'Silent Calls' - Complaints regarding the making of silent calls

25 February 2005

Complainants: Direct Marketing Association and a member of the public
Complaints against: MKD Holdings Ltd (CW/00742/01/04) and Intelligent Marketing Solutions Ltd (CW/00735/12/03)
Case opened: 5 January 2004
Case closed: 30 April 2004
Issue: Annoyance caused to consumers by silent calls
Relevant instrument: Sections 128-131 of the Communications Act 2003

Ofcom has closed these investigations. The relevant joint closure statement can be accessed via the link at the bottom of the page.

Case leader: Steve Burniston ( e-mail: Steve.Burniston@ofcom.org.uk)
Case references: DMA Case - CW/00735/12/03; Consumer Case - CW/00742/01/04

Text published when the case was opened

Complainants : Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and a member of the public
Complaint against : Two companies engaged in telephone marketing
Case opened : 5 January 2004
Issue : Annoyance caused to consumers by silent calls
Relevant instrument : Sections 128 to 131 of the Communications Act 2003

Ofcom has received two separate complaints regarding annoyance caused to consumers by the making of 'silent calls' and there are indications that the number of silent calls made by the two companies under investigation is significant.

The first complaint was submitted to Ofcom by the DMA. A second complaint has been submitted to Ofcom by a member of the public. Both complaints are concerned with annoyance caused to UK consumers by companies engaged in telephone marketing making so-called silent calls. Preliminary enquiries by Ofcom indicate that the level of silent calls is significant in both cases.

The most common form of silent call is not intentional. It arises where calls are initiated by automatic calling equipment (ACE) at call centres and are then terminated by the ACE immediately after the called individual answers the phone. That happens because no live operator is available to take the set up call. Properly run call centres will strive to ensure that they do not generate more calls than their operators can handle.

Sections 128 to 131 of the Communications Act 2003 give Ofcom powers to take action against persons or companies who persistently misuse electronic communications networks or services in any way that causes or is likely to cause unnecessary annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety.

Where Ofcom finds that a company is in breach of the above provisions it may issue an enforcement notification to the misuser (which may include the requirement to make compensation payments to affected individuals). In addition, Ofcom may also impose a financial penalty on the misuser.

Ofcom is currently investigating the complaints received.

Case Leader : Philipp Girardet (e-mail : Philipp.Girardet@ofcom.org.uk)
Case References : DMA Case - CW/00735/12/03; Consumer Case - CW/00742/01/04