Saturday, 18 February 2012

TalkTalk under investigation for silent calls

OFCOM are investigating notoriously troublesome broadband and calls provider TalkTalk for hassling customers with silent calls earlier this year.

We've probably all picked up a ringing phone phone a few times to be greeted with a dial tone, the result of diallers which try to connect calls when there's no call centre agent available.

Ofcom says it has reason to believe that TalkTalk engaged in the prohibited practice in February and March this year plaguing customers with dead-end calls.

The provider has until mid-November to respond to Ofcom's investigation and take appropriate action to stop it from happening again.

The regulator could levy a fine of up to £2 million.

The provider said a third-party company was to blame and that any financial penalty would be recovered from them.

Bad year

Earlier this year, TalkTalk were handed a £3 million fine after incorrectly billing tens of thousands of consumers for services they hadn't received.

The fine was the result of months of back and forth between the provider and the regulator.

In early 2010 reports began to emerge that broadband customers were being billed for services they had never received, in some cases years after leaving TalkTalk or Tiscali.

Despite just over a year of complaints and investigations, however, TalkTalk still incorrectly billed almost 3,000 consumers between 2 December 2010 and 4 March 2011, the final straw which landed them with the fine.

TalkTalk's general customer service has also been severely criticised.

Ofcom's last set of complaints data, covering the three months to June this year, shows that 0.58 per 1,000 broadband customers complained to the regulator, far more than any other providers.

Fewer customers complained about TalkTalk's land line service which must be taken alongside their broadband deals.

Both figures showed an improvement compared to previous months but this latest Ofcom intervention will just come as evidence to many that TalkTalk hasn't fundamentally changed its business practices.

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