The energy supplier npower has been fined £60 000 by regulator Ofcom for making a series of ‘abandoned’ calls.
The calls, which featured an automated message, were made to 1,756 households over a seven-week period in 2011. The ‘big six’ supplier has pledged to compensate customers for the mistake.
npower used ‘automatic dialing’, which meant that some households received repeated calls which answered with a pre-recorded message. These are referred to as abandoned calls, rather than ‘silent calls’.
Ofcom said: “Abandoned calls can be caused by automated diallers, which organisations use to maximise the amount of time their calling agents spend speaking to consumers. These diallers are mainly used in call centres to dial telephone numbers automatically and connect people to call centre agents as soon as the phone is answered.
“Under Ofcom’s rules, there is a limit on the number of abandoned calls that organisations can make before Ofcom will consider taking formal enforcement action. Where there is a breach of this limit, Ofcom is likely to deem the ‘persistent misuse’ to be serious.”
However, it went on to say that the incidences were at the ‘lower end’ of seriousness. The messages were also deemed of a marketing nature and therefore a breach of Ofcom legislation.
In a statement, the supplier said:”We’re sorry that on eight occasions in 2011, we made a number of abandoned calls in breach of our obligations. It is our responsibility to ensure that we operate in accordance with Ofcom’s rules.
We have good controls in place and believe that these instances were isolated exceptions. However, we have addressed the issues raised by Ofcom, which it acknowledges.”
npower is going to contact the homes that received the calls to give them £10 for the inconvenience.