Our reaction to the Culture Media and Sport Committee report - “Nuisance Calls” is published here, to accompany publication of the report itself today.
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In summary, we are pleased to see many of our comments, as presented in evidence, noted in the report. We welcome the limited recommendations, but are concerned that they do not include the radical steps required to get to grips with this unacceptable and growing problem.
The Inquiry and the Report
- Comments from the fair telecoms campaign are referred to in the body of the report.
- The written evidence submitted by the fair telecoms campaign (3 documents) is reproduced in the body of the report at pages Ev 43 to Ev 49.
- A transcript of the oral evidence presented is found at page Ev 1
- Presentation of the oral evidence may be seen on parliamentlive.tv
click to view
Not all telephone calls that we receive are welcome - if we wish to remain open to contact by telephone we cannot avoid this fact of life. Some calls are rightly classified as simply "Nuisance". There are laws and regulations intended to prevent the practice of making Nuisance Calls - that is what needs to be stopped. Sadly, poor enforcement action means a low level of compliance.
Our view is that very little is needed in terms of new legislation to address this problem - simply a few tweaks, the need for which has been accepted. The focus must be on measures to achieve compliance, including proper regulation and enforcement action by those best placed to achieve compliance. These are the respective sectoral regulators, not Ofcom and the ICO.
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← This article indicates a welcome move in response to a demand we made some time ago and have been repeating at every available opportunity →
See "Other bodies hold specific powers which could be used"
The ineffectiveness of Ofcom and the ICO, along with the mistaken belief that the TPS is some type of "service", as opposed to simply a means of indicating a widely-disrespected preference, leads many people to seek to take avoidance action themselves. Click to view
Not only is this unnecessary, apart from the situation of those who wish or need to have a call filtering device, it can also lead to worthless effort or expenditure. There are companies who seek to exploit the problem of nuisance calls for financial gain, in many cases overstating the likely benefit of what they offer and in some cases being engaged in outright scams.
Whilst TPS Limited is not itself wholly blameless in respect of improperly raised expectations, it publishes a list of those known to be engaged in offering products and services that are likely to be misrepresented.
We recently appeared in a broadcast of the BBC Wales series X-Ray which covered both a scam service and an ineffective blocking device. Both items are now available to view in a playlist →
Our stated conclusions are that:
- Many companies exploit people's vain hope that there is something that they themselves can do about nuisance calls.
- The only way to deal with the problem is for proper standards of conduct and compliance with the law to be enforced by those able to undertake such action.
The fair telecoms campaign accepts that there may be situations where a "Service Charge" on a relatively cheap telephone call may be acceptable. One example is where the caller is KNOWINGLY paying the cost of handling their call, rather than having this carried as an expense by the person they are calling.
We wholeheartedly support the Ofcom proposal for the "unbundled tariff" because this enables both the Service Charge and also the telephone company's "Access Charge" to be seen.
This news release makes a number of points, but is primarily aimed at highlighting the danger of imposing a (potentially justifiable) Service Charge under the current arrangements.
David Hickson was interviewed on Sky News to cover the Public Accounts Committee report into Government use of expensive telephone numbers.
Supporters and others are invited to refer to what was said, in context.
← Play here or download →
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Click on the TV image
to view this video clip
FOR REFERENCE ONLY
This week marked the conclusion of efforts working with NHS England to produce letters to Area Teams and to practices in breach of their contracts with a demand for action - “
Your Area Team will be in touch to understand your plans for swiftly moving away from the use of 084 numbers
” is the conclusion of the message to practices.Both the formal letter and the NHS England news release acknowledge the assistance provided by the fair telecoms campaign, especially with the busting of myths that have long been used to avoid the need for “reasonable steps” to be taken and to excuse improper action.
The news feed covers all publications, but the following are the key items for attention:
(click on the image to view)
Patients empowered …
The actual letter from the two NHS England Directors to practices using 084 numbers. This document is a copy extracted from the full set of communications linked to from the NHS England media release
Our invitation and encouragement to affected patients and NHS supporters to print out a copy of the letter in support of their challenge to a non-compliant GP. The end …
A message to the Heads of Primary Care in the Area Teams in support of their efforts and listing one example of a GP in each area, to be used in monitoring their achievements.