A government sponsored telephone preference service for controlling direct marketing calls was launched last month.
Since 1st June it has been possible for households in France to register their telephone number(s) with an official telephone preference list to stop unsolicited marketing calls.
The new service is called 'Bloctel', which, in contrast to the previous registration system, is now obligatory on all companies who solicit new business in this manner.
Under the law, companies who undertake direct marketing must consult the Bloctel register on a monthly basis, and remove from their own prospecting list those telephone numbers on the register.
The telemarketing companies pay a fee to consult the list, which it is hoped will pay for the running costs of the service.
Although many such calls emanate from a platform outside of France, if such calls have been commissioned by a company based in France (normally the case) the company itself can be fined.
A household wishing to add their telephone number to the liste anti-prospection needs to go to the website of Bloctel.
You will need to create an account, including a password, following which you can add your telephone number(s). Both fixed and mobile numbers can be entered onto the register.
The site promises that within 30 days your number will be protected from direct marketing calls.
Alternatively, you can also write to Société Opposetel, Service Bloctel, 6, rue Nicolas Siret, 10000 Troyes and register your number.
Even though you may have previously registered with PACITEL, the former industry led voluntary registration scheme, you will need to register afresh with Bloctel.
Registration is free of charge so, but a number of commercial websites with a similar address to Bloctel been established. These websites have nothing to do with the official service.
Having registered your number, if you subsequently receive a direct marketing call you need to return to the Bloctel website and complete a short form, giving if possible the telephone number, time/day of call and the name of the company making the call. The complaint will then be investigated by consumer protection officials.
Somewhat ironically, the company that has won the government contract to run the service, SAS Opposetel, is itself a creature of the federation of direct marketing companies, the Syndicat national de la communication directe (SNCD). Perhaps on the basis of the adage that it takes a thief........they have been awarded the contract.
One weakness of the new service is that it does not cover sms and vocal mobile phone messages and the number of such fraudulent messages is increasing. The messages frequently require you ring a premium rate number, on the pretext of picking up a parcel or similar. However, you can report them on the anti-spam website 33700.
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.