultation point to the fact that they have always seen the 3% policy as a maximum, not a target. Hence they are now talking about using abandonment rate on not breaching days when they decide what to do. My reading of this is that if you are caught breaching the 3% policy and on all other days you were running at 2.95% you’ll be treated more harshly that if you were at 1% on all the other days. In effect they want everyone to dial below 3% without explicitly setting a lower limit.

My personal feeling is that they have missed the fact that their enforcement track record isn’t great and that securing enforcement action against those that they currently cannot find would be more effective than changing the rules to make currently compliant organisations make fewer nuisance calls. I wrote some stuff about this in their call for inputs at the end of 2014, my response to them can be found here:

http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/consultations/review-persistent-misuse-powers/responses/DJN_Solutions_Ltd.pdf

Finally, with regard to virtual opt out, I think they are trying to regularise a gap in the old policies, which didn’t really cover IVM.

Basically if I dial you with the intention of connecting an agent I have to follow the rules and connect you within 2 seconds and, if I can;t, play a message explaining who I am

On the other had, if I dial you with the intention of playing a message and then let you choose to go to an agent I can make you wait for as long as I like and I don’t have to play any sort of message early in the call to tell you who I am.

This has always been a bit odd. In the new policy they expect a message to be played, and they expect the wait time for an agent to be ’reasonable’, although they don’t say exactly what ’reasonable means’ apart from pointing out that if you’re getting complaints then it probably isn’t ’reasonable’

Dave

27/01/2016 at 3:38 PM

To anyone that would like to post or respond to people in this forum, since the anonymous user protects your identity, please scroll to the bottom of the page and fill in the “Reply To: Discuss Ofcom Consultation” section when you want to communicate in this forum.  DON’T click on the “REPLY” button next to someone’s comment because then the response only goes to that user (which in this forum, will be the anonymous user).

All comments, queries and responses can be helpful to all of us in the forum.  Thank you.

11/02/2016 at 1:14 AM

Hello All! I checked with Dave Nicholls to see if there had been a change to the deadline, and they have. The deadline has been moved to 24 February 2016. So please, ask questions, have discussions, and most importantly, respond to the consultation. Thank you.