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UK Phone Provider TalkTalk Fined for Silent Phone Calls

UK phone provider TalkTalk has been fined three quarters of a million pounds for making an excessive number of abandoned and silent calls. Telecoms watchdog Ofcom said that, following an investigation, TalkTalk was found to have exceeded the number of abandoned calls its policies allow. The watchdog defines abandoned calls as the caller hanging up when the recipient picks up the phone. This limit was apparently exceed on four separate occasions between February 1 and March 21, 2011.

Not only was TalkTalk guilty of phoning customers and hanging up, but Ofcom says the company also failed to ensure information messages were played during calls, which meant consumers also received silent phone calls from TalkTalk. The result was a total of 9,000 silent and abandoned phone calls. Ofcom policy also dictates that if companies using answer machine detection technology detect an answering machine, any subsequent calls to that number on that same day should only be made if a call center agent is guaranteed to be able to handle the call. TalkTalk failed to comply with this piece of policy as well.

According to Ofcom the breaches of policy were due to the actions of two call centre operators: Teleperformance Limited and McAlpine Marketing Limited. However, the watchdog says the responsibility to ensure compliance with communication laws and Ofcom policy lies with TalkTalk.

"Ofcom has decided to impose a financial penalty of £750,000 against TalkTalk, which is ultimately responsible for compliance with the law regarding 'persistent misuse of an electronic communications network or electronic communications service' and Ofcom’s policies on abandoned and silent calls," Ofcom said today.

"TalkTalk is therefore ultimately responsible for the actions of the two call centre operators associated with the breach: Teleperformance Limited and McAlpine Marketing Limited."

Ofcom has 30 days to pay the fine.