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Tighter Controls over Nuisance Calls

Thursday 02 July 2015

The French government are to introduce an official telephone preference service to protect telephone users from unwanted direct marketing calls.

In recent years, companies who plague households with direct marketing calls have become a major problem in France, in much the same way as has occurred in many other parts of the world.

For those who have not taken any steps to protect themselves against such calls it is not unusual for them to receive several calls a day from companies or call centres prospecting business.

Those who do make the calls frequently claim to be acting in a quasi-official capacity, such as those offering energy conservation products and services.

It has been possible to obtain some protection against these calls, either by simply being ex-directory (liste rouge), or by registering with the telephone operator your desire not to receive direct marking calls (liste orange), although in this latter case you would remain listed in the telephone directory. You can of course request to be both liste rouge and liste orange.

In recognition of the problem, in 2011 companies in the telemarketing industry set up a voluntary registration scheme, called PACITEL, which enabled a telephone subscriber to register on the PACITEL own liste rouge that they did not wish to receive marketing calls.

Although these actions can be quite effective, it does not prevent companies obtaining your telephone details from other sources, such as companies who sell mailing lists. Neither does PACITEL contain all the players in the telemarketing industry, the major weakness of this voluntary scheme.

As a result, the government has stepped in to reinforce existing controls by outlawing the sale of mailing lists and by enabling households to register on a telephone preference list.

This official 'liste d'opposition' is one that all telemarketing companies will be obliged to consult prior to undertaking any direct marketing calls. Failure do so can result in a fine of up to €75,000

The telemarketing companies will be obliged to pay a fee to consult the list, which it is hoped will pay for the running costs of the service.

The government have yet to decide who will manage the list, but it is anticipated the service will be up and running by the end of the year.

Registration on the list is free of charge and will be possible on-line. It will be valid for a period of three years.

Those on the list will be notified three months in advance of the prospective expiry of their registration, in order to enable them to renew their registration.

If you are already a customer of a company, the law continues to allow that company to contact you by telephone or other means, although you can opt out of such marketing directly with the company concerned.

The government has also outlawed the use of hidden telephone numbers (numéro masqué) by telemarking companies, who are liable to a fine of up to €15,000 if they breach this rule.

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