French associations launch petition to ban cold calls

Consumer associations in France have launched a petition calling for a ban on cold marketing calls - with more than 80,000 signatures collected in less than 24 hours.

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Two in five (40%) of the French public say they receive an unwanted marketing telephone call at least once a week.

According to consumer association UFC-Que Choisir - the petition host - the major difference between marketing calls, and marketing through text messages and email, is that the latter two require explicit “opt-in” consent, whereas calling does not.

In fact, in France, consumers are automatically assumed to have given consent to cold calling, unless they explicitly “opt out”.

A list already exists to allow people to do this - named “the Bloctel list” - but four years after its introduction, it has been deemed to have made very little difference to the number of cold calls received.

In response, UFC-Que Choisir is calling for an outright ban on this kind of marketing, which it calls a “plague”, “commercial harassment” and “particularly intrusive”.

Originally, the associations had aimed to gather 50,000 signatures for the petition. But this level was reached within 24 hours, with the total standing at more than 262,000 at the time of writing. Now, the association is aiming to reach 300,000 signatures.

The company highlights that Germany and the United Kingdom had previously attempted to address the problem of cold calling through a similar “Bloctel-style” list, which had similarly proven ineffective.

These countries had therefore simply extended their “opt-in” laws to cover phone calls, as well as emails and texts - UFC-Choisir said - meaning that someone must explicitly consent to be called, rather than needing to explicitly withdraw consent.

On its website, UFC-Choisir said: “The sectors that use [telephone cold calling] are also those that cause the most consumer problems and disputes (over house projects, energy renovation, energy suppliers, and insurance).”

The petition is available to sign here.

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