Home emergency insurer HomeServe, has been fined a record £750,000 for so called "robocalls." The previous record fine for such offenses was just £50,000.
Such calls come about when companies make marketing calls by automatically dialling multiple numbers at once and then transferring the call to an operator only if and when the call is answered.
The logic is that this is more efficient as the operator's time isn't wasted waiting for phones to ring out. However, if companies misjudge the proportion of answered calls, there may not be enough operators available, meaning the recipient of the call simply gets silence, which is understandably unsettling.
While robocalling isn't illegal, communications regulator Ofcom has limits on how many times a company can have a call answered and not have an operator immediately available. HomeServe broke this limit 42 times in the space of two months and had nearly 15,000 silent calls over this period.
Another Ofcom rule says companies that make a call and get an answerphone can't call back within the next 24 hours. HomeService broke this rule more than 35,000 times.
HomeServe says the problem was caused by an outside agency and that it now makes all marketing calls in-house and follows the rules. It's also offering £10 compensation to any customer who received a call that breached the rules.