Business

Call blocking firm fined for making cold calls itself

Telephone keypad

A firm selling call blocking devices has itself been fined for making unsolicited calls to those who have opted out of receiving them.

Cold Call Eliminations, based in Chichester, made calls to the elderly, including cancer sufferers. One was said to have been left "badly shaken".

They were registered on the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), so should have been exempt from such calls.

The company, which has been fined £75,000, refused to comment.

Elderly and vulnerable

The Information Commissioner, which issued the fine, said the company was trying to sell subscriptions for a device which did exactly the same as the free service offered by the TPS.

Over a period of nearly two years, the commissioner's office and the TPS received 382 complaints from people who were registered on the TPS.

"This company clearly knew the law, but continued to break it by calling people on the TPS," said Steve Eckersley, the ICO's head of enforcement.

"It is clear some of the people called by this company were very distressed by the calls and, as some of the people receiving the calls were elderly or vulnerable, this was an aggravating factor."


Examples of complaints against the company

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"This company has 'conned' my mother out of £84.99 for an unnecessary service ... my parents are 87 and 86 respectively; my father is suffering from dementia."

"I am looking after my elderly mother who has terminal cancer. She initially answered and I could see I needed to intervene as I could hear the sales guy not giving up. Please do something and stop this blight on my mum's last days."

"My father is 85 years old and recently lost his wife of 60 years. He doesn't understand where companies like this get his personal information from to cold call him. They are also trying to extract £85 to allegedly block cold calls."

"I was unsure what the call was about and I am elderly. I don't understand technological talk but I ended up agreeing to a purchase I didn't need because the sales person was able to convince me to buy it. My daughter and a friend have been trying to resolve the problem for me."


'Ironic'

Mr Eckersley said: "It is ironic that the products they were trying to sell should have blocked the very calls they were making."

When asked by the BBC News website, the company said it had no comment to make on the fine, and nobody was available to answer whether it would appeal against the decision.

It is not the first company to be fined after promising to block nuisance calls.

In August, Point One Marketing - trading as Stop the Calls - was fined £50,000 by the Information Commissioner. The company, based in Bournemouth, was said to have operated in a "bullying and aggressive way".

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