A campaign to cut the number of unwanted cold sales calls to homes has been launched by the consumer magazine UFC-Que Choisir.
Using a web platform called Je ne suis pas une data (‘I am not data’), it generates letters to telephone operators asking them to remove your name and number from public directories used by marketing firms.
Marie-Amandine Stévenin, president of UFC-Que Choisir, said: “We want to see the number of these calls reduced to as close to zero as we can because they are a real problem.”
Government’s anti-cold calling service is getting better
There was an explosion of telemarketing in France some 10 years ago, with computer-driven machines able to make multiple calls at the same time.
Sales teams respond to the quickest to answer, and the rest of the calls give an engaged tone if people pick up the phone. Some households complained of receiving 12 calls a day.
UFC-Que Choisir has been at the forefront of efforts to expose crooks who use telemarketing to find victims, often by pretending to be part of government schemes to provide insulation, solar panels and other services.
The government responded by launching a free service called Bloctel, allowing people to opt out of cold-calling, albeit with limited effect in the early days.
However, it has gradually expanded its scope and seems more effective – as long as people have the patience to file complaints every time they get an unwanted call by completing an online form.
Bloctel fines two companies for misusing data
At the end of last year, Bloctel released details of fines levied against two firms.
One, called Ilios Confort, was fined €185,300 by the DGCCRF agency in Hérault for not respecting Bloctel’s list of numbers and failing to inform people they could use the service when asked.
In Bouches-du-Rhône, a firm called Agence Rénovation Conseil Habitat Environnement was fined €33,510 for making 1,017 calls to numbers on the Bloctel list between December 2022 and January 2023, and for keeping Bloctel numbers in its database.
The government also introduced stricter controls on the times cold callers can operate.
In theory, they can only get in touch between 10:00 and 13:00 or 14:00 and 20:00.
How to combat cold callers
As well as the UFC initiative and Bloctel, two of the main telephone operators in France, Orange and Free, have set up tools from their own websites where clients can request their numbers are not passed on.
Cold-call numbers can also be registered so they can be blocked. It works with both mobile and fixed-line phones that operate through fibre-optic boxes, but is less effective with fixed lines that still use copper cables.
- Get UFC-Que Choisir to send a letter to telephone operators to stop them sharing your number
- Opt out of cold calling using Bloctel
- Report cold callers on Bloctel’s online form
- Use tools set up by your telephone operator to request your number is not passed on