Bloctel: Re-register to keep cold callers quiet
Householders who have signed up to Bloctel – France’s widely criticised cold-call blocking service – have been told they must re-register to remain on its no-call list.
The system has received the guarded support of consumer watchdog UFC-Que Choisir, which says it comes out in favour of re-registering despite ongoing issues.
However, the watchdog warned: “The controls of the Directorate General of Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control, the sanctions applied and, above all, the political will are far from sufficient to make the system effective.”
The free-to-use government-backed service, which allows anyone with a landline or mobile phone to have their number removed from commercial telephone lists, has been available since 2016.
But the first customers to sign up to the free service may have been unaware that their numbers would be restricted for only three years – and they now have to sign up again to maintain the service.
Bloctel has faced major criticism since its launch.
Many users say they are still plagued by unwanted cold calls despite signing up.
Under the rules, subscribers can still be contacted by companies with calls related to an existing contract, ie. from companies of which they are clients in some way.
Under plans put before the National Assembly’s Economic Affairs Committee last November, fines for firms found guilty of illegally contacting someone on the Bloctel list could be increased from €75,000 to €375,000.
This increase would also apply to sellers who use a hidden number, as well as companies that sell files containing the numbers of people who have registered to stop telephone cold calls.
Companies would also be required to confirm their Bloctel no-call lists are up to date at least once a month.
However, an earlier proposal – which had the support of consumer groups – that would have required consumers to opt in before they would receive such calls was rejected.
The plans have been criticised by UFC-Que Choisir.
It said: “The problem is that, as it stands, it is more likely to worsen the situation than to improve it, partly because of one of its provisions which aims to give companies more power to canvass people registered on Bloctel.
“In parallel, a consultation took place within the National Consumer Council, but it ended in failure, as professionals in the sector refused to accept compromises proposed by consumer associations.”
UFC-Que Choisir added: “Consumers are not yet done with untimely calls.”